Building a House in Thailand
Updated: Apr 4, 2020
This is my house just before I moved furniture in. It is built on a rice field.
Everything I refer to below is based on what I paid in Thai Baht back in 2005/2008 Exchange rates back then were between 69/78 Baht to the pound.
Originally the land was rice fields in a village near to where my wife’s sister lived , in Phetchaburi Province South of Bangkok and 4 miles from the main Bangkok to Phuket Road.
The rice fields were made up of 5 Rai strips - 50 meters across and 1000 meters long, going in a direction away from the main road.
I only wanted the front part (50 meters x 250 meters) and then the rear part (50 meters x 250 meters).
The front part for a snooker business and car wash and then rear part for my house.
This worked out well as a Thai relative wanted the middle Section for a house build.
We did a deal buying our two pieces of land for 150,000 baht. So we bought 2.5 Rai for £2000 in 2004, in 2020 one Rai in my village is £10000. As you can see prices and exchange rates have changed dramatically.
Before we could build on our land we had to raise the ground up by two meters and wait one year for it to settle. Perhaps if you were smarter you would buy land that had already been built up and left to settle. The cost of soil and moving it adds up quickly, we spent £2000 building up our two pieces of land back then, now it would be much more expensive.
We had to bring a macro digger in and a tractor and pay for those by the day including the driver, I seem to remember them being around 500 baht a day back then for tractor and 1000 baht for macro, plus beer.
Back then we would pay for a lorry load of soil and delivery, a six wheel lorry was 600 baht a load and a ten wheel 1000 baht a lorry load delivered. Today it would be at least double the cost.
To build her house my neighbor had brought in a building company, they completed all the work for a set price, costing her 1.2 million baht and taking four months to build. She then got a mortgage for 35 years at 10000 baht a month.
Or we could design our own and build it with family and friends. In hindsight I should have designed the house and used a company, it would have been cheaper and quicker, but money was limited and we could only build it over 4 years bit by bit so the second option was taken.
Planning Permission, none. Yes, that’s right, we built our house then went to our local council with some rough pencil drawings. 2000 baht, and a coffee later they came back with our drawings stamped and approved.
Water Supply, a joke, I laid 24-inch pipes next to the main road and added some concrete drains. I put the pipes across the front of the land and connected them to the mains myself and then to my snooker club and house (free Water for 4 years). Later we went to the water authority and registered our buildings, they then gave me 2 water meters which I could fit myself to the pipes, lol. Drains, we put a cesspit in the ground behind the house with a natural run off into the fields next door. In the snooker club we just laid pipes running off to fields next door, done. The farmer in the fields was happy to get our run-off water so everyone was happy with the arrangement.
When we were building, we needed a power supply down to the house. As you may be aware, in Thailand there are only two wires required to supply electricity to a property. Both of these are live cables and what I did was to buy the two cables needed for the house connection. these were 300 m long and would run from the main road supply down to the house.
We just connected a small fuse box at the house end, a couple of plug sockets. At the main road end, we then climbed up a ladder and stripped off the two cables, hanging them over the two mains wires, and it gave power to the cables, I don’t understand how or why but it worked. That gave us two sockets down on the building site to plug in some tools and a concrete mixer.
Later on, once the house was finished, I put a circuit breaker box in the house and connected the two wires to the fuse box circuit breaker inside the house. There’s is no Earthing Wire in Thailand, so we decided to use a Thai method of putting a copper pole hammered into the ground as the earth and connect a wire from there to the fuse box which gave us the earth system in the house. As long as you had the correct fuses in that box, all would be OK.
At the other end, we had to go to the electricity company, and they charged us about 5000 baht for a meter and somebody to come along and fit it. The meter was attached to a telegraph pole that was in front of the property, then had two Wires running up to the mains.
Concrete blocks were used for the footings on the house, soil infilled, metal re-bar then concrete poured, creating a complete concrete slab. From that point concrete post's were put up which is the Thai style of Building and then three-inch concrete blocks were laid between the post's to create the walls of the house and then afterward rendered.
The roof we made in metal frame metal construction because I wanted an open plan lounge, so that was built by fabricating and welding on-site by one of the family's friends and then the standard tiled roof put on top, this kept costs down considerably. We could have gone with a wooden trussed roof, but it wouldn’t give us the strength for the open plan lounge, so we chose metal.
If we look at just the land, the house is built on and say a thousand pound for the back piece of land. The build for the house, I estimate at £15,000 including all the soil and water pipes, electricity, drainage, planning permission and electric meter. Even fully furnished we are looking at no more than £20,000.
In 2020 the same house with that land, with no furniture, no landscaping or anything extra would be worth around three times the price, approx £60,000.
When I added up all the extras in the house fittings, landscaping the garden, pond and different things we built outside the house would have been £25,000 in total. Again this would now be trebled so £75,000 in total, or $85,000 US.
If you went to one of Bangkok's Suburbs, you could buy a two-story house detached with a very small garden for 2 million Thai Baht in 2020. Saving you a considerable amount of money, but you don’t get the land that you get in a village, and you may be living on a housing estate.
You can also pick up a condo on the outskirts of Bangkok for £25,000 1 million x $30,000.
Going back to my building in the village, the laws seem to be much more relaxed and totally laid back. Different from towns and cities. You will find so many building companies in the cities and towns that can do everything for you and with less of a headache. If you fancy building one yourself and doing everything with local laborers, or your Thai wife’s family, it is a great experience I think you will spend more as I did, but it’s something I’m glad I did, huge learning curve.
I would be quite happy to build it again, but I would do it a different style, and I would buy all the materials in advance before building it. Make sure I had enough money to complete the building in one go.