Who’s In Control Of Cost And Programme On This Retirement House Build Project In Thailand? Clearly Not Me!

Mission Creep – The Nightmare Scenario Feared Of Armed Conflict Comes To Roost In Pakchong (Pak Chong)

A bit dramatic? Maybe wouldn’t make the front page of the daily newspapers but when I’m told the house is finished and I am still sending vast sums of money out to Thailand month after month after month, it’s a nightmare scenario for me.

The Return Of The Bad Old Days?

If you have been reading this blog for a long time you’ll recall the Bad Old Days when I was writing posts like “Thailand Retirement House Build Plans Dashed” when the Thailand retirement house-build project was really getting me down and I seemed to have hit an all-time low.

Are those days back again after we lifted ourselves back up with a new builder?

Not quite. The new builder is terrific. Excellent quality and easy for Kanyah to work with, helpful, considerable, knowledgeable, and as far as I can tell – honest.

The Problem Is With Kanyah. Not The Builder

On the “Our Retirement House In Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand, Inches Towards Completion With One Wooden Wall Finished” post dated 28 June Kanyah was talking about 3 to 6 weeks to complete the house construction. She originally (20 June) said it would take 3 months as advised by the new Thai builder.

Now it’s 5 October, and it’s still not finished. The builder has stopped work on the house (original scope) to do all these add-ons (mission creep) instructed by Kanyah.

I implore with Kanyah to get the house finished so that she can take residence there and cease renting the hotel room at The Mansion.

I’m completely mystified why she doesn’t do this. Surely, I think, she would be more relaxed and happier living in her own house, in her own space, with her own belongings unpacked and with the facilities at last to cook real food for herself instead of eating takeaways from the few roadside food stalls there are in Pakchong.

But she is waiting until “everything is finished” before moving in.

What does “everything is finished” mean? Here are some of these mission-creep projects Kanyah has started or is planning that are over and above the original house build scope:-

  • Utility Building – Massively oversized and over-specified. (Work commenced)
  • Concrete slabs about 2m wide all round the house – not necessary. (Work commenced)
  • Marble Terrazzo floors to all ground floor areas – Grossly expensive, extravagant, out of place and unnecessary. (Work commenced)
  • Stone driveway. (Work planned)
  • And then there’s the landscaping of the garden…

Yet all the house needs to make it habitable (so she says) is to put up the light fittings, install the power outlets, switch on the electricity and the final house clean.

Oh! And she says there are no kitchen cabinets, cooker etc.

Never mind that Kanyah! What do you have in The Mansion? A rice cooker that’s all. Get yourself a fridge and a bottled gas cooking ring or two and you’re sorted! Why aren’t you getting that fixed instead of concentrating on all of the additional  external works?

You’ll be more relaxed and comfortable and I’ll be able to stop paying for the hotel bills and water and electricity on two locations.

Now Let’s Look At The Latest Photographs Showing The Progress On Building The Retirement House In Pakchong (Pak Chong)

But before we get into that let me ask you a question…

When you look at these photos what are you actually looking at? Or looking for?

  • Construction techniques and materials in Thailand?
  • The weird and wonderful way the Thais do things?
  • How beautiful (or otherwise) our retirement house looks?
  • Problems building a house in Thailand?
  • And other things you may not know you are looking at or for.

When I look at the photos I am looking for:-

  • When will it be finished?
  • Is it another waste of money?
  • When can I stop sending sack-loads of money out to Thailand?

In the beginning I wasn’t looking for answers to those questions.

No I am because every 100 Baht spent on unnecessary building works can buy me a meal in Thailand when I retire.

And every cubit metre of concrete and every 10m2 of terazzo marble flooring can keep both of us in food and drink for  month when I retire to Thailand. (No calculations done to prove this – it’s the concept that matters)

In other words, I am working in UK and sending all my spare money to Thailand for Kanyah to waste on unnecessary luxuries. That money should be going into the bank to spend on living in Thailand when I retire. We could probably both live your a year or several on the amount of money she has spent just on the stuff you are about to see on this web page.

