Sleeping in a Roundhouse Bedroom.

The second ‘room’ is ready and I have moved in and sleep very well in there.

I think we need a new vocabulary! The second something is round and it is a bedroom and it is part of a roundhouse that will have a few round somethings connected by covered walkways. But it’s not a room in the conventional sense as it is completely separate. But it is not a separate ‘roundhouse’. Any ideas, anyone?

Building the frame for the thatch.

Building the frame for the thatch.

Putting in the frame for the covered walkway between the two roundhouse rooms.

Putting in the frame for the covered walkway between the two roundhouse rooms.

We had to go and find some very long and strong bamboos to form the walkway roof between the two roundhouse rooms.

Toni and Sophia check out the newly arrived thatch.

Toni and Sophia check out the newly arrived thatch.

At this point I mistakenly deleted a batch of photos as I transferred them from camera to computer! But if you have followed my previous blogs, you will know how the walls and roof are created (if not, check out Blog 9 ‘Sweet Home, Chiang Dao’). So on to the finished roundhouse bedroom.

My roundhouse bedroom is almost finished.

My roundhouse bedroom is almost finished.

The photo above shows that this was the day the electrics went in. The wires will be encased in yellow pvc, which will be hidden by the earth plaster that will eventually go on the walls.

You can also see the stones in front of the ‘room’ that mark a French drain. As the house is on a slope, and in a monsoon area, rainwater is a hazard. Both the
‘rooms’ will have French drains at the side where the slope is steepest. A ditch about 40 centimetres deep is dug, and a 4 inch pvc pipe with holes in it laid at the bottom, and the ditch then filled in with rounded river stones. Since this photo, it has rained quite heavily and the drains worked perfectly!

Covered walkway between the two ‘rooms’.

Covered walkway between the two ‘rooms’.

The walkway works very well, and is wide enough for stormy weather. Note the stones denoting another drain which carries the rain water from the thatch away from the house to the vegetable patch further down the slope.

Our littlest worker helps her mum dig the ditch for the French drain.

Our littlest worker helps her mum dig the ditch for the French drain.

One of our workers is from the Lisu hilltribe, and he recommended using this style of drain from the bathroom, especially as I am now showering in there. The drain filled with pebbles takes the water away, leaving ‘steps’ in between that stay dry. I only use products with no chemicals so the water that comes from the shower is fine for plants, and we have planted seeds from a delicious papaya at the end of the drains.

Interesting ‘steps’ between drains from the bathroom.

Interesting ‘steps’ between drains from the bathroom.

You may have noticed the bottle of gas in the picture above. I had installed a gas hot water heater in the house that I rented, so when I moved here, I brought it with me. But the water pressure here is very erratic, and half the time it is scalding hot, and the rest of the time, cold! So I now have a big bucket and mix the hot and cold together and slosh is over myself with the aid of a bailer.
It works fine. One day I will get down to sorting out the water situation, but there’s some building to finish first…

Rain clouds gather over Chiang Dao Mountain: view from my hammock.

Rain clouds gather over Chiang Dao Mountain: view from my hammock.

The rains seem to be finally here, though we are still having dry weather some days I’m happy to say.

I decided to do something different for the floor of the bedroom. We have used green pigment in the final cement plaster, and then I painted a design using red acrylic roof paint. A final layer of polyurethane seals the concrete and makes it easy to keep clean.

I used red acrylic roof paint for the design on this floor of polished green concrete.

I used red acrylic roof paint for the design on this floor of polished green concrete.

Toni had a snooze on the painted floor!

Toni had a snooze on the painted floor!

Such a lovely room to sleep in!

Such a lovely room to sleep in!

My two roomed roundhouse, or should it be my two roundhouses??

My two roomed roundhouse, or should it be my two roundhouses??

Note the step and drain walkway to the ‘bedroom’, to give me dry stepping ‘stones’ (more vocab problems…) as water drains down from the slope. I love this idea!

And finally, introducing Lucy, my little red poodle!

