Important Considerations When Building a Home in the Tropics
If you come from a cool climate, you have probably dreamed about a home in the tropics for most of your life. No more snow to shovel, open windows in the evening. But building a home in the tropics is not the same as building one in colder countries. In the tropics, you are trying to keep the heat out, and failing that, making sure it goes away as soon as possible. You are battling the sun, and humidity, and instead of sealing the place up. You will do better to plan for airflow through the house. Here are a few suggestions.
- Don’t Do It Yourself: A few people move to the tropics as a retirement destination and plan to build themselves a home. Usually, these are people with experience building homes in their own country. This plan frequently takes an adverse turn. Between the different materials available, different standards, different skill sets of the trades, and the different issues of living in a tropical climate. The project often bogs down and ends in a compromise that was nobody’s dream. Professional builders have proven designs like a 3 storey house plan (calling แบบแปลนบ้าน 3 ชั้น in Thai). That can adjust to your needs and save you a lot of time and effort.
- Orientation: The best practice for building a home in sunny locations is orienting the house to use the airflow from the prevailing wind direction. Also, keep your largest windows to the darker side, depending on what side of the equator you are on.
- Ventilation: You may be planning to have a lot of air conditioning. In which case, airflow is less critical. But it is more energy-efficient to use airflow and ventilation to your advantage. Adequate ventilation is essential to reduce mould and moisture damage.
- Wall Materials: In many tropical destinations, the prevailing wall material is brick. Bricks are great for simplicity and resistance to moisture damage. But they also retain a lot of heat. Lightweight materials are better at shedding heat so you can be comfortable at night.
- Roofing: Two things you fight in the tropics are sun and rain. An expansive roof works for both. Make sure you choose a plan that includes good cover for the indoor living area and shelters the outside living areas too. You might find you spend more time outside than in.
If you are new to the climate and don’t know why some things are designed the way they are and which solutions work best, you might consider renting for a year or two and learning the advantages and the pitfalls of certain materials and design choices.