some thoughts from Dozer
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choosing a contracting company

Here is the deal: everything here in the LOS (by the way that stands for land of smiles) is unregulated. That is the top and bottom line. If real estate selling and construction was totally unregulated back in your country you’d be in the same boat. By unregulated I mean there are no permits required to build, and there are no building inspections. Land is sold by estate agents who often proclaim they are only getting a 3% commission when in fact they are getting anywhere up to 40% (by making a side deal with the owner).

Normally the ones going over to the ‘dark side’ in the whole equation are the brokers, lawyers, construction middlemen and others who have come to feed of the ‘farang’ migration frenzy. It is a natural phenomenon which I think would happen anywhere you have those easily parted with money migrating in in great numbers, and a ‘buyer beware’ environment.

Between farangs doing business here and Thais there are some differences. Normally the Thai scammer will be after a small score, where the farang will be thinking big numbers. Cost of living back home and all that. Other farangs that do a stand up quality work often have really high prices. Realistically though, if you are buying a finished house the built in profit levels are so great (by the Thai developers) that the farang should be able to compete easily.

When I look at getting into a project the key player is the ‘contractor’ or ‘foreman’ (chaang rap mauw gaugh sang). This is the guy who signs the contract and give you a fixed price bid on labor to build the house. There is this guy and his crew with no back office people or any other overhead. This is the way that the lion’s share of projects are done here and it covers budget to total luxury class properties.

So the question comes up, how do you pick the contractor? This is the most important decision you will make in the course of your project. Get references from other home builders, the building supply store, your neighbor and friend Joe. Get them to submit a bid based on your completed plans. Make sure that there is only a minimum deposit required and that work is paid for after the milestone completions laid out in the contract. There should also be a penalty clause if the project is not completed on time.

There was a worker relating a story of a luxury house close to here 10+m which is falling apart. The owner wanted to work with a farang, so he got a farang ‘general contractor’ to oversee the very expensive contract. The general was as honest as the day is long, but made a poor selection of the real on-site working contractor. The working Thai contractor was busy all the time figuring out how to game the system by corner cutting on materials (material + labor bid in this case). So in the end the house was finished and looked OK, but it wasn’t long until big ugly cracks started appearing and the foundation columns started give way. The house is still standing, but it will be one very expensive repair job.

Getting to the bottom line here: no matter how you decide to contract out your project, or what type of construction company you decide to use — there is no way out of due diligence on your part. You can’t figure: oh, I’ve got a farang taking care of things, so I can pack it up and come back when the project is finished. Same obviously with a Thai contractor on the job. References are very important.

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