Posts Tagged ‘Kensington’

Another quick and brief update on Kanyah’s progress on finding builders to construct our house in Pakchong, Thailand.

It certainly pays to ask around! Kanyah has now handed over sets of Construction Drawings to five builders and has a meeting arranged with a fith next Thursday. This last builder was introduced to her by a sales representative at Boonchai Construction Company 1992 whom she met when she went to their shop to get prices for building materials.

The kind gentleman at Boonchai Construction also gave her a list of websites from where we could select certain materials:-

Roofing Materials : Real ceramic roof tile at
  : CPAC Monier roof tile at
  : All roof tiles at
Sanitary Ware : COTTO Brand at
  : TOTO Brand at
Paving Block : Paving Block at
Paint : Jotun Brand at

Making And Using Bills of Quantity (BOQ)

I have commissioned our Architect the Kensington Company to produce a set of Bills of Quantity for the house based on the final construction drawings. This will help us to check and monitor costs and quotations from builders, to obtain quotations for the materails and qwill also help the builders and suppliers to prepare quotations for us.

Also, all the builders and suppliers will be quoting on a like-for-like basis and will not have to make their own BOQ saving them time and money.

The other big advantage of having a BOQ is that if the total price for the build as quoted by the builders is outside aour budget it will be a simple and quick matter to make changes to the materials to reduce the cost. One simple example would be to change from the special ventilated Ceris roof tile to a sheet material. Not want we want but something like that could make a big price difference.

I am aware that some people say not to give your BOQ to builders. There are several posts by visitors to the website on New House Plans And Building A House in Thailand.

More Information on BOQs:

Finding Builders in Thailand To Build Our Retirement House In Pakchong

A Thai Builders Cost Estimate For Constructing Our Thai Retirement House

Registered Building Companies Aren’t Interested In Small Projects

In another post I mentioned the problems Kanyah was having finding a building company who was big enough to do the purchase of the materials as well as the installation works. Kanyah phoned me again today (12 October 2010) and repeated her story. In fact it’s pretty much the same story that I reported on the Finding Builders In Pakchong, Thailand page.

All the people (Builders, Suppliers) tell her that any properly registered building company is only interested in doing the multi-million Baht development projects. ( 10-100 million Baht). None of these big companies are interested in our tiny little project and the builders who may be interested in building our house don’t have the capital to do the materials procurement.

So it seems that we are stuck with the Labor Only builder and we have to buy the materials.

And that brings me back to BOQ again. Kanyah just went to a large wood-yard to get quotations for all the wood in our house. Floor and walls are wood.

They asked her for the quantities required and said that they were too busy to measure from the construction drawings and would only deal with a builder when the builder has the quantities.

So, BOQ to the rescue again. When we receive the BOQ from Kensington, Kanyah will go back to the wood-yard again and get a quotation.

Finding Builders in Thailand To Build Our Retirement House In Pakchong

Just A Quick Update On Our Thai House-Build Project. 5 October, 2010

Now Kanyah is back at Pakchong with the Thai House Plans (construction issue) and is looking again for builders to build our retirement house. But just as it was difficult to find a builder last year when we only had the house drawings that I made (not those produced by our Thai Architect which we have now), so this time it is not so easy also.

You maybe be wondering why we did not ask Kensington to build our home. I did ask in the beginning but unfortunately the location of our land is too far out for them to build. It is a shame as it is so difficult to find good reliable builders that do a professional job.

Kensington can build homes of all sizes, shapes and styles in many locations but Thailand is a big country and they cannot build everywhere.

It is always best to ask them and let them know your location as they can build in Chiang Mai, Phuket, Pattaya, Bangkok, Hua Hin, Ko Samui and many other areas. A lot depends on the project and the location.

However even if they cannot build your home I am sure one of their excellent architects can design it.

Anyway, Kanyah phoned me yesterday (I am still in the U.K., working) and gave me the following update.

Building Permit Application in Thailand

Kanyah has visited the Or Bor Tor office, which she says is close to our plot of building land in Pakchong and they have told here what documents are required to apply for the building permit. There are some documents she does not have at the moment and these are:-

A) The Signed Construction Drawings And Calculations

Although the construction drawings are finished and Kanyah has printed off a few sets we don’t have the sets signed off by the Thai Architect and the engineer together with the calculations. I have asked the Architect when she can receive them and he replied that since I had just issued some comments on the constrution drawings he would wait until any necessary changes had been made to the drawings and then issue the signed set. That may take a week or so.