O.K. On to The Photos – How To Waste Money On Building A Retirement House In Thailand

Image of Concrete Patio Slab Rear 01

Pouring The Concrete To Form The Patio At The Rear Of The House

Kanyah has decided to have a concrete strip about 2 m wide cast all around the house and you can see one of the strips being poured in the photo above. This is the road side of the house which is normally called the front of the house, but we have built our house so that the front – where the balcony is – is at the back, so to speak.

When I asked her what it was for she said “It looks beautiful” and that it was to stop the dirt from your feet coming into the house. Sorry, Kanyah, I thought that’s what the ground floor patio was for – before you covered it with marble-finish terrazzo.

Sure, I can see the benefit of this concrete buffer zone – but the advantages far outweigh the cost in my book. We could live for a year in Pakchong (Pak Chong) on the amount of money that concrete has cost me.

Image of Concrete Patio Slab Rear 02

Pouring More Concrete To Form The Patio At The Rear Of The House

Another pour of concrete going on whilst the first is still being trowelled smooth.

The guy in the foreground is trowelling the concrete smooth while another concrete pour is going ahead in a different position at the rear of the photo.

I know from my considerable construction industry experience URL that the correct way to pour concrete is to pour the next load right alongside the previous one so that the pour appears as one homogenous mass of concrete.

The objective is to ensure that the concrete does not dry out between different pour batches because that creats a wet-to-dry conrete joint which is no where near as strong as contigous concrete that you get pouring wet next to wet concrete.

Even a non-builder will understand this.

But look at the photo. They are making a second pour well away from the first and still wet pour. Why?

Judging (from the photo) by the area that one pour of concrete covers there are at least two more pours to go in betweeen the two you can in the photo before they meet up. Plenty of time for the previous concrete pour to dry out!

Image of Concrete Patio Slab Rear 03

Septic Tank And Soak-Away Covers

The third concrete pour at the rear of the house. At least this pour is next to the previous pour. Perhaps thay have been listening to me!

But the reason I am showing this photo is to highlight the manholes.

The circular hole is the top of the septic tank I don’t know what the square brick hole is for. I could guess and say it’s the top of a soakaway tank but heh! let’s not conjecture – I’ll save this mystery as something to be discovered when I go out there next Christmas.

My little Christmas treat!

Is Kanyah Building The House Of Babel?

Or Eschers Ascending Descending Stairs?

Image of The Tower of Babel

Is Kanyah Building Another Tower Of Babel?

Bâbel, a Hebrew word means Confusion and the The House Of Babel or more often The Tower Of Babel is a storey found in the Biblical book of Genesis, and is one of the most famous and beloved legends of mankind. It’s a story where all the people building the huge tower that would reach the heavens spoke a common language and the Lord changed all that so that everbody spoke a different language and stopped building.

This picture of  The Tower Of Babel is  similar to the famous “Escher’s Ascending Descending Stairs” where the steps around the building rise and fall in an impossible fashion like this:-

Image of Eschers Ascending Descending Stairs

Escher's Ascending Descending Stairs

The pictures of the The Tower Of Babel and Escher’s Ascending Descending Stairs above are what I want you to remember when you look at the next couple of photos of the retirement house that Kanyah is building in Pakchong (Pak Chong).

Image of Concrete Patio Slab Rear 04

Close-Up Of Poured Concrete To Form The Patio At The Rear Of The House

Notice in the photo above that the top of the new concrete slab and the patio are on the same level

Image of Concrete Patio Slab Side 01

Poured Concrete Slab To The Side Of The House To Carry The Water Tanks

In the photo above the concrete side slab runs down the side of the house between the house and the fenceline to the neighbours land.

This is a complete waste of money!

That area is where we plan to put a couple of huge water tanks to store water from the roof collected by the huge gutters we have had put up.

