As The Thai House Build Project Stumbles Into Another Day My Enthusiasm For This Whole Retiring In Thailand Project Saps Away.

Day 8 Friday 29 April, 2011

While some of you (who have more experience of living in Thailand than I have) will laugh at this others will be perhaps disappointed when I report on the way the Thailand house build project in Pakchong is going.

I, however, can only report what is happening and the way I feel about it.

I’m only really repeating here the same horror stries that I have read about on other websites aimed at expats living in Thailand. The difference is that it’s happening to me and it’s real.

Here is a short list of some of the issues we have faced in the last few days:-

Not Included – Burglar Bars

Our builder insists that although these are clearly shown on the Contract Drawings they are a specialist supply and not included in his price. In short we have to supply and install them ourselves. To my disappointment Kanyah (remember this is her house we are talking about) accepts the builder’s argument.

In addition to suddenly having quite a significant additional cost added ot the project there is also the problem of sourcing the items and integratinging them into the house structure and window configuration that we now have to do instead of the builder who has all the knowledge about these things.

I’m really annoyed by this outcome.

Not Included – Insect Screens

As above for Burglar Bars

We Have To Pay For The Materials Plus An Advance

I first mentioned this on Day of the Post “Thailand Retiring Plans Trashed?” when I reported that we had 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.

Now it’s come to reality and we are handing over the money as you can read below.

We Buy The Floor Wood

Getting A Sample Of Wood For the Floorboards

I should have mentioned in the previous post that on Day 2 before we went to the wood merchant to look at the wood for the floorboards and walls I inspected the wood on site for the floorboards and was not happy with it. At the wood merchants (Day 2) I selected a piece of wood to use as a sample against which all future purchase would be judged. I have now added the detail of the visit to the wood merchant including some pictures of the floorboards I didn’t like and the “Approved” sample.

Kanyah and Jalan go with the builder to the wood shop and pay for the floor boards that will form the second floor.

She paid for the wood directly to the wood shop not to the builder but we also gave the builder an advsnce of 30,0000 Baht.

Wood Prices Gone Up 5% In 3 Days

I am duly informed that the wood prices wee looked at at the same wood shop had risen by some 5% in the last few days (while we had been in Hua Hin).

Frankly I don’t believe commodity prices can rise so fast like that especially when the wood shop has vast stocks on material that has probably been sitting there for many months.

Truckload Of Wood Delivered

At least we got some wood on site for the floorers to work with.

Image of Pakchong House Floorboards Delivery 1

Pakchong House Floorboards Delivery 1

Above, the first delivery of floorboards for the second floor floor.

Main Floor Planks Being Fitted

See these photos and videos for general progress.

I Venture Onto The Second Floor To Inspect

Take a few videos and still photos.

  • Floor Planks Quality Issues
  • Nails visible and above the level of the wood
  • Large gaps between the planks along the run of the planks (possible due to curved planks)
  • Large gaps between ends of the planks where they have been cut roughly

When I complain to Kanyah who was idling in the neighbor’s hammock and had never ventured onto the second floor she isn’t concerned concerned – at least not until I show her the photos and the videos I just took having transferred them from the cameras to the lap-top. Then at last I seem to be getting the message across.

See these photos and videos for quality of workmanship.

Should All Sides Of the Floor Planks Be Varnished?

I am trying to persuade the builder that the floorboards (in particular those for the balcomy which is basically open to the elements) need to be varnished on all four sides.

This is after I sent this email to our builder about this on April 5, 2011:

Image of Varnish Floorboards Email 1

Varnish Floorboards Email 1

Above, the email i sent to our builder on 5th April asking him to varnish the floorboards on all four sides. Click here or on the image to see the full sized email. (Opens in new window)

No, he says (in a mixture of English and Thai) that’s not necessary. His reasoning:-

  • The planks are tongue-and groove. If you put the varnish on the tongue and groove part it will be impossible to fit the tongue inside the groove.
  • When the planks get hot they will explode!
  • In any case any gaps between the planks will be filled and then 5 coats of varnish applied which will prevent any water from getting into the gaps.

