Mae On Country Home

Any story related to building in the LOS, whether everything turned out hunky dory or not!

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Mae On Country Home

Postby robertkc » Mon Oct 26, 2009 1:30 pm

Our Land Ahoy!! adventures have been confusing ,exciting, stressful and fun at different times (ever tried four hours at the Land Office with a one year old along for the ride?) and we are close to finalising the purchase of 4 rais 25km from Chiang Mai. I know its less meaty than all the great build stories on this site, but figured I`d contribute a blog about finding and buying the land to build on ...where we hope the family castle will start taking shape late next year.
From the first couple of weeks of heading out to a different area to get a feel for our range from town I got comfortable driving in Thailand and frazzled with how crowded many areas of Chiang Mai now feel ( first came here in `91); Mae On & Doi Saket- about 30 min drive N & NE from the city – had been discussed before, but we also looked in Mae Rim & Mae Jo ...many miles and much discussion with various members of family on what was best for us later, I was convinced Mae On had the best land of the kind we were after , with the least hassle to get there from Chiang Mai, at prices within our budget (& good road & mountain biking opportunities to be had on the doorstep). My wife was not really surprised about the positive sounds I was making about the location- she laughed when a friend of hers said that “farang like to be home alone” in the country. Although she grew up in a very small town, she would be happy in a much busier place than I -Thai people don`t seem to mind noise generally, so the local tanoy blasting out local news nearly every morning or music on festival days is not as much of an issue for her...although the incredibly bad singing of the “karaoke lady” behind her present small house in Chiang Mai now every friday & saturday night ( complete with mirror ball in the dirt courtyard) both of us will be happy to leave behind.In the end, despite a background chorus of “too far,too far” we agreed that, as long as we bought within a village the rest of the family would not get lost finding or have to cross ghostfilled jungle or bamboo bridges to reach, I could have my country acreage in Mae On.
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I guess its possible to buy Thai real estate in the “hire an agent, check potential buys on the net and then see them all in a day” western way, but our experience has been more along the lines of “ talk to a local shoplady who has a brother who knows a monk acting as an agent for someone selling land and all go to see it together!”Really confusing for me, but then I`m just the driver! Actually its been mostly good fun, with every dead end seeming to lead to another possibility as well as getting the word out that we were in the market.In 3- 4 weeks we followed up on 30 or more properties mostly found directly through local people- my evening searches on the internet produced many leads from both farang and Thai classified sites (the google thai-english translation button produces some hilarious stuff but proved useful in getting us started) – but no doubt my wife`s easy people skills combined with a poker face on the business side were our best land search assets.
Some land we saw had great views, but at 500,000 per rai just because the Highlands Golf Course is next door
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or 1m per rai because the water smells of sulphur near the Hot Springs, we walked away from many. Good land we were assured to be Chanote turned out to be Nor Sor something or other, or less, several times once we actually had our hands on the documents, and we got used to walking away with an echo of “ its no problem; change to chanote easy”. Our budget of 1.2m all-in for 3-4rais looked possible to achieve in the area with persistence and good luck. The economic situation of the last year certainly makes for a buyers market; the foreclosure websites seem pretty well stocked, and my wife listened with her usual equanimity to many hard luck stories.
Some land had been a tad over “cleared” for my taste
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and then there was the nice land a bit too close to the very friendly lady whose financial problems and tipsy American husband were likely going to be visiting us frequently...onward to the next.
After returning to the Mae On area to look around several times we ended up at a resort for the night.
We had a stumbled across the Chiang Mai Oriental Village weeks before and the manager had offered help in our search; The following morning Noy and I went off for a bike tour of land for sale in the village of Mae On Klang with “Pump”, the resort waiter, nightwatchman and part-time real estate agent
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we already knew that we both liked the village and the ride was a fun way to see a number of possibilities and experience morning in a rural Thai community; people up just after the chickens getting children ready for school, dogs sleeping in the road and monks starting their alms round – a misty light – and in some places we noted to avoid, a pig-farm smell - on everything!
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Pump showed us four or five places, and one along the river
seemed so ideal that I quickly went back to camp to place our virtual house on the land!
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Not so fast...later discussions that morning brought up questions about just who owned what along the river
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and the price seemed so low that when Pump came back from the owners house saying he had had to run fast because the wife was throwing stuff at her husband who had not told her he was selling the land, we were not too surprised to find out that a) half the land was not clear title, so worthless to us, and b) the wife had upped the price ( probably as soon as she found out a “farang “ was shopping).On to chapter2...
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Re: Land Search Adventures/Chiang Mai

