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Once in a Lifetime Part 2

by Heiner Moessing

Ok, so last month we decided on a reliable contractor and found a suitable building site – Now we can start building - but what and how? The basic design specifications for a house should meet with both the requirements of the client and the climatic conditions. Sounds simple enough right? So why are so many houses way off target? Think before you build....

First you need to ask yourself, one-story or two-story? If the land is small and expensive, you can hardly avoid not building a two-story house. Unfortunately, this does come with disadvantages; the overhang from the roof will not be wide enough to protect the house from the elements. And all of us are getting older so climbing stairs might become an issue. Therefore you should always have at least one bedroom on the ground floor, just in case – and if you want to sell, older customers will definitely pay attention to this. Most two-story homes have balconies or even roof terraces; if the view is good (e.g. a seaview) this would make sense. But many balconies are not roof sheltered (funny as in Thailand its either sunny or rainy!) and will almost never be used except for maybe some basic cleaning. Should you have a balcony or terrace with a good view, it should be well equipped. A barbecue and a fridge could be good options, you don't want to run downstairs for every beer. Don't forget electricity and water access!

Save energy with a roof overhang

Our property is big enough, so we are planning a Bungalow. Keyword is roof overhang: sunshine should reach as little wall as possible and certainly not reach any glass surfaces. In Europe you can heat up the living room with a "winter garden" but nobody wants that in Thailand! A large roof overhang helps to save energy and the exterior coat of paint lasts much longer as it isn't constantly exposed to sunshine and rain. Also, make sure that the roof extends towards the car park so you can keep the umbrella in the car, you might need it at your destination!

The house should be slightly elevated to allow rainwater to be directed away from the house. Tropical monsoons are so strong here that the water needs a few minutes to ooze away. Tiles or concrete around the house saves the gardener but make sure the water is properly directed to the street sewer which you should hope is adequately sized and functioning.

Pipes, gutters and water drains should be well dimensioned and must be cleaned regularly!


The number of bedrooms needed depends on your individual situation but even if you only need one or two bedrooms, a certain number is always expected in relation to the asking price, if you are considering eventually selling. Also if you are going for three bedrooms, at least two should have their own bathroom (en suite), the third bathroom serving as a guest toilet as well.

It is also worth considering adding a separate guest room with its own entrance. This could then have a lockable door to the living area of the main house. Guests can be independent when visiting you, have their own key in order to come and go as they please so allow the homeowner more privacy.

For the Master Bedroom you might consider a sitting area or a sofa and of course space for a TV. Although gender boundaries are becoming less and less important,not every woman likes football, many "Farangs" are rarely interested in Thai game shows or soap operas! .


Should the kitchen be American-style as part of the living-dining area or should it be in a separate room as in Europe? Both solutions have their advantages – with "open plan" kitchens, you can cook and be together with your guests at the same time. However the disadvantages are that noise and smells can spread throughout the house and you have to ensure the the kitchen are is kept tidy and clean all the time.

How about a storeroom: no matter which type of kitchen you prefer you should really have one. Ideally it should be between your car park and the kitchen so you do not have to drag your newly purchased beer too far. It can also serve as the laundry room, containing a washing machine and even dryer. Consider a second hidden terrace for the drying rack so it is not permanently taking center stage on the main terrace.

Thai cuisine and that strong chili stench

Thai women love to cook with gas and chili paste, this can produce a very intense smell and even an eye burning effect. Therefore the option of the so-called "Thai kitchen" may be a good idea.. A very basic kitchen, this usually consists of a counter placed outside together with a gas stove and sink. The Gas tank should not be inside an air tight sealed room and it is better to keep a window open when cooking with gas indoors. By the way, cooking with gas in condominiums is generally prohibited.


You definitely need one for the technical part of construction and also for the building permission but this has nothing to do with designing a house for your individual needs.If he/she listens to your ideas its fine but don't take that for granted. Use Part 1 and 2 of our "Once in a Lifetime" articles to help you for the checklist for your perfect house!

More fun next month when we look at : Kitchens, bathrooms, terraces and more....