Thailand Building Tips

Below are some simple easy to remember tips and points to look out for when building in Thailand. If you are considering building in Thailand then sensible care and attention should be taken.  The more care you take the more likely your building project will be successful; and you will reduce the number of potential risks and problems.

  1. Be careful not to listen to the wrong advice and make sure you listen to good advice. Building in Thailand is not easy and do not be mislead into thinking it is. There are many sad stories, unfinished homes and tales of millions of Baht lost; arguments with contractors, conflicts, court cases and problems.  It is wise to be careful and seek professional experienced advice. See our choosing a builder in Thailand section.
  2. In most places in the world you would never consider building a house without a proper legal contract. So why would you do it in Thailand without one.  Don’t. If you are building in Thailand you should have a proper comprehensive legal contract.
  3. Avoid bar stool experts advice; wannabe builders with no experience and all those persons who claim big things but have little to back it up. Proof is in the pudding! Ask to see testimonials and references. Ask to visit the homes they have built and check the quality. Ask if they have a building company and how long has that building company been in business. See our choosing a builder in Thailand section.
  4. Avoid the biggest mistake of all: thinking cheap low prices are best. Anyone can quote low prices to get a job and if you fall for the bait, it can be a very costly and regretful mistake to make. A project building cost is made up of so many factors and just because one contractor’s price is low does not mean it is good, or means you will get the same materials and service,  that the higher price quotes provide. Be careful this is a common mistake and causes many problems in building in Thailand.  If you think about it, it does of course make total sense: Does the low quote include exactly the same materials and quantities as the other quotes; and does it include a project manager, insurance and/ or a proper supervisor who speaks a language you clearly understand ? If not you could be looking at a disaster waiting to happen and trying to get a low price, could cost you millions in Baht in costly corrections and mistakes. Be careful. The low end of the market can be full of problems with builders running off, standards are appalling, slow building works, lying, unfinished parts of the project, irregular patterns of works and so on. Please for you owns sake be careful and don’t be a victim of short sighted thinking in regards to costs. See our building costs in Thailand section.
  5. If you have never built a house before do not think it is easy. You are mistaken. It is not. It is why you have professional project managers, architects, foreman, brick layers, supervisors, engineers etc. And it takes years for them to learn their trade properly. Quality comes from experience, care, proper training, proper supervision and knowledge.
  6. If you wish to save money in building in Thailand then try as much as possible to buy locally manufactured products made in Thailand. There are many companies and products to choose from.
  7. Wood is a fabulous natural material to use on a house. It can be used to look fabulous in a house or project; but do remember it does create certain maintenance issues that perhaps aluminum for instance does not have. So for windows it is worth considering alternatives. However wood is a beautiful material to include but do consider the maintenance aspects. The sun bleaches colour and in addition to the heavy rain wood can wear quickly so needs more looking after.
  8. Insulating your home can help you reduce air conditioning costs and help minimise your environmental impact. There are many ways to insulate your home both via the walls, floors, windows and roof. There are many ways to help reduce the potential temperature in your home or hotel. A professional architect can help you do this and help you save big energy costs in the future. See our choosing an architect in Thailand section.
  9. Your architect needs to speak a language you clearly understand. You must be able to communicate via e-mail, telephone and in person. It is very important or you will get very frustrated. See our architect’s information in Thailand section. There are plenty of points and tips to read there that are important to know before engaging an architect.  There are good professional architects in Thailand but you need to choose the right one.
  10. If you are building in Thailand you need a project manager or a builder who provides proper supervision every day on site. That person needs to speak the same language as you or one that you are both fluent in. It is so important to the success of a building project in Thailand.  You cannot build a house or project in Thailand if you cannot communicate with the people involved. Please see the project management in Thailand section.
  11. PVC windows look great when new and have many positive attributes; but unfortunately the sun can cause the colour to fade. Aluminum tends to look better for longer. It is why it is so popular in Thailand. There are many aluminum manufactures and good quality products available.  So check this fact with the PVC window company and make sure they guarantee for this discoloration.
