This Thailand Retirement House-Build Project Is Really Getting Me Down – I Seem To Have Hit An All-Time Low

Day 9. Saturday 30 April. (Written in Thailand, Posted in U.K.)

The Mansion Internet Connection Is Too Unreliable Today

The internet connection was switching itself off and on like traffic lights, only more off than on. Hence I couldn’t receive or send emails or update the website.

Gate Is Being Fitted

The front gate is being fitted by the gate company and they seem to be doing a decent job. The gate itself is a lovely demonstration in the art of stainless steel pipe bending and welding workmanship. Seems Kanyah likes it which can’t be a bad thing. It will also do a useful job.

Image of Stainless Steel Gate - General View

General View Of the Stainless Steel Gate

Above, a photo of the stainless steel gate at the front of our retirment house.

Image of Stainless Steel Gate Detail 2 - The Bolt

Stainless Steel Gate Detail - The Bolt

Above, details of the locking arrrangements for the gate. See the next post for a photo with the locks in place and the story about why we put the locks on.

image of Stainless Steel Gate Detail - Welding Detail

Stainless Steel Gate Detail - Welding Detail

Above, lovely clean welding. Attention to detail and craftsmanship is clearly evident. Why, oh why, can’t our house be built with the sane care and attention?

Image of the Stainless Steel Gate Detail - Hinge Welding At The Personnel Gate

Stainless Steel Gate Detail - Hinge Welding At The Personnel Gate

Above, another example of attention to detail on this beautiful stainless steel gate.

Image of Stainless Steel Gate Detail - Personnel Gate & Runners
Stainless Steel Gate Detail – Personnel Gate & Runners

Above,  The main gate has an additionl personell gate built into it so that people can enter via the personell gate without having to open the main gate. Also, the personell gate can be left unlocked for people to enter whilst the main gat remains locked to preent vehicles from entering.

Thai Retirement House Building Project From Hell – And I’m Sick Of It

At this stage I tell Kanyah exactly how I feel about this retirement house build project (as I have hinted at in previous posts):-

  • If it’s not the worst building project in Thailand then there can’t be many worse than this.
  • Builder now claiming that items on the Tender Drawings are ‘not included’.
  • The builder lowered the balcony roof of his own accord without anyone telling me about it.
  • The roof had to be extended by ‘bolt-on’ ridge beam and rafters because of the builder’s mistake.
  • The woodwork is generally of poor quality and rain protective finished not properly applied.
  • The wooden floor issues I mentioned in the last post.
  • The build is going too slowly and the builder does not show up every day and when he does it’s always late in the day. The program (construction schedule) shows a finish date of 22 June 2011. My guess is we’ll be lucky if it’s finished by the end of August.
  • The builder now wants us not only to pay for the materials up front but to provide his with an advance for each stage – in spite of us making two hefty up front payments at the start of the project and always making the stage payments on or in advance of the due time.
  • Communication between the builder and ‘my team’ (Kanyah and Jalan) is of very poor quality and infrequent. Similarly (as I have moaned about in other posts) Kanyah doesn’t tell me what is going on on site.
  • In my opinion (as I have just relayed to Kanyah about three times) Jalan is not inspecting the works – he is just watching them – and he certainly has added no benefit in terms of quality control.
  • And to top it all Kanyah and Jalan take the builder’s side in everything – even though it’s Kanyah’s house that’s being built!

Oh and that’s not the end of it. It’s too hot, I hate the beer, my legs and arms are covered in stinging mosquito bites, the food has given me a good dose of the (you know what) that I can’t shake off, I can’t sleep at night (for a variety of reasons) and there’s nowhere to sit at a table with my laptop, a power supply and an internet connection, and I can’t find any energy to do anything. Oh, I forgot one, my feet have swollen up like hot water bottles (for anyone who remembers them!) and it takes 5 minutes to force my shoes on nearly breaking my fingers in the process and as you know, in Thailand, whenever you go indoors you have to take your shoes off.

In short I can’t wait to get home to U.K. and forget about the whole mess.

By the way, I was getting so fed up on site today, I told Kanyah I was going to walk to a nearby roadside food stall where they have a table in the shade so that I can work on the website. That’s where I am now typing this. And I didn’t have to walk – Kanyah dropped my in the pickup. Hey things are looking up!

Funny Shoehorn Story

Just writing that bit above about swollen feet and getting my shoes on reminds me of an event in Daeng’s house just after I had arrived in Thailand. By then my feet had aready swollen up in the ‘plane. When I came to put my shoes on when leaving Daeng’s house to come up to Pakchong, I was looking round for something like a shoehorn to ease my shoes on and help avoid breaking my fingers.

I remember when I was a kid, we used to use the back of a spoon to do the job of easing the heel of the foot into the back of the tight shoe. I knew of the Thai reverence of the head and low esteem of the foot so I though better not try a spoon.

Looking round the house and in the kitchen draws I was drawing a blank on finding a suitable improvised instrument. In a hurry I picked of a knife and started to use that – only to be greeted with hails of sarcastic laughter “Can you eat with that now?”, followed by “You can take it with you” from Daeng.

