House number 1

The idea to build a house from scratch in 4 weeks might seem ridiculous to many. But unlike those ideas hatched up over a few beers and regretted later, this really was a jolly good idea.

There has been an immense amount of thinking and planning done over the past year we’ve owned the land. But this was all for the ‘other’ house, as it’s now become known.  House number one was born out of necessity. We needed to move in by the 1st of October, the decision was made in the last few days of July, and my friend was only available to help from the 26th – 31st August. Ok then, timeline set!

It’s rainy season which means it’s pretty hard to dry bricks with tropical rain! So instead we made a compromise and went with a hybrid build: Standard concrete pillars, sheet metal roof and red brick wall to 60cms. And we were so lucky with our Thai builders. They arrived early, worked hard and finished so far ahead of schedule that they had time spare to make rainwater tanks!

The remainder of the walls are wattle (bamboo frame) and cob (earth mixed with straw). Natural building is fun and super simple, but it takes either a lot of hands or a lot of time (of which we had neither). My friend works with a Lahu hilltribe, so we hired a team to come and make the walls for us. They too arrived early, worked overtime and finished ahead of schedule! I know – not normal! But then this was never going to be a normal build…. 

The Lahu team arrived on site and set up camp using anything and everything available. The shed, pump house and house number one became a kitchen and bedrooms, bamboo washing lines popped up and showers taken wherever there was a bucket. The Lahu are masters with bamboo and can make pretty much anything they need from it, so it was more good luck the bamboo in our garden was perfect for the wattle frame.   

In one day the bamboo frame was up. Then mud was soaked, walked, mixed with straw and then wrapped around the frame. Bit by bit the walls went up and three days later it was finished. It was all a bit of a whirlwind, but sometimes a ridiculous deadline can be a good thing. That and good luck… 

More details on the exact process to follow…right now we just need a rest.