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Greenhorn's guide – Thinking about building a house in Thailand

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Recently I posted a topic about what advice would benefit a new guy who is making his home in Thailand and the possible pitfalls of having a relationship with a Thai girl.


The newbie mentioned in that past topic Ive now been told he actually went with his Thai girlfriend on a trip to see her mother and father  and he was so enthralled with what he saw and a fantastic plot of land the girlfriends mother by chance had for sale , that he's decided that he wants to build a house right there so he can in his words '' relax '' in the beautiful country side .


To me this all seems to be going at a very fast pace considering how long this newbie has been residing in Thailand :whistling:


Just thinking about what Ive learned from my own personal experiences and the advice Ive been given and what Ive read on the subject . I thought that may be a quick general Newbies guide to building a house in Thailand may be a good topic . 


This simple guide is not focused on the actual construction of building a house but more on general advice relating to the Do's and Don'ts if considering the building of a home in Thailand and what problems or issues  it may bring along the way :smile:


 1. Never invest any money in some thing you aren't prepared to just walk away from  especially  involving property .


 2 . Make sure of the land title before you spend your hard earned cash . If possible buy land that has the land title registration called '' Chanote ti din ''.


 3.Foreigners are not allowed to own land in Thailand but there are a few options available. like a 30 year leasehold arrangement  . If any of these  possible options are to be considered than consulting a lawyer is recommended .


Simple guide to land titles in Thailand.


A. Chanote ti din this  gives you incontestable possession of the land.

B. Nor Sor Sam - These are land title deeds issued by the District Land Office with clear records of ownership which can be sold or leased by posting 30 days notice to the public. They are less accurately surveyed that a Chanott , so ask the owner to stake out the boundaries and then ask neighbouring landowners to confirm it.

C. Nor Sor Sam Kor -These are similar to the above but are more accurately surveyed and correspond to an area on an aerial photograph. They are registerable as a right of ownership and that they may be sold or leased, but they tend to be less accurately surveyed than Chanote titles .


D. Sor Kor Nung - These are only a notification of land possession and to continue existing rights. Long-term dwellers may have the right to apply to the government for a higher form of title deed , they are essentially squatter's rights registered at the district office for a small fee. Unlike the Chanote and the Nor Sor Sam Kor, they cannot legally be sold, nor can you build on the land .


E. Tor Bor Tor Hok and Tor Bor Tor Ha - These are squatter's claims to occupy land that has been settled. It is not possible to legally build on the land, sell or lease it.


Note - The Chanote and the Nor. Sor. Sam. Kor. are the only titles over which registrable  right of ownership or lease can exist, and are as such the only ones that a wise foreigner should consider.
If you the foreigner are married to a Thai national and provide her with the funds to purchase land then you will have to sign a disclaimer stating that the money did not come from abroad and that you assert that the property is the separate property of your wife and that you acknowledge that you have absolutely no rights or interest in the property. This is in Thai and signed at the Land Registry Office .


Units of land measurement in Thailand.

1 Wah = 2 Meters
1 Talang Wah = 4 Square meters
100 Talang Wah = 1 Ngan
4 Ngan = 1 Rai = 1600 Square Metres

To convert to Acres:
1 Acre = 4840 Square Yards or 4046.8 Square Metres = 2.53 Rai
1 Hectare = 10,000 Square Metres = 2.47 Acres = 6.25 Rai
(All decimal points are approximate )


Land prices in Thailand are normally given as Baht per Talang Wah or per Rai.


Usufruct - ( The Thai legal term Sitthigapgintalordsheevit ) the best way to describe is a  lease , contact a lawyer to learn more.


So you have found that land your little piece of heaven on earth . Now comes the checking .


1. Is the land near any telephone lines , if not check at the local TOT office as to the situation , can a telephone be provided and can the line support ADSL internet .


2.  If no telephone land lines are near the land or they cannot be provided then check out other options for accessing the internet ( 4G wireless – WiFi -)  . Not having access to the internet or access to the outside world in your new house  especially if the land is situated in a rural location   will slowly drive you insane .


3. Check with the local electricity company and see if power would be available to the land location and if it is make sure you get the correct size of electric meter to suite you house power needs


4 .  Check with the local ampur water office that metered piped water is available to the lands location .


5. If the land you are thinking of purchasing is accessed via a private road or track and you have been told by the owner of the land the road / track belongs to , that there is no problem using their  road  to get to your land. Then be careful as the land owner of the road may change their mind at any time and as in many cases the roads owner may ask you to pay a yearly payment for access or even denies you access.


6. Never build a home to near your Thai partners family . If you do you may be constantly plagued by random un announced family members just popping in and out, at first you will smile and just give a wai thinking its nice to see people but be assured after a time  this will get on your nerves, and in the end you will be so cheesed off every time you go to the fridge to have a cold beer only to find the beers are all gone, you may come home to find strangers sitting on a mat in your lounge and be told its a cousin, you won't be able to watch Tv as mama is watching her favorite Thai soap , people will come and go cousins, aunts  and assorted distant relatives and hangers on, and in some cases people who you don't know at all ,and they may not even acknowledge that you are actually there . You will have paid to build the house but have no control over who does what in your own home , you can stop a lot of the above by not building your dream house to near any close family members . I'm not saying keep the family out , only don't make it  too easy , or it may end up becoming a burden , a stress inducer and augment starter along with final I'm packing my bag . 


