Thailand Building - Cost Considerations

When considering construction costs in Thailand always remember there are many factors that make up the costs. So when you get quotations or discuss costs with Thai contractors, do factor them in, or ask if there are included. Sometimes there are large differences between builder’s quotations. But when judging them you must know the facts and what service they are providing. It is not so surprising there are differences in quotes, if some do not include services that others do include: such as insurance, project management, worthwhile guarantees they act on, an office, daily communication in a language you understand and professional advice with good standards of finish.  For example in Thailand project management can often be overlooked but is an essential part of ay construction project.

Just because one contractor‘s price is higher than another’s, does not mean they are expensive. It may well mean it is because they are doing the job properly, building to a proper standard of finish and are professional; including doing all that they should do, to build your project successfully. In that instance their price is the fair price and the correct price. The lower price is not. Be careful, making sure you know what each builder offers and provides before thinking one is expensive. Good professional builders are bound to provide a higher price because they are quoting fairly and doing it correctly. Anyone can quote low and do a bad job or have no intention of doing it well, or no intention of finishing it. Low quoting is one of the oldest tricks in the book and still so many people fall for it. Only realising their mistake when it is too late. By that time they are already in the middle of a miserable project, over costs and a court case waiting to happen. Think clearly and think correctly. Have the facts before making harsh incorrect judgments on price. Always beware of low prices and quotations that seem too good to be true. They normally are. It is at this level that bad quality, misinformation, problems and conflicts can occur. Make sure you use a professional company with an office who have recommendations and have been in business for a number of years.

Cost points to check and consider:
  • Is there insurance taken out on the project during the construction process ? If someone dies, or is badly injured on site, or your home is hit by a truck, who is responsible ? Your project should be insured and the contractor normally provides this. Is it included ? Do you have a copy as proof of the insurance in a language you understand ? Are you named also on the insurance policy ? Essential.
  • Is the contractor including project management in Thailand ? Is a professional project manager employed on site managing your construction project ? Some house builders in Thailand do not supply this. They provide only a foreman. Some cannot provide it as the client forces on them such a low price. A project manager is essential for the build to run smoothly and for the quality to be of a good standard. If you not wish to pay for a project manager, then do not expect the quality or the build to be of a high quality and do not be frustrated when there are problems. In Europe nearly all construction projects have a project manager on site. Larger projects have multiple project managers. In Thailand any professional construction project will also have a project manager on site. This is an essential cost, so comparing the cost of one builder to another if one includes project manager and the other does not, is invalid unless you know the cost of project management. The question to ask is what would the builder who does not have a project manger cost if they did ? Project management (whether it is the builder or the project manager who does the managing) is essential for a successful quality construction project to be finished to a good standard, on time and to plan.
  • Does the builder provide a full detailed list of materials, products included which is attached to the contract ? If not the builder could easily change materials or substitute any materials for a lower quality or less cost alternative.Essential.
  • Any builder who offers free architectural design should be questioned. In most of our experience in life, we know things are not given to us normally for free; and almost certainly it will just be added into the build cost. This is hardly transparent and not a good start to a long relationship; which is required to design and build a home. A Thai architect is not free and does not work for free. So for builders to offer it for free is simply a selling trick. It is a cost and more than likely it will be added into the build. And even if it was free it is very doubtful the architect will be any good. Do not be taken in by the free architect sales gimmick.
  • Does the contractor provide a professional construction contract written in Thai and/or English ? Essential.
  • Does that contract include a construction guarantee and do they follow up on it. Is it worth anything ? Does the builder treat that guarantee seriously ? Will they follow up on it if required ? Essential.
  • Does the contractor provide e-mail and phone communication in the language you understand ? It is a cost and you cannot design and build a home without this. Essential.
  • Does the contractor have an office ? If you are building something as important and costly as a home an office we would have thought is essential. Not only to show you they are serious in their company, but professional. Do they have a registered address ?
  • Soil Tests & Soil Testing: If you are building any form of property in Thailand, just as you would in other countries, you should have soil tests done. So if you are working with a Thai architect on your house drawings the engineer will require data on the land soil. This is so he can do correct calculations for the structure and to know how far to pile down. To build properly and to safe guard your property and yourself, you must have soil tests done. Remember in Chiang Mai the soil is harder and more rocky and in Bangkok it is wetter. In Bangkok  much is built over swamp and reclaimed land. So the structure reflects this and in Bangkok the depth of piling is much deeper. So the engineer needs to know the information about the soil at your land site. Always have a soil test done. You are spending many millions of Baht on a home or maybe hundreds of millions, if a larger project, so do not risk future problems and additional costs, all because you wanted to save 50,000-100,000 Baht. Walls can collapse, large cracks open up and foundations shift. You must know the structure is correctly drawn based on facts and known calculations.  If you require a soil test then please contact us. We can suggest a company to use. Soil testing is a very important part of building in Thailand. You need to have a soil test quotation to know the cost. It can be approximately  50,000 Baht for one bore hole and soil test on a house plot; and maybe 100,000's of thousands if a large plot with multiple bore holes, for a commercial project. Soil tests are not absolute guarantees but definitely something you should have done.  Contact us for a soil test company in Thailand.
  • Topographic survey or land survey:  If your land is not flat and has contours, electrical installations, large boulders, rivers, and/or buildings on it,  you really should have a topographic survey (land survey) completed by a professional survey company. This is an additional cost to consider. Land surveys are charged based on the land site. The size of the land, what is involved and what details are required. If you do not have a land survey plan and the land is sloped and has buildings on it and other physical features that could effect the build; you must have a survey done. If you would like us to suggest a land survey company please contact us.

Please note:  All of the above are legitimate costs, costs to consider and some reflect in the contractors costs They are also essential ingredients of a professional build project and/or a professional construction contractor who you can trust. If you want your project to be successful and to be built correctly according to what you expect and agree then the above are essential.

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