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  1. #1
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    Making a townhouse (terrace house, row house) look like you'd want to live there

    I've looked at Dr Andy's latest build topic with a lot of interest; renovating old looking shophouses and turning them into very desirable, modern looking apartments.

    I can't afford a tall shophouse (especially not a double unit), so I am basically limited to what Thais call a Townhouse, which are usually pretty dark and box-like on the inside. I'm looking at one in a very good location though.

    I am wondering what options exist to lessen the negatives of such structures, and make it look better; like a nice town home. (not apartments of course) Specifically how to get light in; it doesn't help that almost all Thai owners extend the front with some sort of roofing, either to completely build up to the gate, or only as a roof for the car. The one below has the most basic of cover structures in front; on the far right there's the full monty.



    Also, how far can you go, for a building in the middle? Could you completely re-do the roof into some kind of structure that lets more light in? Could you build something in front that goes even higher, say 3 floors even when the existing townhouse is 2 floors? (There is plenty space in front) It seems you probably can't go higher on the existing foundations, even when switching to a lighter roof..

    Anyway, those are some of the thoughts I'm toying with. I'm concerned about the concept of sharing walls (and structural posts) with the units next door.
    Last edited by WhiteLotusLane; 23-01-2012 at 10:07 PM.

  2. #2
    loob lor geezer
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhiteLotusLane View Post

    I can't afford a tall shophouse (especially not a double unit), so I am basically limited to what Thais call a Townhouse, which are usually pretty dark and box-like on the inside. I'm looking at one in a very good location though.

    I am wondering what options exist to lessen the negatives of such structures, and make it look better; like a nice town home. (not apartments of course) Specifically how to get light in; it doesn't help that almost all Thai owners extend the front with some sort of roofing, either to completely build up to the gate, or only as a roof for the car
    Well WLL , you seem to be aware of the worst problems you'll meet with a townhouse so you will already have some ideas.

    Before doing anything, its a good idea to look at the nearby neighbourhood to see what others with similar units have done and what in your opinion works well.

    On the subject of light, houses like these nearly always have a small back yard, typically 2 metres deep , which will be open when sold new but which 99% of Thais convert into a kitchen. This will shut out all the light and mean they have to hang their washing out in the street to dry.
    If the unit you are considering buying has been converted like this, and is very dark inside as a result , you can either consider turning it into an open space again ( possibly a messy job ) or replacing more of the roof with translucent roof tiles to let more light in. However, you will need to watch how the sun falls before you do this. If the rear of the house recieves sunlight all day you don't want to create a hot greenhouse. Nonetheless, , any extra light will help.

    If the house has dark floor tiles, replace them with lighter ones to reflect more light.

    Use light pastel colours in dark areas for the same reason. You can also consider using mirrors to bounce light into dark corners.

    On the front of the house, if the extension is too long it creates a dark tunnel effect , so only go as far as you need to suit your purpose.

    The house in your picture shows a typical front aspect, with a door one side and
    a window next to it. To get more light in , it might be worth changing this set up into a double glass sliding door which when open will give the living area an open plan feel.

    As for the roof. Most townhomes like this do not have dividing walls in the roof space meaning you can look along the entire terrace if you put your head up there. You can use this space but it will cost money as there are unlikely to be any joists holding up the bedroom ceilings therefore nothing to lay a flooring on.

    Whatever you do, keep an eye on the budget allocated for your design. As you said in my thread, if you spend too much you'll wonder :

    " Why didn't I just buy a bigger house ?"

    Lastly, ( or rather first of all ) before buying a place have a good look around to see how well the general area is maintained. If you buy your home in the middle of a slum there is not much you can do to your place that will change the fact.

    Good luck with it and enjoy the learning curve.

  3. #3
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    some good points by Bangyai

    Quote Originally Posted by Bangyai
    Before doing anything, its a good idea to look at the nearby neighbourhood to see what others with similar units have done and what in your opinion works well.
    that often saves a lot of thinking
    Quote Originally Posted by Bangyai
    If you buy your home in the middle of a slum
    you always have to depend on your neighbours - if they can't be bothered to make their place look nice, the area will tend to look bad

    you can always set them a good example and hope they follow

    my neighbour by the shophouse took to sweeping my front area when we were not there, as dogshit and litter tended to accumulate
    I have reported your post

  4. #4
    sabaii sabaii
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrAndy
    my neighbour by the shophouse took to sweeping my front area when we were not there, as dogshit and litter tended to accumulate
    Turdy came by then ?

