Our Retiring In Thailand Project Seems To Be In Deep Trouble

This is just a quick text update on out retiring in Thailand house-build project. Since I arrived here in Pakchong on Friday 22 April, 2011, we (myself and my Thai wife, Kanyah) seem to have been very busy, but not accomplished much.

In fact the house build project seems to be in serious trouble. (I say ‘seems’ because you can never quite get to the truth about things here in Thailand.)

I have taken a ton of videos and some photos here in Thailand to show you and I’ll start uploading them to the website over the next few days. In the mantime here is a quick synopsis of what we have been up to in the last 7 days.

  1. Day 1. Friday 22 April arrived in Thailand 1500 local time and met by family and friends at the Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport. Went to Kanyah’s daughter’s house (her daughter’s name is Daeng) in Bangkok for an hour, picked up some of Kanyah’s belongings and then driven to Pakchong in our Toyota Hilux Viga pickup by Kanyah. That journey normally takes two hours but we wasted two hours trying to get out of Bangkok and on to the road to Pakchong! ‘They’ blamed the new roadworks and bridge build that was going on as the reason they they couldn’t find the way..All I know is that after spending 18 hours travelling to Thailand I wasn’t very happy at spending two hours trying to get out of Bangkok and then another three hours driving to Pakchong…
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  3. Day 2. Saturday 23 April. Visited the Thailand retirement house build plot and met the builder. Discussed a whole load of issues then went to the wood merchant to agree on the wood for the walls and floor and then to Home Pro to select doors and sanitaryware.

    Buying Wood For The Wooden Floors from The Wood Merchant In Pakchong (Pakchong), Thailand
    Before we went to the wood merchant, I had a look at the few lengths of wood on site. The wood was tongue-and-groove and quite narrow and thin. Many of the planks had large areas of discolouration - white colour – which even when stained still remained noticeably lighter than the darker areas of the wood. Not at all what I was expecting.

When we arrived at the wood merchant in Pakchong I must admit I was most disappointed by the lack of variety and poor quality of the wood available. I have learned a lot bout the kinds of hardwoods in Thailand and will do a separate article on wood and the hardwoods of Thailand and South East Asia later. (I’m talking about woods like Teak (obviously) Mai Makah, Mai Pradoo and many others.

I expected to see all these woods at the wood merchant, but was told that no, these woods are not available in Thailand. In fact the only wood they had was “Mai Malay” – a hard redwood from Malaysia. The wood offered was well undersized (1″ by 6″ was specified by my Thai Architect on the house plans), more like 5/8″ instead of 1″ when I measured it. O.K. I know that 1″ is nominal and sawn size and that the planed size is less, but 5/8″? Somebody is pulling a fast one here.

Many of the planks were bent (in the horizontal plane) and had the white discolouration of the planks that I saw back at the site.

After much complaining (by me)  I selected a short (about 2 m long) piece of wood that looked half decent and decided that that would be “the standard or the “sample”. Only wood up to “the standard” would be accepted. Having agreed the type of wood we left for the site with me carrying the sample piece of wood. On the way out we were asked to pay for the wood! And we paid. Not the builder – us!

Anyway, here are some photos of the wood:-

Image of Pakchong House Floorboards Sample 1

Pakchong House Floorboards Sample 1

Above, the “Approved” floorboard alongside unacceptable planks.

Image of Image of Pakchong House Floorboards Sample 2

Image of Pakchong House Floorboards Sample 2

Above, a close up of the floorboards.

The Biggest Problem Of All – Lack Of Progress

The main issue that we discussed was the program and that’s where we have a major problem. Our builder keeps asking for payment for the next stage of the build when he hasn’t even finished the stage that we have already paid him for. It seems he has a cash-flow problem and as a result our build is a couple of weeks behind program whereas a month ago I was reporting that we were two weeks in front of programme.

This is a major issue for us because the build is progressing very slowly and we wonder if this builder has any intention of actually finishing it.


