Planning To Build A Retirement House In Thailand - The Important Factors

The 7 Most Important Factors To Take Into Account When Planning To Build A Retirement House In Thailand

Part 1. Pitching Your House Specification

The 7 important factors to take into account when planning to build a house in Thailand for you to retire to.

Each of these elements will considerably change the cost of your house, how quickly it can be built, the configuration and the quality. This commentary deals with the first factor “Pitching Your House Specification”.

You probably already have a good idea of the type, size, layout etc of the house you are planning to build in Thailand for your retirement. After reading this article you may decide to review your ideas.

In the time it has taken to get my house half finished in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand, two colleagues have seen their houses started and completed and at half the cost.

In fact the build of our house has turned out to be a nightmare of the kind you hear about in the newspapers or read on the Thai forum websites.

On the other hand, these other houses were built quickly and cheaply with no hassles at all. (Compared to my problems anyway)

So what was the difference between their house and ours that made all the difference?

It All Begins With The Concept – What You Want Your Retirement House To Be

What you want your house to be will depend upon many factors, who will use it, how do they want to use it and more importantly who is the house for and what are their expectations?

Who Is The Retirement House Intended For?

Our house was essentially my design. The layout of the rooms, style of house, type and quality of finishes etc was based on what I wanted as a retirement house and was of quite a generous standard. My Thai wife of course loved it.

My colleagues’ houses on the other hand appeared to be based on the minimum that they could “get away with” whilst satisfying their Thai wives’ requirements. Essentially those houses were based on a Thai wife’s expectations. They were designed for the Thai wife not for themselves.

The standard of houses in the west tend to be much higher than in Thailand and the westerners demand more ‘mod cons’, western kitchen, security doors and windows, high grade fittings and finishes etc. On the other hand, such features of western houses are not commonly found in Thailand, the Thai spouse isn’t aware of them and doesn’t need them. Hence a house based on a Thai wife’s perspective can be much simpler and cheaper than a house based on western standards.

Sometimes the designs of these other houses were simply copied from one of the many pre-designed Thai houses that you can download from the Thai Government website. In short they were off-the-peg houses.

In contrast I had a set of construction drawings produced by a registered Thai Architect in Bangkok and the set of drawings comprised some 42 sheets! I’m glad I had those house plans made and for my large, high spec house, they are essential.

Key Thai House Configuration Considerations

Whereas there are a number of key considerations that will considerably affect the cost and time to construct a retirement house built in any country, number and size of rooms for example, there are some key considerations that apply specifically to a retirement house built in Thailand.

These key considerations relate to the differences in what is considered as normal practice in a Thai house and in a western house. The key considerations are related to the number of floors, the bathroom, the kitchen where there are fundamental differences in approach between western practice and Thai practice. Another key considerations is whether the house is to be provided with air conditioning or not.

One Or Two Floors

What number of levels you intend to have is one of the most important criteria that can affect the price and speed of building your retirement house in Thailand. For thousands of years Thai houses are built with the living spaces lifted up from the ground on timber or concrete columns, or ‘posts’ as the Thai describe them. A standard Thai house may exhibit, for example, a dozen posts set in a 3 x 4 matrix, and this is termed a “12 post house”.

My own retirement house is a “16 post house” and the upper story containing the living spaces is 3 m above ground floor level. This is considerably harder to construct and costlier than a bungalow construction having all the living accommodation on the ground floor.

I undoubtedly wanted to have a post house, and my Thai wife really likes it, but I’m convinced she would have been equally happy with a bungalow. I am paying for my idea to have a traditional Thai post house both in terms of cost and time to construct.

Thus think wisely if you certainly want a post house or if you can put up with a one-floor construction which will be less expensive and faster to build.

Bathroom Or Shower Room

This is a further decision that is most likely to s the price and period to build your retirement house and again, it is a Thai compared to Western subject.

Conventional style and basic Thai houses are frequently not provided with a bath as is usually common in a western bathroom. Surprisingly, I prefer not to have a bathtub, because I don’t use one. I usually enjoy a shower that’s why a basic shower room is all I want.

Unusual for a Thai, though my wife does like to relax in a bath tub filled with hot water and those smelly bath salts or bubble bath. So we are having a bath tub. Since i want a walk-in shower room, we are having two ‘bathrooms’, one is a western style bathroom with hand wash basin, WC and bat tub, the other a shower room with hand wash basin and shower only. Again, the decisions are made on the basis of answering the question ‘who is the house for?’.

Type of Kitchen – Thai Style or Western Style Kitchen

The style of kitchen you decide to construct is another area that can have a large impact on the cost of the house. Traditionally a lot of preparation of Thai food for cooking is done on the floor. Even though we have a normal western style kitchen in our house in the U.K., my wife still put the ‘crok’ on the floor to pound the ingredient e.g. for a nam prick.

Also the Thai food is often cooked on a single heat source, or at most two heat sources, one for the rice and the other for a pot of food, e.g. soup.

In line with this pattern of usage, Thai kitchens traditionally are very simple affairs, and do not have the long waist level counter tops and ovens like a western style kitchen. Frequently the Thai kitchen even in modern Thai houses, is not an enclosed room, but is a simple external area with a roof and perhaps a short table and sink.

So you do not really need the expense of a western style kitchen will all the counter tops, cupboards, cookers, grilles, cooker hoods etc that go into a modern western home.

In Thailand you will need a refrigerator but many Thai kitchens do not have a freezer or a washing machine for clothes or dishes.

Again, my retirement house in Thailand is designed with a western style kitchen, complete with long granite counter-top and integral dual sink, Fridge and Freezer. Provision of cupboards, drawers and washing machines is not part of the current scheme, however, but may be provided later.


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