June 2012 Update

July 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

This blog post will certainly interest Blogger who appreciates the benefits of Guest Blogging.

I’ve had a few concerned Bloggers ask me if everything was OK, considering that I haven’t posted on our Blog for a while.  That’s what I love about Blogger’s, they are such a nice bunch of people!  Well thanks for your concern and I’m very much alive and well 🙂

June, was an extremely busy month, mainly because of the massive change-over of sites.  Here’s what happened.

1. I decided to dump the ASP.NET website and move it over to a WordPress CMS.  Our new site has been live since 2nd June 2012 and if you haven’t seen it then check it out – it’s really grown – http://hometipster.com

2. I wanted to do more with Hometipster.com and while we had an extensive Library of How To Guides for Home Improvement and Gardening, I wanted to extend the offerings which would allow me to write about many other things for the home and garden.  So I basically turned Hometipster.com into a fully fledged ‘Home and Garden Magazine‘.  We now have loads more going on in the new categories Home Ideas and Garden Ideas.  Just to give you a flavor, we have articles on Architecture, Interior and Exterior Design, Landscaping, Art, Kitchens, Bathrooms and this list goes on.

Hometipster.com - Home and Garden Magazine

New Look – Hometipster.com – Home and Garden Magazine

Why did I do all this?  Well it came down to the fact that I was getting more and more requests from Bloggers to do ‘Guest Posts’ and the move over to WordPress and opening up more areas of interest allowed me to satisfy these requests.

Quick Note on Guest Blogging – For starters you can include rich keyword text links back to your own blog or website.  I also extensively share all articles posted though the social networks to provide you with even more readers.  You can create an Author’s Bio so that people can follow your posts.  You can also feature in the ‘Top Contributors’ section.

All of this is designed to help YOU get a better deal from Guest Blogging.  Rules?  Yep, we have a few – see Guest Blogging

Hold On Folks… I nearly forgot to mention that we are running a competition to Win an iPad 2.  The competition is open to anyone posting articles on Hometipster.com.  I thought this would be a nice way to reward our Guest Bloggers – enter now and have fun – Good Luck!

So, as you can see an awful lot has gone on this month over at Hometipster.com.  Since the move to WordPress, and the increased content areas, I’ve experienced an increase in readers of over 300% on a day to day basis.  I’m also seeing a lot more people registering for the ‘Daily Update’ emails, which consist of any articles that have been posted that day… another great reason to Guest Blog as I actively promote your posts to my readers.

So there, you have it… a complete update in a few words what I’ve been up to.  If you have any questions about Guest Blogging please leave these in the comment box below.

Happy Blogging folks!


Château de Maisons-Laffitte a Château in Disguise

June 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

You simply cannot believe everything you see and in the case of this architecture of the Château de Maisons-Laffitte everything is not what it appears to be.

Château de Maisons-Laffitte, designed by François Mansart in 1651 - real or copy?


While this Château is, without question, a stunning piece of architecture it is not the original as designed by François Mansart in 1651.

Here’s the full story… A French Château in Disguise

Singapore Botanical Gardens

June 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

We’ve just publish an article on Singapore’s new Botanical Gardens.  If you are one of those people who really loves your plants and you’re never been to Singapore then this might just give you the perfect excuse to buy that air ticket and explore.

Singapore's new Botanical Garden - Article feature on Hometipster.com.

I guarantee you won’t be disappointed in Singapore – it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and just walking around the city will delight any garden enthusiast as it is planted everywhere.

I hope you enjoy the article.  Singapore Botanical Gardens

Contributing Articles on Hometipster.com

June 11, 2012 § 2 Comments

We’re really excited here at Hometipster.com because we’ve just added three new sections to our website.

  • Home Ideas – this is designed to cover a multitude of articles to help inspire homeowners, from articles on Kitchens, Bedrooms, Living Spaces, Basements… even Art and Architecture.
  • Garden Ideas – in the same concept as Home Ideas but focusing on Landscaping, Outdoor Entertainment, Patios, Decking and more.
  • Home and Garden News – Designed to provide information on what’s going on with the Home and Garden market and includes everything that affects the homeowner and gardener. It’s a way for people to voice their opinions and determine what events are taking place.

These new areas really do broaden the content we can deliver to our ever growing number of readers and is designed to assist our Article Contributors to post a wider range of content that will help them promote their own websites or blogs.

Is it worth contributing content to Hometipster.com?

