Our Land

Land Preparation

Previously I told about our initial ideas and locations, but they came to nothing. That meant another think about where we were going to actually build the house! We had the ideas, we had the plans we had the will (and the money!)…just need terra firma to plant to all on!

One way of locating land is by word-of-mouth – someone you know knows someone who has a a friend who might be selling… you get the idea.

We looked in a lot of areas. We wanted rural, but within reasonable range for shops and entertainment, so we started looking South of BKK and East of Pattaya, which is how we came to look in Chonburi province.

And as it happened, we got a call…

Plot number 1

So it was that we came to hear of some plots in the ChonBuri area and my ‘chief negotiator’ enquired more. Yes, plots were for sale and different sizes and prices, so we discreetly looked at what there was, where it was, etc.

The land was in ChonBuri province, the same province housing ChonBuri town…and Pattaya. However, this location could not me more different to those seaside resorts. This land was over 80km inland, in the rural middle of nowhere. So it ticked the ‘peaceful’ box. It was over 100km from our current location in Lat Krabang, a suburb of Bangkok

We tried for one plot but it sold before we could finalise it, and so settled on a long rectangular- shaped piece of over 2.5 rai. After a bit of haggling, much to her amusement we secured the plot.

Plot 1, totally overgrown and currently hosting 121 rubber trees

Plot 1 (to the left, showing the access road to it from the main road

Plot 1 currently has about 120 well-spaced rubber trees on it, is thoroughly overgrown, and at the top of a shallow hill. There is no chance of flooding. It has water and power and road access.

And that was that…

Or was it?

Plot number 2

The plot we wanted first, with road frontage was previously ‘sold’ but then became available when the original purchaser dropped out. Some more haggling (again anonymously through my negotiator) and suddenly we owned 2 plots!

Plot 2: the overgrown plot in the distance with road frontage, to the left just in front of the mango trees

Plot 2 from the road, with those same mango trees to the left

Plot 2 is smaller at just over 1 rai, and v close to plot 1, with road frontage, power and water. Although a little bit lower, it drops v gently down to said road, and on the other side of the road is open farmland between 0.5 to 1.0M below the road, so I’m not expecting a flooding issue on this land either. The locals confirm there is no flooding.

There is further expansion potential though as to the right of this second plot there is a plot covered in mango trees and apparently abandoned, and to the left is a further plot which the original purchaser wants to sell as he too bought a second piece nearby.

This location is easily drivable to Pattaya, to Bangkok and south to Reyong. Although rural and quiet, it is within very easy striking distance to 3 or 4 big golf club complexes, and that got me thinking for the long term future for a resort on plot 1.

That’s for another day though!

Raising the land

Land Preparation

Thailand has a close association with water– there is a lot of it everywhere. It rains a lot during the monsoon season, a lot of the land is low-lying. It is often said that Bangkok is built over water and certainly you see a lot of it everywhere. Rivers, ditches, flooded land, standing water on the roads.

The plot we settled on was not particularly low lying. According to the locals it had never flooded, but good advice dictated that we should future-proof the development. This was going to be our long-term home. Who knows what adjacent development might happen down the line and how that might affect us?

No… to be sure (as we could be) we needed to raise up the land. This would need the import of soils from elsewhere and then a ‘settling’ period for the new levels to consolidate. The plot sloped very gently from left to right as you stood on the road looking into it. Behind the road, the palm oil plantation was lower again, meaning that flooding on the plot was unlikely.

We decided to raise up the land, on average by 1m, and to level it at the same time, meaning more material was to be placed to the right as one looked from the road.

Once that had settled, the house footprint would be raised up another 60cm. So… a minimum increase of about 1.3m over and above the surrounding land, and with the surrounding land falling away from the plot.

It is recommended that land raising should stand for at least 1 rainy season to compact naturally. We were placing the soils just before the rainy season so if we were successful in completing in in time, we might only have to wait 6 months if the season was short.

A deal was done to supply soils to raise up the plot. We worked out it would take 112 loads at 8m3 / load to raise the land to the desired level and so one morning, about a week before the rainy season was due to start, those soils started arriving.

Day one

The land-raising operation was supervised by the supply company with an on-site supervisor, who ran 4 trucks to and from their soil source and a tractor fitted with a blade to spread and lightly compact the soils as they arrived. We were also on hand to ensure that there were no ‘mistakes’ with the delivery truck-count as we were paying per load.

