Thailand - Architects Information
1. Architects Fees and Appointments

There is no 100% fixed fee scale in Thailand and it varies according to the architects experience, licence level and popularity.  It is often the same anywhere in the world where fees vary.

Architects fees will be charged taking into consideration the requirements of the project, the architect’s skills, experience, costs/expenses, and the resources needed to undertake the work, profit and competition.

Prior to the fee being agreed the architect and client should confirm and be clear on:

  • the project details and services to be provided
  • an approximate construction cost
  • the project timetable.

The architect should write the project details clearly. This should include their terms and conditions of employment.  For further information on costs see our section on architect’s costs.

2. Additional fees

Additional fees are normally payable to the architect if, for reasons beyond their control, they have to carry out extra work or extra expense is incurred.

Examples of this are:

  • you repeatedly ask your architect to revise the scheme, or
  • make constant alterations at a late stage in the detailed drawing preparation, or
  • ask your architect to undertake additional work (beyond that which was anticipated and agreed at the outset). This may include deductions, additions and changes in the scope or substitution of materials/components.

It is only reasonable that you should pay additional fees, unless you have reached an agreement that such work will be free of charge.

  • As the project develops the cost estimates are likely to change and therefore if the fee is a percentage of the construction cost, it will be calculated on the estimated cost at that particular work stage. The fee for subsequent work stages may be calculated on a different estimated construction cost.
3. Estimates of building costs in Thailand

At the start when you first meet your Thai architect it is important you understand, it is very difficult to know or calculate an accurate estimation of what the construction costs will be. Because of this, fees and ideas are based on the architects experience, understanding and knowledge of the industry in relation to what it is you wish to do. This is something we have to accept and understand.  The architect cannot be accurate and cannot be held responsible as it is impossible to know accurate building costs at the start. This is the same anywhere in the world. Until you have final architect’s drawings and a full list of materials, you will not know accurate costs.

4. Progress

Architects should keep their clients fully informed of progress with design, as requested and answer promptly to let them know of any specific changes that have to be made.

5. Planning permission and Building Regulations approval

Your home or project in Thailand will require permissions from local Thai authorities. For this you do require all architects drawings to be in Thai and to be signed by a licenced Thai architect and licenced Thai engineer. So do not buy architects drawings from an American web site off the internet and expect to be able to use them. If they are not in Thai and signed by both licenced Thai architect and licenced Thai engineer they cannot be used. Also building methods are different from country to country so plans bought for an American home won’t help a Thai builder, especially if they are in feet or in English.  You must have Thai language architects drawings signed by Thai architects to apply for permissions.

The architect cannot guarantee that planning permission and/or Building Regulations approval will be granted. This decision is out of their control and is made by the local Thai authority. The architect will of course base designs on their knowledge of local Thai regulations and restrictions. It is also not the architect’s job to submit the proposal to the local authority unless requested and previously agreed. It is often useful to ask the architect to do it and they may ask for a small charge or it may be included in their fees.  But that needs to be agreed beforehand. The client will normally be responsible for providing the architect with the permission from the authorities. The architect will provide what is required from them.

6. Building Contract

No construction in Thailand should be carried out without a proper professional legal contract. Any decent professional building contractor in Thailand will provide this contract in Thai and/or English. This legal document is vital and should be written professionally clarifying all that is agreed and all that is to be done. It is a legally-binding commitment between the builder and the client to deliver the project. The architect can help with this if required and also a lawyer can be involved too if required. A legal construction contract in Thailand is normally 10-30 pages (and sometimes more) and in addition includes attachments such as architects drawings, materials lists, title deed details, and client’s personal documentation such as their passport copy. All pages should be signed by both the construction contractor (builder) and the client; in addition the landowner (if it is not the client) may sign too, giving permission for the home to be built on their land and provide full unequivocal access.  Both client and contractor retain an original version of the contract

7. Monitoring Construction

Normally in Thailand an architect would not be expected to project manage the construction project. If you have only engaged the architect to design your project and provide all the architectural drawings that is all they have been paid for. In that instance they will offer help and guidance to the contractor when required and make an occasional visit. But anything further is becoming project management and architects can do this but it would be paid for as an additional fee.

