Back to the Beginning...

At least one reader has found me remiss in my role as the promulgator of these pages. He feels that I have not been forthcoming about how one goes about building a house in the middle of a rice field. Now I thought I had covered that on April 2 with “Preparing for the worst.” I understand that from the readers viewpoint it is easier to ask me to repeat myself than to forage through my earlier entries. Maybe this time I can do a better job of summing up the Beginning.

First we spent a couple of years searching for a location that fit all social, visual, romantic, environmental and practical requirements. Those of course will vary greatly from individual to individual. Lets just say we weighed everything (and I mean everything) very carefully. That included views, sun direction, wind patterns and privacy among other things.

We ended up on the fringes of my wife’s home village were we bought 5 Rai of land in my wife’s name since, I can’t own land in Thailand. Made sure all requisite paperwork was in order before signing on the dotted line. Took some time to visualize, what would go where, before finding a guy with back-hoes and dump-trucks to dig a BIG hole.

We went for a 1 Rai pond at 5 meters deep. What came out of that hole was spread 2 meters high over 2 Rai of the property and a road connecting us to the soi. We left it for most of a year to see what havoc the rains would reap. The erosion was about what we expected and we determined the need for additional topsoil and a reinforcing barrier to keep the dirt in place.

While the land settled, we were in Hawaii for 6 months and my wife worked on the design of the floor plan. Later, on our return to Thailand, we found an architect to help us flesh out the rest of the design and determine the structural specifications for what we had conjured up. Finding the contractor was as difficult as finding the architect but we got lucky with both.

After making sure that we were well above the flood line, a total of 32 pilings of 8 meter lengths were put in place to support a massive foundation designed to elevate us an addition meter above the surface of our land. Since then the process has been pretty normal for work in Thailand.

Where locals always ask how much, the Farangs often ask about a completion date and I respond, “Whenever it is finished.” We would rather have it done well than forced into a tight timeframe. We are living within a 5 minute walk of the house while it is being built and we are on site everyday except for our recent trips to Chiang Mai and Bangkok. The last trip to Bangkok was too long, and mistakes were made while we were gone, but they have all been rectified to date.

We chose a location that made connecting to the water mains and the power grid relatively easy. Only needed to cover the length of our 80 meter road and the distance on either end to make a connection. We set a budget for the house but with the knowledge there would be significant overruns. The quoted price of the house is misleading as one needs to consider land purchase, development and landscaping, interior decoration and furnishings. I also budgeted in the cost of the truck as we would need transportation which had been unnecessary while living in Bangkok the last 8 years.

I’d say that sums things up except for the most important element. I would never have been able to pull this off without first being in a long-term relationship with a truly remarkable young woman that I admire and trust and an even longer relationship with Thailand. We have allowed no input from family members and have relied entirely on our own counsel and the advice of professionals.

I have used a great deal of my own local knowledge and self knowledge in this process. If things end up badly, I have no one but myself to blame. If things go well, I plan to give full credit to my wonderful and loving wife for all she has done to design and supervise this project.