Issan Bungalow

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Issan Bungalow

Postby bngldsmth » Fri Feb 13, 2009 7:47 pm

The story so far:

As you may know if you have read my introductory post (here) we have been building a simple two bedroom bungalow which was started last year. The site is in my wife’s family’s village about half way between Udon Thani and Nong Khai, up in the North East of Thailand.
I should really clarify that this house is really my wife’s, rather than mine. As you know it is very difficult for a falang to have any ownership rights over property in Thailand. For this reason I (much to my wife’s disappointment :lol: ) have refused to invest any of my own money (not that I have much!) in building here. Therefore the project is funded solely from my wife’s earnings in the UK and as such the budget is very tight. I have tried to design a basic two bedroom bungalow which would serve as holiday accommodation for us and year round living for my mother in law.
Below is a basic floor plan showing the room layout. The house is orientated with the long axis running north-south with the kitchen/bathroom at the south end. The building plot is a long relatively thin rectangle of about 2 rai with the house placed at one end.

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Re: Issan Bungalow

Postby bngldsmth » Fri Feb 13, 2009 8:01 pm

The plot had been bought in 2007 with fill dirt being added soon after to give the land almost a year to settle before construction began.
We didn’t hire an architect as the budget simply wouldn’t allow for it. Instead I drew up fairly detailed plans which were developed after numerous discussions with our builder.
Our builder was a close relative of my wife, and her sister and brother-in-law would also be working on the construction team. Because of this I was confident that at least they were unlikely to rip off a member of their own family. Also knowing my sister-in-law we would have someone who was trustworthy and would vociferously stand up for my wife’s best interests.
So we were all set to begin work at the start of March 2008, queue mistake number 1!

I, rather stupidly, thought that after agreeing the details of the plan and also marking out a reference stake on the plot that all would go well with laying the foundations. So…. I decided to go diving in Ko Lanta for 2 weeks. Hey I know it’s stupid but we only get one decent holiday a year and what can I say, the diving is great in Thailand!

Well after a few days we phoned to get a progress report only to be asked if I had positioned the house (at the back) 3m from the boundary fence or the start of the fill dirt. I thought it was obvious on the plans that I had positioned the house 3m away from the fence, rather than the top of the slope of landfill which was about a 2 meters further into the plot. Sure enough it transpired that they had measured from the start of the fill and placed the first foundation and posts about 2 meters further into the plot than I had planned. This caused me a bit of stress as I was concerned that on a fairly long and thin plot there would not be enough space at the front of the house for manoeuvring vehicles. After a series of, at times fairly heated conversations (some of which were a bit lost in translation) we were reassured that there was still plenty of space.
Sure enough when we returned, although obviously we had lost some space from the front, there was still enough room to comfortably drive the pickup around the site. After placing the stake in the ground marking the first post I wonder if the “mistake” was actually a result of the family having a discussion about what they thought was best, and not wanting to confront me with their ideas. I don’t think they appreciated that I was trying to create an illusion of more space at the front to lessen the narrow feel of the plot. I wasn’t concerned about the house being fairly close to the rear boundary as it looks out on farmland which is unlikely to be developed. Still never mind, what’s done is done and we certainly weren’t going to tear up all the work done so far.

After our return there followed about four weeks of seemingly endless driving around Udon and the surrounding area finding suppliers for all the construction materials and choosing things like tiles and doors/windows. I’m afraid that I can’t give details about costs right now as all the receipts are with the family back in Thailand. I do know that a major chunk went on the metal for the concrete and roof. I will try and give more info once we return at the end of this month.
It took some searching though to find things which would fit within the budget but still give a decent level of quality. Also I had to battle a bit against the sometimes rather kitsch style that the Thai’s seem to like. Especially with things like tiles, many of the patterns fall into the category of what I would describe as hideous but which many people seem to like.

Well time flew past and and it was soon time to return back to the UK. The pictures below show the state of progress at this time. You can see that there was still a long way to go but work was calling so staying on longer just wasn’t an option. After the foundation mistake I was a bit nervous to say the least about leaving the project under the families control but there wasn’t really any other option. We negotiated with the builder that the house would be completed up to the point of being weather tight, leaving us to supervise the finishing work of electrics, kitchen, ceiling and painting when we return this year.

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Re: Issan Bungalow

Postby bngldsmth » Fri Feb 13, 2009 8:07 pm

I was pretty happy with the work that had been done so far, and we had had many comments from the locals that the standard of construction was higher than they were used to seeing. I must admit that things like foundation and roof truss design I left in the hands of the builder. Hiring an engineer or architect just wasn’t an option and unfortunately I hadn’t discovered this site yet to be able to learn about these things. I guess time will tell. I knew that I had kept the design as simple as possible and followed the Thai standard of a 4x4m grid with concrete frame and blockwork construction. They’ve been building homes like this for years around here and I’ve seen some fairly dodgy looking places that seem to stand up over the years.

