Three bedroom modern style home with roof terrace completed

We recently completed construction of this three bedroom home in Nong Khai.  This house has not been detailed on our blog before, however it may look familiar as a video rendering of the boundary wall concept was featured on our blog in mid 2014.  The main feature of the house is the very large roof terrace that covers the entire second floor giving lots of outdoor living space upstairs, to take in the views of the surrounding rural landscape.

Website content and navigation updates

If you haven't been back to our website in a while it is worth noting that I have added some new content to our website and also made some changes to the navigation. In addition to the main menu along the top, some of these items now bring up a sub menu of pages.

"What we do"

This link now opens up the same page as before, but as an 'overview' page.  There is now a sub menu of pages that give more detail on our three core services of Architectural design and engineering, construction, and design and construction consultancy.  Also in this sub menu details of other services that we offer.

"Our work"

For a long time, this had been largely empty, awaiting a refresh and a portfolio of past projects.  We do still plan to add in a more structured portfolio to this page, however in the mean time we have added in the next best thing.  Here you will find a gallery of some of our past and present projects.  Clicking on each will take you through to the blog post related to that project.

"Stock designs"

This is a new section of the site where we will soon have an aniline store to allow you to purchase home construction plans with a range of stock home designs to chose from. 


The "Land and ownership" page that was previously in the main menu has been replaced by an "Information" page.  Clicking this link will open a sub menu containing the Land and ownership page, a page with advice on buying land in Thailand and also a "downloads" page.  The downloads page contains a number of interesting PDF brochures relating to NKD services and Building in Thailand in general.

I hope you find the additional content and information useful.  As ever, if you would like more information about our company or the services that we offer, feel free to contact us.  We will be happy to arrange an initial consultation without obligation. 

Advice on buying land in Thailand

I recently received an e-mail enquiry through our website with a seemingly simply question:

"Do you have any advice on how to get a fair price when buying land?"

This gave me pause for thought as I realised that whilst we cover "land and ownership" on our website the topic of the actual buying process has not been addressed and yet it can be fraught with potential problems.

I responded to the question by outlining a number of things to consider and things to look out for when looking for land and negotiating a price.  They found my reply useful, so I thought I would share the same points here, for the benefit of others thinking of buying land in Thailand.   

There are reputable real estate agents in Thailand that operate as legitimate companies with registered offices.  However a large proportion of land, particularly in rural areas, is sold by word of mouth through third party individual 'agents'.  It is usual for the agents to get a 3% commission from the sale, paid by the seller.   It there is a chain of multiple agents involved, then this 3% would be split between them.   In principal the system works, but it can be frustrating trying to find land in an area you are unfamiliar with as there is no central re-estate agent(s) you can go to.  It can also be a concern that they are not controlled by any official body such as the “National Association of Estate Agents” as in the UK, so there is greater possibility of malpractice.  Assuming you have found a plot, it can be hard to evaluate what a real fair price to pay would be.  It obviously helps to have a bit of local knowledge, but it also helps to get a bit of background on the seller and agent's circumstances. Things to be aware of that I have experienced are the following:

The agent may tell you that the price is higher than it really is. Obviously, if they can get you to pay more, then their commission will higher.   If possible, try to speak with the owner directly.  Even if you do this, the agent will still get their percentage as they introduced you to the owner, however the price will be an agreement between you and the owner and not a third party.

Ridiculously over priced land can also be common.   In some cases, owners have land as a long term investment.  They may be in no particular hurry to sell, however will advertise their land for sale at an extremely high price, with the thinking that if someone was willing to pay it, they’d be foolish not to take it.  However they will not be open to negotiation to a more reasonable price on the land.  In this case there usually is nothing that can be done, except keep looking.

It is sad, but a lot of land sales come about as a result of the owners being forced to sell due to financial difficulty.   In some cases, this can mean a good deal for the buyer as the property is priced for a quick sale.  However, in other cases, the seller simply sets the price of the land as equal to the debt they are trying to pay off, even if this is more than the true market value.  Illogical, but I have seen this on a number of occasions, so even if it seems that some one is desperate to sell, this does not necessarily mean that the price is a good one, as you may expect!  

The foreigner tax, as some people call it, where people will give a different price to a foreigner than a Thai person, believing that either they won’t know the true price, or that they don’t care and can afford to pay a higher price, is occasionally an issue.   With this and the previous case, it is just a question of knowing what the land is really worth and what you are prepared to pay.  If they want to sell and you are making a reasonable offer, then in the end (unless of course you are out bid) they may come back. Do a bit of research to know the right price in your area and stick to it.  If you fall in love with a particular location then you may be prepared to pay a little more, but that is up to your discretion.

Also when doing your local research, be sure to find out what the land is like at various times of the year.   We had one client who bought a plot of land next to a small stream, during the dry season… 6 months later, during the rainy season it was under 1m of water.   In the end he had to fill up his land two metres to protect against flooding during the rainy season, which added considerable cost to his initial plans.

