LABOUR & MATERIALS COSTS: The TRUE 2007 stor(e)y!

Anything to do with prices. Raw material prices or prices for finished material (or labor such as well drilling). Project prices (how much will it cost??), etc.

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LABOUR & MATERIALS COSTS: The TRUE 2007 stor(e)y!

Postby jazzman » Sun Jan 07, 2007 1:08 am

LABOUR & MATERIALS COSTS: The TRUE 2007 stor(e)y.

I'm starting a new major thread for this single topic because it is a frequently raised subject, and most people's answers are, logically, based on their own single experience. (so I know that Dozer will forgive me for reposting this much reedited article in a new, more visible spot).

With all due respect to Tintin's otherwise accurate posting, it is in fact just as common to negotiate a lump sum for the labour as to quote a price per square metre, but I thoroughly agree that it is sometimes difficult to find a team who will just do the labour and build to your spec. They WILL want to make some extra profit on the materials, which often means cheaper, or even substandard stuff. For example, if you are going to need 200 bags of Portland cement at 130 Baht a bag and you are not around to check, or if you clearly don't know your onions about this grey powder, they will use 180 bags of Tiger at 95 baht and have made a quick 9,000 baht on the side, which is a lot of money for them. And unless you are a metallurgist and understand all about the various thicknesses and densities of box and C-section steel, would YOU know the difference? Jazzman wouldn't and he has a whole list of hair raising stories to tell (not about his own projects) including one of second hand, rusted-through roof steel offcuts butt welded together into 6m lengths for rafters and load bearing purlins. The ridge of the roof in question has a visible sag already and the farang owner who thinks he's getting 100,000 baht's worth of high grade continuous rolled steel, is far away in Sweden. If one night, the 13 tons of concrete tiles come crashing through into his bedroom...

For the work, there are recognised, established firms of building contractors, and there are independent teams of skilled labourers who take care of themselves. Paradoxically, it is often the unofficial team who will provide the best service. This may be due to the fact that one of their number is their elected foreman. Not only is he the most skilled, but he takes care of the 'business' side and ensures that they have a new job when the current project is finished. Their cost is lower because there is no calculated margin to cover premisses, offices and profits for owners and shareholders. They are probably not paying any tax either and have no claims to social security and pensions, but this is not our country and it is not our problem - they have chosen to work this way, and at the end of the day they are probably earning much more than they would as employees of a tight fisted chinese contractor. They won't be able to design a house for you, but they can build from a simple sketch on a paper napkin or even copy a house from a photo in a magazine or brochure. They will proudly take you to visit houses they have built. The standard of finish (e.g. perfectly straight and even tiling) will never be as good as in the West, not due to poor workmanship, but because it is just not in the Asian psyche to want to achieve such a level of perfection. Their motto is "If it works, it's good enough." However, if you have skills of your own as an electrician, plumber, tiler , carpenter or plasterer, you can eventually coax them to adopt your methods, but only by explaining that what they are doing is already very good, but you would just like it done this way. When they later see the improvement in their own work, they will be pleased to the point of being smug about it!
Nevertheless, (as in the experience of one farang in Udon) it's probably better to compromise on quality, rather than let them experiment with a thousand pounds worth of marble flooring before learning to get it right.

The construction companies will often only work to a set of architect's drawings, and will charge you (they will be taking a cut) for having them done if there aren't any. They often put a mixed bunch onto a house in which no one is a foreman, no one is well paid, no one is an expert in any particular field and everyone is drunk on laow kaow most of the time; the chinese bosses rarely (if ever) visit the site to check on the work and if they do, they do the Thai thing and pretend nothing is wrong.

House prices here may not be an issue for someone living on a Western salary and building a home here for his recreation or retirement, after all, a house still costs less than a car! But if you are already living on a pension or working in Thailand as a teacher, then you will have to watch your budget very carefully. And whatever you are quoted or are prepared to pay, even if it is a rip off, you don't want the whole thing to fall down after five years.

