To build a house in Thailand
To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson: "The price of liberty, and a well-constructed house in Thailand, is eternal vigilance." Well, not exactly eternal vigilance, but vigilance lasting as long as it takes for the house to be built.
The notion of building the house of your dreams in a little patch of tropical splendour is certainly appealing, but it can also be very stress-inducing. And the stress is easily compounded by cultural sensitivities that preclude suitable emotional outlets.
If, for example, you have an altercation with the on-site builders even over a minor detail say, the second floor they're building that isn't on the architect's plans they may down tools, go to lunch and not come back. Ever.
But the advantages to building your own house is that you get exactly what you want (hopefully) for a lot less than it would cost you to buy a similar house, and when the house is finished and if the location is right, it will be immediately worth up to twice as much as it cost to build.
That's why property developers make lots of money.
This advantage applies to a house that will incorporate your own ideas, not a non-architect-designed home cut from the mold.
Homebuilders have no end of off-plan designs of homes that can be banged up blindfolded in a month or two. But if you're looking for something different, or as they say in the brochures, to reflect you lifestyle and personality, that's a different manner.
It's best to keep the design, structure and fittings of the house simple, and within the skill parameters of the architect and builders you hire. "Simple" does not mean cheap or shoddy. Neo-traditional Thai homes, for example, are by definition simple in design. That's what makes them so appealing.
If you want the house to last beyond the next rainy season, proper material selection throughout is an imperative. A few high-quality components can easily be let down by substandard ones in other parts of the structure.
Cutting corners will prove costly in the long run. In Thailand, where the cost factor often overrides quality, there is no shortage of material designed to satisfy the requirement for cheap, rather than durable, construction.
But quality, locally made materials are becoming increasingly available, along with imported ones. Although you may appreciate the fact that your builder has a brother-in-law who can get exactly the same quality roof shingles at 70 per cent less, politely decline.
Find a good and reliable architect and builder who understand that durability, permanence and low maintenance are what you are after. Ones who are used to dealing with the fussy and irritating demands of expatriates are your best bet.