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New House - New Problems.


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Just got back from Thailand where I was visiting my newly built house. Overall the house is great, but had a few frustrating surprises. The main one being all my wooden furniture in the garden. When last I was there I had a large wooden pagoda type house thing in the garden. I was really looking forward to sitting in it with a drink and a book. Sadly when I got there this time I discovered all the colour/ wood stain had disappeared and the wood was bare and in poor condition due to the sun and rain. I spent several days on ladders giving it a couple of coats of stain. I'm not sure if it’s to late.

I also had a large wooden framework set up with climbing plants around it. That to was bare wood and had been badly affected by sun, rain and insects. That is set in concrete so if my attempts to save it are in vain it will be quite a job to rebuild.

My frustration is not at the cost or the time I had to put in to paint them, it is at the point that the people that sold the pagoda and the builders that contracted my wooden frame should surely have had experience of woodwork in Thailand and they should have known the effects of the environment. I just can't believe it. This was just one of many other similar problems I found with the construct of the house: things that didn't need to be if the jobs had been done right in the first place and at little extra expense. I have reached the conclusion that Thais cannot do anything quite right. That’s harsh I know, but seems to be true.

Has anyone else had similar problems with wooden fixtures?

On a similar note my friend just had his drive and paths concreted and tried unsuccessfully to have the workers put expansion points in. His drive and paths latter cracked. He wasn’t to pleased either.

I’ll never complain about the standard of UK workmen again.

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I deliberately eliminated anything made of wood in my new house due to the effect of humidity on wood and infestations.

However, door frames of teak, double front doors of teak and back door of hard wood.

Front doors warp, split and act like any other non-kiln dried doors, as does the back door. Both doors were made by door specialists.

Door jambs were installed four meters too high so standard doors had to be "added to" by the builder.

I installed my own door mouldings, and they were promptly infested by wood worms. And the beat goes on.

I know some of this fourum's members have built wood houses or bought them, but we never hear from them. Wonder why?

I did have my kitchen cabinets made by Teka, and they are great. Partical board covered by a high gloss laminate with rounded edges. Really world class, but they were expensive by Thai standards. Sliding mirror doors from RB furniture are world class as well but cost 20k baht per 3 meter opening.

Wood worms don't seem to affect particle board, at least not in my home. Perhaps it is the glue they use to bind the particles of wood together.

I would have anything made of wood that can be made of particle board done so, except for out of doors. I would build anything possible out of masonary for out of doors. I did find a cement board with a grain reveal for my roof trim.

I would be buying plastic or metal doors from Home Pro if my doors were standard.

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It's very hard to find a good handyman as they are really nothing but a 'Jack of all trades and a master of none'.

Some seem to excel in some particular job i.e. tiling. But the same guy might be hopeless at painting. Usually you only find out their abilities once you've assigned them the work.

Do what Thais do. If for example you want someone to tile your bathroom, ask the guy to show you a previous tiling job that he's done.

My handyman(actually it's a woman) often brings someone to sample the work that she done in my home.

With wooden furniture you have to inspect it very hard for holes made by termites. Having a peice of furniture in your home infested with termites will quickly spread to other areas.

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So right Gazza: I have bought Koncept furniture, which is what I call particle board, the glued together particles of wood with a thin artificial finish which I can live with as it is contemporary in style and inexpensive. I would be very afraid of buying anything made of natural wood, although isn't teack supposed to be immune to infestation?

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Wood worms don't seem to affect particle board, at least not in my home. Perhaps it is the glue they use to bind the particles of wood together.

Particle Board? Do you mean what we call 'Chip Board' in England? A board made from wood chips and usually laminated?

Last year I had a chip board laminated cupboard infested with termites that I had to throw out.

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Gazza: Now you have me scared!! My wood worm or maybe they are termites, infected only my door mouldings, and only those doors that led to the outside. All my other mouldings are fine including my kitchen and bathroom cabinets which are "chip board" laminated.

My furniture is the same material, very common in Thai furniture stores, and no infestation to date, three years.

It seems the path of infestation for my door mouldings were from the outside through cracks or gaps that led to the interior. Also, one closet door where they seem to have come in through the brickwork that is covered by plaster but where a gap existed between the masonary and the teak door jamb.

It is not impossible, but it seems to me that the furniture in all the Thai contemporary furniture stores wouldn't be selling it if they were infestation candidates. Anyway, I am committed and I certainly will raise the alarm if my furniture show signs of infestation. I was able to detect the infestation in my home when the residue of the digested cellulose was deposited outside the invested area. Are these termites or worms?