If an architect that is engaged to monitor construction of the project they will be responsible for checking that the construction conforms to the planning permission and Building Regulations and all stages are properly completed to a satisfactory standard of workmanship. This will involve periodic site visits to monitor progress (visually), but will not normally involve the architect in detailed checking of dimensions or testing materials. The contractor is responsible for this and that is why it is imperative you use a construction contractor with proper project management. They will supervise on site the work on a day-to-day basis and be responsible for the proper carrying out and completion of construction works and for health and safety provisions on the site. If you require an architect to act as a project manager, then that is an extra service that would be quoted for and charged for by the architect. Do not expect it, if you have only engaged the architect to design your project.

8. Thailand Project Management

Normally a construction project in Thailand should be overseen by a project manager. A professional construction contractor in Thailand should provide proper project management. One of the main reasons there can be many problems in construction with poor quality and costly mistakes is due to lack of project management. Many small gangs of builders in Thailand do not provide project mangers nor do they understand project management.  Many do not provide guarantees that are worth anything, no insurance and many are not even companies. This is why there can be discrepancies in pricing and why a professional construction company may to the layman seem more expensive. In reality there is only one price, the correct price. Low quotes are normally a major catastrophe waiting to happen. Be careful. Going the cheap route or lowest quote is normally asking for problems. You need project management and if you do not have it, then there is a very strong likelihood you will have problems.  It is very short sighted to go that route and in most cases it will cost you far more in repairs, problems and corrections, then it would have done in the first place to have it done correctly by a professional construction company. If you are doing something as important as building a home or resort, then make sure you use a professional contractor. Do not be fooled by cheap quotes or low prices; normally the only reason those quotes are low and prices are lower is because they are not providing project management, guarantees and the quality of service is not going to make you happy. Be very careful. Please see choosing a builder section and building costs section.

9. Other Consultants

The architect is not responsible for the work undertaken by any other consultant (such as a structural engineer) engaged on the project. In smaller projects the architect normally provides all consultancy services.  In this arrangement the other consultants are sub-consultants of the architect and responsible to him. They are paid by the architect whose fees will reflect this. Remember you need an engineer to have drawings done for any construction project. Same in Thailand.

10. Architects Licence Details- Thailand

The Thai architect and Thai engineer will supply you with their Thai licence details, for any documentation required for building permissions. You must use a professional Thai licenced architect to design your home in Thailand and you also need to have the licenced Thai engineer also provide licence details too.  For legal permission to build you must have a Thai licenced architect and Thai licenced engineer do the drawings and sign for them; in addition proving their licence details to the authorities for permissions.

11. Copyright

Unless an alternative agreement has been made, the architect owns the copyright in the drawings and documentation produced in the course of the project. The client will usually have a licence to copy and use them only for purposes related to the project. If stage payments have been made to the architect, and the stage involving the planning submission has been completed and paid for, then the client has the right to use the relevant drawings for the purpose for which they were prepared (i.e. the planning application).

12. Reasonable skill and care 

Thai Architects are expected to exercise reasonable skill and care when carrying out their work. This means that the Thai architect should be suitably qualified, have adequate resources to meet the project’s requirements and the necessary proficiency to fulfill their instructions satisfactorily. They should ensure they are informed and up-to date with guidelines and statutory requirements relating to the project.

Please note:

At the start of every project it is important to be aware that if permissions or approvals are required from local authorities the decision is out of the architect’s control and cannot be guaranteed. Similarly building products, or the performance and quality of the work of others, cannot be guaranteed by the architect. They have no control over this and can only advise and give their opinion. Projects can over-run due to any number of circumstances over which the architect has no control, not least of which is bad weather. The building stage is the responsibility of the building contractor.

Disputes:

Often the root cause of disputes with your Thai architect is often an incomplete understanding of the architect's role and responsibilities in design, planning and construction processes. If insufficient information has been provided, incorrect assumptions can be made about the architect's duties in a project. Also there can be disputes between architect and contractor; this can be caused by the contractor not reading drawings correctly and checking beforehand the information. A contractor In Thailand should carefully look over the architect's drawings and do what is called "shop drawings" during the building process. The contractor should also ask the architect anything they do not understand or wish to question beforehand. It saves time and reduces problems. Always try to resolve disputes amicably and without legal action. You need the architect and you need the builder, so always best to deal with any problems, nicely, fairly and without any form of legal action. Expect problems in building and do not always cast blame before you know all the facts. In construction there are hundreds of things that can go wrong. It is not a perfect industry. So take care and deal politely with Thai professionals. The Thai people like politeness and aggression will get you know where in Thailand. Shouting and screaming is a loss of face in their culture and will not help matters at all. Please respect their country, their culture and their ways of carrying out things.

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