some thoughts from Dozer
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Feedback – Big Project in South Pattaya

feedback from Chris K

Congratulations on your comprehensive and informative website. It must have taken considerable effort to assemble it. I accessed it after reading about it as site of the week in the Bangkok Post IT section last week.

I am currently in the process of finalizing plans for a single story house to go on several rai south of Pattaya and am working with a reasonably large contractor that has its own in-house architectural and detail design capability. It is clear, however, this will not give me the cheapest cost but I hope it may eliminate hassles and give reasonable quality.

I have a few questions and comments regarding your experiences, and would appreciate any feedback you or others may offer.

• Construction strategy Your approach was obviously to minimize costs at the expense of doing considerable work yourself. i.e. coordination of contractors, purchase and management of materials etc. Did you consider using a single contactor for design and construction, and if so did you estimate the potential cost savings going your route?

Construction strategy. In theory I did have a general contractor, but it was kind of loose. On future projects I would strive to have one general, but I would still purchase materials (for quality control purposes). I also like the idea of using specialists for the roof and electrical, but coordination here really isn’t a problem. On bigger more expensive projects, like the one I think you’re talking about, it wouldn’t hurt to have the contractor be a financially sound entity. The ‘legal’ contract you enter into with your builder should establish building milestones and payments upon milestone completion. There will also be a penalty clause for project completion in longer than a predetermined amount of time. Things like this are easier to enforce against deep pockets.

• Cost per square meter I have heard many cost figures bandied around regarding the cost per square meter for the finished house. They exclude preparation of design drawings, the design and installation of custom kitchens and bathrooms, all kitchen appliances and furnishings. They range from a low of Baht 8 k/sq.m up to Baht 25 k/sq.m or higher depending on complexity of design and quality of both interior and exterior finishes. Feedback from you or others would be very useful.

Cost per square meter. Yes the estimate sounds correct. This house is 125 sq meters under roof and cost about 8k per sq meter, not including land. It is hard to compare costs since there are so many different quality levels. One thing for sure, those who buy finished houses can sacrifice on quality. The other point I would make about cost per sq meter is this: Normally on new construction it doesn’t include finishing materials, such as drapes, special shower heads, window screens, security metals, water filtration and storage and a host of other add-ons that fall on the buyer to arrange and purchase.

• Size of house The size in square meters can give a good indication of expected costs. Be careful how this size is calculated. I have always been used to this measure being calculated from the interior sizes of all rooms combined. It would appear that in Thailand the area is calculated from the footprint under the roof line. These 2 methods can give considerable variations in area.

Size of house. Yes, if you buy one of the architecture plan books (which I highly recommend) in the local bookstores (for example upstairs Tesco South) they have many finished house plans. The square footage quoted is ‘under roof’. For comparison purposes I think it is the one generally used here. This is different from European standards.

• Contractors’ method of pricing Large contractors base their pricing on a material take-off from the architectural drawings before the detailed construction drawings are prepared. Their experience obviously plays a large part in getting the quantities accurate but I believe they bear a detailed scrutiny before the deal can be agreed. Once the quantities are determined, labour unit rates are applied to give the contractor’s cost. Also carefully check the specifications for all components in the contractor’s supply such as sanitary fittings, A/C units etc. This is a key area where cost cutting will be applied and may not give you the quality you had expected. The contractor finally adds his overhead and profit as well as VAT. My belief is that overhead and profit is in the range of 10-15% which can be considerable depending on the size of the house.

Contractors’ method of pricing. I’m not sure of the percentage, but when contractors have to ‘front’ money to purchase goods, they will mark it up a lot. First of all, nobody knows exactly how much material is going to be used – everything is an estimate. Secondly there can be theft problems, there are transportation costs, etc. I know lesser houses to this one built around here which were almost double the price per sq meter. And good point about checking all of the materials the contractor is proposing – this is very important.