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Anything wood, and I urethane it. Years later, still looks beautiful, and the urethane helps to bring out the grain. A coat of Linseed oil also makes the grain jump out...I love wood, so I use as much as possible in/around my house. No insect problems with urethane, either.

But, unprotected wood does crap out quickly, to be sure.

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I was able to detect the infestation in my home when the residue of the digested cellulose was deposited outside the invested area. Are these termites or worms?

If it looks like sawdust, I think that is some kind of ant, maybe? Tiny little black things. When we had termites in the house, they left what I call 'sand tubes' all over. Termites are quite a bitch to get rid of...

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When we had termites in the house, they left what I call 'sand tubes' all over. Termites are quite a bitch to get rid of...

That's what I had in my cupboard well, it was more of a cabinet with drawers and it was stood on the floor.

I bought it about 7-8 years ago and it was only last year that I noticed the 'sandy tube-like deposits'.

I've no idea how long it had been infested. Maybe from the day that I bought it? Or a solitary termite found it's way there somehow. As far as I know, termites are hermaphrodites which means they are male and female so can breed with themselves. so it would only take one to start the ball rolling so to speak. I'll have to do a google search and find out later. Got to go and watch the footie on tele.

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Just got back from Thailand where I was visiting my newly built house. Overall the house is great, but had a few frustrating surprises. The main one being all my wooden furniture in the garden. When last I was there I had a large wooden pagoda type house thing in the garden. I was really looking forward to sitting in it with a drink and a book. Sadly when I got there this time I discovered all the colour/ wood stain had disappeared and the wood was bare and in poor condition due to the sun and rain. I spent several days on ladders giving it a couple of coats of stain. I'm not sure if it’s to late.

I also had a large wooden framework set up with climbing plants around it. That to was bare wood and had been badly affected by sun, rain and insects. That is set in concrete so if my attempts to save it are in vain it will be quite a job to rebuild.

My frustration is not at the cost or the time I had to put in to paint them, it is at the point that the people that sold the pagoda and the builders that contracted my wooden frame should surely have had experience of woodwork in Thailand and they should have known the effects of the environment. I just can't believe it. This was just one of many other similar problems I found with the construct of the house: things that didn't need to be if the jobs had been done right in the first place and at little extra expense. I have reached the conclusion that Thais cannot do anything quite right. That’s harsh I know, but seems to be true.

Has anyone else had similar problems with wooden fixtures?

On a similar note my friend just had his drive and paths concreted and tried unsuccessfully to have the workers put expansion points in. His drive and paths latter cracked. He wasn’t to pleased either.

I’ll never complain about the standard of UK workmen again.

richb2004...your biggest problem is that you were not there.

I am building a house right now too...I or my wife or her father go to the work site everyday. We have a well built house now...

Anyone building a house...BE THERE!!!

Don't let them get away with anything, if you are not there they will try...

BE THERE!!!

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ok kiddies, im the expert at this stuff :o

ok rich b first, anything outside in thailand needs re varnishing every year here, the sun just eats all that varnish or poly urethane off in months, and i mean in months, yep it needs upkeep, there aint no product in the world that can garuantee no upkeep for more than 2 years in this climate, stain or shellac is not a protective coating.

ok next one, when u buy ur teak doors keep em for a couple of months in a shaded area to let erm settle then stain varnish and hang erm.

next anybody in this country that buys particle board or chipboard furniture, is basically resorting to short term furniture as they expand with water, yep whether it comes from humidity or the mop everyday rubbing against it, thailand and thai ppl aint suited to ikea particle board funiture, if u got it already then silicone a skirting of tiles round the skirt to stop the wettness at the bottom, damp rot starts from the ground up.

teak is basically too hard for insects plus they dont like the oil, but if they get a foot hold ur a gooona, plus a lot of teak they now soak in the sea till it sinks so its too salty for insects, but teak is a good wood :D

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Don't let them get away with anything, if you are not there they will try...

tukyleith, my theory is that this is basic Thai Logic. Of course, if you're not there, it's up to them. Who else could it be, right? Of course you know that, too, so you've given your permission simply by not being there :o

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I am building a house right now too...I or my wife or her father go to the work site everyday. We have a well built house now...

Anyone building a house...BE THERE!!!

Good points Leith.

Pix of my fiancee's and my house are in the photo section.

I have "khun mae" and my fiancee's brother watching things, and while "khun mae" stays on top of the builder and keeps close tabs on the cash flow, she can't watch every little thing being done.

Even having someone there isn't enough. The Thai builders are going to do what they are going to do. I remember KevinN warning me about this and a lot of things. Some things they did okay on, but other things will need more work.

