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  1. #1
    Johnny99
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    Building My House In Phrae

    I originally posted this in the Newbie Lounge, but probably it should be here.
    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny99 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ChiangMai noon View Post
    ^

    nice part of the world where you are.


    how long have you been there?
    My wife and I were married in the States in 2000 and in the village in 2001. Here's a shot of the original house.



    In 2004 we (I?) finally had to succumb to the pressure that her Mom was subjected to from various members of the extended family who were at that point convinced that my wife wasn't getting a house out of the marriage. They're opinion was that Thai - Farang relationships lasted an average of two years and that my wife must be really dumb for letting the opportunity slip past her without getting a house out of me. OK, fine, so let's build a house - but we had little or no money. We applied for a building loan from the bank but that was paid out to us in installments contingent upon completing the structure in specific stages. More on that later.

    We had always planned to build the house but there were a lot of issues to deal with, starting with the fact that I'm a handy guy but I had never done anything like that before in my life. Hmm, and where will I get the money? And, since the original house is on 55 talang wah, where do I put the family while we are building?

    I wasn't living full time in Thailand then, nor do I now, so this project was something that I worked on during the limited time that my wife and I were there - about 3 or 4 months a year. We looked at house building books to get ideas.

    We visited a construction company that would build a house for you from their plans or they would draw you a set of plans based on elements of their model houses and you could purchase them for 90,000 Baht(!). During our meeting at their offices the sales agent and my wife were speaking in Thai when she abruptly stood up and said, "Let go". I knew from experience that something was up. When we got outside the wife tells me that the sales agent offered to meet us at a coffee shop and sell us a set of plans from the files for 10,000 B. "Just tell me how many bedrooms you want" (!)

    Anyway, I wound up measuring the land size and drawing a couple of rough sketches of what I wanted on the first and second floors and then asking around and hiring a guy from our area who could draw the plans to scale for the builder to read. I think he charged us 5000 or 7000 B and my wife referred to him as an "engineer". Nice guy with an Elvis hairdo, a big jade ring and a really long pinky fingernail.

    Problem was there was no plan for plumbing or electricity. I guess those details are "afterthoughts" in most Thai constructions but our plumbing and electric installation turned out to be extensive - translation : western style. We did install a hot water heater which, of course, required galvanized pipes and our contractor had only "seen" his friend use a pipe wrench once before. It was a mini-disaster, water leaked through the walls everywhere. Thankfully, the construction is all concrete and teak. Anyway, getting ahead of myself.

    To resolve the problem of what to do with the family we bought a house around the corner from the construction site. It fortunately became available when the widow (no kidding) who lived there was on the verge of defaulting on her bank loan and losing the house. There were complications. Before her husband died he deeded the front yard to his nephew and the nephew didn't want to sell for any kind of reasonable price. Long story short, the widow got a little less for her house and the nephew got a little more than the front yard was worth. My wife drove a hard bargain. I asked her if she felt sorry for the old lady. She said, "No". But what if she was your relative? The wife replied, "She is". OK, case closed. Here's a picture of "House # 2" at the time that we bought it.



    More to follow...

  2. #2
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    jizzybloke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny99
    ". Nice guy with an Elvis hairdo, a big jade ring and a really long pinky fingernail.
    Strollers building houses now?

  3. #3
    Have you got any cheese Thetyim's Avatar
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    Where about in Phrae are you building ?

  4. #4
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    nice house
    how much to build?

  5. #5
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    sorry didn't read lol
    How much to buy?

  6. #6
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    House no 2 looks good, why don't you move into that, sell no1 and save yourself a shitload of grief?

  7. #7
    Johnny99
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thetyim View Post
    Where about in Phrae are you building ?
    The house is finished. We built it in 2005. We are in Baan Luang in Sung Men about 11 K from the town of Phrae, 1 K off the the Main Road. It's the house in the avatar:



    Sorry if it's not clearly stated in the post.

  8. #8
    Have you got any cheese Thetyim's Avatar
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    ^
    Know it well. I lived in SungMen for three years.

    Must have been very close to you when I lived in Don Moon.
    That's just across the road from Phra Luang
    Last edited by Thetyim; 04-03-2008 at 10:58 AM.

  9. #9
    punk douche bag
    ChiangMai noon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thetyim
    Know it well. I lived in SungMen for three years.
    that's 2 of you posting from Phrae now.

    50% of the white population.

    might want to edit the thread title with the date of building.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiangMai noon
    50% of the white population.
    How do you know Johnny isn't black?

  11. #11
    lom
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    ^I think he meant farang, NickA.
    He just couldn't find the right word

  12. #12
    punk douche bag
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    Quote Originally Posted by lom
    I think he meant f*****, NickA.
    i refuse to use the f word, even in quoted text.

  13. #13
    lom
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    ^Sorry, didn't know that

  14. #14
    Johnny99
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    Quote Originally Posted by good2bhappy View Post
    sorry didn't read lol
    How much to buy?
    House #2 cost 600,000 B when we bought it in 2005 and it looked like this:



    Notice the exterior stairway on the left side. I soon found out that was a no-no.

    It's on about half a rai.





    We did a lot of renovations.

    In 2003 I had put a new roof on house #1 because the old roof leaked so much that Mom used every pot in the house when it rained. When we dismantled house #1 we installed the two year old roof onto house #2 replacing the leaky tin roof it came with.



    We also used the windows from house #1 in the walls we built between the support posts under house #2.



    After we raised the land in the house #1 building site we needed to wait a while before pouring the foundation.



    While we waited for the ground to settle we had the construction crew build a wall around house #2 and also do all the renovations necessary. Among other things it turned out that the stairway was in the wrong place. Bad Fung Shei - I guess that's why the widow had such bad luck in the first place.
    So, of course we had to move the stairway from outside to inside.