But water tanks don’t need a flat concrete slab to sit on. If anything they need a slab of concrete independent of the house to allow for differential settlement. Put big water tanks on this slab and I guarantee the slab will crack.

The tower of Bâbel story continues…

Look at the photo below which is a close up of the photo you have just been looking at – the concrete side slab:-

Image of Step Up From Side Concrete Patio Slab To Patio

Notice the 150 mm Step Up From the Side Concrete Slab To Patio

Above, notice the 150 mm step up from the concrete side slab to the patio slab itself (which is a good thing to keep rainwater from the patio). Now compare this the ring of concrete with the rising ramps that spiral around the Tower of Babel in the Tower of Babel photo above.

And remember that in the “Close-Up Of Poured Concrete To Form The Patio At The Rear Of The House” photo above, the top of the new concrete slab and the patio are on the same level.

So where does the level change if it’s not a “Babel Ramp”?

Image of Concrete Patio Slab Side 01

Poured Concrete Slab To The Side Of The House To Carry The Water Tanks

I added the picture above to show the thickness of the concrete side slab. It’s a massive piece of concrete!

My next question is whether Kanyah will continue this concrete slab around the front of the house where the steps are?

OK enough of concrete. lets now look at some of the …

Photos Of The Terrazzo Marble Floors

Image of Terrazzo Marble Floor 01 Workshop 01

Two Floor Grinding Machines At Work Polishing The Terrazzo Marble Floor In My Workshop

Terrazzo is an all natural material only consisting of stones or aggregate (commonly marble, quartz, granite, glass or other suitable chips) mixed with cement. As such, after the concrete/stone mix has been poured and allowed to cure hard the stones (e.g. marble granules) are embedded in the concrete and not visible. The floor just looks like concrete until it has been ground.

Next the grinding machines are put to work to literally grind the concrete and cut into the marble granules leaving a lovely shiny finish.

Image of Terrazzo Marble Floor 01 Workshop 01

Reflections Of The Windows On The Shiny Surface Of The Highly Polished Terrazzo Marble Floor In The Workshop

Above, the result of grinding the marble terrazzo floor in the workshop.

At the risk of booring you to death with my mantra let me say that this is…

… This Marble Terrazzo Flooring Is A Complete Waste Of Money

Here’s why:-

Three Reasons Why Marble Terrazzo Flooring Is A Complete Waste Of Money For The Retirement House IN Pakchong (Pak Chong)

1. I’ll be Ruining That lovely Shiny Finish In A Few Weeks Of Moving In

This will be my workshop. My hobby is making model steam engines and I’ll be retiring to Thailand to do my hobby full time.

Above, some photos of the model steam engine I’m building at the moment. (Part finished) And below some photos of the individual parts.

Image of Making A Model Steam Engine Steam Engine

Some Components Of A Model Steam Engine

I will be putting heavy metalworking machinery in there like a lathe milling and drilling machines, a hacksaw machine and welding equipment.

Image of Workshop Machine Tool Lathe

My Lathe in the Workshop

Image of Workshop Machine Tool Drill

Another Workshop Machine- A Pillar Drill

Image of Workshop Machine Tool Bandsaw

Workshop Machine Tool Bandsaw

I’ll be dropping heavy steel parts on the floor (always happens) which will chip the beautiful shiny floor finish and the metal cuttings (swarf) from the machines will form an ideal grinding paste to wreck the marble finish.

Image of Workshop Equipment Dirty Swarf on Lathe

Dirty Swarf on the Lathe

Here’s a picture of a typical workshop floor to give you an idea of what a workshop looks like (not my workshop by the way):-

2. I Won’t Be Able To find Anything I Drop On The Floor

My models incorporate some very small pieces about the size of a matchstick or smaller. These are often screws, washers etc and as you’ll see in the photo below the marble terrazzo floor makes a perfect camouflage for such tiny pieces of metal.