  12. Does the builder you have chosen in Thailand to build your property have insurance ? Thailand builders should have a valid, adequate insurance policy that protects them and you in case of an issue in regard third party and damage.  Is your building in Thailand covered by suitable insurance ? This is easily neglected and something many of us would not think about. What happens if a workers dies or gets injured on site. It happens in construction and you must make sure you are insured or the builder is; or you could be sued or have people asking for damages. What happens if a truck carrying bricks crashes into your wall ? Who pays for the damage ?  Once you ask these sorts of questions you soon realise it is essential to have insurance during the construction of your building in Thailand.
  13. Flat roofs can look really cool on modern homes. And often people like them included in the architectural design.  Remember: there is a reason why a roof is sloped. There is a reason why homes have pitched roofs. It is simple: rain runs off them more quickly and is taken away from the home.  Yes there are modern ways to waterproof flat roofs and technology has improved. And as long as the design is good, and the contractor builds correctly to a very good standard, then flat roofs can be okay. But there is always a chance of problems or issues later on. Thailand is a very wet country and gets a lot of heavy rain. So homes that are designed specifically for this weather pattern will deal with the weather more productively. So do consider this in the design and ask the architect. Normally when building in Thailand and a flat roof is constructed; if there are issues it can be due to bad construction, inexperienced contractors or maybe just not exact construction in the flat roof build.  So if you want a flat roof have one; but be aware of the potential leaks issue.  Talk to your architect and builder in Thailand.
  14. If you are building in Thailand then be sensible and use a professional building company. They can provide so much that you do require to building in Thailand successfully. Things such as: earthing your electrics correctly, installing plumbing and electrical systems correctly. Finishing your home to a good standard.  Answering questions and responding positively to your requests.  Providing comfort and security with a company name and address, history and insurance.  Understanding your request and being able to implement them and help you find products. In Thailand any builder who is foreign must have a work permit. If not they can be arrested on your project site and you no longer have a builder. That can cost you money, delays and problems.  If you are having any construction works done in Thailand,  check they are a registerd company and ask to see their work permit.
  15. Swimming pools need careful design and construction in Thailand. Most basic contractors are not capable of installing and constructing a pool correctly. It needs to be done properly especially if there are special systems or infinity edges etc.  Make sure the contractor has built pools before successfully and knows what they are doing. Or you could end up with a pool that needs much more costly monthly maintenance; or the water does not spill over the infinity edge correctly; the pumps are inadequate and the pool is dirty. A pool can be full of bacteria and ill health waiting to happen. It needs to be designed, installed and constructed correctly with the right equipment for its size and depth, amount of water etc.  Make sure you know how to correctly deal with the chemicals for the pool. This is very important and you should get trained or learn as much as you can. A pool needs maintenance and done properly. Do not think your gardener can do it without a full understanding of it.
  16. Just because a builder in Thailand offers you a guarantee, it does not mean they adhere to it. Some do not. A good professional contractor in Thailand will act on the guarantee they give you. It should form part of the building contract. So if you are building in Thailand make sure the guarantee is clearly written into your legal construction contract. It should state exactly what is guaranteed and what is not. Also in the contract it should state how quickly the builder in Thailand will react to a problem during the guarantee time limit.
  17. A simple thing but something sadly some people do forget: Be polite and nice at all times when dealing with contractors. Arrogance, condescension and rude aggressive behaviour will not get you far in Thailand. You will soon lose the respect the workers have for you and soon find they are much less enthusiastic to assist you. Thailand is a polite nation and it is a Buddhist nation.  Manners, politeness, calmness and kindness are still very much respected here.  Shouting, screaming and being a control freak will not get you far and goes against the whole flow here.  It will only create negativity and mistrust and unfortunate atmospheres.  Have respect for the people who work for you and they will be far more giving of their time.  Remember you are building in Thailand for a lot less then in Europe or USA and the workers are earning a fraction of what a similar tradesmen would get back there; so be somewhat understanding and decent about it.
  18. One of the best types of insulation available is cellulose fiber insulation, a gray-white powder made from shredded recycled newspaper. And where cellulose won’t work, there are other good, safe, products that can fill the gaps. It is blown using pneumatic equipment, usually by professional installers. This form of insulation can be used in wall cavities. It is also appropriate for attic floors, for irregular shaped areas, and for filling in around obstructions. It also can be moisturized so that it sticks when sprayed onto new, open walls. Cellulose is 80 percent recycled newspaper by weight, with 20 percent non-toxic borates added to resist mold, insects and fire. Fiberglass contains 20 to 25 percent recycled glass — the rest is new glass. In two important areas of safety, fire resistance and toxicity, cellulose is so much better than fiberglass. Cellulose is dense; it packs wall cavities and attics and suffocates fire. Fluffy fiberglass offers little fire resistance. Cellulose is clearly one of the overall best types of insulation for your ecological house.