It’s verging on the nightmare scenario where the builder walks away taking all the profit he has made up front and leaving you with a part-complete house to finish – if you can find another builder willing to take it on. More on this later when we have sorted it . (If we can)


  1. Day 3. Sunday 24 April. Can’t remember much about this day except that Jalan (Kanyah’s nephew who is checking the house build for us) had to go back to his farm in Kamphaeng Phet to make a claim for some government hand out to farmers and that his son, Suranat was driving to Pakchong so that he could take us to Hua Hin – Kanyah  (and myself) not knowing the way. By the way I insisted that this time I was going to get some real holiday (as in seaside and seafood) instead of just watching a house being built in Pakchong (or not being built as in our case).
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  3. Day 4. Monday 25 April. Suranat drove us to Hua Hin. Stopped at  Samut Songkhram, a coastal province at the mouth of the Mae Klong river to buy dried seafood stuff, like dried squid, dried prawns and Kapi. Found a very nice apartment to rent for 900 Baht/day for the three of us. Nice room and huge balcony where later had a seafood dinner.
  4. .

  5. Day 5. Tuesday 26 April. A day the beach at Hua Hin. Bloody hot. Apart from the heat, just like Blackpool (In U.K.) masses of deck chairs and beach vendors, including donkey rides! Had a seafood lunch (photos later) that had no taste and was very expensive. I went back to the apartment in the afternoon to get on the Internet and Kanyah and  Suranat went to Cha Am and bought  load of seafood for our evening meal. By this time I was sick of prawns and crab meat! Decided we had had enough of Hua Hin and would go back to Pakchong tomorrow.
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  7. Day 6. Wednesday 27 April. Suranat drove us to Pakchong. Stopped again at Samut Songkhram again to buy seafood stuff. This time they bought a load of Hoy Dong – a kind of fermented or preserved clam. Seafood lunch (again!).
    On arrival at Pakchong (a seven hour journey by the way including  breaks for shopping & lunch) went directly to the construction site. Our neighbor reported that nothing much had happened while we were away. A bit of wood delivered and some rendering – that’s all. The site labour had asked our neighbour for money to buy food because our builder had not paid them!  Had a beer or too and a joke with the neighbors listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival‘s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” and others.
  8. .

  9. Day 7. Thursday 28 April. Waiting for Jalan to return from Kamphaeng Phet so that we can have a meeting with our builder and see how to progress the build. Finally met the builder late in the afternoon on site at our land in Pakchong and held an impromptu meeting.
    The meeting was held on site with with drawings and papers placed on a variety of  desks comprising various planks of wood covered in cement droppings,  a pile of wooden window frames, the drop-tail of our pick-up and so on. Not the kind of environment I am used to for site meetings in the UK. (Remember I am a professional engineer in the construction industry).


    The subjects discussed fall into two categories, one being various technical standards, materials and methods used in the build, and the other being the program and money. In short an agreement was reached on all subjects, although I conceded  on many of the issues and agreed to pay the builder 50,000 Baht towards buying wood for Stage 5 even though we had already paid 100% for Stage 5 and it was not complete. I’ll be posting more info on these discusions in the next post, but this is long enough already so I’ll wrap it up now.

  10. .

See you in the next post.

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2 Responses to “Thailand Retiring Plans Trashed?”

  • PatchYong:

    Hi Alan,
    You should have bought and pay  the wood yourself instead of giving him the 50,000Bht.

    Suggest you negotiate a new agreement.Your wife will pay the supplier when they deliver  all the materail for the next stage.Give him the balance of the money for that stage.If he were to run away you have the material with you and you can look for another builder.At most you lose a small sum of the labour $$.

    My contract was I provided all the material ( 100%) and pay him for the labour cost for  the agreed 5 stages.Labour cost  approx 35% of my whole project. If he were to ‘run away’ I would lose approximately 35,000bht ( max).

    I can recommend you my builder.

    admin Reply:

    Patch, many thanks for your comments and your advice.

    What you are suggesting is what we started to do as I was leaving Thailand at the weekend and certianly the way forwards for us to finish our Thai retirrment house buuild project.

    I have only heard from Kanyah once since I arrived back in the U.K. (on Monday) and she said there was no building work going on. I’ll check with her today (Thursday).

    To be honest I am so upset and disappointed by the way our build has been going in the last few weeks I have lost any interest in updating the website. Perhaps if the build starts again I may gain the enthusiasm to start writing about our ‘adventure’ again but at the moment I’m to ‘flat’ to bother.

    I know that sounds a bit negative but I need some good news from Thailand to lift my spirits a bit.

    And your post did that, Patch, gave me a bit of hope and I very much appreciate that.

    If our builder doesn’t continue with the build I would be extremely greatful if you could let me have the contact details of your builder so that Kanyah can contact him.

    Once agin, many thanks for the sound advice, it is very helpful.

    Best Regards


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