One thing that I did manage to persuade my wife to finance was building double skinned walls at least on the bedroom walls facing west. I hope that this will help with keeping the afternoon heat out of the rooms and reduce the need to add air conditioning. The cost of doing this was minimal really so I hope it has a positive effect.

Since returning back to the UK we have received the following pictures of the progress so far. Things seem to have been done quite well but I will have to wait until the end of the month to see it all in the flesh. Perhaps after that I will have more tails of woe but I certainly hope not! :shock: :)

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Thanks for taking the time to read, I hope it hasn’t been too boring. Please have patience with the inevitable questions which I will be asking over the coming weeks whilst the house is completed.

Ben :D
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Re: Issan Bungalow

Postby tung » Sat Feb 14, 2009 2:54 am

Well done Ben, nice explanation of your build, it's looking pretty good for a low budget build. Congratulation to you and your missus.
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Re: Issan Bungalow

Postby bngldsmth » Sat Feb 14, 2009 3:33 am

Thanks for your thoughts tung :D
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Re: Issan Bungalow

Postby thomas.fontaine » Sat Feb 14, 2009 9:50 am

bngldsmth wrote:Also I had to battle a bit against the sometimes rather kitsch style that the Thai’s seem to like. Especially with things like tiles, many of the patterns fall into the category of what I would describe as hideous but which many people seem to like.


Yes, that is so true. When my wife tells me that she bought something for the house (without my approval) I can be sure that this is going to be kitsch...like this bench she bought few weeks ago for the terrace with flowers everywhere and gold color. What am I going to do with that :oops:

Regarding investing your money for a house in Thailand, you could think about usufruct mechanism. That does not give you ownership whatsoever but theoretically nobody can sell the land (with the house on it) without your blessing if you made an usufruct agreement.
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Re: Issan Bungalow

Postby bngldsmth » Sat Feb 14, 2009 5:44 pm

Thanks for your reply Thomas, the Thais certainly seem to have different tastes to us Europeans! :lol:

As far as the funding issue goes I did think about going down the usufruct route however there are a number of reasons why I didn't;

1. At my stage of life (mid thirties) Thailand is a great place that I love being able to visit once a year for a holiday. If I was nearing retirement age or had a job which would enable me to visit more often then I may have considered investing.

2. If my relationship did go tits up (god forbid that it does! :lol: ) would I really want or be able to evict my mother in law, and either sell the house or live there myself. At the end of the day a house in the middle of my wife's rural village would be of little use to me were it not to provide accommodation whilst visiting the out-laws.

3. Building the house is something that my wife feels she has to do and it will give her some security that, come what may, she will always have a stable base to return to. It did cause some disagreement between us as i feel that any money we have should be invested in the ridiculously inflated UK housing market. In the end I understand why she has to do it so I said fair enough, but you will have to pay for it.

Thanks again for your post,

ben :D
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Re: Issan Bungalow

Postby geordie » Sat Feb 14, 2009 6:28 pm

suprisingly good results given lack of supervision left to it my wifes family would have matched uk prices
bngldsmth wrote:

As far as the funding issue goes I did think about going down the usufruct route however there are a number of reasons why I didn't;

.

2. If my relationship did go tits up At the end of the day a house in the middle of my wife's rural village would be of little use to me were it not to provide accommodation whilst visiting the out-laws.

3. Building the house is something that my wife feels she has to do and it will give her some security that, come what may, she will always have a stable base to return to. It did cause some disagreement between us as i feel that any money we have should be invested in the ridiculously inflated UK housing market. In the end I understand why she has to do it so I said fair enough, but you will have to pay for it.

Thanks again for your post,

ben :D


Words of wisdom Ben i would imagine i am not the only forum member that wishes he lived by them
When your kids have grown up and left and you have a bit of spare cash its harder to argue
your case
Thai children are obliged to help out the parents??? to what extent varies some of them refuse to help out at all
MY wife unfortunately sees it as her duty but it seems to encompass three lazy brothers and costs me a fair sum
I actually like and get on ok with my in laws but cannot wait for them to die it will be like paying off a morgage stick by you guns you are to young to fall into this situation
my comments may be wrong but never deliberately
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Re: Issan Bungalow

Postby jazzman » Sat Feb 14, 2009 6:43 pm

The house looks very nice and is the first documentation (I think) on this board of a standard, low budget Thai home.
Left to themselves without a farang breathing down their necks, local builders can do a pretty good job, although the quality of finish will never be the same as a British house. This is not necessarily due to poor workmanship, it's due to the fact that in developing countries, the criteria of aesthetics are just far less demanding.

