Building our Glamping Domes:
Day 60 – Putting up the Domes

Our Geodesic Dome Tents Have Arrived and Are Going Up

Our domes tents have arrived and finally the day when we put them up is here! September turned out to be a horrid month weather wise. Generally September is pretty wet anyway (and good thing too or none of the rice and other crops would grow) but this year we had a couple of typhoons coming from the East across Vietnam/Laos which added some further late rainy season drenchings.

So we lost some time but today the weather is all blue skies and warm sunshine; absolutely perfect for what we are doing.

Dome Tent – A Wonderful Space

As the domes go up we can finally see both the sihouette of the project as well as get a sense of the space inside. We order 7m domes compared to the 5m or 6m dome tents that are popular here in Thailand. And I am glad we did as it’s a wonderful space with a fantastic 4m high ceiling. We simply can not wait for them to be finish and to finally spend a night sleeping in them.

Dome Tents – Surprisingly Easy

It’s also surprisingly easy to put these tents up. Each metal bar has a number on it. There is a single sheet diagram that shows which number connects to what other number and off you go. If you did Meccano as a child then you can put up a dome tent.

Building our Glamping Domes:
Day 16 – Finishing Decks

Rain, Rain but Still Steady Progress on our Glamping Site

So the rain came a little earlier than we had expected. Fortunately it wasn’t the thunderous downpours that we do occasionally get at the time of year. Instead it was more London style rain: consistent, annoying but generally harmless.

We did lose a few days but we feel we were so far ahead that it makes no difference. Also with the present covid situation, which is pretty bad but not yet disastrous, we probably couldn’t make a Oct 1 opening anyway. Most likely it will be Nov 1 instead.

Glamping Decks Arising from the Ground

Mainly this video looks at how we are building our decks. We would loved to have built wood decks but the conditions here are just not right. Our domes will sit over our rice fields which we deliberately flood during the growing season. This plus heavy rain, strong sun and the proximity of termites make this using wood and maintaining wood difficult.

So we have decided to build strong concrete decks that will last 100+ years if needed. There is a video that takes you through the process below.

So far though our state is still calm, within budget and progressing at the right speed.

Building our Glamping Domes:
Day 9 – Deciding on Bamboo

A Steady Calm As Our Glamping Site Rises From the Ground

This is now day 9 (day 5 of actual construction) of our Glamping Geodesic Dome Site and I would describe the building site as having a good thick layer of calm covering well managed progress.

All the heavy vehicles, including the diggers and tractors, have done their job and left. This has reduced the noise level to virtually nil as well as reducing the dust level back to very breathable.

At the moment, the focus is on getting the foundations finished including the column posts that will support the Dome Tent decks as well the column posts into the ground for the walkways. We have a little race against time as we really want to finish this before the rains come. We have been lucky as the construction start date coincided with a period of drought. The forecast is for this to continue till Wednesday next week or four days away.

So we should be okay…..just.

Falling in Love With Bamboo

As with any project, you cant have everything you want on the budget you want (unless you are uber rich obviously which we are not).

We really had our hearts set on having a bamboo walking across our rice-fields to connect to the domes. Recently we have fallen in love with bamboo as a construction material. This inspiration started with seeing beautiful pictures of rice-fields bamboo walkways in other countries such a Vietnam, China and Cambodia. Also though it was seeing the stunning architecture using bamboo especially in Bali but here in Thailand.

To Bamboo or not To Bamboo

As Bamboo is both cheap and readily available, we believed this would be both a low cost and aesthetically pleasing solution.

However, Bamboo can last a year before crumbling into dust or last hundreds of years. The difference between the two is how the bamboo is treated before use as well as the constructions method used:

  1. Age: Bamboo for construction should be at least 5-7 years in age
  2. Pesticides: Bamboo is high in starch and hence a favourite food for pests like termites
  3. Drying: Bamboo has a high water content and will bend and splinter if not dried properly before use
  4. Rain and Sun: When Bamboo lasts hundreds of years it is because it is kept out of the sun and rain typically by using large over-arching roofs. Treating with a waterproof & UV seal can extend the life of bamboo when used in exposed conditions (such as walkways) but only to 10-12 years.
  5. Craftsmanship: Using fish mouth technique and bamboo dowels instead of nails and screws.

Sadly what we discovered is that there is no one in Thailand that is properly treating bamboo for construction. Typically bamboo is sold ‘green’ or untreated and then just replaced as it breaks. Being a small resort, we simply don’t have the time or funds for this. Also we don’t want to put anyone at risk by walking over damaged bamboo.

We did look at importing Bamboo. Hanoi, which is just 12 hours drive away, has many bamboo factories producing well treated bamboo fit for purpose. And cheap too! 1,500m of 2 inch Bamboo would have cost just 30,000 baht. However, when we added on transportation and tax this also became prohibitive.

A Golden Business Opportunity

So we have in the end we wiped away our tears and decided to reclaimed wood planks for the walkway. We will use some locally bought bamboo as decoration. We have also bought black, purple and green bamboo seeds and will experiment with growing our bamboo to enhance the garden garden.

However, we do believe that there is a golden opportunity to grow and properly treat bamboo for construction here in Thailand. Once we are through our Dome Project, and covid, we may look to see if we can start doing this here in Thailand.

Nakara Glamping – You Can Watch It All Here

You can watch the project unfold on our youtube channel: Nakara Villas & Glamping though you can watch today’s episode below. We have tried to both tell our own story but also share tips, tricks and learnings so you can save the money and avoid the disasters that we didn’t.

Building our Glamping Domes:
Day 6 – Columns Rising

Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day (and Neither Was Our Glamping Site)

So this is day 6 (day 2 of actual construction) of our Glamping Geodesic Dome Site. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will out Glamping Site.