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    Thanks!!! That all makes a lot of sense. Yes, the far back was covered over in partly translucent roofing. It's a pretty nasty area, ending in a back wall. The overall land area is pretty large at 28 sq. wa and those final 2-3 meters aren't really needed for anything. I was considering to turn it back to something green. Not sure if the water can still get away properly if I were to completely remove the roofing, but worst case could making it be fully translucent and work with pebbles and potted plants. I have loads of potted plants already.

    Having a sliding glass front sounds like an excellent plan. I'm making that a priority, along with a bit more space in the bathroom.

    Whatever you do, keep an eye on the budget allocated for your design. As you said in my thread, if you spend too much you'll wonder :

    " Why didn't I just buy a bigger house ?"
    Well, in this case because anything even slightly bigger and detached in that location would cost over 5 million baht. And would probably still need work. For comparison's sake I checked on the price of a vacant 150 sq wa plot of land in the same area. Guess how much they want for it per tarang wa... .. .. 45K baht. So that's 6.75 million baht for (decent sized) land alone.

    Lastly, ( or rather first of all ) before buying a place have a good look around to see how well the general area is maintained. If you buy your home in the middle of a slum there is not much you can do to your place that will change the fact.
    Yes. It's kind of in between.. A lot of run down slummy areas are a bit away from the city center and have a really negative vibe. A lot of new, clean and crisp townhouses (similar to yours) are a bit further away in a commercial development. This one is close enough into town to expect the whole area to improve within a couple years. In that sense it's similar to Dr Andy's place: pretty messy right now, but very likely to see a sudden gentrification..
    Last edited by WhiteLotusLane; 24-01-2012 at 01:42 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrAndy View Post
    some good points by Bangyai

    Quote Originally Posted by Bangyai
    Before doing anything, its a good idea to look at the nearby neighbourhood to see what others with similar units have done and what in your opinion works well.
    that often saves a lot of thinking
    Well, it's not a development, it's in town. That's the only block of townhouses, there are perhaps 6 units in that block. Some of them have constucted those horrible car-port roofs and that's about it. The unit next door is being renovated and painted; let's see what they come up with.

    I'll add some inside pictures, though nothing out of the ordinary there.
    Last edited by WhiteLotusLane; 24-01-2012 at 02:01 PM.

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    Inside pics





    There's an additional couple of meters of semi-outside space behind the back wall/windows. Note that there's no kitchen, so complete freedom to decide where to put it. The wall where the stairs start doesn't really serve a purpose either it seems. Maybe get rid of it and have an open bar/kitchen in that general area.


    This is really nuts. Bathroom is tiny and without windows, but immediately to the left of it is a big empty space. Makes you want to remove both walls and connect the bathroom all the way to the main bedroom, potentially with a glass door to get light in:



    Now, as for how I would want to to look, ideally, probably something like this:

    http://bit.ly/yeoiTS

    Note they're asking a cool 17K in rent. And a lot further from town; you're not walking to anything from there.
    Last edited by WhiteLotusLane; 24-01-2012 at 02:35 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhiteLotusLane View Post

    Yes, the far back was covered over in partly translucent roofing. It's a pretty nasty area, ending in a back wall. The overall land area is pretty large at 28 sq. wa and those final 2-3 meters aren't really needed for anything. I was considering to turn it back to something green. Not sure if the water can still get away properly if I were to completely remove the roofing, but worst case could making it be fully translucent and work with pebbles and potted plants. I have loads of potted plants already.
    Funny you should say that as it is what we have done. Except we never had a roof to remove, it was already open.
    However, when we put plants out there they all got fried as without any shade or breeze it got really hot out there.
    In the end, as a cheap compromise , I put this stuff up myself for about 2000, baht. Not very pretty and you can use different materials but what you want is enough light to brighten things up but enough shade to keep temperature down.