7. If possible preferably build the house away from other houses as the sound of the next door Thai neighbors chickens crowing at dawn or their chained dog  constantly barking  or the daily early morning starting and reving the motorbike or their nightly drinking or karaoke  sessions will get to you in the end .


8. Never build a house near a Wat/ temple . If you do you could be woken up every morning at 4 am by the sound of a big Gong and incessant annoying chanting ,  if you value your sleep , keep well away from from a Wat.


9 . Never build a house near a school. Again if you build near a large school it can get noisy and in some cases parking and traffic can be a problem.

10 . Don't build near a busy main road. The first night you quietly lay in that new bed clasping hands with your lady , you will start to hear the vehicles speeding along that near by road , the same vehicles that you don't normally notice during the noisy day time.

11 . Don't build near water.  I know it sounds idyllic sitting there sipping your ice cold beer looking at the pond  lake or stream, but come the rains the water could become home for a large number of frog's looking for a partner to mate with, and trying to get to sleep with the ever present highly annoying croaking  chorus for hours on end will drive you up the wall. Also being too near water can be a possible problem in the summer months with ever Persistent mosquitoes .


12 if your considering a rural location do not build any where near a cassava possessing factory , you will be driven crazy with the constant traffic and more importantly when the wind is blowing the nauseating sickly sweet smell will make you close all the house windows and head for the fridge and your friend Mr Chang .

13.  Build a Wall . You may think why do I need a wall around my house and a lockable main gate , it will spoil the view it will make the house like a prison , it will give the impression to my neighbors and partners family that I want to be private from them, that I want to keep people out.  The answer is and should be ''Yes '' you want to be private , with no boundary wall around your property you will be at the mercy of every strolling soi seller around, if its not brushes it will be some one trying to sell the rich foreigner  life insurance or collect money for some thing you have never heard of and will never hear of again, the daily intrusions will never stop, every time some one approaches you house you will think now what. A high wall and main gate will stop all that dead in its tracks , you can put your feet up in the knowledge that no one will be knocking or walking straight thought your front door , and mark my words they will try. It may be considered by some of the partners family and locals that you don't want to get involved well so be it , wearing an I don't want to get involved badge is far easier to do  than the one that reads , I am a mug please Just walk in as Ive got no privacy in my own home  .


14. Don't go Crazy. Ive seen some huge palatial foreigner houses built in small villages , yes its possibly cheaper to build property here than say back home, and yes its nice to have a large home that may be you could never afford back home , but in many cases having a huge house especially out in a rural areas is like waving a red come and get my lovely stuff flag to every burglar wandering deadbeat scrounger and drunk around and in some cases it breeds local rich foreigner resentment . Keep it simple is the key.


15. Yellow House Book. After you have built the house when your Thai partner goes to obtain their new Blue House Registration Book , go along as well and apply for a Yellow foreigners house book called Tor Lor Sip Sam ( Yellow Tambien Ban.) for your self , this may come in useful in the future.


16. The house Party. Normally its expected that a new house owner has a house party / blessing  where the guests numbers can be high and cost a lot of money to stage , all really in the name of not loosing face and Thai one up man ship .  Personally I would feel guilty about spending such large sums on what amounts to an event that will be forgotten the day after , attended by many people you have never seen or met before who consume large amounts of free food and alcohol and then disappear with out saying good bye . Providing such a large event may make you feel like a king for the day , but it only sends out the wrong signals ( rich foreigner with money to burn ) .  I would go for a small close family get together , save your money for some of the future family monetary requests , that will surely come .


17. Just say NO .Now you have built a lovely house and you are a  foreigner  you will all ways be considered as rich, this may be true compared to your Thai counterparts but here's one of  the best thing you can do , set the ground rules from day one , or your future life may be a constant mental battle and in the end your Idyllic laid back way of life will be no more and instead one of constant family friction , arguments and stress .There may be many repeated questions and pressure from family members and in some cases by neighbors, questions like why you not buy mama some Gold , why you not buy your lady a new motor bike , why you not buy the land next doors , the list will be endless like the questions you keep getting asked . If you too easily say yes in the early days to any request you will be setting a fixed president that will come back to haunt you all the way to the atm, and the same applies for the can you lend me questions , don't forget that the words lend and foreigner put together translate into the Thai word for Gift . I know you may want to spend your hard earned money or pension showing the family and neighbors just how much you like them, holidays to the coast , shopping trips to the big city , new motor bike for the cousin and yes it can be an ego booster but in the end it will never make how you are perceived any different , even if you are down to your last Satang no one will believe it and the large amounts you have all ready lavished in the past , will not be quickly remembered as most Thais only live in the now moment and for today and last Month's spending spree won't count . So ground rule One say ''NO'' if you can, say it with a smile but say it , the say no. The signal you first send out from your wallet may be the only one that will be clearly understood , your reply should be some thing like ive spent most of my money on building this house and now money is tight , no one will believe your plea , but at least you have made your first '' no '' stand.


