Updated 6 July 2016:

I have just published a 750 page eBook that follows the challenges, frustrations and successes of building a house in Thailand from the very start of us buying the land through to moving in and beyond. You will be part of our building team for every day of construction and I will share many do’s and don’ts all designed to save you time, money, sleepless nights or all three. This book is a must have as part of your research on the subject of building in Thailand and you can find it HERE.

And the end result? A sneak preview. Photos taken 6 Dec 2016, twenty month after we moved in.

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This entry has taken precedence over several others on my list because it is a big deal for me. I thought I would let you know that I have been busy since arriving in Isaan a bit over a week ago.

Well I now own a small part of Thailand as of this Monday. Who would have thought? This has been one of the oddest progressions in my life from holidaying here last year to retiring, living and “owning” land in Thailand.

A view of the land from the road.

A view of the land from the road.

I don’t actually own land as foreigners can’t but it’s a legal work-round where Gaun has ownership and I have a lifetime usage contract.

The purchase was a pretty painless affair. Jan, the owner, Gaun, Yuan (Gaun’s younger sister) and myself turned up at the Land Office in Si Bun Ruang first thing in the morning and submitted the transfer papers. Note: If you are visiting the Land Office here do not buy the local coffee! A few signatures, one and a half hours later and 3,400 THB ($120.00) and the transfer was complete. We then drove 20 minutes to Nong Bua Lamphu, the next town where my Thai bank has a branch, to transfer the money from me to Jan. All done by 11.00 am.

Our street. The block is to the left of the car behind the wall with the for sale sign.

Our street. The block is to the left of the car behind the wall with the for sale sign.

The block is situated in one of the Moo Baans in the rural town of Si Bun Ruang, which you won’t find on any tourist map. It’s about one hour’s drive south west from the city of Udon Thani in the north east of Thailand towards the Laos border. The houses in the village are very Thai rural but it is all well vegetated and established, which softens the development somewhat.

Mum and daughter walking home from the local shop.

Mum and daughter walking home from the local shop.

The land hasn’t been touched for a while so it is pretty overgrown and wild but it’s all small stuff, which is easily cleared. However there are two large mango trees in the front, which I am told by villagers have beautiful sweet fruit in season.

Looking from the back of the land towards the front. The mango trees in the distance define the front edge.

Looking from the back of the land towards the front. The mango trees in the distance centre left define the front edge.

Marking out the boundaries of the land was all done by Gaun, Yuan and the sister of the ex-owner who appeared from nowhere to help. It is a pleasure to watch these capable Isaan women in action. As usual my main task was to take photos, a job I can compete with ease.

The land title is called Chanote, which is the best you can get in Thailand, It is where the land has been officially surveyed and there are concrete markers with numbers in the corners of the land which match the boundary identification points on the title deed.

Isaan women in charge.

Isaan women in charge.

In exploring the land after its purchase on Monday Gaun found this huge edible root thing she says in farang is called “Tiger”, which was dug up, not by me, with enthusiasm. I had some of it yesterday with warm coconut milk and it was quite yummy.

The fruits of Monday's dig being enjoyed on Wednesday. A bit like a sweet potato - maybe it was!

The fruits of Monday’s dig being enjoyed on Wednesday. A bit like a sweet potato – maybe it was!

Going anywhere with Gaun is a constant assessment of the edible possibilities of the surrounding vegetation and a performance assessment of the other farms.

A massive root vegetable, which was cut up and shared between a number of local families.

A massive root vegetable, which was cut up and shared between a number of local families.

Yuan found a snake skin at the back of the property, which is a reminder to keep an eye out where one steps as we do in Australian bush.

I wonder where the ex-owner of this is currently residing?

I wonder where the ex-owner of this is currently residing?

They then found a small live snake underneath the Tiger root, which Boong, their dog promptly dispatched with extreme efficiency. Obviously Boong isn’t a first time snake killer and she’s still alive so must know what she’s doing.

Shaken not stirred.

Shaken not stirred.

This week has been a special time here in Si Bun Ruang as I have become more involved in the community and Gaun’s family as a result of buying the land. I think for the family it has been a statement of my commitment to Gaun and they are also quite genuinely pleased to have a farang who wants to spend time in their world. The level of support from her family in organising things around the land over the last few of days and the actual work they have done on top of their huge workload on the farm has been very humbling. All done with a huge amount of humour and good will.

