PHUKET: Chatting with a local architect who has designed and built homes in Phuket for the past 15 years prompted me to investigate sustainable materials used in home building. The architect had mentioned that current-day building materials have less maintenance issues and are more durable. Sure, the materials are more expensive, but in the long run they save the owner quite a bit of money when it comes to maintenance and running costs.
There’s lots of information out there and it’s all quite mind boggling. Just the concept of sustainable building itself incorporates many strategies during the phases of construction, from design through to the actual operation of the building. So the use of green building materials and products represents an important strategy in the construction design. Basically, green building materials reduce maintenance and replacement costs, conserve energy, improve the occupants’ health and enjoy greater design flexibility.
Here are some green building materials and ideas to consider when building or renovating a home here in Phuket. In most northern countries with bitterly cold winters, double-glazed windows are quite the norm as they help insulate the property, thus minimizing heating costs. The exact opposite works the here, but surprisingly double-glazed windows are not used as much as they should be in Phuket.
In Thailand outdoor decking, terraces and sala floors are predominantly made from wood. But due to daily exposure to sun and rain, wooden decks are more susceptible to mold, rotting and warping. Most owners have to do maintenance work on the decks or even build a new deck – especially after the rainy season. A completely recycled plastic decking can be used as an alternative and is stain resistant and it won’t crack or warp. Composite decking is also available made from recycled wood fibers and plastic, although a plastic-and-composite deck has a significantly higher surface temperature than a wooden surface.
Due to how much rain we get here, a rainwater collection tank can be used where precipitation is collected from the rain gutters and runs directly into a tank. The water is then recycled to irrigate the garden. Water is an expensive commodity in Phuket . If it’s not supplied directly by local authorities or sourced from a well, but is instead trucked in, it can be very costly to water the garden during the hot season.
There is a constant flow of new building materials and products entering the market, so be sure to consult your architect and builder or research it on the internet. A sustainable home will conserve energy and reduce monthly costs in the long run. When buying a property, most people consider maintenance costs as important. Should a building design have high maintenance overheads, it could be passed over for a property that is slightly more expensive, but have lower maintenance costs.
Amy Koh is the sales manager of Engel & Voelkers Phuket. To contact Amy or for more information, click here.
— Amy Koh
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