    Still working on it as I have these spoiled tiles to put up and paint around the plant area.





    As for the pictures of your home you have a lot of space there to work with and the link to what you're aiming for looks very nice and feasable

    We had parquet floors upstairs in our old place and although they were nice to walk on, they were a bit dark. Our neighbours dug them up and put tiles down which looked a lot brighter and felt a bit cooler.

    Oh yes, and the wall at the end of the stairs you are considering removing. I was going to say that glass blocks can also work well in a dark place as they let in light but maintain privacy.

    http://www.accentbuildingproducts.co...cks/intro.html



    Last edited by Bangyai; 24-01-2012 at 03:08 PM.

  9. #9
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    If looking for cheap property in Thailand get your misses to have a look at the bank websites (unless you can read Thai) as they are all in Thai for the repossessions, last time i (the misses) looked you are talking about anywhere from 20-50% discount which if you only have a budget for a town house may allow you to go for something bigger.

  10. #10
    sabaii sabaii
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhiteLotusLane
    Bathroom is tiny and without windows
    In my upstairs bathroom, I have 2 small windows but also it has a glass panel on the ceiling that lets light in. I haven't been on the roof to look how they have done it, but that may be an avenue you want to go down instead of moving your bathroom

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    Have you got any cheese Thetyim's Avatar
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  12. #12
    Dan
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    As for the roof. Most townhomes like this do not have dividing walls in the roof space meaning you can look along the entire terrace if you put your head up there. You can use this space but it will cost money as there are unlikely to be any joists holding up the bedroom ceilings therefore nothing to lay a flooring on.
    I lived for a couple of months in a regular cheapo townhouse and this was a bit of a problem because upstairs the sound travelled pretty much directly from the students living next door into my bedroom and listening to bunch of 19-year old boys getting pissed is not my idea of fun. No idea what you can do about it but worth keeping in mind.
    Last edited by Dan; 24-01-2012 at 04:06 PM.

  13. #13
    or TizYou?
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    Here's a cheap and easy solution for lightening up a dark room.

  14. #14
    FarangRed
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    For ideas and designs maybe have a look at Sansiri's web site, I'm not saying they are the best builders and I dont work for them

    Townhouse - Sansiri

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    Chiang Mai Townhouse for For Rent for - Real Estate Chiang Mai

    Note they're asking a cool 17K in rent. And a lot further from town; you're not walking to anything from there.
    That price is hugely inflated. A place like that in Chiang Mai, considering the views of Doi Suthep and hot location (nimminhimman / canal road?)...maybe half that price. The view definitely saves an otherwise awful balcony. The inside looks pretty trashy compared to the plush condos or moo baaners you can rent for 20k.

    Pretty amazing how cheap rent is in Chiang Mai actually...

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    Quote Originally Posted by buriramboy
    anywhere from 20-50% discount which if you only have a budget for a town house may allow you to go for something bigger.
    I've heard that said a lot by Thais and falangs but don't quite get it. There's property freely available to buy at a huge discount if you buy from a bank? Wouldn't this be arbitrage? Why doesn't everyone just buy off the bank? Why does supply / demand not iron this out?

  17. #17
    Have you got any cheese Thetyim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 9999
    Why doesn't everyone just buy off the bank?
    Because it's your responsibility to get the old owners to vacant if they are still there.
    I bought a house from the bank and got it for about half it's value.
    The whole process took about 2 years though.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by 9999 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by buriramboy
    anywhere from 20-50% discount which if you only have a budget for a town house may allow you to go for something bigger.
    I've heard that said a lot by Thais and falangs but don't quite get it. There's property freely available to buy at a huge discount if you buy from a bank? Wouldn't this be arbitrage? Why doesn't everyone just buy off the bank? Why does supply / demand not iron this out?
    That's where I started looking, bank sites that list repossessed properties. Almost all Thai bank site have a section with many offerings in all provinces.

    However... it's mostly stuff that nobody really wants. The bank's own staff of course get the first look/pick when something gets repossessed, and will buy it themselves to quickly sell to a developer. So what's left is mostly the things nobody wants. Doesn't mean it's a waste of time; sometimes you can see something in a place that nobody else sees.

