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August 10, 2004 Editor.  A supplement to the article on Corner Cutters, and Interview between Digger Larson and the editor.  Pattaya, Thailand home construction, building a house.  Rip-offs and how not to get cheated by corner cutters.  Why there sometimes is substandard building here.  Some examples of poor quality construction and home building techniques.  Things to be on the look out for.

As the previous article on corner cutters points out, there are an endless number of ways to cut corners.  What really makes it an 'official' corner cutting technique is this, it has to be hard to fix later and be hidden as well.  Say for example a builder uses low quality inside doors throughout the house - this is not corner cutting because everyone can see that the doors are low quality and they can later be upgraded.  Now on the other hand, say a builder uses low quality cement in the construction of a house to save a few thousand Baht -- this can never be repaired.  The eventual buyer will have no way of determining the cement was low quality until later on, and the work can only be patched, not fixed! 

With that, here is some further discussion of corner cutting, with examples.......

Using an inappropriately low grade of cement is something which cannot be later rectified.  Will lead to excessive cracking as lower grades don't have the same strength and ability to support heavy weight (ie. a tile roof).  (21-Apr-04)
All kinds of games can be played with mixing cement.  The most expensive part of the mix is the actual cement itself.  Normally this is an unusual area for corner cutting - except for using slightly more sand than recommended.  (20-Apr-04)
Right after the pour of the base of a foundation post.  This shows a foundation post done much the same way as a fence post, with a can filled with concrete.  This is an inadequate support and can lead to problems with the most critical part of the house and is not worth it to save a few hundred Baht.  (21-Apr-04)
The foundation columns should measure about 17 centimeters square.  A common practice nowadays is to use a real thin foundation post with brick surrounding it.  These are not nearly as strong as the thicker all concrete ones.  (21-Apr-04)
Here is a close up showing a stress fracture on the thin concrete foundation column.
The thickness of the cement pours is sometimes reduced in an effort to save money on the cost of the cement.  The normal thickness of a floor is 10 centimeters (including tile).  This picture shows it being done correct.  (20-Apr-04)
Prefabricated rolls of metal, like the one shown here, are often used instead of hand tied metal in laying a floor.  This leads to lower strength of the floor.  (21-Apr-04)
A close-up of a wall section, between two windows, where the stucco is in the process of being applied.  In this picture, the stucco is being applied correctly to a thickness of about one centimeter.  Many builders will apply a paper thin layer of stucco to save on cement costs.  The stucco is what gives the wall strength, cutting here isn't worth it.  (17-Apr-04)
A wall with thin stucco and posts done 3.5 meters apart instead of 2.5 meters.  The wall isn't going to fall over, but 2.5 meters between posts is the standard, and greater than this does make the wall weaker.  (06-Jul-04)
Here is a wall section in which the support post was poured before the blocks were laid.  You can tell by looking at the seam between the post and the adjoining cement blocks.  This leads to a wall of less strength.  Another thing which occurs frequently is that metal cross supports are not used to attach the post to the adjacent blocks.  (14-Jul-04)
Metals are expensive, this is an area which is squeezed constantly.  Develop a list before doing your house specifying the full list of metals to be used.  Although rebar stands are shown here, this also includes roof metal uses much metal.  (03-May-04)
These chunks of blocks were pulled from the outside of a well and were used more to save time than money.  The outside of a well should be seasoned with small stones which will prevent air pockets from forming on the outside of the cement rings.  (12-Jul-04)
While this septic has adequate rings, this is one area you wouldn't want to skimp on.  (22-Apr-04)
Septics done like this will save a little digging, but water will seep between septics and the dirt surrounding each septic would not be as firm as if each were dug independently.  (02-Jul-04)
Ceiling supports, here done properly.  Corner cutters will use a minimum of supporting metal, which will cause the roof to sag over time.  (07-May-04)
Proper electric conduit, corner cutters will have raw wire run above the ceiling.  This is one thing which can be checked as a part of a home inspection.  (18-May-04)
An example of inadequate roof flashing material of inadequate width being installed in the roof valley.  The roof flashing installed in the valley should have a width of almost a meter.  (21-May-04)
A circuit breaker.  Corner cutter tricks are running all the wires into one station and not have a ground wire run to earth.  (19-Jun-04)
As far as bathtub plumbing it is imperative to end up with the proper gear.  This example shows a good quality heavy copper drain setup above, and a typical plastic corner cutter layout below.  Repairs after the tub is plumbed in are difficult, costly and time consuming.  (23-Jun-04)
Again, the bathtub.  A 'p-trap' should be installed below the tub.  This is hard to fix after the tub is fully plumbed in.  (24-Jun-04)
Finally the bathtub proper.  Plumbing in a bathtub is time and material intensive.  After a bathtub is plumbed in, repairs would require extensive rework.  It just isn't worth it to put in a cheap plastic bathtub, better to have no bathtub at all.  The cheapest plastic bathtubs cost around 2000 Baht, good quality acrylic ones start at about 5000 Baht.
An example of a house using coconut wood as support for outside grc sheeting.  This wood degrades quickly and will lead to problems in a few years time.  (25-Jul-04)
Close-up of inadequate coconut wood used to support grc sheeting.  (25-Jul-04)
This was just painted.  No paint at all is better than low quality paint that comes off when put in contact with water.  (25-Jul-04)
This shows the worst offense: inadequate fill dirt at the start of construction means the house will flood later.  It is a problem which is very difficult to correct.  (18-Jun-04)
What happens if you cut one too many corners!  (09-Apr-04)
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