B) The Thai House Registration Papers

Every Thai person should be registered at a house in Thailand and have their name entered on the house registration papers. The Thai house registration papers record the births, deaths, marriages and names of all people who are in residence at that address.

Kanyah’s name is registered at a friend’s house in Bangkok and she has asked her friend to send a copy to her in Pakchong. that should take a few days.

Once all these documents are received Kanyah will apply at the or Bor tor office for the Thai house Building Permit.

Finding Builders To Build Our Retirement House

As of today, Kanyah has given sets of the construction drawings to two builders in Pakchong. She is looking for more builders.

Small Builders And Labour Only Construction Contracts In Thailand

It seems, she says, that the local builders in Pakchong do not have the capital to make all the purchases of the materials when they build a house. (i.e. they can’t afford to buy the materials) Instead the Client (in this case us, or more accurately Kanyah) would have to purchase all materials.

This means that the build would be via a labour only contract. This has advantages and disadvantages.

The Advantages Of A Labour Only Construction Contract In Thailand

1. Lowest Material Costs

Assuming for a moment that the Client is a Thai national, like Kanyah, then by purchasing direct the Client can avoid mark-ups on prices put on by a builder if he does the procurement. Also Kanyah is good at negotiating when shopping and always manages to get a discount of some sort. So if we go the labour only route then we can be sure that we get the lowest materials costs.

2. Quality Control

By making the purchases directly, Kanyah is able to ensure that she gets the quality of materials that she wants. Unless every item in the build is specified beforehand a builder making the purchases would often be liable to locate the cheapest materials available, not necessarily of the right quality.

The Disadvantages Of A Labour Only Construction Contract In Thailand

1. No Idea Of Final Cost

If the builder is buying the materials he will include tha total cost when he submits his tender. We will know the final cost of the project before we start building.

If the cost is outside our budget we would be able make changes to the building and/or the quality of the finishes to reduce the cost.

If we are purchasing the materials ourselves, unless we spend weeks getting quotations for everything before we start, we will not know the final build cost until the house in fully constructed.

2. No Experience Of Procurement For Construction Material

Although Kanyah does know what concrete and re-bar is she does not have a detailed knowledge of building materials and the construction process both of which are needed by anyone undertaking the procurement of all the materials themselves.

3. Time, Effort And Management Systems

If Kanyah is procuring all the materials, she will have to spend all the time and effort necessary to do so. On a live construction project with a fixed construction programme this can be a stressful job, especially for a novice.

Also, strict management systems are needed to record all the purchase transaction, chase and check deliveries and control the costs. As a minimum computers skills and ability to use spreadsheets and understand Bills of Quantity. All this extra work on top of controlling the quality of the works is just too much extra effort for Kanyah and she does not have the necessary computer skills.

4. Responsibility For the Programme (Construction Schedule)

The purchase of the materials must be made in a timely fashion if the project is not put on hold awaiting for materials to arrive. If the project is halted awaiting material deliveries, then there will be extra costs of paying the builder for standing costs. By this I mean that the labour is not working but still has to be paid.

Turn-Key Building Contract

Having written all the above pros and cons of a labour only building contract it becomes clear to me that unless I go to Thailand to oversee the build then a labour only contract is nor suitable for us.

I need to explain all the above to Kanyah and then she needs to find a builder capable of making the materials purchases. In other words we need a turn-key building contract where all e do is pay the builder in stages for the completed work.

Bills Of Quantity (BOQ)

If you don’t know what a BOQ is then let me explain.

A Bills Of Quantity (BOQ) document is a list of all the different types of materials and components used in the construction of the building. Each item in the list is called a Line Item.

There are columns where for each Line Item in the BOQ the following information is entered:-

The Quantity. This may be m3 of concrete, square metres of roof tiles, or number of windows.

The Rate. This would be the cost that the builder would charge per unit of the materials. For example, X Baht/m3 for concrete Y Baht/m2 for roof tiles and Baht per window. It would include the cost of supplying and installing the item. (but see below)

The cost of each line item is then calculated by multiplying the rate by the quantity. The sum of all the costs gives the final cost of the project.

Sometimes the cost of installing or fixing the materials is shown separately from the supply only cost of the materials.

In this case there would be additional columns for labour cost per unit, total labour cost and final labour cost for each line item.

