Building a Resort in Thailand
As part of our journey, Mem and I already had our house in Thailand pretty much finished in 2017. We moved from the UK to Thailand on March 7th and spent a month cleaning and adding finishing the remaining bits and pieces. With having the Youtube channel and subscribers telling us they would like to come over and meet us and if possible stay for a few nights, it quickly became apparent that this might be a way for us to generate some much-needed long term income, as I would not have a work permit Mem would have to take the lead role in this. We decided to build a guest room which became the subscriber room and also a small Youtube studio plus an en suite bathroom for our bedroom.
We already had a carport beside the house, which with a lot of work we thought we could convert into what was required. We quickly created some basic plans for a 6m x 3.2m room with ensuite and hired some local builders. In total the building took nine weeks although there there was also additional work we completed such as extending the tiled areas surrounding the house. The plans meant we could use the existing carport concrete supports as the main structural element, although these would need to be extended to give us the required height. The major advantage we had was our foundations and the basic floor were already in place, so although we would need to dig parts up to put drainage in for the bathrooms our build was already at ground level.
The studio was easy as it was just a front and rear wall between the original house and the new subscriber room. However, although this worked out as a very easy build it was not something that would work out to be a good solution as a studio, for a variety of reasons. The first reason is that once I began to move my equipment in, the room suddenly became very cluttered with every spare bit of wall, floor or desk space full of equipment. Another reason was that one of the features of my channel was the Sunday Evening Livestream and as part of this I would have guests on the stream, so these guests would have to walk through the bedroom to reach my studio. Although this was never really a problem it did give us a certain lack of privacy, for example if Mem had wanted an early night watching then this would have been impossible. So while this was a good temporary stop-gap this was not to be a permanent home for my studio (more on this to follow).
It was a success, over the next six months we had over one hundred paying subscribers visit. This then became a problem as we did have a spare bedroom in the house but really wanted to keep that for visiting family members. So we decided to add a second room on the end which came to be known as Beaver Hole, named after Chris Barnes who asked for a three month stay in it if we could build it in time for his arrival. Challenge accepted and eight weeks later we created an exact copy of the subscriber room ready for Chris arriving.
This was all built in 2017 and more subscribers just kept coming. After a few months finishing off the house and running the Youtube channel, we started to think that it might be possible to expand the idea of rooms for rent. We started making enquiries around the village and spoke to other local homestays and the council, it became apparent that there was a need for rooms either as full-time accommodation or as a resort for tourists both Thai and foreigners.
Over the next nine months, we would completely design, build, and open our resort. What a journey and in hindsight I would have chosen some different options for sure.
We were lucky with finances on this build as a loan was offered us for the whole build at a very low rate and an open payback period once this was secured the building work began.
We had a 25m x 24m section at the back of our land which turned out to be perfect for this resort.
As always we wanted to be compliant with all Thailand laws and get all of the correct permits and licenses. I originally thought about putting four bungalows on the land but the plans changed and grew rapidly as I realised that we could fit two bungalows and six double rooms comfortably inside the building plot. As more subscribers visited, and with potential visitors giving advice, it was obvious that we would need some amenities. A pool, cafe and maybe even a gym, the problem we had was due to our potential design everything would have to be built as it would be very difficult to alter at a later date due to lack of access once all the double rooms were built.
The budget was set at 6 million baht and I started enquiring about costs for pools and gym equipment. It was going to be tight with the design and I really had no guarantee about the costs of labour or materials. The team that built our main house were not available for 6 months so for phase one I had to assemble a team of local builders myself. I had received a quote from a Bangkok company to manage and build the whole resort, this would have given us less headaches but they were just too expensive. So as I was not allowed to take an active role it was decided that under my guidance, Mem would project manage the build and she did an amazing job.
The first phase of the build was to construct the two bungalows that would occupy the rear of the site, between these would sit our swimming pool and filtration system. The bungalows would both measure 6m x 6m although of different designs with one of these being built to the specifications of a long term lease holder. The differences mainly surrounded the placement of windows and doors and some internal differences. The bungalows and then the pool quickly took shape, as shown in the videos that accompany this article. The process did not always run as smoothly as it could have done and at times this was frustrating, but people who are used to Western methods will possibly always find this when having work done in this region
Once the first phase was almost complete, the builders who had built our house gave us a fixed labour price to build the six bungalows, the bungalow team were all on daily rates for labour and this may have been one of the mistakes made. After this point things seemed to run better and results were much quicker. This is when we hit the headaches of planning consent, the headaches that a management company would have done on our behalf. Licenses for this, consent forms for that, planning signed off for the pool, the list seemed endless and it took months, but with help from the right people was achieved.
Eventually, and not much later than we had planned we were able to fully open in February of 2020 As this article is being written in April of 2020 you may have an inkling on how this has gone so far, however we achieved our aim and more or less within the timeframe and budget we set ourselves. The finished resort is something that we are proud of building, we would not say it is perfect but it is everything we had hoped for and the guests we have accommodated so far all seem to have enjoyed the rooms and facilities. It will take some time to fully understand how smoothly the resort will run, but this will also be a regular feature of the blog.
A lot more detail surrounding the build can be found in the following BaS-Vlog-it Videos.