To me this is a major issue for the Balcony which is essentially an outdoor area completely exposed to the elements. I had previously made a sketch of how I expected the wood to be treated and sent it by email to Kanyah and the builder. But here we were going through all the arguments again – and I was losing…

Builder Can’t Find A Steel Door

The builder reports he can’t find a supplier for the steel door I have requested for the workshop and suggests we find one ourselves.

Gate Arrives

The gate is delivered and what a marvelous structure it is. It is left for fitting tomorrow.

Connected To The Internet At The Mansion

Until now I have been unable to get on the Internet at The Mansion. A Thai guy who knows his stuff soon sorts out my laptop and bingo… I’m online.

Udon Dies

Udon was an old Thai friend of Kanyah and I have known him for several years. He used to make a great deal of fuss about me perhaps because Kanyah always gave him a bottle or two of white whisky (Lao Khao) when we visited him.

He was in hospital in a critical condition after a family member disembowled his brains by smashing a meat cleaver into his skull in a drunken argument. So much for white whisky!

He passed away this night and we have to go to the funeral tomorrow.

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8 Responses to “Enthusiasm Wanes As Thailand Retirement Dream Wavers”

  • Cliff:

    Sorry to hear of your problems. Without a reliable, good builder (not easy to find) constructing homes in Thailand is fraught with problems especially if your designs are something they haven’t done before.

    If you get 90-95% of what you wanted then you’ve done okay in my opinion, especially as you are not on site for most of it. 


    admin Reply:

    Cliff, thanks for your comment and advice.

    There’s more bad news and more information about our journey to retiring in Thailand in the next post, I’m afraid.

    However there is some good news on the horizon.

    As I tried to explain to a friend at the weekend, retiring in Thailand is not just about building a house. I think of retiring in Thailand like this. Retiring in Thailand is like building a brick wall. There are many bricks and building a house is just one of those bricks. The other bricks? Visas, healthcare, income, language, Thai society, mental health, friendships, etc.

    Best Regards



  • Terry:

    Hi Alan
    Chins up, frustrating, but don’t give up. WHen the battle is over, you will sit back and think…”been there, done it”…and enjoy your beer!
    Good luck, mate.


    admin Reply:


    Many thanks for your comment and encouragement.

    But I fear that when this particular battle is over it will be followed by another one. Then another. That’s life, I’m afraid and retiring to Thailand just makes it more difficult.

    Why anyone would want to retire to Thailand beats me.

    Best Regards



  • I think many of the problems between a Thai and falang relate to simple mis-understanding. A communication problem extending from different cultures, beliefs and of course different standards.

    The sress that this may cause between you and your wife may cause severe relationship problems. I think this may be an excellent time to call in the services of an intermediary, interpretor. 

    This is an excellent blogg. I am really enjoying it. Try to keep sane Alan.

    Best wishes, Simon


    admin Reply:

    Simon, thanks for your comments which do highlight the difficulty of communication between Farangs and Thais, especially as I am halfway round the world from where our house is being built in Thailand.

    Another area that is causing difficulty on uour thai house build project is the level of detail on the Architect’s drawings. Although these are extremely well details – 42 sheets of drawings which is a vast abount for a small house – there are different perceptions between the Architect and the builder.

    The Thai Architect expects the builder to produce his own construction drawings based on the Architects drawings. This happens in the UK on large projects but not usualy for houses. If this is done it leads to better understanding by the builder, highlights any lack of details which can then be addressed before the building starts.

    The Thai builder, on the other hand is building from the Architects drawings and not producing his own construction drawings. This if there is a detail missing he points that out as a defect on the Architects drawings. Usually, there is a tendency to follow the drawings literally, even thogh to a trained eye there is obviously either something wrong or missing on the Architects drawings.

    You will see a classic example of this in the next post.

    Thanks for the kind words about the blog. Please keep coming back.

    Best Regards



  • craig:

    hi alan  just picked up on a load of your blogs  sorry  to see whats been going on     if it helps im no were near starting my project after many talks with a thai land owner i now find he too owes  too much money  to the bank[more than what the lands worth] its a joke so now im on the hunt yet again for land  [stress free no chance] they do say no pain no gain  but i think is it worth it as renting is so cheap time will tell take care


    admin Reply:


    Thanks for that. I’m sure you’re doing the right thing by renting. Try before you leap, so to speak.

    How long have you been renting, I mean living in Thailand?

    Best Regards



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