Postby robertkc » Mon Oct 26, 2009 1:58 pm

well part i of my blog took about 4 hours to upload..here goes with chapter2 :?
REturning to the aforementioned resort to gather our thoughts
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we told Pump to get busy finding more land for us ( another guy was up from Bangkok looking for retirement property and I had the feeling our agent was keeping some in a secret file), drove back once again the next day and found...our land!
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Its just over 4 Rais at the end of a small side road on the edge of the village, has power and village h20 already ( I understand we will pay about 10 baht or 30 cents a month for this supply;could be wrong on that?) and the price is 1.1 million. We both liked it right away, with fine views to the Mt Takrai National Park to the east
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and across ricefields in the Mae On valley to the north & west.
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After the initial positives of liking the land, things went a little squirrelly; we soon discovered that there would be no less than 5 Chanotes ( land titles) to buy from various members of a large family, plus the neighbours...and we would not own the driveway out, but have to rely on an agreement with the family!
Even for Thai potential buyers this is complicated, and only because my wife really trusted the family after the first meeting and was willing to go through all the paperwork hoopla did it seem worth consideration ...after sleeping on it & bringing an uncle out for another look, I decided I`d never be comfortable unless we actually owned the driveway. I think my wife did a great job of expressing this in a way which would not offend (or maybe she just said it was her uptight farang husbands problem??)
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Eventually, with various brothers and sisters called on mobiles and arriving by motorbike, this was agreed. We didn`t go back & forth much on the price -at 260,000 per rai its a very good price for the area and once all the transfers and divisions are completed the land will immediately be worth quite a bit more with a single easily transferable chanote. We really had to drill down into the specifics of how to achieve this within our timeframe (not surprisingly Agent Pump proved very limited on this end) and though we did not go through a lawyer, the many hours inspecting Chanotes ,talking to Land office people and the village headman convinced us it was, a) not entirely ting-tong to attempt and b) a good buy for us.
No doubt red flags will be up for some readers about possible calamities on this purchase...it certainly is not ironclad until a reassignement of a drainage channel change on Nov.3rd (complicated, but basically related to the track seen on the googleearth pic cutting NE across the land which was built by a failed golf course project 10 years ago), and the all important driveway division to be completed on Nov.5th...for a small consideration to a contact in the Land Office for the que-jump. I`ll probably have a few “what-if?”sleepless sessions `til then. And yes, after lively husband-wife discussions regarding the ass-backwards nature of the deal, we have now paid in full for all the land except the access few & rather important talang wah.
To those Thaiwise heads shaking now, I do promise to confirm the deal`s completion or otherwise in a couple of weeks.The usufruct will be done on our return next year. As I signed the form relinquishing all rights to the properties and agreeing that the purchase SSSS had belonged to my wife, the clerk smiled and assured me “but you are welcome to enjoy the land together”.
Here`s the google earth location for those familiar with Chiang Mai
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Re: Land Search Adventures/Chiang Mai