Having said though I do think we are moving at a pace far quicker than Romulus and Remus ever thought possible. Which is good as the rains are around the corner and we need to finish the foundations before they arrive. The weather forecast at the moment is unusually good for this time of year with no rain forecast for the next 5 days.

Good for our Glamping Project, though for bad for our garden which is rapidly turning from green to brown. Anyway we make foundation columns while the sun shines.

Here in Isan we use a fairly standard technique of using rebar column and feet for structures built out of rebar skeletons and then cased in concrete.

What is interesting is that in this part of the world, until recently there were no companies building housing projects…if you wanted a house you built it yourself. So everyone here literally knows how to build rebar columns and feet!

Columns Arising

This mini update is really just in case anyone following our progress (presently 4 people) are thinking of doing their own projects in Thailand. In which case we have added some more details on how we are building our rebar feet and columns.

From our experience, if you get this right than your house, your project will last decades and even longer. However, if you don’t then there is a good chance your project will fail before it even gets going.

Nakara Glamping – You Can Watch It All Here

You can watch the project unfold on our youtube channel: Nakara Villas & Glamping though you can watch today’s episode below. We have tried to both tell our own story but also share tips, tricks and learnings so you can save the money and avoid the disasters that we didn’t.

Building our Glamping Domes:
Day 5 – Breaking Ground

Today We Start Building Our Glamping Site

So it really begins today as this was our first day of actually building our Glamping Site. For now it will be just two 7m geodesic dome tents. Hopefully in the future we will add more domes as well as more tent varieties.

The morning started off with an impressive parade of trucks, lorries and a big mechanical digger arriving at our house. Noisy, dirty and exciting.

In terms of materials, all we need to build the foundations arrived first thing meaning nothing to stop us starting. This including rebar, sand, gravel and concrete. In addition, the metal beams and concrete posts for the walkway also arrived. So this means, material wise, we have everything for the first week or so.

And our team arrived too: one leader with seven people. That’s a good size team for a project of this size so we should make quick progress. And that’s important as the heavy rains are just around the corner so a small delay could catch us out and mean postponing the project till winter.

Dig, Dig Dig,

The main task today was just laying out where the decks for the Dome will go; essentially just hammering some sticks into the ground to pinpoint where the support columns will go. I always enjoy this bit and it feels much more symbolic than it really is. It also a little nerve racking as its really the first actual physical representation of what is in your head.

It also feels really small. I have done detailed, down to the cm, floor plans but when you look at a half dozen sticks in the ground you do start to wonder if you planned it big enough. I am sure we have though especially as we opted for 7m tents over the 5m tents most glamping sites choose.

The next job was digging the holes for the foundations and I was impressed that by the end of the day, our mechnical digger had dug every hole as asked and we even had a few rebar columns standing proud.

Nakara Glamping – You Can Watch It All Here

You can watch the project unfold on our youtube channel: Nakara Villas & Glamping though you can watch today’s episode below. We have tried to both tell our own story but also share tips, tricks and learnings so you can save the money and avoid the disasters that we didn’t.

Building our Glaming Domes:
Day 1 – Ordering

Our Glamping Dome Tent Adventure Starts

Today we went to the bank and transferred a 30% deposit for two 7m Glamping Dome Tents.

Actually, I thought we were going to do a bus conversion. There was a beautiful 1970s Mercedes-Benz bus for sale just a 1km away from our location. Our first plan was to buy that and convert it into accommodation. From a distance, it was stunning. Close up it was badly rusted and too damaged and further investigation proved that some of the damage was terminal.

So Shanana and I decided to extend our resort by adding two Glamping Dome Tents! Not least as we are both fans of our glamping ourselves but it’s growing in popularity and it just about fits our budget.

Choosing our Glamping Dome Tent Supplier

It’s taken about 3 months to do the research and to put a business plan together but so far it looks a sound investment. We believe we will see a positive return in 18-24 months. This, though, is assuming that the pandemic finally appears in our rear view mirror rather than in front of us.

There are plenty of glamping dome tent suppliers. We contacted a half dozen suppliers in Thailand and China. In the end we chose Jumei Tents who are based in Guangzhou. It seems that the local suppliers are all ordering from China anyway and we found we could save 35% by buying direct from the factories in China. The difference is that we will not get the on ground servicing as we would buying locally and more of the work, and decisions, will need to come from us.

We have opted for 7m dome tents. The most popular size for Thailand glamping dome tents is 5m in diameter. So 7m is a significant step up in cost. Not just for the tents, but everything else needs to be a size bigger. However 7m tents gives us an extra 20m2 of floor space plus and an extra meter in height; we believe people will enjoy that extra space. Especially parents with children.

Yesterday (Friday 30th) we went and put down the deposit so Jumei can start the manufacturing process. One tent will have a blue curtain, the other a metallic grey. Otherwise the two tents are identical.

Excited and Nervous

As our project starts, we are both excited and a little nervous. This is somewhat of a learning experience for us though for now the designs looks spectacular so we are optimistic that we can finish this project on budget, in time and create a wonderful experience too!

A Front View of our 7m Starry Glamping Dome with Blue Curtains at Nakara Villas and Glamping
A front view of our 7m Starry Glamping Dome
A Top View of our 7m Starry Glamping Dome Showing Solar Vent, Windows Door Roof and Front Bay Window at Nakara Villas and Glamping
A Top View of our 7m Starry Glamping Dome
A Side View of our 7m Starry Glamping Dome Showing Solar Vent, Window and Door at Nakara Villas and Glamping
A Side View of our 7m Starry Glamping Dome

thank you!

Thank you for contacting us and for giving us the chance to host you at nakara Villas & Glamping

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