HomeProperty/Real Estatebuild a house in isaan

build a house in isaan
What principle do Thailand follow for the ventilation of their buildings and houses?

The Thai house, like other houses in Southeast-Asia, is a wooden structure raised on posts. Over many centuries it has acquired its own unique style. The distinguishing marks are an elegantly tapering roof and various finials and decorations that differ regionally. While architectural features vary throughout the four cultural regions, Central Thailand, the North (Lanna), the North-East (Isaan), and the South, the method of raising a platform on poles is common to all parts of the country. It offers protection from dirt, hostile wildlife, thieves, and most importantly from the monsoon floods which affect all of Thailand.

The traditional Thai house is ideally adapted to its environment. The open high-pitched roof facilitates air circulation. Open windows and walls in combination with a large central terrace provide ideal ventilation and offer relief from the hot and humid climate. Wide overhanging eaves protect the house from sun and rain. Rainwater runs off the steep roof quickly and falls through the permeable terrace and house floors. The use of wood and bamboo reflects the once abundant forests that provided these materials ubiquitously and cheaply. In the past, an agricultural society existed in relative harmony with its natural environment.

Unfortunately, things are different today. Uncontrolled development has led to poorly planned traffic-choked cities, vanishing forests, and overall environmental degradation. Thai architecture has changed, too. As canals have been filled; cars, TVs and air conditioners have made inroads, ugly rows of uniform, concrete shophouses and apartment blocks are now the norm. In recent years, however, people began to realize the negative impact of unbridled economic development. Zoning laws and building regulations were just introduced recently. One may hope that the tropical climate will do its part to rid the landscape of unsightly and poorly adapted structures and that the commencing rediscovery of the vernacular architecture will lead to increased harmony between buildings and environment.

The photos on the following pages celebrate the Thai house as an integral part of Thai culture. The houses range from simple country houses (ruen krueng pook) to large wooden mansions (ruen krueng sab) of wealthier people. In the past, land was abundant and thus people often moved, especially when couples married or when the political circumstances necessitated it. The Thai house takes this fact into consideration by being completely modular. The prefabricated parts of a traditional Thai house can be disassembled and rebuilt with relative ease, hence, people literally packed their houses and moved with them. Present concrete-based building methods don’t allow for this mobility anymore. Yet, it is possible to unite contemporary materials and methods with traditional style. There are some forward-thinking architects in Thailand who have done this successfully.

hope this helps =)

build a house in isaanbuild a house in isaan
build a house in isaan

  • From the BuriramExpats.com forum (March 1, 2008): I noticed that in this forum have not discussion about house buildning at all. It would be nice if here would be own category for buildning issues. It would contain so called data bank which contains material prices. That kind of information would help many people who mainly live in abroad and desing some buildning project. I dont know is it possible to ask from shops if they could make some list what they sell and which price. Other way is that every people who buy something would add information in this forum. Maybe it would need somekind of excel sheet where everything is clearly to read.
  • The opening thread of a post on the ThaiVisa.com forum (December 28, 2008): I`ve seen this topic come up a lot lately and it always seems to generate a lot of interest so I thought I would share a few photos of my new house that has just been completed with a few details as it is always interesting to read others stories and gather knowledge.

In the bigger Cities like Bangkok, Pattaya etc I think it is easier to find a reliable quality contractor who can do the work for you and deliver a good home but when you are looking to build a new house in Isaan it is nerve wracking experience (well it was for me) as there are not as many choices up here as far as builders go and you have to tread carefully.

Myself and my wife bought a small plot of land about a year ago which suited us as the location was good near to her family about 45 mins from Nakhon Phanom. We went about the process of screening some contractors and looking at examples of houses that they had completed recently, most of them for falangs. We short listed a couple and then made our decision putting our designs forward to them to get their views. I did most of the design myself as I knew what I wanted such as open plan kitchen, hot water in all rooms, walk in shower and basically a better finish than some of the properties we have seen over the years here. We decided to make it a 2 Bedroom instead of 3 and make the rooms bigger as we don’t have a large family. This turned out to be probably the best move of all as the rooms really are huge with plenty of space and lots of light.

It took them about 5 months to build the home but we are very happy with what they have done and it has gone beyond our expectations in terms of quality and finishing’s (which were upgraded from original specs). There were a few minor teething problems along the way but I think that comes with any new build and were always rectified. Here are a few images picked at random of the house just before completion and the carpentry work. Any questions feel free to ask or send me a message.


  • Also from the ThaiVisa.com forum (January 29, 2010): I fall in love with the rose of the north..

Now i would like to stay here for the rest of my live.

I would like to build a house here for my wife and me. The two kids are at scool in europ.
Land i have enough.

My questions:

– Where can i find idees for hous designes?
– Who are the good architects, constructors, enigneers?
– Does anybody know some good workers or a good firm?

Please tell your experiance… Thanks!!!

  • An excellent article entitled Building A House In Thailand starts of thusly: This is not intended to be a carefully researched paper with details about such things as legal ownership of property, long term leases, forming a company or anything of that nature. Rather it is a personal account and will (hopefully) provide practical advice, personal experinces, do’s and dont’s.
  • Of course, be sure to check out the AlanTheBuilder.com Website mentioned in the BuriramExpats.com reference that opened this post.
  • An interesting submission to StickmanBangkok.com is entitled The New House in Isaan, and is a rather interesting account you might enjoy reading.
  • A thread on the TeakDoor.com forum opens as follows (May 26, 2008): I’m well qualified to write this guide because when it comes to construction, I’m a Dummy. I also speak next to no Thai, and have the healthy mistrust of Isaan standards of craftmanship and forthrightness that only a resident expat can have. My sole qualifications to embark on this project were a Thai wife, whom I trust, and a certain knowledge of how business should be done- combined with a healthy cynicism as above, and a functioning ‘Bullshit meter’.

The mandate- put up a decent but basic bungalow in a village about 30 km outside of Ubon Ratchathani, to serve as both my mother in laws residence, and our upcountry retreat (the house is in my wifes name). The original budget- 800K baht, plus sundries. The end result- it cost 900K, plus sundries. Say a million baht- but the end product surpassed my expectations, and was in fact completed not on schedule, but three weeks early.


There it stands- 2 bedroom (actually adjusted from a 3 BR plan that I stole- more on that later), two bathrooms, a Thai and western kitchen. More photoes to follow of course, but lets start at the beginning.

Any feedback welcome- fair price, did I pay too much, did I get a good deal?
I’m a Dummy, remember.

And I think this should do for now to get you pointed in the right direction for information!

Thai House Design Ideas

— April 07, 2010 — Ideas for expats who want a starting point when planning build in Thailand. http://www.thailand-isaan.com

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About Garnet Barcelo

I am a Canadian retiree, married to an Isaan (Thailand) lady whom I met in Udon Thani City in January 2003. We married in late May 2005. And she has been with me here in Canada since May 2006. Her two sons joined us in September 2008. Ever since that first visit to Thailand in 2003, my dream has been to somehow spend most of my retired life over there with her, but the financial reality of my retired life is not making that possible. It will take a miracle to get this dream to come true.


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