Obtaining A Bill Of Quantities (BOQ)

I want to get a BOQ made for our Pakchong house that Kanyah can give to the builders preparing quotations for us and I am in discussion with the Kensington Company to have that done. The person making the BOQs is called a Quantity Surveyor. (QS)

If I have a BOQ with quantities measured by the QS from the construction drawings and I issue to the builder without the quantities I can use my version to check what the builder is offering when he submits his completed BOQ.

It will take a couple of weeks to get the BOQ made by Kensington’s QS in Bangkok, so that will delay the obtaining of quotations from builders for a bit. Also I have to explain all this to Kanyah.

That’s all for this update, see you in the next post where hopefully I can report on some real progress on finding builders in Thailand.

Site Testing Of The Soil For House Foundation Design

My architectural and design company, from Bangkok in Thailand, has arranged at my request to send a team to the house site in Pakchong to test the soil so that the foundation design of our planned retirment house can be finalised.

The test will be what is technically termed a “Standard Penetration Test” (SPT) and will start on 11th or 13 th September 2010 and a Report will be produced.

For more detailed information about how to determine Ground Bearing Pressure (GBP) and how to correctly size house foundations refer to the Thai House Foundation Design web page.


What follows below is what I have learned about this soil testing procedure so far and no doubt as the investigation proceeds I will learn more.

Please take this article in the manner in which it was written – In good faith and with limited knowledge. I am no expert in this subject and cannot take any responsibility for any events that may occur by you taking any action as a result of reading this article.

Remember that all this is new to me – this is the first time I have had a house designed anywhere – let alone in Thailand!

Always have a properly qualified engineer to design your foundations for you!

What The Standard Penetration Test Will Achieve

In simple terms, the (SPT) test will determine the Ground Bearing Capacityof the soil, in other words how much weight the soil can support. This is measured (in Thailand) in tons per square meter. (Ton/m2). In the metric system the units are kN/m2.

From this, the size of the foundations necessary to carry the weight of the house can be calculated. Of course the weight of the house when contructed and in use has to be determined first.

How Important Is It To Have This Soil Test Carried Out?

To me it’s vital. After all that’s why I am paying for the test to be carried out. As I mentioned above I’m no expert in these matters so I am proceeding cautiously. I have been told by a civil engineer here in the UK that there are many reasons why the ground bearing pressure can vary significantly even on the same plot of land. This can be because the type of soil varies form location to location. Another big factor influencing the soil bearing pressure is whether the soil is compacted i.e. undisturbed or whether is is loose i.e. it is is soil that has been placed on the lad – often to fill a hole. In our case in PakchongI do know that the soil is agricultural land so it will have been ploughed to a certain depth.

However, this test is not always performed when designing house foundation and there are several reasons for this.

  • Sometimes it is not necessary to undertakea soil test for an individual property because the load bearing capacity of the soil may already be know for the region and held on record either with builders or piling companies or in the local Land Office. This information may have come from tests undertaken by other companies for other projects.
  • Another reason that a Standard Penetration Test may not be required on a small house is that the load bearing pressure of the soil can be approximately determined by a knowledgeable geotechnical engineer from a knowledge of the soil classification. Tables of bearing capacities of various types of soil (such as rock, clay, gravel, sand etc) are readily available. In fact the British Building Regulations Approved Document A at table 10 gives the foundation sizes for various types of ground for houses of various weights.
    So a good geotechnical/civil engineer with some local knowledge may be able to estimate a suitable safe size for foundations for a small house like the house we are planning to build in Pakchong. In case there is any suspicion of the type of ground, the foundations can be slightly oversized. This may be an unnecessary expense but the additional cost may only be a small percentage of the total house cost.

Design Procedures And Responsibility For Foundation Design In Thailand

I have been advised that it is common in Thailand not to finalise the size of the house foundations before appointing a construction company to build the house. In this case the design company makes an assessment of the foundation design based on ‘common practice’. The builder then takes responsibility for the foundation design and obtains the load bearing capacity of the soild to do so, either from local knowledge, existing data or by means of soil tests.

To me, this has several disadvantages and issues.