Generally, if a farang builds a house like this, the family will lose face, but in your case just the opposite has happened: because it was built with your wife's own money, she will have gained a lot of brownie points :)
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.
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Re: Issan Bungalow

Postby bngldsmth » Sat Feb 14, 2009 7:42 pm

geordie wrote:suprisingly good results given lack of supervision left to it my wifes family would have matched uk prices
bngldsmth wrote:

As far as the funding issue goes I did think about going down the usufruct route however there are a number of reasons why I didn't;

.

2. If my relationship did go tits up At the end of the day a house in the middle of my wife's rural village would be of little use to me were it not to provide accommodation whilst visiting the out-laws.

3. Building the house is something that my wife feels she has to do and it will give her some security that, come what may, she will always have a stable base to return to. It did cause some disagreement between us as i feel that any money we have should be invested in the ridiculously inflated UK housing market. In the end I understand why she has to do it so I said fair enough, but you will have to pay for it.

Thanks again for your post,

ben :D


Words of wisdom Ben i would imagine i am not the only forum member that wishes he lived by them
When your kids have grown up and left and you have a bit of spare cash its harder to argue
your case
Thai children are obliged to help out the parents??? to what extent varies some of them refuse to help out at all
MY wife unfortunately sees it as her duty but it seems to encompass three lazy brothers and costs me a fair sum
I actually like and get on ok with my in laws but cannot wait for them to die it will be like paying off a morgage stick by you guns you are to young to fall into this situation


I have tried to instill the western concept that we are now starting our own family and that this must come first. However this is where a major culture clash occurs and will always be a bone of contention. My wife does give a small amount to her mother every month and I try to insist that if we help the rest of the family it is with things like paying school fees for the children and buying them some clothes etc. I have made sure that everyone understands that I am certainly not a rich falang and only have modest means (I work as a staff nurse in the UK). I am not concerned about the loss of face issue, although my wife does have to suffer the inevitable questions of "how much money do I give her" etc.

thanks for your reply,

ben :D
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Re: Issan Bungalow

Postby bngldsmth » Sat Feb 14, 2009 7:56 pm

jazzman wrote:The house looks very nice and is the first documentation (I think) on this board of a standard, low budget Thai home.
Left to themselves without a farang breathing down their necks, local builders can do a pretty good job, although the quality of finish will never be the same as a British house. This is not necessarily due to poor workmanship, it's due to the fact that in developing countries, the criteria of aesthetics are just far less demanding.

Generally, if a farang builds a house like this, the family will lose face, but in your case just the opposite has happened: because it was built with your wife's own money, she will have gained a lot of brownie points :)


Thanks for your reply jazzman :)

From what I have seen in the pictures we have been sent things are looking ok. I have no doubt that I will have a fair bit of work to do with the decorating to get it to be the best finish possible within our budget.

As far as the family loosing face goes, to some extent they probably have. I don't think it is generally known outside of the family that my wife's money is paying for the house. Really the sort of people that I like in Thailand are the down to earth types who have always been very friendly and welcoming. I just don't care about the gold encrusted supposedly 'high so' types and what they think. It's just a game we can't afford to play.

ben :D
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Re: Issan Bungalow

Postby jazzman » Sat Feb 14, 2009 9:12 pm

bngldsmth wrote:As far as the family loosing face goes, to some extent they probably have. I don't think it is generally known outside of the family that my wife's money is paying for the house. ben :D

The work around is that she lives in the UK, works hard on a Western salary and is therefore a kind of rich farang herself, and didn't need/want your money. A woman that can show that she doesn't need her husband's money gets a lot of kudos and karma. That worked perfectly for a friend of mine whose Thai wife works as a nurse in Berlin. In the village she's the bee's knees.
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.
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Re: Issan Bungalow

Postby bngldsmth » Sun Feb 15, 2009 12:39 am

jazzman wrote:
bngldsmth wrote:As far as the family loosing face goes, to some extent they probably have. I don't think it is generally known outside of the family that my wife's money is paying for the house. ben :D

The work around is that she lives in the UK, works hard on a Western salary and is therefore a kind of rich farang herself, and didn't need/want your money. A woman that can show that she doesn't need her husband's money gets a lot of kudos and karma. That worked perfectly for a friend of mine whose Thai wife works as a nurse in Berlin. In the village she's the bee's knees.


That's not a bad idea, maybe she could cast me as a kept man! :lol:

Seriously though, she has learned now not to worry too much about what the village gossips have to say :)

ben
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Re: Issan Bungalow

Postby Cookieboy » Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:43 am

<edit dozer 2/16>
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Re: Issan Bungalow

Postby geordie » Mon Feb 16, 2009 6:39 am

[/quote]
<edit dozer 2.16>[/quote]

off topic geordie
Last edited by geordie on Mon Feb 16, 2009 8:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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