Just the other day I received an email from Jessi.  Jessi had just signed up as a contributor but was a little concerned if her efforts would produce any tangible results, in term of traffic to her own blog.  That’s a fair concern and I let Jessi know that:

  • Submitting an article is completely free
  • You can include up to 3 Keyword Rich Text Links within the body of the article
  • You can include a URL Link direct to your website or blog within your ‘Author’s Bio’ which appears at the bottom of each article you produce

I’m delighted to say that Jessi went ahead and produced her first article.  We then set about promoting that article through all our Social Networks.  Jessi herself also promoted her article in the same way.  Within just 1 day…

  • Over 60 people read the article
  • 9 people Pinned her article in Pinterest
  • Jessi had over 22 visitors

And that was just in the first day!

Our readership is growing on a daily basis and as more people find us, more people are sharing the great content we, and our contributors, write through their social networks, so why not become part of something special and inspire people through your knowledge and expertise.  Article writing is and will remain one of the best free methods for promoting your own website or blog.

Registering to become a contributing author is free.  Submitting articles is free.  Adding Keyword Rich Text Links is free. Adding a URL Link in your Author’s Bio is free.  In other words it’s the best piece of free marketing you will ever get for your website or blog.

Find out more – see our Submit Articles Guidelines or Register Today and inspire people with your knowledge.

If you want to know more the please contact me.


Graham Briar, Co-Founder, Hometipster.com

Hometipster.com – New Website

June 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

After a lot of feedback we decided to change Hometipster.com.  The decision was based mostly on people who wanted to contribute to the content and benefit from the articles they write. We looked at a number of CMS and in the end there was only one clear winner and was WordPress.

I am delighted to announce to all our readers and content contributors that the new site is now fully operational and when you register and log in you’ll be completely familiar with the WordPress system.  For those of you who are new to using WordPress, don’t worry – it’s one of the easiest CMS there is out there.

As always, we welcome anyone to register and write content. Full details are available on the site: Hometipster.com

We hope you enjoy  using and benefiting from the new site.

Submit DIY & Gardening News

March 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

As of today, 31st March 2012, Hometipster.com has introduced a new service – DIY & Gardening News.

News is always interesting. You may be launching a new product or service. You might be having an event or that something else important has happened with your business that you want others to know about.  Our FREE news submission services now means you can get your news in front of people who are directly interested in DIY and or Gardening.

Did we mention that it was FREE… we’ll there’s nothing wrong with plugging a good thing and not only is it completely free you can also include a Source Link back to your own web site and or blog.  Most people worry if their work ever really gets seen but with Hometipster.com you don’t have to worry about that either.  On our home page, we rotate the news so that everyone who submits news gets a fair rotation in front of our visitors.

So, let’s sum it up:

  • It’s FREE – with no catches or upgrades to be paid for (no upgrades at all – everyone gets the same great service and exposure)
  • You get Home Page exposure on Hometipster.com – we do our best to put your news in front of our readers
  • It’s easy to submit
  • You get a FREE Source Link back to your web site and or blog


How to Submit Your News

It’s so easy.  We have a very simple form for you to submit your news article.  You simply  write your article and then press submit.  Once we receive your news article we’ll process it and providing there are no problems we’ll then publish it.  If we do have an issue, we won’t  leave you in the dark. We’ll drop you an email explaining the problem – 99% we’ll fix it for you.

Here’s the direct link for submitting your news: Submit DIY and Gardening News

Our goal here is to help you attract readers and visitors to your web site and or blog.  So, submit your news  today!

Building the Perfect Home

March 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

There are tens of thousands of people, each year, that embark on building their own home.  Building your home does have a few of major draws.  For a start you get to create a home that is suitable for your living needs, regarding space and layout.  Space is always a big thing and this is always restricted to the building plot and of course the budget.

Secondly, building your own home can be a lot cheaper than buying one that meets your living needs.  Finally, and for some, one of the biggest draws is it’s overall value when completed.  Many people find that the equity in the property is above 25% of the overall cost and therefore, building you own home can be extremely attractive as a financial investment.

Building a home generally provides a number of constraints and issues.  There are planning applications, architects and builders that you need to negotiate with so that you do get exactly (or as close as you an get) to what you actually want built.

When it comes to building the perfect home it all comes down to clever planning and design.  Unless you are a qualified architect then you will need to employ one, but before you do think very carefully about what you want and why you want it.

The last time I built a home, I left it entirely up to the architect with some bare outlines of what I wanted.  After three presentations, of plans from the architects, and three rejections, I told him that  I needed to rethink the whole project.  Don’t get me wrong, the plans the architect came up with were certainly nice, but nothing like I really wanted.  I realized that giving  a bare brief was simply not going to produce a set of plans that were to my requirements and liking.

Now, I’m not an architect, nor am I a professional designer and you don’t need to be.  What you do need is pen and paper, or better some computer software, and work out how many bedrooms you want, and why.  How much living space you want, and why.  Do you want it open plan?  Do you want a large kitchen or would a small one suffice.  Ask yourself all these important question and more.  For instance do you have young children?  If so, would it be practical to have a playroom.  Would it be a good idea to have a single storey home so that the  little ones don’t have to climb stairs?