Gaun, a friend, Yuan and Lud, Gaun's brother-in-law.

Gaun, a friend, Yuan and Lud, Gaun’s brother-in-law.

The last two days have been fully occupied in “supervising” the preparation of the land for a future house. The first thing one does after buying land in Thailand is to raise the level above any possible flood levels, which is taken pretty seriously here. Not having been through a full wet season I am relying on local knowledge. Of course raising the land level then results in the water flowing into the older blocks where they haven’t brought in soil but I guess that’s the price of progress!

The excavation people turned up late Monday to look at the job and agreed to start work Tuesday, which they did. The project involves a digger on Gaun’s family farm providing the soil and creating new rice paddies at the same time.

The soil being excavated from Gaun's family farm and loaded onto the trucks for delivery to the land.

The soil being excavated from Gaun’s family farm and loaded onto the trucks for delivery to the land.

Three small trucks work to move the soil to the block where there is a tractor to spread and level it. The guy operating the tractor looked about 16 but his work was excellent. All the levels were done by sight and for a 25 x 50 meter sized piece of land it all looked pretty spot on to me.

The tractor at work on the block distributing and levelling the soil.

The tractor at work on the block distributing and levelling the soil.

The supervising bit involves having to be on site as you give the truck driver a docket for each delivery they make. Not too taxing.

A soil delivery arrives on the block.

A soil delivery arrives on the block.

In our case we ended up bringing in 183 truck loads of soil to add about a meter or more of height to the land raising it to the level of the block on the left that’s already gone through this process. You can get an idea of the extra height being added to the land in this photo. The base has already been raised a foot or more yesterday and this is additional soil on that base, so it’s a big effort. The whole thing compacts during the wet season so they tell me. Building a house won’t be until later next year as a result, which suits me fine.

The second stage of raising the land level.

The second stage of raising the land level.

The project brought out lots of villagers and we have always had company chatting away while the trucks arrive and unload. So different from the sterile suburban life of Canberra where neighbours are often never seen.

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A new entrance has since been built over this drainage pipe running down the Moo Baan road ditch. Six meters of concrete pipe delivered same day for $35.00.

Drainage pipes going in for the new driveway.

Drainage pipes going in for the new driveway. Note the spectator seating on the left.

Connecting the town water is a DIY thing. Buy your own water meter and fit it yourself to the village water supply. One worker, Lud, and a few onlookers including me. I am told that the village water supply can be used up in the dry season so a bore will be added to the to-do list once I build the house.

ACTEWAGL, Canberra's power and water supplier, would have a heart attack

ACTEWAGL, Canberra’s power and water supplier, would have a heart attack.

Gaun being Gaun. You can see the roof of her family home behind that sign in the background. Our block is just behind where I have taken the photo.

Gaun being Gaun. You can see the roof of her family home behind that sign in the background. Our block is just behind where I have taken the photo.

Almost finished.

At the end of day two. A third and final level of soil is beginning to be added to the other two. You can just see me in the distance.

The final state.

Almost the the final state.  Looking towards the front.

Had to take this photo. Our land just up on the left. Mum was around somewhere. Not a sight you'd see in Australia. We've lost a lot for our sophisticated lifestyle.

Had to take this photo. Our land just up on the left pre-work. This little girl’s Mum was around somewhere. Not a sight you’d see in Australia. We’ve sacrificed a lot for our sophisticated lifestyle.

If it all gets too much.......

If it all gets too much…….snooze time.

At the end of a hard day's supervising. Peng, Gaun's daughter in the chair.

At the end of a hard day’s supervising. Peng, Gaun’s daughter in the chair.

Total cost for three full day’s work involving five workers, a digger, three trucks and a tractor resulting in 183 deliveries of soil $1,250!

We leave Isaan next Tuesday for the two day drive back to Chiang Mai. It is nice to feel that I have put down some permanent roots here in Thailand with the opportunity to build either a permanent or holiday home in Isaan.

I have three more posts to write. One on Chiang Rai Neighbourhood Part 2, one on Loi Krathong, the festival of lights, and the drive to Isaan from Chiang Mai and a final blog on the harvesting of the rice crop on Gaun’s farm, which I have followed from beginning to end.

Thanks for reading.