Somewhat related is the question of has the land already been filled up?   If so this may have saved you a lot of money and needs to be factored into any comparison with other options.   The cost of filling land varies from area to area, but as a guide a truck with 5 cubic metres of soil could cost about 500Baht so then 1 cu.m is 100 Baht.   If you want to fill one Rai (1,600 sq.m) of land up by 1 metre, then that may cost 160,000.

Is there a mains electricity supply next to the property or within a couple of hundred metres? If not it can be very costly to install.  We had a client who had brought a plot of land in a beautiful rural location amongst rice paddies.   He had no neighbours, which is what he was looking for.   However, he was also over 2km from an electricity supply.   The electricity company wanted close to 1million baht to install the supply to his land… This would have eaten up a large portion of his project budget.   He didnt want to rely on solar power or generators, so in the end he had to sell his land and look for somewhere else.

Similarly with water supply.   Many people manage without mains water and drill a well instead, which is certainly an option.  However, be sure that the area is suitable for a well.   In some instances it can be either very difficult to find water and in other cases the water may be salty.   Certainly not suitable for drinking but also can be corrosive to bathroom & kitchen fittings.

The previous four points relating to location and utilities should certainly be thoroughly investigated for every plot of land.  The points relating to potential issue with sellers and agents are just things to be aware of, in case you feel that something does not feel right about the asking price.   I would say that with the majority of land sales through third party agents, everone involved behaves in a fair and ethical manner and the outcome is a happy seller, a happy agent and a buyer with a beautiful plot of land on which to build their dream home.

Everyone has different requirements when looking for land and there are many things to consider.   I hope that this post has given some useful advice to help on your search for land.  If you have any other experiences that you feel would be worth sharing, feel free to contact us and I will add them to this post.

Services offered by NKD relating to building a home in Thailand

We have always had an overview of our services on our website, but today I have added further detail relating to the three core strands of our business: Architecture, Construction & Consultancy.

Designing a new home in Thailand

You can find out more detail of the typical flow of a design project with NKD, and the steps involved in designing a dream home in Thailand on a new page: Design, Engineering & Planning Process

Building a new home in Thailand

Another new page, "Construction services" goes into more depth about the various steps involved in building a home in Thailand and how our workflow is structured.  This page also details our project management roles and responsibilities in our construction projects.

Construction consultancy in Thailand

The final new page added to our site today "Consultancy services" gives further detail on the consultancy services that we offer to people who are self managing their project to build a new home in Thailand.

Apart from above, links to these new pages can be found on our "What we do" page from the main menu.

Before we begin... Part 4

This post is the final part of a series of extracts taken from a brochure that we give to clients prior to commencing construction.  If you are planning to build your own home in Thailand and it is all new to you, then I am sure that the content of this series of blog posts will benefit you as much as it will our clients.  

Expecting The Unexpected

So far, we have talked about the sort of things that are in many ways common to most projects. They are not issues that need resolving. They are just facts that we understand and are accustomed to working with.  However there is always the possibility that a problem may arise unexpectedly during construction.   In some cases these can be rectified swiftly with little or no impact on the project, whilst in other cases, they can cause delays.  The love we have for construction is born out of the varied nature of our projects and the new challenges that we face with each one.  If an issue does arise, we take it in our stride and resolve it with the minimum of fuss.  Obviously, we cannot predict the unexpected.  Though we can give a little insight into the sort of issues that we have faced in the past and what effect they had on the project.


No matter how much planning and how many resources are put into a project, we cannot control the weather.  Whilst we can generally work all year round we are sometimes at the mercy of the elements and there are times when work is forced to stop.  With one particular project we needed to drive piles in a particularly muddy plot of land.  A "tracked" pile driver was not available and so we had to use one on wheels.  We needed three clear days without rain for the ground to dry out sufficiently for the pile driver to move around on the site.  We did not get that break in the weather for 2 months.   We had done all other possible preparation work that could be done whilst waiting, but it still meant a total slip of 6 weeks in the project.  Extreme cases like this are rare, but when they occur there is not much that can be done and, however frustrating, has to be accepted.


It was at about the same time as the example above that Bangkok was faced with the worst flooding in years, with much of the city cut off.  The effects of this were felt all the way up to Nong Khai, with many local suppliers being out of stock of the items that would usually come from the factories and warehouses in Bangkok.  We had a project that was using thermal insulating blocks, but we only had enough for part of the home.  The factory in Bangkok had advised that it would be two months until they were operational again.   In this case we gave our client the option of waiting or continuing with a different type of block, and they chose the latter.  We used the insulating blocks in areas that were more critical and standard blocks in others.  As the alternative block was cheaper, we reimbursed the difference to our client.


