coolthaihouse.com blog

some thoughts from Dozer
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CTH: What About bad Advice?

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I am totally not a lawyer – thank GOD ! But I am not sure if you are aware of it but to some extent you would be liable if someone took the advice given on your forum and applied it and something went wrong. Have you considered a moderator with some experience in the building trade to intervene and head of bad information even if its is a caution like - “you need to consult an engineer”. I am not suggesting me for the role just so I am clear : ) Recently there was a long post that you commented on yourself that I stuck at too long eventually pissing of the poster trying to explain that the output from a septic tank is highly hazardous to humans and should never be directed into the storm water system it much go in to a leech field well way from such water courses. He was bluntly saying that his discharge is into a drain. Anyone with even a little experience understands this is dangerous and yet the poster was insistent that I was wrong. I know nothing about Thai law but I know from our own legal issues over the years in Australia if someone did that and then said they got the advise from your forum there might a problem. I had someone try to sue me once because the software didn’t “tell him” it was unsafe to build something !

I thought this was rather insightful feedback on the site and have kept the original email even though it was from a while ago. While I don’t in fact worry about the overall suggestion that if someone posted some wrong information on the site and someone else followed it then it would result in legal liability for the site owner. I mean if that was the case then that would effectively shutdown all internet chat rooms, forums, blogs etc. where there is an open and free exchange of information. Maybe the world would become something like North Korea, who is to say? In any event while something as sweeping as that is unlikely (even though the author claims that is how it is in Australia// I really doubt that!), what about the moral aspect? And what about the notion of having moderators who are experts?

First off, when we talk about experts it is important to understand that the last thing we would want was a professional builder from overseas with no experience here becoming the ‘so called expert’. Can you imagine an American builder recommending that people here build wood frame houses and shingle their roofs with asphalt roofing? While I am not saying there isn’t some valuable skills learned in the American building trade, in actual fact the end result (for houses) is almost always inferior to what is built in Thailand, and by a large factor. It is because the solutions in America are tailored for a high labor environment and are meant to house the maximum number of people at the minimum price. The solutions widely applied are ‘joker’ and not just in the manner of wood frame vs block, also as far as roofing material and in a number of other areas.

Ideally what you would want is a builder who had many years experience overseas, spoke fluent Thai language and in addition had worked in the Thai construction industry for many years. In my experience I have encountered one such person, lacking only in the Thai construction industry, and although they were good it was a weakness that took some time to overcome.

The purpose of the web site is to present examples of what others have done and encountered. As I have said on many occasions, when starting the web site no such information was available and the foreigners out there were not very helpful (except when they could make money on the project for themselves). For the most part you can just read along on some building stories and get some ideas of things to watch out for better than if you were like me and Ms Dozer, just starting from scratch. It is a ‘head start’ the site primarily helps one with.

Rereading this I see I did not answer this question: Why would the expert need experience overseas if the end product build is inferior? First of all it is not inferior where the house built uses the same materials as here, that is if you compare apples to apples the foreign house would be superior (corners at 90%, correctly applied render, etc.). But even if the house is wood frame, the builder would know of proper techniques for rendering, building layout, tiling, etc which at times are hit and miss here.

Where the criticism is justified however, is the specific advise given to specific questions. There is an attitude among a certain group of posters that they are experts and normally that proves not really to be the case. Sometimes they are called on the advice, other times not. Or sometimes there is advice to do something a certain way, which is actually much more expensive that going another way. Some of it I can catch myself and others are caught by the knowledgeable moderators, but keep in mind that none of the group or anyone on CTH is really to the expert level as desired by the person writing the email. Mostly the advice given is better than nothing and it can be discussed and experimented with, but getting the site to the level of say, for example, a site on painting in a foreign country, is unlikely. The site on painting is very specific and it inhabited and frequented by painters, any misinformation would be immediately disputed. On CTH it is not to that level, unfortunately. Mostly it is about how to get things done in a tough environment and what one encounters by the rest of us non experts.

3 Comments

  1. I can’t speak for others but I don’t expect to find “expert” advice on this or any other forum. I’m looking to see what other people have done and evaluate their comments using my own judgement. I doubt you are in any danger of being sued if some members post what turns out to be bad advice.

  2. thx for the comment and stated exactly how one should use the forum.

  3. As one who considers himself experienced in most if not all aspects of building , either having actual practical experience over the years working with various tradesmen in what ever capacity was called for , but also on my own when necessary. Apart from any “Hands on”skill one might acquire along the way, it’s the greater education one learns also after observing too many actual jobs to remember , that leaves you knowing the correct way they are done. That said I can’t say I have ever seen bad advice on the forum, maybe different ways of doing the same job, and maybe lacking in some details that we Farangs only consider important. But all in all if one looks through all the posts , all the various phases of building a house in Thailand seem to be there, either from a one off experience or from someone who has been doing it all their adult life.

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