  1. The design company has to sign the drawings and provide the calculations for the foundation design. I don’t see how that can be done if the ground bearing capacity of the soil is not known.
  2. The Or Bor Tor (The land office in Thailand where the house plans are submitted to apply for a building permit) will check the structural calculations. If these are not based on a knowledge of the actual load bearing capacity (that the Or BorTor Officer may well know because he deals with the applications daily) the calculations may not be accepted and a building permit may not be issued.
  3. The local builder may not have the necessary knowledge and skills to determine the load bearing capacity and to re-design the foundations if necessary. Yes, a large company may have a qualified enginer, but I’m expecting to find a small, local builder in Pakchong who may not have the necessary expertise. By the way, I’m told that there is a Thai regulation that applies for buildings over 150 square metres and it stipulates that the builder must have a qualified and knowledgeable engineer to supervise the project to control the construction process. Well, judging by the coments on so many Thai websites, that expertise is often not applied very well!
  4. I will be unable to award a construction contract with a known fixed scope, price and timescale and will be at the mercy of the builder when it comes to price and programme.
  5. Responsibilities become blurred. the designer is effectively passing the responsibility for foundation design on the the builder. The builder may not accept this.
  6. Extention to the programme. I am having the soil bearing pressure tested and the foundation design finalised in parallel with the preparation for the construction drawings. If this work is handed over to the builder there will be a delay to the construction programme while it is carried out.
  7. Design costs will be more expensive. The design company has spent time designing foundations and making drawings, including steel reinforcement details. This will may have to be repeated by the builder and he will charge me for it. Double work. Double cost.
  8. I may not be in Thailand at the time of the build. The works will be supervised by my wife, Kanyah, who does not have building knowledge and she would not understand the commercial implications of undertaking the soil test and the foundation (re)design. Yes, we will appoint an inspector to take care of the technical details of the build, but he will not be expected to manage the builder’s activities.

More Information On Foundation Design

You may not be interested in how to design house foundations and I can well understand that. But you ought to understand how foundations are designed so that you can decide whether to design your house the way I am and let the design company finalise the house foundation design or to do it the common Thai way and let the builder do it.

I have therefore written an article about foundation design and the effect of land bearing pressure for the complete novice.

A Thai Architect In Bangkok Is Making Our Retirement House Plans

On 14th July 2010, we gave the go-ahead to a Bangkok-based Architectural design-and-build company to proceed with producing the construction drawings for our retirement house we want to build in Pakchong, Thailand.

The company is called Kensington Company Limited and according to their Thai Builders website they have designed and built many beautiful and prestigious properties and won several awards including the Conde Nast Hottest 100 Asia Hotels Award May 2008 for designing and building “The Villa Water Orchid”.

Although I was a bit apprehensive at appointing the company from arms length i.e. from U.K. via email and not having met them in Thailand, I must say that to date I am very impressed with their service and the quality of their design work. The architect has now produced the final ground and first floor house layouts which I have now approved. Also, he has produced some very nice perspective views of the house obtained from a 3D computer model he has made.

I have posted some of these drawings on the website on the Thai Architects House Plans page at I have some more perspective views which I’ll post there in a couple of days time and as I receive more details I’ll post those on that page also.

In addition to the high quality of the drawings, plans if you like, the architect is producing I want to mention other things that has made me very glad that we chose to proceed with the Kensington Company.

Excellent Service. I deal exclusively via email with Chris Clayton the Managing Director of the Kensington Company. Chris is always quick to respond to my emails usually within hours and always on the same day.

Further, both Chris and Yos, the Thai Architect, keep telling me that they want me to be happy and nothing is too much trouble. If I want to change something or don’t like what Yos has proposed for a particular situation, Yos will change it if I ask for it to be changed. Here for example are typical snippets from some of Chris’s email:-

“I am glad it all seems clearer. I know it can be difficult doing it thousands of miles away by e-mail. But have no worries. Yos and I will work on this design until you are happy which I think will come together fairly quickly now. Now things are clearer to all.”

“No problem at all. It’s my pleasure and also my job to help. Yos will happily make whatever changes you ask for.”

Quality Assurance. Another concern I had was that I had produced sketches of my concept for the house and knew that there were certain areas where my concept needed some development to make it work. One example is the roofs. My concept is visually pretty but as Yos pointed out for several reason is unpractical and would lead to leaks and difficulties in construction. Hence the architect’s roof solution is different from my concept and I have to accept this. At every step of the way Yos is checking my concept to make sure that what he delivers is practical and complies with the Thai building regulations and standards. This is from one of Chris’s emails discussing my concept for the roofs:-

“Dear Alan,

Thanks for all the comments and ideas.