So now I have a table knife that can only be used for putting shoes on…

Today’s Visitors To Our Retirement House Building Site In Pakchong (Pak Chong)

We are expecting a few people to visit the construction site – the boss from the gate shop and Richard P and his Thai wife Lisa from Bangkok who are planning to build their own retirement home on the land they have bought in Pakchong.

Richard and his wife Lisa arrived so I was collected from the ‘restaurant’ by Kanyah and whisked back to the site (a 5 minute drive) and we chatted about our retirement house build project, the problems I was undergoing, about Richard’s forthcoming house build in Pakchong and living in Thailand in general. Richard is an American living and working in Bangkok (20 years) and has completed several apartment renovation projects.

Richard explains that the cash-flow issue our builder has is typical and he has experienced it many times in the past. It seems you just have to ‘go with the flow’.

Richard assures me that all my problems are ‘normal’ in Thailand and everything will work-out allright in the end. He does however warn me to be on site for the final finishing.

Richard invites us to a barbecue at his house in Pakchong in the evening but we can’t go because we have to go to Udon’s funeral.
I’m not sure if the gate boss arrived or not but it looks like the installation of the gate is going well, if slowly.

Later On I Realise Some New Blunders By Our Builder

Wrong Levels of the Kitchen And Lounge Plus Door Sliders.

Looking at the drawings and thinking about what I had seen when I ventured up to the second floor, I realised another two mistakes.

Mistake No. 1

The Lounge and Bedroom floors are supposed to be 50 mm higher that the Kitchen floor to stop rain water coming into the Lounge and Bedroom from the Kitchen in heavy rain when we keep the main doors (leading to the patio) open. This is clearly shown on the drawings put the builder has put all these floors at exactly the same level:-

Image of Pakchong House Floor Levels 1
Pakchong House Floor Levels 1

Above, the Thai Architect’s second floor plan for our retirement house under construction at Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand, clearly shows the difference in floor levels between the Balcony, Dining/Kitchen and the remainder of the house. Below is a close-up view of the Thai Architect’s drawings. Click on the images to see a bigger version.

Image of Pakchong House Floor Levels 2
Pakchong House Floor Levels 2

Above, the different floor levels are clearly shown on the Thai Architect’s construction drawings. To see a full set of these drawings go to the “My Construction Drawings” page.

Mistake No. 2

This has created another problem because in the house design the step formed at the change of level from the Kitchen was a convenient place to locate the lower slider for the folding doors leading into the Lounge. Now that the Lounge Floor and Kitchen floor is all one floor with no step, there is nowhere to put the lower slider.

It can’t just be run across the floor where the door is because:-

a) if it is above the floor i.e. in a raised step this will just form a trip hazard and look stupid when the doors are open

b) the slider can’t be recessed into the floor because that would mean cutting through the floorboards which would then have no support.

Udon’s Funeral In Prungsai, Thailand

Went to Udon’s funeral which wasn’t quite as traumatic or dull as imagined it to be – based on my experiences of funerals in the U.K.

Constuction Work Stopping Again

Tomorrow is labor day so the builder and workers will not be on site.

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2 Responses to “Thailand Retirement House Build Plans Dashed”

  • Dear Alan,

    I have been reading your post and would like to say please do not get too down about it all. I am sure it will all work out in the end. I hope it does very much.

    Thailand is a tricky place sometimes to do something and building a home is one of the most difficult. It is why our company Kensington design and build remains busy. With only 100% satisfied customers over 7 years.

    I wish we could have helped you build your home, but as you know the location was too far out for us. I am very glad you are so happy with our design service and the architect’s plans.

    Builders are a problem here and one has to be very careful to choose the right one. Many times people go for the cheapest price, and are unwittingly roped into a con or inexperienced builders who run off or do bad quality work. It is very common for both Thais and us foreigners. Cheap means cheap here and is best avoided.

    If you need any further help or advice please just drop me an e-mail. Very happy to assist.


    admin Reply:


    Thank you for your comment and interest on the RetiringInThailand website.
    Regarding the Thai architect’s house plans I am always thankful that I have the comprehensive set of Kensington architectural drawings for the builder to refer to when building our retirement home, particularly as I am not in Thailand for the construction process.

    If I was able to stay in Thailand and ‘sit’ on the project then perhaps some of the mistakes could have been avoided and future ones (there are bound to be some) nipped in the bud. (But see the last paragraph where Jalan isn’t having much luck controlling quality)

    But quality is not the only issue we are plagued by, it is programme and money too. I guess at the end of the day it all comes down to money and how much profit the builder is making. I would not describe our Thai builder as ‘cheap’, in fact we did have another quotation around a million Baht lower, but we had already signed the contract with our current builder.

    For a first-time project (where I am not in Thailand) I think perhaps our house project was a bit too ambitious. There are two houses in Pakchong that are finished now where the construction started about the same time of just after our house.
    These are the Small House Build Pakchong and the Si Khiu Korat House.

    From talking to Kanyah today (I am back in U.K. now) it seems that the build is progressing in fits and starts – a few days here, a few days there, and the quality is not so good. She tells me that Jalan tries to get the builder to do things a better way but he doesn’t listen.

    I must say a big thank you to all the good people who have emailed me, or posted on the website, to offer their support. I truly appreciate that.


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