Postby robertkc » Mon Oct 26, 2009 2:08 pm

I may be getting the hang of this...here beginneth part 3 :arrow: The next few weeks should give us some time to think about how our house design could work with the land before heading back to Canada.
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The year coming will hopefully be to wrap up my working life in Vancouver and bone up on all the advice of others here to assist with our build; we also have a chunk of land to think about, which is fun for me (landscaper by trade).We will talk to the family growing corn on the top one rais and allow them to plant again...
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Mr Nikkon who put the fish in the big pond can continue to eat them until we fill it in to create another more natural looking water garden. Locals including the four hooved variety will no doubt continue to cut through until we are onsite to make our presence felt; we`ve decided not to attempt to fence the land before leaving-just too much grading to be done first,
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although having some local guys cut brush along the property line to assist the survey to be done on Nov.5th has been instructional...as in `get a quote for the job next time, or stay onsite and keep the naps and other downtime to a minimum!` The brush cutting did locate a well which I`ve just found out the previous owners bored for garden use - we will check the flow on it before leaving... could save a few sheckles if its a good one.
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We`re getting to know the village ,( would love to hear from any CTH members in the neighbourhood who have local experience to offer green builders ), as it is the village already seem to know us – an hour after the deposit cheques were handed out Noy got a call from a monk who had shown us some properties a month ago just up the road to say “welcome” and how we had chosen good land for us! I hope his good wishes help us to a banana-skin free conclusion to this part of our adventure.
Cheers to all who waded through this. Robert
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Re: Land Search Adventures/Chiang Mai

Postby dozer » Mon Oct 26, 2009 2:31 pm

Thanks for the informative posts with pics so far. Looks like a very scenic area.

I am moving it to the Your Building Story category which really covers anything related to building experience that is in story (first person) narrative format.

Keep up the good work and look forward to continued updates.
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Re: Land Search Adventures/Chiang Mai

Postby thaifly » Mon Oct 26, 2009 7:07 pm

robertkc wrote: we have now paid in full for all the land except the access few & rather important talang wah.

its a gidday to robert..its the thai fly from mae rim...firstly this post is not a pot shot...towards you ... and your land deal... :D :D :D ..hey cobber..why would you pay for the land in full..when u have no access to it :o :o :o ... the way... the fly would have operated ...was to get the access to your property legally in place...then paid for the land with a lawyer handling... all the nuts and bolts..on a very complicated deal..but cobber you certainly know how to throw the dice..the fly sincerely wishes that you ROLL A SIX...u deserve it.. :) :) :) its a no MAN UNITED snap..crackle ...or pop.....GIDDAY TO ALL....its the thai fly from mae rim
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Re: Land Search Adventures/Chiang Mai

Postby robertkc » Mon Oct 26, 2009 8:34 pm

No exception taken to your observation of the risk we have taken on this, ThaiFly: "why would you pay for the land in full..when u have no access to it :o :o :o ... the way... the fly would have operated ...was to get the access to your property legally in place...then paid for the land with a lawyer handling... all the nuts and bolts..on a very complicated deal..but cobber you certainly know how to throw the dice..the fly sincerely wishes that you ROLL A SIX...u deserve it.."...and thanks for your good wishes; will let you know the number on the dice very soon :wink:
I don`t have an entirely logical answer to your question...the safe & sure route to purchase you describe was my position at the outset of negotiation; lets just say it changed due to 1.)my trust in my wife`s judgement of the integrity of the family owning the access 2) our very tight timeframe...we extended our trip by several weeks at a fairly high cost to my working income back home to get this done & 3)bone tiredness from travelling daily with a very spirited one year old.
Of course none of the above will look very inspired reasoning if the deal goes titsup between now & Nov.5th....a very :evil: Sir Alex G`day from Robert.
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Re: Land Search Adventures/Chiang Mai

Postby thaifly » Tue Oct 27, 2009 9:13 am

robertkc wrote:.and thanks for your good wishes; will let you know the number on the dice very soon :wink.

its a gidday to robert..its the thai fly from mae rim..i sincerely hope the number is a big one :D :D ....as your peice of dirt..and initial plans of your build..certainly look nice from the pics...and being a land scaper by trade..the fly is sure you will take maxuim advantage of the size of land and the outdoor living of your build...at your disposal....the fly absoulately..hated the building time...but just loves the landscaping side of our property....well cobber lets pray.. that the deal will pan out for you and your family... they say ..LUCK AND GOOD FORTUNE FOLLOW THE BRAVE... ..its a always mad angry sir alex..GIDDAY TO ALL ..its the thai fly from mae rim
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Re: Land Search Adventures/Chiang Mai

Postby MGV12 » Tue Oct 27, 2009 1:15 pm

robertkc wrote:Of course none of the above will look very inspired reasoning if the deal goes titsup between now & Nov.5th....a very :evil: Sir Alex G`day from Robert.