Making A Model Steam Engine Steam Engine Small Bits

Image of Making A Model Steam Engine Steam Engine Small Bits

Image of Terrazzo Marble Floor 01 Workshop 02

Brass Construction Joint In The Highly Polished Terrazzo Marble Floor In The Workshop

Above, try to find a black steel nut the size of a rice grain on this floor!

Note also the brass strip put in to act as a construction joint to control cracking between different sections of the flooring arising from thermal expansion of the terrazzo flooring.

The next photo of the workshop is more to do with the sink than the marble terrazzo flooring:-

Image of Terrazzo Marble Floor 01 Workshop 02

Kitchen Sink In The Workshop

In the photo of my workshop above in the distance you can see what looks like a kitchen cabinet. It’s probably my kitchen sink that I asked Kanyah to have put in. I just wanted a stainless steel sink to wash my oily hands and to wash oily pieces of models etc, like this one:-

Image of a Stainless Steel Workshop Sink

The Stainless Steel Workshop Sink I Envisaged

Obviously, Kanyah is trying to please me, God (whoever that is) bless her.

Next is another close-up picture of the marble terrazzo flooring. This looks like a step to me, probably the step up from the patio to the workshop:-

Image of Terrazzo Marble Floor Detail 01

Detail Of The Brass Expansion Joint At The Step Down From The Workshop To The Patio

And talking of the patio, here it is:-

Image of Terrazzo Marble Floor Patio 01

Terrazzo Marble Floor To The Rear Patio

Lovely terrazzo marble floor finish on the patio, above.

Turn the corner and we see the car port:-

Image of Terrazzo Marble Floor Patio Car Port 01

Terrazzo Marble Floor To The Car Port Patio

Above the marble terrazzo floor finish in the car port.

3. You Don’t Need Expensive Marble Floors For A Car Park!

If you haven’t worked it out this is the third reason why This marble terrazzo flooring is a complete waste of money.

What do you commonly see in a car park?

  • Oil. Dripping from the cars.
  • Dirt. Dirty soil brought in on the tires.
  • Tyre marks. Big black tires scuff the surface and scratch it whilst also leaving behind tire rubber marks.

In short- marble finish terrazzo flooring is the last thing you want for a car port!

Meet Our Second Thai Builder

Image of Our New Thai Builder 01

Our New Thai Builder Seems To Enjoying Himself

If you want a retirement house built in the Pakchong (Pak Chong) area then do your best to get this Thai builder to do it for you. He is very pleasant to deal with and does  superb job as you have seen on this blog.

The Largest Utility Building In Pakchong (Pak Chong)!

When we signed up with our first builder was asked him also build a toilet downstairs for the use of guests and anyone in the garden. It would also be handy for myself whn working in the workshop.

That fell through when Kanyah sacked the builder. So when she told me she had asked the new builder to build a downstairs toilet I said “That’s fine but can you also put a shower in it?”. Useful, I thought to cool off on a hot day.

Now look what she’s having built:-

Image of Toilet Block 01

Right Hand Side Of The Toilet Block Showing 4 Of The Six Posts

Above, the toilet block is so big Kanyah can only fit half of it in the camera frame. It’s a six-post building and in the photo above you can see four of them.

The left hand side of the building is shown in the photo below:-

Image of Toilet Block 02

Left Hand Side Of The Toilet Block Showing The Other Posts

Above, note that the ridge of the roof is directly over one row of three posts. that means that the entire front half of the roof is unsopported by the posts but is cantilevered out. Strange design.

Image of Toilet Block 03

Rendering The Blockwork On The Right Hand Side Of The Toilet Block

Above the lightweight concrete block walls are up and are receiving the cement rendering finish.

Image of Toilet Block 04

Three Quarter View Of The Toilet Block

In the photo above you can see the cement rendering on the end of the building is quite smooth, that on the front is clearly not finished yet. it looks like this side of the building will be the toilet given the lack of windows.

