Around 4 months ago I posed the question “Who lives in a Thai house like this?” on our vlog.

This last weekend I took the opportunity to make a follow up video of our farm house renovations.

We had the back of the farm house partly demolished and had a steel structure built offsite and later erected onsite to form a high-ceilinged kitchen space.

Once the frame and new roof were finished, we had another team of builders move in to continue with the majority of the work we had planned, transforming the old house into a contemporary designed live/work space.

Building in Thailand

Building and renovating a house in Thailand for us in the past has always been a stressful time. Trying to convert my ideas and what I want without being fluid in Thai language (or building vernacular) or having traditional working drawings have always been a drawback.

Fortunately, having done this a number of times now, we have slowly built up a way to approach building and overcome our shortcomings.

We have slowly built up teams of professionals we can rely on. This includes electricians, window makers, builders and metal workers. We start them with small jobs, get references, see examples of their work, evaluate our communication lines and build up to bigger jobs.

We have used Cambodians in the past but now prefer to opt for local Thai craftsmen (cheap is always the most expensive). We have nothing against Cambodians but from experience, once they have done their job they disappear. There is next to no responsibility or comeback on them unlike a local tradesman who lives and works in the community. They take more pride in the job and can show their latest creation as a portfolio piece to get more work.

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So, patience is the virtue to acquire by the bucket load before building or renovating a property in Thailand. It’s hard not to get swept away on grand designs and dreams of building your ideal home or castle in Thailand. But by not rushing into building projects you will save yourself a lot of time, heartache and money in the mid to long term.

One of the issues you run into with local builders is with them not getting the finishing or the quality standards you’re so used to living in the West (yep I know there are plenty of cowboys in the game back there too). A Thai builder has invariably never left Thailand so they have no reference point to work from. You just have to remember you moved out here and have to take the good with the bad or you will let it slowly drive you insane.

We have also found building up a scrapbook or mood boards is also a good way to communicate design ideas with our local tradesmen. But don’t use Pinterest, just use a good old fashioned book and stick photos, colour swabs and the like in it.

Recycle the Roof

So, we are at the stage now where we had the whole roof replaced on the farm house after finding signs of termites in the wooden trusses. We had it all stripped out and replaced with a steel frame. The original roof tiles were repositioned to keep the costs down and the aesthetic close to the original facade.

Ceilings have been added throughout the house as before it didn’t have any.

All the windows had to be squared up as they were odd shapes. We also had to abandon the idea of keeping the original wooden shutters as we couldn’t find a way to incorporate modern windows with them.

Tropical Wet Room Under Construction

The Thai squat toilet and shower has been totally removed and remodelled and is starting to look like the funky tropical wet-room we had planned.

The kitchen was once a dark and dirty place has now opened up into a light and airy space and will be a great area for Katae to work her culinary magic.

We have also redesigned another space in the center of the property where food preparation and packaging can be carried out under controlled conditions. It is here that we will be developing our beyond organic moringa and tree to bar cocoa products. This will be the only room with air-conditioning, we don’t want the chocolate to melt!

At the rear of the house we now have a ‘L’ shaped deck and a secure shed to hang my hammer (technically known as a knockometer). Along the edge of the deck we had a built-in planter, so our kitchen garden is close at hand.

The next phase will see the floor of the whole property being tiled, have all the windows installed and the walls either painted of have an industrial concrete finishing applied.

The exterior walls, now all rendered will all be painted, and gutters will be added to collect the rain water and directed it into our ongs.

Farm House Renovation Exterior

The front of the house has been left as it was for two reasons.

  1. To keep it low key
  2. We have bees in the porch wall


No House Renovations for the Bees

The bees are Thai native stingless bees and have been there for years. As they are very beneficial to the garden and life on earth in general, we have no issue leaving them be!

During construction, we have been fortunate enough to find another colony of bees on the other side of the house too. So, we will be encouraging them all to thrive by planting lots of flowers and beneficial plants for them. At our little farm house, there is room for everyone.

Do you plan to build or renovate a house in Thailand? Let us know in the comments below.

Our Farm House Renovations [Update]

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