Renovating Your Property

Renovating has increased in popularity over the last decade, particularly with more foreigners buying Thai-style houses and wanting to Westernise them, and the increased availability of Western materials and fittings. In many cases owners are now spending more on the renovations than on the purchase of the property. Bearing this in mind, it is important to get it right. Therefore, before you begin you should consider these points:

Is it worth renovating?

When deciding whether or not to renovate, you should consider how your actions could influence the resale value of your property. Is it worth your while to renovate?
Quick Tips
The best way to judge the value of your proposed renovation is to consult a Real Estate Agent.
A Real Estate Agent will be able to advise you on the merit of your proposed renovations. There is little point spending money on your property if you are not going to be able to recoup at least that investment when you come to sell the property.
One aspect to consider is your location. Find out what the best house on the street would sell for, as this will give you a guide as to the maximum amount you should spend. For example, if the most expensive property in your area would sell for THB 6,000,000 and you bought your property for THB 4,500,000, cap your renovation budget at THB 1,500,000.
If you are considering extending, then make sure it is not more financially viable to sell your property and upgrade to a bigger property in a more desirable location.
Also, there is little point in renovating if the basic structure of the property is unsound. Why spend money upgrading the kitchen, for example, if the floorboards dip, or the roof leaks?
Quick Tips
The renovations that are most likely to improve your resale value are those done to improve the look and function of kitchens, bathrooms and entertainment areas. Landscaping is also a wise investment.
f you are considering renovating in order to sell your house in the immediate future, be extra careful. Renovations will need to be made which suit the tastes of prospective buyers, and these may not necessarily be the same as yours.
You need to put yourself in the buyer's shoes. One trick is to stand across the street from your property and imagine that you are a potential buyer, viewing the property for the first time. What are your impressions? Any renovations you make to improve the chance of a buyer wishing to inspect the property further could be handsomely rewarded.
However, if your main aim of renovating the property is for purposes of selling the property, please read our section on preparing your property for sale.

What do you want and need?

When considering your ideal renovation, think carefully about your future. Will you need extra rooms for children or elderly parents, a guest room for visitors, will stairs be difficult as you grow older, will you be buying another car?
If you have just purchased the property and are looking to turn it into your dream home, then the most notable areas for improvement in any property (and particularly those in Thailand) are the kitchen and bathrooms.
Also, if renovating an older property, decide upon the style of your renovations. Modern renovators recognise the importance and value of making renovations that suit the original style of the property. For example, if you bought a traditional Thai style house, you would have to think carefully about what renovations you wanted to do to ensure a consistent theme throughout the property that was aesthetically appealing.
Once you have determined your basic needs and wants, it is time to consult the experts.

Consult the experts

The next step is to talk to at least three reputable builders, each of whom should specializse in bathrooms, kitchens or renovations. Tell them your needs/wants, including your lifestyle and budget considerations. If there are specific items you want, make sure you give the builders clear instructions about these.
Ask the builder for references so that you can view the quality and style of his work. You may even find that some of his past work and designs, are exactly what you want for your property. If necessary, you could make use of an architect's services to draw up some conceptual designs to show the builders.
It will generally take a builder at least a week to develop a proposal. Make sure you know exactly what is included in the quote, e.g. range hood, sink, shower head and taps - or do you supply these yourself. Review each proposal thoroughly and then enlist the services of the builder who has developed the best proposal.
Remember that the cheapest quote may not necessarily be the best - the quality of the builder's work is also very important, as is the quality of materials used (local or imported). For this reason, obtain referrals to several of the builder's past clients as mentioned above. Ask these people how satisfied they were with the work performed, the manner of the workers and the overall quality of the job. If possible, inspect these renovations first-hand.
Quick Tips
When selecting a builder, you must keep in mind that this person is going to be working within your home for some time. It is very important that you can communicate effectively with whomever you engage, and also enjoy (or at the very least can endure) each other's company!
Your builder should be able to advise you on any planning and building permits that may be required for your renovation.