After returning to Thailand, I found a contractor I thought was committed to building my house the way I wanted and the right way. Finding someone to complete what had been started by another person, I knew would be difficult, but nevertheless I thought I had found one.
We had a contract of six sections describing what would be done and the cost for each section. The contractor started and was doing a fantastic job rebuilding or finishing what the original contractor did wrong. I was ecstatic that I had found someone committed to finishing my house after the problems with the first guy. Throughout the building process, I remained at home and oversaw their work to make sure it was built just as I wanted. My wife cooked lunch for the new contractor and his crew every day they were here. Things went well and I fully trusted him and his whole crew. If there was a problem, he would give me options on the way to solve it. We had a good working relationship.
During the 7 months the contractor worked for me, if he had to take off because I didn't have the money to continue (there were such times) or he had to return to work in his rice fields, I would loan him 10,000 thb so he could make his truck payments. And when I had the money to continue with the house-build, he started work again. I would take the truck payment loan out of the building costs as each section was completed. I genuinely liked him. I liked his crew and the way they set about things. I trusted them all.
I guess your wondering why I am using the past tense? Well.....there were problems, but not until the house was in its final stages of completion. After 7 months my house was structurally finished. At least all the walls were up, plastered and painted, the roof finished, all the electric wire was in place, and all the plumbing was where it should be, the counters were built, and part of the floor tile was finished. And that's when the problems started.
All of a sudden, the builder failed to show up for work. Either that or doing unacceptable work, not finishing work, and not doing the things I requested. One weekend, after 14 days of not showing up and me repeatedly calling him, I started getting suspicious, so I hired an electrician to go into the attic and check his wiring, because I thought I had bought more wiring than I should have.
The electrician found clear evidence of the contractor and his crew stealing wire, but worst of all, everything was wired totally wrong. After all the problems and now they were stealing from me!
I terminated the contract and told the contractor to come and get his equipment and leave. All this happened AFTER I had advanced him 10,000 baht to make his truck payment on the last day he worked. My wife argued against letting him go because he hadn't done 10,000 baht worth of work. I told her it is better to let him have the money than to pay for any more materials to repair what he did wrong and let him continue to steal from me. So, she reluctantly agreed.
Again, I knew it would be difficult to find someone to finish what was already started. But, I felt to get the house I wanted, the way I wanted, it was necessary and I was determined to find the labor to finish the job.
I began to question myself. Was I being too picky? too demanding or simply unreasonable? I came to the conclusion that no, I simply wanted the house the way I wanted it and was willing to pay more if necessary to get quality.
In retrospect, I honestly believe this builder was overwhelmed and didn't understand the amount of work it would take to complete a house and he thought he could do everything required. My house was the first he had ever contracted himself. Before me, he had always been a sub-contractor doing only part of the work. Getting the walls and roof finished was only the beginning - as he soon found out.
After he left, I hired the electrician that inspected the builders work to wire the house properly and to finish installing the lights and ceiling fans which the builder had refused to do. I also hired a tiling crew to finish laying the tiles, pouring the concrete for the sidewalks, patio, and driveway and a mason to build the walls around the yard.
However, I am not finished yet. I still have to have the cabinets installed, several inside doors, and odds and ends, but at least we are living in the house despite all the problems.
On a trip into town to register the house address, I spoke with a man who told me he had had six different builders work on his house before it was finished. His story was sadly the same as mine. This seems to be a common practice at least in my area according to the owner of the building materials where I bought supplies.
I met another man that didn't have any problems at all with his contractor. He invited me over for coffee and to see his house. All I can say is he had a dream contractor. The house was beautifully built. So there are certainly some professional contractors that do excellent work in my area. I happen to have got two bad eggs. It's been a nerve-racking, exhausting, expensive lesson, but finally it's almost over.
The court battle with the first contractor is not over yet however. The court system works slowly here. My attorney expects things to be finalized in January. We have presented our proof as to what we told the court in November. We have another court date in January, so the saga continues. I'll keep you updated.