  19. Wall insulation when building in Thailand: The simplest way to achieve good results is through choosing suitable building materials. Then in addition by using extra insulation measures. One of the most effective ways to insulate the walls of a building is by using concrete blocks. These are easily available and one of the most well known brands is sold by a company called Q-Con.  Q-CON is known to be approximately 4-8 times more energy-efficient than solid clay brick. It will reduce the transference of heat from the outside to the inside of buildings and houses. And some even claim you can save up to 30% on your electric bill. Due to the reduction in energy spent on air conditioning. Naturally much depends on your use and comparisons. But there is no doubt this is an excellent product with many excellent qualities. Ask your builder in Thailand about using this.
  20. Termites are a big problem in Thailand and they destroy wood. So always remember if you use wood it must be a wood that termites are not attracted too and/or impregnated with anti termite measures. You can also have termite systems laid underneath the home so a company comes once every month or so and sprays a poison into the pipe system under the house. Just remember it is poison and naturally is not good for the environment or you if you should ingest it.  The safest way is to avoid wood as much as possible. There are many alternatives to wood that look good too, so explore those with your architect or builder in Thailand.
  21. If you are building in Thailand and it is up country or outside main city areas; do expect water pressure issues sometimes and do expect maybe sometimes for water to be scarce. Electricity can go down sometimes too. Expect it. You cannot demand 5 star perfect standards in places that are out in the middle of countryside.  If you want that then do not come to Thailand or South East Asia. Stay at home. Be tolerant and understanding of other countries ways, advantages and disadvantages and do not expect things in Thailand to be the same as maybe back in your own country. It is neither fair nor intelligent to think that way.  Accept the way it is and do not demand what is not possible. It will only make you very frustrated and disappointed.
  22. If building in Thailand and you are located outside of city areas check that you have city water and electricity close by. If not you need to know how much it will cost to bring in from the closest electrical supply and if you need a water well or not to supply your water needs.
  23. Sub Contractors: Often people seem confused by the fact a main contractor in Thailand or a builder in Thailand uses external sub contractors for certain parts of the project. Or maybe they bring in a piling company, or electrical contractor, home automation company, window manufacturer,  or specialist carpenters. This is standard in the construction industry and few companies have the capabilities or skills to do it all under one company umbrella. They use specialists they know or have worked with. Generally this is beneficial to you as you have better skilled people involved. Remember it is the main contractor if he has signed a contract with you to do so, who takes all the responsibility, guarantees and supervises for your project.  Who they use is their business and how they do it is their business. It is why they are doing what they are, because they know the construction industry. As long as they keep to their price, the agreements and the contract you signed, then you should not be be concerned if they use external sub contractors. It is how projects get built all over the world and Thailand is no different. In fact a professional construction person would question it if they did not use specialists and external sub contractors for parts of the project. As it is expected and standard practice in the construction industry. It is normal in the construction industry for more than one contractor to be involved. It creates the industry that exists and means people and companies can specialize in certain areas.  This benefits the industry and you as a client,  if good specialists and sub contractors are used.

  24. Variances: If you change or make additional requests for work to be done which is not in the original contracted works,  then the contractor will supply a new price. It is called the variance. The contractor or builder you have signed to build your project will then supply the price and show their profit and overheads on top. If the cost is higher than the original cost then the difference will be shown and they will as is standard, add their profit and overheads onto that difference.

  25. If you are building in Thailand you should have a soil test done on your land.  Soil tests are very important so the engineer knows how to calculate for foundations, structure and pile depth based on soil laboratory results. If the land is not flat and has contours or is by a river. or has buildings on it,  you should also have a topographic survey (land survey) done. A land survey is vital if the land is not exactly flat and has other buildings, ponds, lakes etc on it. The architect normally asks for this but if not you should ask for a soil test and land survey if required. You can contact us on our contact us page if you require a soil test company in Thailand, or a surveyor  who can help you do a survey on your land in Thailand.

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