• Cost of land To add to your feedback, my experience searching for land of the type I wanted south of Pattaya in the size range of 2-7 rai ranged from the lowest at Baht 250 k/rai to Baht 650 k/rai. Obviously there are much more expensive lots in the highly desirable locations. Key factors driving price are the same the world over; location, shape, access, availability of power and phone services, condition and use of adjacent roads, type, style, condition and value of adjacent properties, and one to watch for, any local mini-industry such as coconut processing that can often result in excessive smoke and smell from burning the waste. Another key factor is the ground elevation relative to the access road and the potential for flooding. Advice is to make the ground floor of the house about 1 meter above the road elevation. If the road is yet to be paved, reckon to add 20-30 cm to the present gravel or dirt road elevation for final finishing. Fill may be required to elevate the plot before construction can start. This can be trucked in at about Baht 600-700 per load, which can vary in size, but should be approx 5 cu.m. If you have a large plot, excavation of a reasonably sized pond may also be an option. Allow costs for compaction and grading.

Cost of land. This particular location around the cool thai house is about 800k to 1m. Costs are getting really expensive closer in and have increased about 20% or more this year. The Thais seem to attach more significance to being on a main road than we (foreigners) do. There was one plot that I called on that was fronted on three sides by roads, which actually wouldn’t be very desirable – and the cost was very expensive. Very good advice on the road level. Any body who visits this site should at a minimum never build a house ‘too low’.

• Power and telephone supply What experience is available for the supply of suitable 3-phase power supply when such does not exist immediately adjacent to the proposed building site? Likewise, same query for telephone land lines. Would like to know potential costs, lead times to make available, difficulties dealing with the authorities etc. Also, what experience in getting approval to run the main power and phone lines underground from the overhead line at the main road to the JB inside the house?

Telephone. Certain areas don’t have telephone lines. In this area, the telephone company is in the process of bringing the required equipment in to supply the area, as there are many developments in this vicinity without telephone. Four months ago the manager at the Telephone company said to check back in a month. Latest was there was a shortage of raw cable from the supplier in Bangkok. Another interesting point: in this area there is one house which has a telephone line. It is not TOT but is a TT& T line. After investigating, it turns out that it is a ‘black market’ line. I don’t know all of the details, but apparently if you pony up enough money you can get an unofficial line, but the phone companies say that it is of low quality. The only reason I bring this up is – just because your neighbor has a line doesn’t necessarily mean you can get one (at least not a legit good quality one)!

• Piling Any feedback on the need for piles would be appreciated. I have seen a single story house that was piled but most feedback says it is not required, especially for a single storey.


• Insulation Coming from a very cold climate, I am acutely aware of the benefits of good insulation, in this case to minimise heating cost, but the converse is true here, to minimise A/C costs. Feedback on the use of outside wall insulation, other than just an air-gap cavity would be welcome. Did you investigate using insulating materials in the cavity of double brick construction or the use of insulating blocks for the inner skin of outside walls?

Wall insulation on single storey houses may not be as important as roof insulation since walls often have their exposure to direct sun minimised by roof overhangs. The majority of cold loss and heat radiation is through the roof. Feedback on the different types of insulation and installation methods would be welcome. It is an area where I believe it is foolish to cut corners to minimise initial cost. A/C costs can be extensive in a poorly insulated house.

Insulation. Exterior double row walls are great for insulation, but I haven’t seen it used with any insulating material. I wouldn’t think this is necessary. Also, the large superblocks have good insulating qualities.

• Kitchen design and installation I’m looking for experience and feedback here. I am planning for a large kitchen and want good input into its design before choosing the fitting details. Professionally done kitchens can be very expensive if they are to look good as well as being functional. There are several designers and installers in the Pattaya area. Can anyone offer advice and guidance how to approach this critical area?


• Wooden floors I am considering a wooden floor for my living/dining areas as well as for corridors to bedrooms. What recommendations/advice on durability/ types/installation etc?


• Deep water wells My present thinking is to use a drilled well and down-hole pump. These do not seem to be the common option here probably due to cost, but I have used them very successfully in the past (not in Thailand). Feedback of availability, cost and pump reliability would be welcome. Also, is anyone familiar with the use of a single down-hole pump connected to a pressure tank to eliminate the need for intermediate storage and a second pump? The type of tank I have used was relatively small (circa 1 cu.m.) with pressure maintained by air over a bladder membrane. In a 2-storey house with the tank in the basement and the downhole pump about 150 meters away the system worked very well.


• And finally………….. You have probably heard it many times but you have an interesting spelling of Baht! The usual misspelling is Bath, but I have not seen Bhat before!

Best regards and congratulations on a great website.


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