Many foreigners visit Thailand and some stay and want to build a Thai house. Building a Thai house is kind of like reading a Dan Brown novel–there are many twists and turns and not all of it makes sense (at least at first). Your best advice is to adhere to the old axiom of “buyer beware.” Before you even begin the process it is suggested that you uncap a cold Singha beer (the local brew) and define what type of customer you are. To ease the process, the customer types are listed, but first some definitions of Thai expressions used within the context of this article: สร้างบ้าน
- Sabai, Sabai. Happy and contented.
- Oye Jip.To experience pain (i.e., in the gut).
- Moo-wan.When it is easy to be taken advantage of.
- Moo-wan mak.When it is very easy to be taken advantage of.
- Goo-ah. Customer should be fearful and beware.
- Foreign man with a Thai wife (Sabai, sabai). This is the best situation for building a Thai house (in most circumstances). You have a solid relationship and the Thai wife’s relatives (in most cases) will be helpful in dealing with Thai designers and contractors.
- Foreign man with Thai girlfriend (Oye jip). This could be a recipe for disaster (but not always). Some soul searching is required. If the foreigner just met his girlfriend last week at a go-go bar, then he might want to consider waiting until their relationship has solidified.
- Foreign man and foreign wife (Moo-wan). In most cases a foreign couple will contact the foreign salesperson at a large design company in Bangkok who will promise a turn-key operation at the location of their choice (and at a very steep price).
- Foreign man (and wife) and Thai partner (Moo-wan mak). This is an outside individual (not related to family) who offers to help design and build their dream house. He may have been recommended by a taxi driver and won’t want to discuss details.
- A foreign man or woman alone (Goo-ah). Thais don’t like to be alone and the more people involved the merrier. Develop a relationship with a Thai first.
Before you make any important decisions it is suggested that you uncap another Singha beer and consider that probably 80% of the foreigners that desire to build a Thai house have no business building a Thai house. Leave your emotions at home (or at your hotel) and ask yourself some questions. For example: “How long do I plan to live in the house and who will live there when I am not around?”
Note: Thais love to buy new things and don’t like to buy anything used (unless they have to). You should consider this before building your house. Renting it out later could be an option.
Having said all that, the next step is to find a piece of land to build your house on. If you have a Thai wife or other relationship, her family may already have a plot of land available (all Thai families, it seems, have land for sale). Land is fairly cheap and also available in Thai residential areas called Moo-Baans.