Hi Robert -- I like to hear of someone using their instincts, even if it is with a very complex deal in a strange land to them; you didn't mention if you speak Thai and can at least understand all that is said, as against what your wife tells you. That's not suggesting she might be devious of course, they chat away about so many things, some connected to the deal, much not, that our nearest and dearest often misses things out because she didn't think it was important, couldn't translate it accurately, or simply forgot it with everything else going on. I do hope you end up with a smile on your face; as you will if it all falls into place as it sounds like potentially a great purchase. Whatever happens you will learn more about Thailand, Thai people and yourself -- wish you all the best and it's a 'gonna turn up for the next match ManU?' G'day from Maejo -- where you might have settled and I did.

“Some days I am an optimistic pessimist ... other days I am a pessimistic optimist”
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Re: Land Search Adventures/Chiang Mai

Postby BKKBILL » Tue Oct 27, 2009 3:22 pm

roberkc I would like to welcome another Canuck to coolthaihouse. I’m also from the Vancouver area Vancouver Island actually. Good start to your build story nice pictures hope all goes well. and as thaifly says the roll comes up sixes. Your a braver man than me. When we buy property the money changes hands at the land office just after the channote is signed. Do you have any plans for the new house you could post.
It's not who you know, it's whom you know.
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Re: Land Search Adventures/Chiang Mai

Postby apetley » Tue Oct 27, 2009 8:00 pm

Nice story so far and so much 'deja vu' too!
We walked away from at least two deals because of access issues.
'Trust us' is not good enough for me if there's nothing in writing.
'Chanote next year', heard that so many times after a long drive too.
We found some lovely land along the river Kwai only to learn that it had no title or that the owner was unaware that it was being sold!!!
The price never went up when they saw me though! Nicky, my wife, always had a pretty good idea of the cost before I made an appearance.
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Re: Land Search Adventures/Chiang Mai

Postby robertkc » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:04 pm

[quote="MGV12"]

they chat away about so many things, some connected to the deal, much not, that our nearest and dearest often misses things out because she didn't think it was important, couldn't translate it accurately, or simply forgot it with everything else going on.

I couldn`t have put it better, MGV12; my Thai is rubbish ( and somehow seems to have gotten worse on this trip :roll: ), and during many of the nuts and bolts meetings it soon became obvious that I was more use in the childcare department, as my forays into the front lines just seemed to leave everyone with those big smiles meaning " the farang is mad,never mind we`ll carry on without him soon". My wife, bless her, did explain all she deemed necessary at the time...and other stuff I wish I`d known sooner, much later...
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Re: Land Search Adventures/Chiang Mai

Postby robertkc » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:13 pm

BKKBILL wrote: . Do you have any plans for the new house you could post.


Thanks for your welcome, BKKBILL; the plans I have were done before we started the land search. Quite a few things will be changed now due to the expected placement of the house on the land, where my wife prefers the kitchen etc; will post as soon as the design is complete .
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Re: Land Search Adventures/Chiang Mai

Postby MGV12 » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:38 pm

robertkc wrote:
MGV12 wrote:
My wife, bless her, did explain all she deemed necessary at the time...and other stuff I wish I`d known sooner, much later...


When the house build starts you will find the full significance of those vacant spaces in letting you know what is going on as, however great your contractor is, they will without doubt have their own agenda. You will be building a house for you and your wife but stand your ground on design features that you feel are for the best ---- there is a strong possibility that she will change her mind at least once or twice ..... and then possibly agree your idea is the best. Your house build can be a wonderful experience ..... it really can .... but it can also be frustrating unless you go into it with your eyes wide open.

