You may have heard some of the horror stories about foreigners who got arrested for doing some home renovation and yes, this has happened. Foreigners are prohibited from working in certain sectors and construction happens to be one of them; if an immigration officer happened to pass by your home and saw you working away painting a wall or putting up an awning, he could technically arrest you for the charge of working illegally. Of course, you would expect they would make an exception if you’re working on your home and in many cases, they would.
Hiring local labour
If you want to extend your home, you could do it Thai style; hire a local builder who can take your plans and build your home accordingly. There are construction machines for rent (known as เครื่องจักรให้เช่า in Thai) from local plant hire firms and the cost of labour is relatively cheap in Thailand. It pays to treat the workers well, just don’t buy any rice whisky until the working day is over!
If you have a Thai spouse, she can be your link to the supervisor of the gang and generally see that all is well. Such a builder would expect payment at specific intervals and you should inspect the progress prior to releasing the funds. While it might be possible to oversee the build with little to no communication, it isn’t advised.
There are always building supplies stores that will deliver to your door; either that or the builder can acquire materials, which is probably the best option. We do recommend choosing the best quality materials, which will stand the test of time and the same goes for major appliances and stone tiles.
Oversee the project
This is the best option; it is far too hot and humid for you to do manual work, even if you were legally allowed to, and with your wife’s help, you can communicate with the contractor. It is worth noting that the Thais have their own way of building, which might seem strange to you; when in Rome and all that jazz.
This is perfectly OK, who is going to see you repaint the living room or build a fitted wardrobe in the master bedroom; indeed, you can do whatever you wish within the interior without the worry of being apprehended by the boys in brown.
If you are extending the actual building, you may need permission from the local Amphur (government office) and this is something to ask a lawyer. Don’t just assume you can build another room at the back of the house, as this could lead to the extension being demolished.