Yos has gone over them carefully. He is happy to help you in anyway and try to come up with solutions. However he is particularly concerned with your desire for this roof design you have created. Naturally he wants you to have the home as you like it but as an architect he has to point out to you and make it clear if your choices are potentially going to cause problems to you, the home or the construction contractor. He was worried about this roof and asked me please to point it out again to you. He suggested the roof style he did because it is practical for construction and Thailand’s weather. Whereas if he does it as you want, you will have problems with leaks and practical issues to be concerned about.

He has written a explanation with drawings to try and help everyone understand what he means. He is happy to do as you ask but wants you to know it could very easily cause you problems with the house.

Look forward to your comments and resolving this issue. If you have any thoughts or ideas please forward them. Very important you the customer is happy but at the same time the home will be practical.”

And this is an extract from Yos’s messages to me:-

“Dear Alan

What we are most concerned about is the house has to be comfortable for living, be suitable for the Thai weather, and be in line with Thai construction methods and practical. So as an architect I may make comments or observations that from experience in both design and construction I feel are necessary and the best advice for you as the home owner. I hope you do not mind me doing this but I would like to explain one more time perhaps better than before so it is clear regarding the roof. I can do whatever you ask but naturally I am responsible for the design of the home and I need to make sure everything is clear, in case something asked means the house will have problems or not be practical. Here are my thoughts and comments:”

Ease of Communication. I was again concerned about the ability to communicate ideas and thoughts across the world to a Thai company in Bangkok from my home in the U.K. In fact this has turned out to be very easy because as you can see in the message from Yos above, Yos has an excellent command of the English language.

In summary, therefore, we are very happy with the way the production of the construction drawings is progressing. Although the process is far from complete, the service we have received from the Kensington Company to date gives us confidence that the final set of drawings will be perfectly acceptable.

Assuming that will be the case then we will have proven that you can commission a Thai architect in Bangkok, Thailand to design your retirement home in Thailand even if you live half way round the world and never even visit Thailand.

Having said that, the drawings are not yet complete, there is still much work to do, and only then will I be able to give a 100% recommendation of the Kensington Company.

More Information And Thai House Plan Drawings

Please make sure you visit the web page Thai Architects House Plans  periodically to check out the latest drawings and perspectives of our planned retirement house. In fact, to make sure you are alerted whenever I post new information why not join the Announcement List by entering your name and email at the top of this page? I will then send you an email whenever anything interested is posted on the website.

Get A Free Consultation For Thai House Plans – Have Your Retirement House Designed Or Built In Thailand

Chris, Managing Director of Kensington Company will be happy to meet with anyone who contacts him from this website or from my recommendation and he will provide a personal service and a free consultation. If you do contact  Kensington Company mak sure that you ask for Chris. To make is easy for you I have put a Contact Kensington Form on the website for you to use. 

Thailand House Prices

I have just created that new page I promised giving all the details of what it costs to build a house in Thailand.

Here is the link: The Budget Price Of Building A House In Thailand

On that page you will find:-

  • Unit rates in Baht/m2 (Baht per m2) for building a house in Thailand
  • A cost estimate for the house I am planning to build when I start retiring in Thailand
  • A fee proposal from an Architect to make the house plans (drawings) that can be used to get a price to build a house in Thailand from a Thai builder and actually build the house.

This cost information is brand new and up to date.

Some of the house building cost information is as received by email from Kensington Company Limited – a design-and-build company based in Bangkok. I have posted the exact document they sent to me so that you can read exactly what they say about the cost of building a house in Thailand today – and not just what my opinions are.

The other building cost information is from research I have carried out on the Internet. Over half a dozen case examples are given all presenting the cost of building a house in Thailand in Baht per m2. One example even breaks down the unit cost into the separate elements of the building. For example the cost of roofing, flooring, windows, electrical etc are all given as a cost in Baht/m2.

This just has to be the the best resource for unit rates for building a house in Thailand on the Internet today. And it will be regularly updated as I receive more pricing information as a result either of my further research or of my own activity as I build my own retirement home in Thailand.

Keep Updated Of The Latest Thai House Price Information

Join the announcement list and receive an email whenever I post new information about the cost of building a house in Thailand.

Just pop your name and email address in the Keep Updated box at the top of this webs page to start receiving these valuable emails.

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