Over the years especially in the beginning of my marriage , I had repeated requests from my wife's relatives to lend them a sum of money to normally buy some thing , may be a new TV or a rice cooker , mobile phone etc , at first as a Greenhorn I considered it not a problem to help out my in laws and handed over sums of money , nothing big but never the less a steady flow of requests . Then it suddenly dawned on me that the request for money to buy a new mobile phone , that new phone never appeared , same with many things the item I paid for never turned up. So I decided that if mama wanted a new rice cooker , I would buy it my self and hand it directly to mama . For some strange reason the request for money to buy some thing were throttled back, and I think we all know why . I would recommend if possible to buy that rice cooker etc your self instead of handing over your hard earned cash , So if you find yourself un able to do the above and say no, then may be you buy the items requested and hand them over your self .

So have you got any thing you can add to the above general thoughts or do you have any other snippets of advice that you feel would be of benefit to a greenhorn who may be thinking about building a house in Thailand :smile:



































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Some very good pointers here and there's more to add, but I'd like to endorse and doubly emphasise no.6. as the wisest advice of all. It will be the most difficult to avoid for most people, but if you find that you are being pushed in that direction, there is only one solution - just don't do it. Instead build or buy several hundred kms from any Thai family.



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Well thought out post and wish I'd read something similar when I was starting out in Thailand.


Wife had some land when we met and it was only some years later that I was to find out the title was Sor Por Kor. Her Uncle was not really in a position to sell part of his land. The sale was witnessed by the Village headman and we have a blue book so the local government does not seem to mind.


Having her Uncle living next door has not presented us with the problems you list in point 6. In fact having family close means that when we leave the house empty for long periods there is someone to watch over it and feed the dogs.


For me living near water is a plus. Siting under the bamboo with a cold one and watching the fish is a pleasant way to round off the day. The fish should deal with the mosquitoes issue and the frog chorus is something I have got used too. If we have an issue with sound it's the tokay geckos running around in the loft.


In our area building a wall around the house is not done. For me this would be just another item to add to your point 14 i.e I've got something to hide! Also depending on how close the wall is to the house this might impact on the natural ventilation.


Saying No! I Hate this issue for its a no win situation. But your advice is good. Sadly though in 16 years it has meant that my close friends are all foreigners (non Thai).

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In stead of building 1 large house, I built 2 small ones - we have enough land.

Both only 1 storey. Bathrooms in both.


1 smaller house (bungalow) for privacy - NOBODY else enters there, only I & wife. Proper bathroom with bath, bedroom, European kitchen.

1 larger house for visitors, for cooking smelly food, for stocking clothes and garden utensils,...


I love visitors AND privacy, and this way I can combine both....

Alcohol, expensive European food and good kitchen utensils  obviously are kept in "my" house.


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Great post as already said I wish I had read this before spending my savings nearly lost the lot was lucky I had a Usafruct against the land and would advise everyone to put it in place otherwise she would have sold the land for a fast THB.  I could have lost my house worth about 10 Mil but got away with a 3 Mil divorce and a good solicitor sorted out the rest.  Anyone thinking that a Thai woman is the love of their life be warned and protect your hard earned investment!

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Very informative,  but makes a top floor corner unit condo in Bangkok with a huge balcony with trees and access to everything the city has to offer and owning it outright seem to be a good plan for many to consider as well!! 

Cheap fights to visit up country and/ or relatives and to take in the cleaner air and nature a couple times a year as well! 

The part about the relatives is priceless!! Have read it sooo many times on TVF but some people seem to not realize that distance makes the heart grow fonder and closeness makes the beers go wander! 

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About Thai family and others treating your home like their home:

You must not think that this is because you are farang, Thais do that with other Thais too. Of course our homes are bigger and better stocked with food & beer.

You must set the rules from day 1!


Thai visitors not acknowledging you when arriving or leaving is normal. Same thing between Thais and their visitors. It is normal to them, but very rude in our culture.


I'm so happy with my "2 houses solution" !!!








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4 hours ago, Antonymous said:

Some very good pointers here and there's more to add, but I'd like to endorse and doubly emphasise no.6. as the wisest advice of all. It will be the most difficult to avoid for most people, but if you find that you are being pushed in that direction, there is only one solution - just don't do it. Instead build or buy several hundred kms from any Thai family.



You got that one absolutely right!

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On 1/30/2018 at 11:17 AM, Once Bitten said:

Never invest any money in some thing you aren't prepared to just walk away from  especially  involving property .

the usual generalising blah-blah from people who possess a wealth of no idea pertaining to investments. applying this advice means expressis verbis "staying away from any investment."

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