Image of Toilet Block 05

Rear View Of The Toilet Block

The rear view of the utility building showing on the left a small window for the toilet and on the right you can see a larger window. this is likely to be a Utility Room. i.e. Washing and ironing.

Image of Toilet Block 06

Front View Of The Toilet Block Showing The Concrete Slab Thickness

I have added this view to display the thickness of the concrete floor slab. Should be strong enough and high enough to keep the rain water out.

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5 Responses to “Mission Creep – Costs Escalate – Time Overruns – Photos Show Why”

  • Oh Alan,

    I have to laugh and I have to cry at your story. especially finding a black steel nut ! I have put all my retirement plans on hold as my Thai wife sounds like Kanyah’s sister.

    You will need a washing bay for your pickups tyres now, before you drive into the showroom, as it rains quite a bit here in Thailand !!

    All the best and thanks for your update as usual…


    admin Reply:

    Hi Russ,

    Laughing & crying, loving & hating all at the same time.

    Only Thailand can do that to a person, as it often does.

    As to Kanyah’s sister she’s a monk and lives in a temple, so you can defrost your retiring in Thailand plans.

    The terrazzo marble floors is a great mistake, but I’ve thought of a use for the massive Utility Building…

    A Brewery!

    I always planned to have a brewery and brew proper English Beer at our retirement house in Thailand and had planned to build the building to contain it.

    And here Kanyah is, building it for me!

    Thank you Kanyah.

    And thanks Russ for the comment.

    Chok Dee



  • Alec:

    Hi Alan

    When I got my house in 2004 in UK I needed to put down a new carpet in the lounge so took up the old light beige one totally unsuitable for an engineer as it shows every mark and then when we converted to garage into a workshop we used rubber underlay on the floor and then the old carpet from the house.

    This served as insulation and also we are able to find bit easily when as you rightly say they drop on the floor.

    However unlike your workshop we do not have much heavy machinery here just 30 mm beige worktops, lots of electrical sockets for our soldering irons, heathsrink guns, drills and cutters.

    On the Kanyah front before I married my present wonderful wife in April 1997 I met and married what I thought was a fabulous girl from Kolat (1st Class degree, very pretty, nice family, parents had a company and her parents and we had been on holiday together to visit Kanchanaburi etc etc.

    I had to go  back to Uk after sometime but planned to return in 2 months and thinking I should support my wife I gave her my Bangkok Bank card (idiot- should have just given her 10,000 or so!!) in which there was 350,000 Baht and I told her she could use the card for her living expenses until I got back.

    When I returned every single Baht had been removed up to 20,000 per day so I went to Kolat and met her parents and sisters (who were in tears about their young sister) and I explained to them that this was not quite what I had meant.

    Her mum was clearly distressed and kindly offered to pay me most of the money (250,000) back so I accepted.

    The reason my fiancee had done this was that on meeting her friends she had decided that she did not wished to be married after all and so we were divorced on the same day!!

    Funny old life but we always have to some up smiling in Thailand and UK.



    admin Reply:

    Alec thanks for sharing your story with us, I’m sure many thousands of readers will enjoy reading it iand many will have their own story to tell.

    I hope that by publishing your story it will encourage others to do so too.

    I’ve lost similar amounts (more in fact) to a Thais in the past. For example I lost 355,401 Baht to the previous builder when Kanyah (belatedly) sacked him.

    Why do we keep coming back for more?



  • Terence:

    OMG! Alan,

    Really don’t know what to say to you and your future retirement house/plan in Thailand going to be like?

    Sorry pal, but I smell rat.

    But at this point of time, please……..stop dumping $$$ into the depthless well and start saving something for yourself before it’s too late.

    You don’t need a mansion to retire and cannot feed on laid concrete and marble when you’re totally stressed-up, drained (physically & mentally), penniless and worse, homeless when things could gone terribly wrong.

    Best of luck to you,


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