    We raised the concrete slab, erected walls between the support posts, tiled the floor,



    built a "western bathroom" in the house and installed a kitchen.



    While all this was going on where did the family live, you might ask. They actually set up a cooking / living area outdoors under the old tin roof,





    but at least they were able to sleep indoors on the second floor.



    We figured that the renovations cost us about 400,000 B for all the materials. The cost of labor was negligible since we were using the foreman and crew hired to build on our original construction site. So, the total investment in house #2 is 1,000,000 B and today I could probably sell it for that or a little more, maybe 1.2, not because of the value that I added but because we got a good deal to begin with and the price of land has gone up a due to inflation.

    BTW, the deal with the foreman was 400,000 B for him and all his guys for the course of a 3 month build. We were to provide them with the use of land and materials to put up tin roof shacks, which we did. Fortunately, my wife has an uncle who lives in Bangkok and owns a piece of empty land attached to the back corner of our building site which he let us use for free. Nice guy. We also used this land to store and fabricate materials since our building site was so tight. Here is her uncle's land that we used as a staging area and for the crew to live on:





    This is House #2 after the renovations:




  15. #15
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    klongmaster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiangMai noon
    i refuse to use the f word, even in quoted text.
    try 'foreigner' then CMN...the English language has words suitable for most situations...

  16. #16
    Johnny99
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaiyenyen View Post
    House no 2 looks good, why don't you move into that, sell no1 and save yourself a shitload of grief?
    I can't. We don't have any land around House #1, so Mom's garden is at House #2. Also, before I arrived everybody slept on the floor in House #1, but now we all have separate bedrooms, and unfortunately, four BRs and a guest room just aren't enough for everybody. In addition , I have plans to gear up a teakwood operation and I need House #2 to set up a wood shop similar to the one we threw together for the carpenter to build all of the closets and cabinets after the construction crew was finished. Like this:




  17. #17
    Thailand Expat
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    What does his t-shirt say?

  18. #18
    Johnny99
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    Quote Originally Posted by hillbilly View Post
    What does his t-shirt say?
    Can you read it now?



    How about this one on the "girlfriend" (?) of my wife's nephew who is also our "soil by the truckload guy".


  19. #19
    Tao
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    Some of the T-shirts that Thais wear are hilarious.

    Good thread J99.

  20. #20
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    great
    Thanks for the info
    thinking of building in nakorn sawan for around a million

  21. #21
    Johnny99
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    Back to House # 1

    So, this thread started out as a reply on the Newbie Forum and then I moved it over to here. So far I have described how we got started and the reasons why building House #1:



    Required purchasing House #2:



    Since the actual construction took place over two years ago, it's just a little too distant to re-experience and document, step by step. However, I would like to think back and enumerate all of the things that we could have done better and all of the things that by chance or intention worked out great. Maybe it will help the next guy standing at his construction site trying to wrap his mind around the latest dilemma.

    BTW, I do have tons of photos which I will post as the opportunity arises. I can start off by saying that the land we built on originally belonged to my wife's mother. She borrowed against it and when I arrive on the scene the deed was being held by a neighborhood lender in a duffel bag stuffed with hundreds of other deeds in the back room of the local bakery / gun shop. The balance owed was 60,000 B which I paid off with the understanding that the payment would be returned to me out of the sin sot, once everyone had a chance to see the pile of cash. Part of the agreement was for the land to be transferred to my wife so that Mom couldn't borrow off it anymore. Picture of Mom:



    More to follow.

  22. #22
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    Good luck. Would love to see some more pics.

  23. #23
    Johnny99
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    Quote Originally Posted by hillbilly View Post
    Good luck. Would love to see some more pics.
    This is what the place looked like when I arrived in Jan 2005.



    We dismantled the original structure that stood here in Sept of 2004 and moved the family to House #2. During this time I spoke with my wife twice a day. (3 cents a minute from NY with a phone card.)

    (In a previous post I mistakenly said that we purchased House #2 in 2005. It was actually purchased in 2004 as we prepared to undertake construction at this site.)

    In October she suffered a life threatening illness of unexplained fever and weakness which was eventually determined to be caused by a black magic spell that her jealous cousin had put on her.

    We arranged to bring our Bangkok Holy Man to attend to her illness. She seemed to recover and then had a relapse and was taken to the hospital. The doctors put her on an IV for a couple of days and then she was discharged and her condition got worse. The Bangkok Holy Man was again notified. He gave a phone consultation to the local shaman and the result of which was that a cobra, yes, a live cobra snake appeared at House #2, circled the house and then slithered back into the underbrush. The relatives and onlookers were forewarned by our Holy Man that the snake would appear and not to disturb it! After that my wife recovered, work resumed on the new construction and her cousin broke her leg and three ribs in a car accident. Bad Karma?

    Photo of the Bangkok Holy Man, whom my wife calls," Khun Pah".



    During this time I got as many telephone reports on these events as my wife was conscious enough to tell me about. The fun never stops, but, actually, I did think I would lose her, it was a scary time.

  24. #24
    Johnny99
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    When I arrived in January 2005 construction had been underway, I guess, for about a month, six weeks(?). I thought the progress was pretty good and that I actually arrived at the perfect time. I had a chance to change things before all of the interior walls had been set. We did move the "guest room" from inside the house to outside next to the carport and gave Mom a laundry room with a half wall. I also increased the number of glass blocks that the original plan called for so that they are featured throughout the house. It really makes a big difference to have all of the daylight shining through. Anyway...









  25. #25
    Johnny99
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    We threw a New Year's Day party for the construction crew.



    There was singing:



    And more singing:



    And dancing:



    Until no one could party anymore:


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