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Dozer’s real estate laws

Although these are pretty ingrained in my psyche it doesn’t hurt to repeat it to myself one more time. Hopefully also it might guide some of you readers to greener pastures in your real estate adventures in Thailand. I try to put a lot of detail on this site, but sometime is pays to stop and take a high level view of the guiding principles which I think will make for a happy farang camper!

1.) Ownership: Don’t end up being a squatter in your own house. Take a time out and make sure your rights are protected via a lease or a Thai company which you control. (Doesn’t apply to condos — which can simply be put in your name).

2.) Farang business people: So you’re in Thailand and your doing real estate. You want to be independent and do the leg work yourself. To get a feel for things you hook up with a farang real estate agent who seems to know the score. WRONG! You can get everything done you need to do involving real estate with Thai professionals at all quality levels. Back home you should deal with farangs. Here you will need to deal with Thais. Why? The farang, in general will be far far far more expensive. Not only that, there are a bunch of really shady farangs out there who will be out to con you straight off. Not that every Thai is totally honest, but the odds go way way up on having a happy transaction with value for the money if you’re dealing with Thais. (That being said – you need to really need to stay on top of all real estate projects no matter who the builder is).

To overcome language problems if you need, you’ll never spend any better money than on a translator, which are easy to find and not that expensive. Mostly it is unnecessary since most Thai professionals speak at least passing English. Although I know I’m painting with an overly wide brush, it is common knowledge around here (among Thais and expats who have been here a while) that the farangs are many times more expensive in almost any profession. There are a lot of exceptions which I don’t need to go into here. Remember I’m a farang too, and I only point this out to help other farangs coming here who want to experience all that this wonderful land has to offer.

3.) Be the one buying the materials: Thai builders who are responsible for the material budget will tend to cut corners. You’re in a much better position if you are the one paying for the materials. First off, the total cost of the project will go down. Secondly, the builder will be able to concentrate on applying their craft the best way they know how — and not be thinking about saving 2000 baht by pouring a razor thin floor or saving 3000 baht by using coconut wood for eve support (etc, etc, etc).

4.) Quality control: In a building project you need to stay on top of things and go to the site daily to check on progress. Unfortunately it should be you and not you’re significant other, who is in charge of quality control. Thais tend to let things slide and just won’t notice the same things you will.

5.) Get references and referrals: The best way to get the builder is the first place is through a referral. You can just spy a sign on a building under construction, talk to neighbors or whatever. It’s an obvious point, but before deciding on a builder you should check out what they have done. Go see previous projects and talk to the owners at those projects.

6.) Get at least 4 bids for every major job: For anything over about 100,000 baht you should be getting at least 4 bids.

The main piece of advice stated already is don’t get sucked into trap of dealing with farang business people because the Thais ‘don’t understand’ or ‘do sloppy work’ or ‘won’t look out for your interests’ or any thing else you’ve been told. Building here is tricky and there are many hurdles to overcome. Also, it is good to bounce you’re ideas off a farang ‘ear’ — after all the farang ear will hear things differently from the Thai ear. Develop some farang friends, and run things by them.

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