“Some days I am an optimistic pessimist ... other days I am a pessimistic optimist”
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Re: Land Search Adventures/Chiang Mai

Postby robertkc » Tue Jan 12, 2010 2:39 pm

An update on our project now that we are well into what we hope will be our penultimate Vancouver winter.
We are almost done with the purchase,,,but Land Office procedures chipped away at our time in Chiang Mai, and we eventually had to get on the plane with 3 of the 5 Chanotes in our luggage and two which we have more paperwork hoops to jump through on our return. The key driveway access is one of these. Perhaps I should be more worried about this than I am, but we hashed it out with the vendor & family so many times my wife and I both felt ok . Time will tell if our instincts about the arrangement are good. We did find there are alternatives for access from another part of the land if that became necessary.
A survey team came out to measure and mark the driveway division, which was a very long process with lots of pointing,
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digging in termite? mounds etc
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looking for the old chanote posts, with tape,string, two bamboo poles and a good eye :roll: to locate the new ones...no laser transit here! When the new posts were placed in using moderate foot pressure
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I understood why all the time to find the old ones-think I`ll pound in some nice 1m rebar spikes next to these when we go back.
Sharing the results of whiling away cold Wet Coast nights by working on our house plans is the main reason for updating our story now; looks like it will be early 2011 before we have the yard sale here and begin our build.
I have been using a free Aussie web based 3d house design programme called My Virtual Home; a really quick learning curve , great graphics & walk through features – it isnt very adaptable to making custom features in the way of SketchUp, but I`m happy we`ll have something to give to an architect that shows the concept from all angles.
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The house areas as designed are:

Main Building 180 m2
Study 16m2
Garage 22m2
Sala 9m2
Pool 32m2
Pool Deck 85 m2
A few dimensions may change – the spare bedroom at 3 x 2.75m does seem too small, and my wife is leaning toward less windows- but we are both looking at it as close to a fit.
Apart from possible inclusion of a solar water heater we are not going to do much cutting edge or unusual here- double brick exterior walls, roof vents & shade from wide eaves (and trees in time) should be enough to keep the need for aircon to a minimum in bedrooms only.
Our total budget for this project including kitchen & furniture, will be 4.2 m baht ( unless the cdn $ keeps climbing as it has lately), with another 400,000 set aside for landscaping over 2-3 years.With the exception of the pool, we are planning to do a labour -only build with my wife`s uncle who builds homes in an upscale development “ Baan Sukito” in Chiang Mai .We will certainly get a professional design & construction plan at the very least for the pool, and as our builder is not confident in this area, we may go with a turnkey price from another contractor; any recommendations from members who have installed pools in the area recently would be appreciated.
I`ll get more into the budget breakdown in a later post & as we see how material prices move this year .
Before leaving LOS we ran our plan quickly by an architect friend of my wife; talented guy working for a major firm & charging min.2% .We will almost certainly use an architect in the 8-10,000 baht range, as I think our plans are clear enough we don`t really need someone with lots of creative talent ...especially not when we can run our plans by the CTH revue board!
The MVH programme won`t duplicate the double hip with gable roof style we are planning, and, as you can see from the odd room measurements, it has its flaws ( I made a mistake early on with the garage -the roof should be 1.2 m lower...way too much work to correct that now).
Its great to be able to see your plans from every angle, approx. calculate shadows at all times of day & change materials instantly- you can even get up on the roof & think about jumping into the pool :P
We will probably site the house on the upper part of the land and try to capture the best views looking north from the pool deck over ricefields
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...sure hope the development of the area (which we must expect - we are changing farmland to residential ourselves) leaves those untouched.
hmmm-out of attachment room, so I`ll add some more views of the design next post.
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Re: Land Search Adventures/Chiang Mai

Postby robertkc » Tue Jan 12, 2010 3:08 pm

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