This article is based on my recent experience of actually going through the process of obtaining estimates of the cost of building a house in Thailand including getting quotations from builders in Thailand and also using unit build rates (how much square meter) to build a retirement house in Thailand.
It will be useful to anyone retiring in Thailand or planning to retire to Thailand and build a retirement house.
The Two Main Two Ways To Estimate the Cost of Building a House in Thailand
There are basically two ways of pricing a building project in Thailand.
1. Using Unit Build Rates To Estimate The Cost Of Building A House
The first and simplest method is by using Unit Build Rates, i.e. how much per square meter it costs to build the house in Baht/m2. There are a range of Unit Build Rates for houses in Thailand and these vary according to the standard of the building and the location in the country.
There are other factors that affect the price of building a house in Thailand and these are not normally allowed for in unit build rates.
Just one example is that the cost of building depends greatly upon the particular builder chosen as quotations for the same property from different builders varies greatly.
Unit rates for use in estimating the cost of house construction are readily available where I live in the United Kingdom (UK). There are many websites that list these unit rates and also there are pricing books that give rate per square metre for a range of building types and sizes. This method is commonly used in Great Britain, and other Western countries to work out a budget cost for building a house.
However, in Thailand the situation is different. I have not seen any ‘official’ Unit Build Rates for Thailand but several websites, notably those Forums catering for expats living in Thailand, give some rough figures from people who have built their own retirement house in Thailand.
But that’s all they are – a guide – and really barely worth using even for budgeting purpose.
Two Examples from Thai Websites of Unit Rates for House Build Cost in Thailand
Bangkok: “As of March 2006, buyers had to pay 81,975 baht/m2 in average to acquire a condominium unit in central area of Bangkok compared to 72,596 baht/m2 in the last twelve months”.
Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand: “A house built to western standard will cost between 160 to 300 Euros / m2″ (At 45 Euros/Baht (Jan 2010) that works out at 7,200 to 13,500 Thai Baht per m2).
Notice how the unit rate for these two examples are so different.
Another way to get unit rates for Thailand is to approach Thai builders and architects. Unit Build Rates recently sent to me by one of Thailand’s leading Bangkok-based design-and-build companies are in the range of 15,000 to 20,000 Baht/m2.
The method of application of the Unit Build Rates is simple. You work out the total floor area of the proposed building including all floors and multiply by the unit rate. There is no need to find or involve a builder for this method once you have decided on the the unit rate to use.
There are inherent inaccuracies in this approach because the mix of different types of usage will be different in different building.
For example, using my own proposed property in Pak Chong, Thailand, as an example, the house is a typical ‘post’ house and half of the ground floor is left ‘open’ to be made into usable rooms at a later date and the other half simply has blockwork walls to for a workshop.
Clearly the unit rate for these areas is different and different from the first floor that contains kitchen, bedrooms and other living area.
Another example of different type (and hence costs) of building usage using my Pak Chong house as an example is that on the first floor I have a very large (compared to the rest of the house) patio area and also another semi-open area both of which would be a much lower cost to construct than the living accommodation areas.
The fact is that new build houses in Thailand are very often of completely different style and layout to other houses. This is in comparison with the UK where new houses are often built in their hundreds all to the same design. Everyone knows what you will get in a ‘3 bed semi-detached house’ in England. In this situation unit rates can be safely applied.
So what area is used in the cost calculation? Do you use the total area including the ground floor open area and workshop and the first floor patio and semi open area plus the living accommodation areas? …