Introducing Lucy.  I think Toni is in love…

Introducing Lucy. I think Toni is in love…

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Sweet Home, Chiang Dao

My new home.

My new home.

I am in my new home! Me and Toni and the kittens moved in a couple of days ago and we all love it! At the moment we are squashed into one roundhouse, but the second is now underway and hopefully it will only be a week or so before we that will be ready for habitation, and we can spread out a bit.

We have been really busy these past two weeks. This is where I left off in the last blog – thatching.

Attaching the thatch to the bamboo roof structure.

Attaching the thatch to the bamboo roof structure.

A day later and this is where we were.

Forming a chain to get the thatch up to the top of the roof.

Forming a chain to get the thatch up to the top of the roof.

And on goes the top-knot!

The final piece of roof – a top-knot.

The final piece of roof – a top-knot.

The roof it now complete! It is very beautiful inside and the new thatch smells wonderful.

The completed roof.

The completed roof.

Inside we are preparing gravel bags for the first layer of the wall…..

Preparing bags of gravel for the first layer of wall.

Preparing bags of gravel for the first layer of wall.

…while the littlest worker takes an afternoon nap.

Littlest worker taking a nap.

Littlest worker taking a nap.

Do you remember my first blog when I was looking for a tractor to do some digging and couldn’t find one? Well, I was driving back to my rented house the other day when I saw a machine digging a ditch at the side of the road. Just what I needed! I stopped the truck and hailed the digger driver. He agreed to come and dig my swimming pool, and turned up last week and got the job done in just a couple of hours. It would have taken a week for half a dozen people to make the same hole.

Digging my ‘natural’ swimming pool.

Digging my ‘natural’ swimming pool.

As you can see it is not a huge swimming pool, but should be great for cooling off on hot afternoons. It’s going to be fun finding water plants to surround it. They will keep the water clean without having to use chemicals… theoretically. I am sure it will take a bit of experimentation as so far most natural swimming pools on the internet seem to be in temperate climates. I got the idea from David Pagan Butler who has made a great DVD on how to go about creating a natural swimming pool.

My swimming pool.

My swimming pool.

Do you see that great pile of wonderful red earth on the side? That is going to be used to build an earthbag dome, when Paulina Wojciechowska (earthhandsandhouses.org) comes to Chiang Dao in February 2014 to run a workshop! You heard it first here….

The electric cable goes into the earth.

The electric cable goes into the earth.

Meanwhile, the electrician has been hard at work connecting me up to the line which, luckily, runs down the road in front of the property. My workers are digging the ditch for the cables, which will all be underground so that our views will not be interrupted by strings of wires.

Walls and roof completed.

Walls and roof completed.

The bags of rice husks are complete, with a gap left at the top of them underneath the roof for the air to circulate through the roundhouse (perfect for kittens to play on). This house is actually more of a hexagonal than round house, which makes it a very interesting looking building. Note the ceiling light, an upside down birdcage lined with batik.

We are not going to cob the walls yet – I need to move in as soon as possible. I plan to drape bits of cloth over the bags until the time is right to finish off the building. Outside, the lower bags will have a piece of plastic tucked around them to protect against driving rain should we get any – the monsoon is terribly late this year!

It’s turning out to be a good idea to have built my house now, as I am using it as a place to experiment. Look at the lovely terracotta coloured floor. Hard to believe it is concrete… This picture also captures the hexagonal shape of the walls.

Terracotta coloured floor.

Terracotta coloured floor.

The light shines through the coloured glass and makes patterns on the polished floor.

The light shines through the coloured glass and makes patterns on the polished floor.

I found this old door in the second hand wood shop, leaning sadly against a fence outside, with only two of its original teak wood panels left. I had this coloured glass put in. It is modern glass but copied from the old style of Thai window glass.

So here we are in our new home! Toni and the kittens look perfectly comfortable.

Toni and the kittens at home in their new home.

Toni and the kittens at home in their new home.

My hammock is up on the porch. Now I am really at home!

My hammock on the porch.

My hammock on the porch.

Home Sweet Home.

Home Sweet Home.

Sweet Home, Chiang Dao.