We make every effort to select the best suppliers, selling highest quality materials, but in some instances, we have had sub-standard materials delivered to site.  Of course, every delivery is checked and poor quality materials will not be used on our projects.   In cases where sub standard materials are delivered, they will be sent back.  Materials are ordered in advance of when they are required and so occurrences such as this will usually not have an affect on the project.

Always remember that if problems do arise during construction, we have the experience, capacity and responsibility to resolve them, so you can rest assured that you are in safe hands.

In this series of posts we have covered a range of things to expect during your home build project. What we have not revealed is all of the wonderful moments during construction.... We will leave those for you to discover and experience for yourself, as the surprise is what makes them special!

I hope that you have found this series of blog posts useful, whether you are building your own home or if you are interested in using our construction services.

Before we begin... Part 3

This post is an extract from a brochure that we give to clients prior to commencing construction.  If you are planning to build your own home in Thailand and it is all new to you, then I am sure that the content of this series of blog posts will benefit you as much as it will our clients.  

Ways Of Working

We strive to build homes to a high Western standard, though we use local workers.  So, you may wonder, how is this possible when most local houses are not up to the standard that you are expecting?  We can not simply impose Western ways of working on them and expect good results.  It is only through selection of the best craftsmen and then the careful management and guidance we provide to them during construction along with our rigorous quality control that ensures our high standards are maintained. We understand that they have their own experiences, beliefs and customs which must be respected if we are to get the best out of them.  A lack of understanding could lead to confusion or frustration so it is important that you also share in our understanding.


The fact is that for construction workers, there is no standard working week, as you may be used to.  They do not just work Monday to Friday, they work every day but then may take off "Buddha Days" which are on the full moon and new moon. There may be other religious days that they also take off.  This can take people by surprise if they turn up to site on a seemingly random Wednesday afternoon and then wonder why no one is working!   Also, one must remember that construction labourers work very hard and in difficult conditions, exposed to the elements.  During the rainy season, it is wet and muddy and then during the dry season the heat can be stifling.  Sometimes, they just need a break!  If they have been working for ten days non-stop and then have just spent a day on something particularly labour intensive, such as pouring concrete, then do not be surprised if the foreman gives them the day off afterwards.


Aside from standard holidays such as Song Kran and the new year, most villages will have an annual festival which lasts several days.  The dates of such festivals will be different for every village. If it is the time for the village festival in the village of the workers, they will not be working!  Similarly, if it is the village festival in your village, work will also stop.


Wedding celebrations can go on for several days, as can wakes following a death.  These are big affairs involving extended family, friends and neighbours, often involving the whole village.  This is an aspect of the Thai community spirit that is sadly lacking in many Western countries these days.  However, it does have an impact on construction projects!  We have yet to experience a project where there has not been a birth, death or marriage in some way relating to our workers or the location of the project.  In fact there have usually been several over the course of the project.  If the village is either celebrating or mourning then understand that work will stop.  


The life of a construction team can be a precarious one, not knowing where the next job is coming from.  Fortunately, we are able to provide our contractors with future work opportunities, which gives them some security.  However, there may still be gaps between their contracted periods of employment with us.   As such, in order to provide for their families, they must consider their options for employment once their contract with us is complete.  This means taking on other jobs for other people and in some cases there may be overlaps between the work they are doing for us and the work they are doing for others.   This can result in a reduction of labourers on our jobs, at times.  It would be easy to demand that they maintain a certain staffing on our jobs, but this would be unfair and show a disregard for them and the responsibility they have to their staff and their families.  Because of the fair way we treat our staff and because of the fact that we do offer them such good opportunities for future work at a fair price, we usually find that we get priority over any other projects, but nevertheless it is a point worth mentioning.

This is the third of a four part blog post... part four coming next week!

Before we begin... Part 2

This post is an extract from a brochure that we give to clients prior to commencing construction.  If you are planning to build your own home in Thailand and it is all new to you, then I am sure that the content of this series of blog posts will benefit you as much as it will our clients.  

Project Work Flow

There is a certain flow to projects that gives rise to a variation in the perceived pace of work.   At times there seems to be a lot of progress, but then there are also times when progress appears slow, even on a project running perfectly smoothly.   If you are unaware of this and things suddenly seem to slow down, it can be disheartening.  It is therefore worth giving an overview of the general flow of an average project.

Presumably, you have started with an empty plot of land.  You are full of excitement and anticipation.  Work begins.  Suddenly, there are excavators digging holes, there are workers preparing re-bar for the concrete structures.  Within a couple of days, the site has been totally transformed from an empty plot into a site buzzing with activity! First the footings go in, then the columns that come up from the footings to the ground floor beams, then the footing holes are filled in, then the steel work for the beams, then the concrete beams are poured, then the floor slabs go on..... Take a breath!   That was quick.  It seemed like every day was something new.  You can now walk around in the ground floor space and imagine the rooms.   If there are more floors to add on, work will still progress quickly, but adding second floor structures is slower than ground floor structures.  You obviously have to add in all of the necessary support to cast structures suspended in mid air, so there is already a change of pace.

