While Lott and Naht were finishing up on the wooden structure (Phase 1), we had them do one Phase 2 task before they would leave us for a while -- maybe a long while. We had them put in the concrete floor downstairs.
Whenever family or friends in The States ask us why we built Bann Nah so high off the ground -- and “is it because of flooding?” -- we have an opportunity to explain a little about our Phase 2 plans of enclosing the downstairs eventually. I always like to throw in the part that it is traditional to build on stilts in Southeast Asia.
The reality, though, is that these days most SE Asian housing is now built from the ground up -- almost always using a concrete pad. In the very distant times, bamboo construction of living quarters demanded structures being built above ground (probably not much more than two or three feet) to ensure that the bamboo stayed mostly dry. Elevating the structures also protected occupants from things crawling or slithering on the ground.
As time went on and wood and nails replaced bamboo in home construction, homes were still elevated for the same reason when it came to other ground creatures, but now it incorporated a little greater height so that people could have a living space underneath the house in daytimes -- to block from rain and sun.
Thip's Family Home, 1999
When I first met my wife, this was the state of her family home. They even had chickens and ducks living underneath the house, which I didn’t think was sanitary or a good idea, but then again it wasn’t my house.
Thip's Family Home, 2001
After Thip and I married, we had the family house elevated further so that the entire house could be built out, underneath. This involved jacking the whole house up, putting in support posts and beams, concrete block walls and a concrete floor which was tiled over. Many Thai houses have had this done to them. Chances are, when you see a Thai or SE Asian house that is wood on the second floor but concrete on the first, that structure is that way due to evolutionary change, not by initial design.
Thip's Family Home, 2002