The roof arrives!

UPDATE: Moving Schools project – The roof and flooring arrive!

After a fantastic weekend constructing the ten school modules on site, we were eager for the arrival of the roofing fabric and flooring which would turn the steel frame structures into a school building. We received notice on Sunday morning that the UV resistant fabric for the roof had arrived in Bangkok from Germany via Oman. The fabric was very kindly donated to Building Trust by Mehler Texnologies a German company, who offered to provide the fabric for the school project free of charge we then had to pay the shipping cost by air to Thailand. We also awaited the arrival of the flooring which is made from a cementitious wood board by a Thai company called Viva Board. The cementitious wood board looks very similar to the familiar concrete flooring often found in Mae Sot schools, however the vital difference is that the Viva Board can be taken with the school community if they have to move the school in the future. Another package awaiting delivery from Bangkok were the aluminium extrusions, a  product by French company Profil Tensions Systems which would hold the PVC membrane to the steel frame.

After a few days of long, arduous and frustrating phone conversations, trying our hardest to get the fabric released from customs at Bangkok airport we received the great news that on Wednesday afternoon the flooring, extrusions and roofing were on a truck from Bangkok to Mae Sot.

As the truck made it’s way to Mae Sot the volunteers spent 2 days completing 8 foundation holes for the central courtyard. Instead of using truck tyres and digging three tyres deep for the courtyard foundations, we used a smaller car tyres. We were able to use a smaller system for the central courtyard as there will be very little imposed loads on this area of the school.

Student help unload truck

As the final courtyard foundation hole was finished, the truck from Bangkok arrived and the volunteers, David and I wondered how on Earth we would be able to unload the truck containing all the flooring and roofing materials for the school construction. As we tried to come up with the easiest solutions to unload and called friends to see if they could help, out of nowhere a group of 50 students from the school next door, who had just finished playing football started walking in droves up the road. They all huddled together around the back off the truck and looked up to David & the workshop guys to unload the material to them. It was as if by magic a team of incredible, strong children showed up to help us unload. Ranging in ages from 6 – 16, they lifted the rolls of plastic roofing into the school site.


With 10 children to a roll the roofing was quickly brought into the school site. Next to be unloaded were the large Viva Boards for the flooring. Over the next hour 140 pieces of Viva board were carried piece by piece into the site, where I stood directing the children where to place the materials. It was fantastic to see how eager and enthusiastic the children were to help out.

We were so relieved that the fabric and roofing materials had arrived safely from Bangkok and could not quite believe the experience of unloading the truck. We truly believed someone/something was looking out for us.

Students from Parami carry Viva board

After an action packed afternoon on Friday, Saturday morning we were to begin work on the roofing sections. There are two sections to the roof, a small roof and one larger roof. Both steel frame roof sections need to be fitted with aluminium extrusions, which hold the plastic roofing material in place. Adrien from Profil Tension System  very kindly flew up from Bangkok to show us how to construct the aluminium and roofing sections.

Adrien from Profil Tension Systems fits aluminium extrusions to steel frame
Adrien from Profil Tension Systems fits aluminium extrusions to steel frame

First the aluminium extrusions are connected to the steel frame with self tapping screws at approx. 200mm centres.

Roofing fabric is stretched over the steel frame
Roofing fabric is stretched over the steel frame

The fabric is then rolled out over the steel frame and cut to the correct size. Small plastic extrusions are then tapped into place at four points across the frame to keep the fabric in place.

The four small plastic extrusions are then removed as a larger piece of plastic extrusion is fitted to the roofing section as the plastic is stretched and tightened across the frame.

Plastic extrusions are fitted
Plastic extrusions are fitted

When the plastic is stretched and tight across the whole roof, then a second layer of aluminium is fitted on top.

Fitting top layer extrusion
Fitting top layer extrusion

The process of fitting aluminium extrusions to plastic onto steel roofing frame took the team just under one hour to complete. Now to complete another 9 small frames and 10 large frames!

Finished small roof
Finished small roof

It was great to see how fantastic the roofing fabric looked against the steel frame and when tested under the rain we could see how resistant the fabric was to the weather and how little noise could be heard when the rain hit the plastic surface. This would be a huge change to the current tin roof which is very noisy and only lasts a few years. We hope that the plastic roof will last for 5-10 years, Chan Chan the Headmistress smiled from ear to ear as she visited the school site and the weekend to see the fabric roofing material. This will be the first of its kind and we hope will make a dramatic improvement to the education of the children at Thu Kha Hang Sar.

Large roofing frame is constructed on site
Large roofing frame is constructed on site

We now wait for a break in the rain to place the 10 small and 10 large roofs onto the steel modules. We hope that we will be able to have the roof up over the next few days. This will allow us to have a dry area where we can begin to fit the Viva board flooring and insert the bamboo wall panels into the school structure.

3 thoughts on “The roof arrives!”

  1. Great progress and what a blessing that the children arrived to help unload the truck. It must be so exciting to see the school taking shape. Hope the weather is kind to you

  2. Fantastic progress and thank God for the childrens help. Looking forward to seeing the first complete classroom. Well done and thanks to the kids for their help and enthusiasm.

  3. Throughout this whole build, I have thought that God was on your side. Even the initial disappointment proved to be fortuitious for Chan Chan, her pupils and teachers,as they are going to have a wonderful, unique building.
    I hope God intervenes with the rains to give you time to complete the building.

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