If you know enough about the traditions involved with laying out a floor plan to be able to design your own house - a 300 page file of detailed archtect's drawings for every chip of wood and grain of sand are not required, often a couple of simple sketches will do - (or buy a set of plans) and stipulate the quantities and qualities, a rule of thumb told to me by a Thai builder who was unwittingly giving away his trade secrets, is to calculate the labour at 43% of the total materials cost. Usually they will accept an offer of employment on that. This has the enormous advantage that you can calculate your BoQ on cheap materials to get a good labour price, then up the quality. Basically this means quality of steel, rebar, cement, roof and floor tiles, electrical fixtures and fittings and stuff for fitted kitchens - these are your biggest single expenses. (doors & windows will be made locally by a sub contractor and the standard will usually be consistent). This does mean you will need to be around to shop around and do the purchasing yourself. Farangs who come here, organise a project and clear off back to the UK, Oz, Europe or the US while the house is being built, are definitely going to be ripped off unless they can leave a sharp-tongued wife here to oversee the work.

Houses in catalogues
or homes built by developers are calculated at a flat rate of 10,000 baht per square metre roofed floor area: the sum of the floor area including the overhang of the eaves, (90cm - 1m all round) for each storey (real tiles on full truss, not composite corrugated panels on a lightweight truss), [source: "120 Beautiful Houses", Home Collection Group, Bangkok 2005, ISBN 974-272-710-4].

By applying the 43% rule, Jazzman's labour calculation worked out at 1,346 baht/sq.m - this is not a misprint :)
To calculate the budget for materials, Jazzman got quotes from several different suppliers, a) by himself, b) by sending his Thai father in law, c) by sending his wife; and then comparing the prices all over again with GlobalHouse, HomeMart, and HomePro. It was well worth the exercise - which took about two months - and Jazzman feels he got the best deals on everything, at least on what was available in his rather remote area.

What he paid for EVERYTHING in detail right down to nails for the formwork, hacksaw blades, angle grinder discs, and petrol for the car to take a workman's wife to hospital to have a baby, is on XL. You only have to ask ;)

Swimming Pools: The same principles apply, contractors' turn-key solutions work out at 15,000 - 20,000 baht per square metre of water surface [same source: "120 Beautiful Houses", Home Collection Group, Bangkok 2005, ISBN 974-272-710-4].
The construction of a swimming pool is however far less labour intensive than for a house, takes only three weeks to build, there is no expensive roof, not many doors and windows and very few toilets, bathrooms and kitchens so why does a 40 m2 tiled hole in the ground cost as much as a 156 m2 4-bedroom house with two bathrooms, a large patio and a garage? Simple, the prices are calculated on the customer's disposable income, i.e. a 'luxury goods' price - if you can afford a pool you can afford to be ripped off - just like Gucci shoes, Armani suits, Rolex watches, 1st class air fares, and anything and everything, including the girls, on offer on or near a Pattaya beach.
The facts? A certain small injection moulded PVC component (a bull's eye nozzle) costs $A3.40 in Australia to produce, retails for $A12.50 in a pool shop in Melbourne and is sold in Sukumvit by S.Napa Ltd for a whacking $A43.33 (1,299 baht). By knowing how to do the costing and purchasing yourself, you can save up to 75% (this ain't a misprint either!) on the price of a pool. No skilled work is involved, just slave labour for digging, concreting and tiling a big hole in your back yard, following some step by step instructions and glueing some PVC piping together ;)
The BoQ for Jazzman's pool is also available on XL.

Jazzman
jazzman
 
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pix and spreadsheets

Postby jazzman » Mon Jan 08, 2007 10:50 pm

Anyone - and there are LOTS of you :o - who has asked for my pix and/or spreadsheets, Dozer and I are working on it; I may put them on one of my ftp servers, (I have my own hosting server) but I need to get round to it and at the moment my foreman is off sick, so I'm having to teach, train, coax, cajole, and sweet-mouth my workers. I will let you all know personally when it has been done.
Thanks for your patience.

Jazzman
jazzman
 
Posts: 2161
Joined: Wed Dec 06, 2006 9:11 pm
Location: Thailand

Your pictures - and mine

Postby jazzman » Wed Feb 07, 2007 8:07 am

If your are picking this thread up for the first time, you will be pleased to know that the Administrator is working right now on some updates to the forum software. One includes the addition of a photo gallery/album feature.
How to build a $20,000 / £14,000 house and a $???? MOTEL Updated 21 March 09 - with BOQ and costs
Don't let this happen in YOUR house.
jazzman
 
Posts: 2161
Joined: Wed Dec 06, 2006 9:11 pm
Location: Thailand


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