Next may be the roof frame.  It will take some time to prepare all of the metal required for the frame and so progress may appear slow.  The excitement of seeing the structure shoot up out of the ground may have settled a bit by now and so the relatively small change in roof structure might seem like a bit of an anticlimax. However, once the roof frame and purlins are ready, the roof tiling will take no time at all and it will seem like a sudden spurt in progress.

Depending on the project, brickwork may start before, during or after the roofing, but whenever, progress will also appear quick during this stage.   It is very quick to put up block walls, but then things will appear to slow down as preparations are made for rendering.  All edges of surfaces to be rendered have to be carefully prepared to give a straight corner up to which rendering can be applied.   It is also in this stage that we have to chase all of the electrical conduits and plumbing pipework into the walls.   This is all a very labour intensive process, but it is barely visible, compared to the rest of the structure, so expect some time with not much noticeable impact. 

You have now got used to the sight of the new large structure on your land.  Even though the rendering process that comes next is relatively quick and turns bare brick into smooth walls, it still might not feel like such a big or exciting step.   It hardly matches the excitement of the initial structure appearing.

We now move on to the the tiling and painting.   This is exciting.   Now we are breathing life and character into the bare shell.   You are now seeing the tiles and paints you have chosen spreading throughout the house.  It is starting to feel like your own home.  Even so, some parts are quick and some slow.  Large expanses of floor tiles go down quickly, but intricate mosaic work in bathrooms may be slower.

It feels so close to being finished now, with tiles and freshly painted walls. Surely it will be complete any day now?   As we add in all of the fixtures and fittings, things will be really coming together and you will no doubt be eager to move in, now that all of your personal finishing touches are being applied. Well, there may well still be a lot of small jobs to complete, each one small in itself, but time consuming to complete in total. 

It is also worth noting that some exterior work such as boundary walls, may also be left until towards the end so that it does not interfere with interior work and hinder access to the house during major construction. So, whilst your home may appear close to completion, there could still be a lot to do outside, which may become more of a focus of attention, thus slowing down progress on the house itself.

We hope that by understanding the flow of the project and the natural changes of pace that occur, it will help eliminate any frustration that may have otherwise been felt during the slower periods of the build.

This is the second of a four part blog post... part three coming next week.

Before we begin... Part 1

I have recently finished preparing the artwork for two printed company brochures.   The first is a brochure detailing the services that our company offers that will be given to potential clients and will also be used during our initial consultations with clients, as we talk through the design and construction process.   I will be adding a PDF version of this brochure, available to download from our website shortly.

The second brochure is one that we will give to clients prior to commencing construction.  I think that the content of this brochure would be ideal for our blog because it may apply other projects, not just NKD's projects.   If you are planning to build your own home in Thailand and it is all new to you, then I am sure that the content of this series of blog posts will benefit you as much as it will our clients.  


The construction of a new home is very exciting.  It is when all of the ideas and dreams that you spent weeks, months or years discussing begin to rise up out of the ground.  NKD takes every step possible to ensure the smooth running of our construction projects, maintaining the highest standards of construction.  However, every project is different and presents its own unique challenges.  You have handed us the responsibility of building your home and so, as your main contractor, these challenges are ours to face.

Of course, we are not going to draw a curtain around the site and only reveal your home to you once it is finished.   We want you to be involved and feel a part of the process, which means that you will see every aspect of the build.   Whilst we have a vast experience of building in Thailand and so are used to what to expect, we understand that for you it may all be new.  We want you to soak in as much of this wonderful experience as possible, and feel that a little preparation for what to expect will enable you to enjoy the process all the more. This brochure is therefore intended to give a little more detail on some of the aspects of a construction project that could lead to frustration, if unexpected.

There are three distinct topics.  First is the general flow of a project, to give an idea of what to expect in terms of the perceived pace of the build.   Second is a little about our workers and their way of working. These two topics are common to most projects.  Finally we cover the topic of the "unexpected" events unique to individual projects.

This is the first of a four part blog post... part two coming next week.

New Year... New site design and logo... New Projects

If you were familiar with our previous branding and website design, you would know that there was a large emphasis on the "House builder" side of our business.   Whilst this is still our core business, we have increasingly been taking on design of commercial premises and also offering consultancy and construction management services, so we felt that our site needed to be updated to reflect this and also generally just to give it a fresh new look to start off 2014.  We hope you like it...

We have already started 5 new construction projects in the first few weeks of this year with additional projects scheduled to start over the coming months.   We are also working on the design for six new homes.  I will add more details and pictures of all of our projects as they progress.