The trucks soon started piling up the soils and the tractor was flat out spreading the material. He also periodically cleaned the road of the spillages and tracked material where the trucks exited the plot. The guy never stopped

By the end of day one, 80 loads had been delivered and placed – a good start. We now did a quick re-check on the estimated truck loads needed. Was still pretty much on track except for some of the first truck loads were well under weight. That was noted and it was agreed that a reckoning would take place at the end.

Of more concern was the impending weather. Cloud had been building up towards the end of the day and it did not look too good. With crossed fingers we set off to the accommodation and hoped for the best for the following day

Day two

This picked up from the previous day and now the race was on to get the other 60 loads or so (extra loads due to the underweight deliveries at the start). The trucks started rolling in at 0800, and soon the operation was running as before. The road would be a disaster if the rain came – think mud everywhere, but we were saved by 2 things – the road itself is very lightly trafficked, with the ‘rush hour’’ consisting of a couple of pick-ups, a car and about 4 motorbikes and secondly, the excellent work carried out by the tractor driver.

The cloud built up as the soil placing progressed but the rain held off until we had placed the last load. The soil boss was straight round to check we were happy – he had sent extra loads to make up for the small truck loads. The job satisfactorily completed and the money paid, the road cleaned up, the trucks departed, and all parties went their separate ways

The rain came overnight.

Day three

Next morning we headed straight back to see the land. The rain had puddled across the plot and there was, what looked like a lot of run-off unto the road.

But in the main, the land-raising looked good. Now we had to wait…. at least until the end of the rainy season.

It’s OK though – there was plenty still to be done!


Land Preparation

As any would-be builder knows, finding and acquiring land is a big part of any self-build project. The perfect location or as near to it as possible, the cost restrictions, the planning restrictions, the availability of services etc. etc. In the West, these considerations can be prohibitive – they certainly were for me, anyway. No matter how hard I tried to find a plot and fulfil the dream, it was always just out of reach.

In Thailand, these issues are a LOT less! I mean, literally there is help along the way to smooth the passage of turning your land plot into a building plot complete with any permissions. I am told that in the north of Thailand one can almost buy the plot and then just build the house!

We did not want a plot too near to other family members. No…not because we were ‘not speaking’, but more because we wanted to be somewhere ‘new’. New start together, new life, new location. It seemed to make sense. Of course, we wanted to be within striking distance of that family should any emergency arise, so moving up to Chiang Mai, Isaan or the Mekong areas was out. Similarly, too far South was also off the table, for the same reason.

We wanted peace and quiet, clean air, low to no noise, nothing too built-up, so that ruled out large towns and cities. I am a country boy at heart despite living in the capitals of the Middle East for over 12 years.

Initially we were looking at a plot near to Ayutthaya. The problem there – 1. Cost. Because the area was a massive tourist destination, plots were pricy and small, and 2. A lot of the land flooded during the wet season. This phenomenon happens over a lot of Thailand, by the way and is a factor you need to take into account when choosing where to live.

After that, we looked at coastal locations but again, the idea of 1000’s of tourists descending into the area every holiday season (and it’s a long season in Thailand!) put us off. Land is also costly –you pay a premium for the sea view or the smell of sea air just about everywhere!

But we did want coastal access. So any plot we would consider should be within 90 minutes’ drive of that coast. In fact, that’s a good compromise – you can have a day on the beach if you fancy it, or if friends have come to visit, but then in the evening, you can either stay a night in a hotel or…jump in the car and say ‘good bye’ , and be back home in 1 ½ hours or less.

So… reasonable access to family (they are in the Bangkok suburbs and Rayong). Within a short drive of the coast. Not a big conurbation but access to one, with the shops and services when needed. Not a big tourist destination. Quiet, clean and a reasonable price for land.

Also – flood potential. Check the surrounding properties and even speak to the OrBorTor’s office. Then…will there be a new highway driven past your potential plot? What about other planned development? A new housing estate or worse… a new industrial estate? Are there plans to ‘up-rate’ the road past your front gate? Perhaps there is a new 7-Eleven planned for your street – maybe you would like that, (maybe not !). Also you need to check the availability of services into your chosen location. Electricity and water are pretty much available everywhere but the internet may not be.

One cannot stop time and nothing will stay the same for ever but by taking reasonable precautions, you can minimise adverse impact for the longest time.

For our eventual location, 100Km south east of Bangkok and about 90Km east of Chon Buri, we managed to tick just about all of the boxes.

The other factor, for us anyway, was the assistance and encouragement we got from officialdom to get the land and house purchased, approved and constructed. The Engineer, the architect, the planning / land office – everyone wanted to help you to achieve the goal in as little time as possible.

Lol – imagine that concept in the United Kingdom!