Some good and bad things:

- The first builder was doing a bad job, eventually quit and cost us some money. The second builder is doing a decent job, though there are some problems.

- General comments: the house came out bigger (and hence more expensive) than I expected; having it bigger is not necessarily a bad thing, but the added cost will now have to be budgeted; once it is finished and the driveway and landscaping are in place, it will be a really nice place, big enough for everyone to have space and also for having people over to socialize and entertain.

- Windows: no screens initially and these will have to be added later. Also, I can see how there is a sort of built-in obselescence. The moldings will need constant care and treatment, and will have to be caulked. Also, we will have to add some awnings to protect the windows.

- Electricity: exposed wiring, as long as the installation is properly done, there shouldn't be any shock hazard; however the exposed wiring is going to be a cosmetic pain to cover up.

- Foundation and structure: very solid concrete and re-bar; will have to watch the concrete and stucco walls for cracks as the foundation settles in

- Doors: for looks the doors are really nice, however, the builder screwed up some of the interior door openings (wrong size, wrong location); these will have to be reworked over time.

- Plumbing: the interior work is still in progess; the septic system is already in place; didn't see this work getting done so have to keep the fingers crossed

- Tile: initially I was very worried about the tile, it is expensive and needs to be done right to look good; the guy did a really nice job with the tile in that it is nicely aligned, grouted, etc.; hopefully his good work will continue

- Carport: not big enough to hold more than a compact or mid-size car, definitely won't accommodate a truck or SUV.

- Exterior: landscaping is a future project; the entrance area and upstairs patio area was supposed to be open air, but the building made the walls solid; we're not too happy about it, and will have to wait to see what can be done.

- TBDs (things still to be determined): satellite tv connection, internet connection, air conditioning; kitchen cabinetry (but I've seen really nice cabinet work at a nearby family friend's place, so we will go with the same guy); furniture (will go with all wood furniture, there is a really nice all-wood furniture outlet nearby)

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I should also add something else to my other comment above. Some of the downsides I've experienced are probably not unique to Thai builders. I've seen plenty of bad things (e.g., shoddy workmanship, sleazy dealings, etc.) with stateside home builders too. It's all a caveat emptor (buyer beware) world regardless of where you are building.

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Having done a lot of remodeling stateside, down to the sticks on some spec jobs, I do have an eye for detail. Thus, I was very unhappy with the work done on my house by the builder. Most of the negatives mentioned in thaivisa regarding house building in Thailand has happended to me.

Now that I am two years post construction and everything has settled down, including some termiite infestation, I have re-organized my thinking, analized the project from a longer term view and offer the following:

A list of my priorities made me realize I really got mostly what I wanted and the negatives were really my approach to perefectionism.

1. Location of house is perfect.

2. Layout of house and size are perfect.

3. Site orientation and view are perfect.

4. Rain and flooding problems non-existent.

5. Large Euro-kitchen a dream at 25% of cost in the west.

6. Designed bathrooms are world class.

7. Laundry room and enclosed garage work perfectly.

My point is, I really got 80% of what I wanted, and all of what is important for daily living, so the other inconveniences, surely present in any house anywhere, just need to be dealt with, keeping one's eye on the positives.

I am fast coming to the conclusion that with the world economy integrating at an amazing rate, except for labor costs and food, why should Thailand be cheaper for anything than in the west? When I found that I could buy quality Italian manufactured goods in L.A. cheaper than in Italy, I started to get a clue.

Many of the products I have brought in Thailand, are exported to the west. Thus, absent shipping costs, why should they be much cheaper here?

I have found that most manufactured products in Thailand cost as much as those for sale in the U.S., and there is a premium for U.S. manufactured goods, duty and shipping, if bought in Thailand. The Japanese concept of "fair trade" keeps many products unobtainable at a discount, unlike in the west.

Thus, for those who are contemplating building your own house, plan on spending your disposable money on amenities and "furniture" and save money on labor intensive items. Thais can build a "brick" building wall in a day, and tear it down in a day and re-build it as fast, the labor being rarely more than 200 Baht a day for the work, materials are another thing.

Since the cost of homes in Thailand are rarely more expensive than a double-wide manufactured home in the U.S., we are really getting a good deal. Take a look at your steel supported tile roof and then look at the structural damage to mobile homes in Florida after the hurricanes. My house is so much better built from a stuctural strength point of view than in the west. And so amazing to see a Thai electrician tear into a wall to bury a new electric line and then patch the plaster, paint it and voila!. P.S. installed baseboards from Home-pro made of wood looking PVC, excellent. Easy to install and what a great termiite immune look. Their crown molding really looks excellent as well, am resisting installing that.

My house "glass" is a lot more than "half-full".

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