Building My Dream Home

I have been dreaming about building a home to live in, on this land, for 8 years now. My plan is to have four domes to live in: a living dome, work dome, sleeping dome and kitchen/bathroom dome. BUT the landlady of the house that I am renting asked me to move out – in a month!

It’s a good thing I am a flexible kind of person… I don’t have time right now to build according to my ‘plan’, so I shall just build 2 of the 4 domes. I will use our existing open-air bathroom on the site, and let’s face it, I don’t cook anyway….

So this blog shows the first 2 weeks of the new build.

Clearing the undergrowth in preparation for my new home.

Clearing the undergrowth in preparation for my new home.

The preparation for the first structure was not too arduous as it is on the only bit of flat ground on site, the place where a previous owner had a home many years ago.

My living room foundations are underway.

My living room foundations are underway.

Fixing the bamboo trellis to strengthen the concrete foundation.

Fixing the bamboo trellis to strengthen the concrete foundation.

The second structure ground preparation was a real challenge! Not only was the top-soil about 2 feet thick, but also there were deep holes all over it where some creatures have been living. I have not yet been able to understand what creature it is…..

Preparing the ground for the second room

Preparing the ground for the second room

Because of the time constraints, we are going to put bamboo and thatch roofs on these two structures. The ‘sausage’ bags of rice husks take a week to attach in a dome, and then the top of the dome needs to be waterproofed, another week at least. The bamboo poles on which to attach the thatch in this dome took a day to complete and the thatch should, I hope, take 2 days.

So these two structures will be roundhouses, rather than domes, but can be converted into domes any time in the future.

The first bamboo poles go up.  You can see the second roundhouse foundations behind, down the hill.

The first bamboo poles go up. You can see the second roundhouse foundations behind, down the hill.

The thatch is being made by a woman in the village with the help of all her female relatives. I followed local advice that if it was made especially for you it would last a lot longer than if just bought in a shop.

The structure is ready for the thatch.

The structure is ready for the thatch.

The round thingy in the middle in the picture above is the metal bit from an old car tire which we found in the local recycling yard. I bought 2 of these some time ago, thinking they may come in useful as surrounds for skylights, and had not yet used them, luckily!

The ‘birdcage’ which will support both the thatch and rice-husk-bags.  Littlest worker is playing with an old cow bell hanging on a red string.

The ‘birdcage’ which will support both the thatch and rice-husk-bags. Littlest worker is playing with an old cow bell hanging on a red string.

Interesting detail showing how to hang bamboo poles.

Interesting detail showing how to hang bamboo poles.

In order to hang the bamboo poles on the porch roof, holes were cut into the top of the poles and a thin piece of bamboo threaded through them. I’ve never seen that done before!

The roof is leaning to the right!

The roof is leaning to the right!

Horrors! We arrived this morning to find the roof had sort of twisted a bit and leaned over to the right! Luckily it did not seem too difficult to put right…. forever?!

The first strips of thatch go up.

The first strips of thatch go up.

So exciting!

Note the broken window …well, you probably already did! There are two windows the same, so this one is on site just to get the surrounds right, and the one that will be there permanently is having glass put in.

Worker Bann shares his ice cream with Toni.

Worker Bann shares his ice cream with Toni.

The home made ice cream vendor is doing great business in this very hot weather! He knows he is always welcome on site on hot afternoons….

Next blog in 2 weeks – I should have moved in by then! My dream of living on my land is coming true much quicker than I expected. Do you have a dream? Are you on the way towards it? I would love to hear about it!

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Amazing Speed!

It was really quite astonishing how fast the second dome, the Jungle Dome, went up now that we know what we are doing! While a layer of concrete and rice husks was going on the Blue Moon Dome, a couple of people were working on the base of the second dome.

The base of the Jungle Dome gets a concrete surround for termite and rain water protection.

The base of the Jungle Dome gets a concrete surround for termite and rain water protection.

All hands were on deck when it came to constructing the bird cage. And it went up so easily, and much more securely, than the Blue Moon bird cage.

The team constructs the Jungle Dome bird cage.

The team constructs the Jungle Dome bird cage.

We have finished all the useable bamboo on site, though luckily it grows really quickly and by next year we should have plenty. For now we have to go to bamboo ‘orchards’ to cut what we need and pay for it (10 Baht per piece).

Loading the bamboo onto my trusty truck.

Loading the bamboo onto my trusty truck.


Bamboo lattice completes the bird cage.

Bamboo lattice completes the bird cage.

In the Blue Moon dome hemp string was used to tie the bags onto the bird cage. However, this can only be bought in the city of Chiang Mai, and it was not that strong. So this time we used the Thai favourite string, and colour!

Our littlest worker helps prepare the string to attach the bags to the bird cage.

Our littlest worker helps prepare the string to attach the bags to the bird cage.

I can’t believe how much easier, and faster, this second dome is going up! This is the second day of ‘bagging’.

The second day of ‘bagging’.

The second day of ‘bagging’.

Note the neat way the window fits into the structure, when compared to the trouble we had with the first dome windows (note for Niko, Sally and Will!).

We decided to put a number of glass bottles in the roof as they looked so good in the first dome. This means finding the bottles, cutting them in two, and joining the bottom halves. The worry is that water will get in around them, so old bicycle tires were cut up to make sort of washers around the ends.

Plenty of bottles to choose from at the local recycling yard.

Plenty of bottles to choose from at the local recycling yard.


The last bags and bottles are in the roof of the Jungle Dome.

The last bags and bottles are in the roof of the Jungle Dome.


Beginning to cover the roof of the dome.

Beginning to cover the roof of the dome.

And the Jungle Dome gets its first covering of straw dipped in cement and water. Note the lovely shape of this dome!

I had a shock a few days ago. My landlady said that she wanted her house back in a month!

I raced around looking for other places to rent, but nothing seemed right. So I decided to go ahead and build a place for myself on site. As I am working to a time table and my own place is right at the end of that table, I need to build something that will go up quickly, so the plan is to make the foundation for two domes, but walls and roof of bamboo and thatch. Then later I will change this to a rice-husk-bag and earth structure – probably of 4 connecting domes.

So the next blog will be of our race to get me, Toni and the kittens a place to stay – in less than 4 weeks!