    I spent about 2 days going through the offerings of most Thai banks. Found one place that I saw some potential in (a very large ground-floor unit in a condominium building, intended to be used as a shop or restaurant). I thought that might have some possibility to turn into a very large and nice apartment on the ground floor, but my wife didn't agree. (And in hindsight I now agree with her). That would have cost 1.2 million or so. If anyone wants it, it's off Suthep road in Chiang Mai so very much in town in the area between the moat (Suan Dok gate) and the Nimmanhaemin / University area.

    Another potential benefit of bank-owned property could be that it's easier to get financed; not sure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thetyim
    Because it's your responsibility to get the old owners to vacant if they are still there.
    Well that can't be too expensive to 'fix', certainly less than 20-50% the value of tenable property

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    I know one guy who's actually done this, a Jew as it happens. Everyone else just seems to mention it whenever property market comes up. The Jew bought land in a prime area for what was already a good deal. What the bank did not know about was the huge abandoned old solid teak wood structure - I mean this thing is old school, solid teak spiral stair case with massive thick planks, floor boards, walls, everything solid teak. Worth nearly as much as the land he reckons. Apparently the bank never noticed it under the overgrowth...just looked like a bit of jungle with some ruins underneath. Don;t worry the Jew was on the case.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 9999 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by buriramboy
    anywhere from 20-50% discount which if you only have a budget for a town house may allow you to go for something bigger.
    I've heard that said a lot by Thais and falangs but don't quite get it. There's property freely available to buy at a huge discount if you buy from a bank? Wouldn't this be arbitrage? Why doesn't everyone just buy off the bank? Why does supply / demand not iron this out?
    Many reasons, a lot of Thais don't like second hand properties and for the Thais who have money buying a repossesed property from the bank probably ain't there preferred option of buying a gaff, farangs don't know about the sites as that part of the banks website are not in English (or weren't last time i looked), and also depends how quickly the banks are looking to offload them as to the discount to similar priced properties on the open market.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WhiteLotusLane
    That would have cost 1.2 million or so. If anyone wants it, it's off Suthep road in Chiang Mai so very much in town in the area between the moat (Suan Dok gate) and the Nimmanhaemin / University area.
    Sounds like a good price, though it's a condo so generally a bad investment in Chiang Mai I'm told unless you intend to live there and off-set long term rent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by buriramboy
    Thais who have money buying a repossesed property from the bank probably ain't there preferred option of buying a gaff
    Fair enough. Don't think I'll ever get to grips with society here. Why doesn't a Thai with money buy up allo the cheap land and sell / develop. If the price is that drasticly reduced...just don't make sense. The reasons given are more like factors that reduce the overall market value of the property. It sounds more like people generally over-estimate the value of property held by banks by 20-50%. Though I'm there's bargains to be found I doubt it's these easy pickings many people over here have insinuated.

    I mean, if property is valued less because it's held by a bank, then buying it would logically increase it's value. Otherwise it was never underpriced in the first place.

    Quote Originally Posted by buriramboy
    farangs don't know about the sites as that part of the banks website are not in English
    Forgot to mention the Jew speaks (and reads) almost fluent Thai.

  24. #24
    Dan
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    I looked at the bank stuff when my wife and I were looking for land a few years ago. I can't say it seemed cheaper or more expensive than land that came through other routes but I can't claim any special knowledge in this so perhaps I'm wrong. In the end, we didn't buy off a bank but that was because we found somewhere decent through other means.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhiteLotusLane View Post

    Anyway, those are some of the thoughts I'm toying with. I'm concerned about the concept of sharing walls (and structural posts) with the units next door.
    I live in a (rented) place somewhat similar to that. Landlord keeps trying to sell it to me (no chance). The houses on either side have been renovated several times (and mine once since I lived there). At one point during the renovations of the next door house we could actually look through to the house next door as the wall had cracked so badly between a big (load bearing ?) post and the "wall".

    Cracks all over the place house of varying degrees of concern, most of which get a slap of mortar or the like put over - all almost certainly due to the buggers on eitehr side building, tearing down, rebuilding etc. Can't be good.

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