What you need to do is be imaginative and practical.  Start by letting your imagination run wild – what about that Snooker / Pool Room you’ve always wanted, or maybe your own private library.  There is nothing wrong with dreaming and as you work through your ideas you’ll begin to establish just how much space you’ll need.

Having space is a luxury, because the more space you require will turn into cost. Buildings are constructed on a square foot or square meter basis, so the more your require the more it is going to cost you.

It took me over 2 months to come up with some drawings.  I used Microsoft Viso to layout the floor plan and it wasn’t exactly to scale, but what it did do was provide my architect with a clearer picture of what I was looking for.

House Design - Ground Floor

House Design - Ground Floor

Here’s an image of the ground floor.  You can see that I went a little wild with the introduction of the Bar and Snooker Room, but that’s ok because this is only the first stage of the design process.  No… the home didn’t have a Bar / Snooker Room, I just couldn’t justify or afford the additional cost. (You can click on the image for the full size).

You’ll notice that the swimming pool looks pretty big, in fact my design was for a pool that was 15m x 6.5m and that didn’t happen either, instead I came down to 10m x 5m when it was built, due to the costs.

I really wanted parts of it open plan and I really didn’t want the TV in the living room, so I created a Home Cinema Room.  While this was kept, it was a lot smaller, but still worked.

You’ll notice that there’s also a single bedroom on the ground floor and that was designed as the Maids Quarters.  Ah, so you’re now thinking I must be one rich dude if I can afford a Maid – the fact is I’m not rich at all, however I do live in South East Asia and staffing costs here are a fraction of what you would pay in the Western hemisphere. The average monthly wage of a Maid is approximately US$200-300, so having a maid is fairly inexpensive.  However, the final plan did not include maids quarters – I just could not afford it.

Build a Home - House Plan Design

Build a Home - House Plan Design

As for the second floor, I wanted 4 bedrooms. This was practical for when friends and family came to stay on holiday.  I wanted the rooms big enough so that guests, and myself, had room to relax.  Living in South East Asia, and with family in Europe and the USA did mean that if they came, it wouldn’t be for just a day or two, but for weeks at a time and I needed enough room so that we were all bumping into each other all the time.




If you are seriously considering building your own home then  do the initial drawings yourself.  Using something like Microsoft Viso is easy, you don’t have to be an architect to use it, it’s simply drag and drop.  This will give you a good idea of what you want and will certainly give your architect a clearer picture of what your requirements are.  Do take into consideration the size of your building plot and of course your budget.  Creating a dream home should be exactly that… your dream home, something you are comfortable in and provides the number of rooms and space you require for a comfortable home life.

I’m already working on my next set of plans and once I can afford it I’ll go looking for some land.  I already know where I want to live – another beautiful island in South East Asia (I just love tropical living – can’t beat a nice day fishing or diving).  I think it will be similar to the home above, although I’m not completely sure yet, but that is the exciting thing – being able to design something and watch your creation grow into reality.

I’ve been thinking and working on a few upgrades on Hometipster.com – something that will allow people to showcase their Self Builds, DIY Projects or Gardening Projects. If you have any thoughts or ideas then I’ll gladly read them.

World’s Most Expensive Kitchen?

March 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

World's Most Expensive Kitchen

World's Most Expensive Kitchen

Marzzi Design has designed and built a kitchen.  Nothing usual in that you might think, there are lots of places that design kitchens.

However, if you decide you would like this particular kitchen then you’ll certainly notice the difference when you get the bill, a whopping £300,000.  That’s right £300,000 for a kitchen.  Is this the most expensive kitchen in the world?  If not, it sure must come very close to it.

The London based Kitchen Design company, Marazzi Design, unveiled it’s Colosseo Oro Kitchen at Earls Court and it certainly did cause a stir.

Visually the kitchen is stunning with its 24 carat gold leaf, which is highlighted by the deep red base unit colours. But that still doesn’t detract from the fact that it costs £300,000.  Considering you can buy and install a very nice kitchen for under £5,000 you have to ask where does the price tag come from.  What makes this kitchen so expensive?  And what person, in their right mind would buy such a kitchen? Stop and think for just a moment. You could buy an entire house for that, including all the furnishings.

Like most things in life, what’s generally very expensive does come with some exclusivity and Marazzi Design did point out that it will only produce 10 in the world and each kitchen is fitted with the ultimate fittings, such as 24 carat gold leafing and crocodile embossed leather.  It also comes with Sub-Zero & Wolf appliances. As for the lighting, well they are Swarovski Crystal Lights, and would you really expect anything less for this price tag?

Just the appliances alone will set you bag a heart-stopping £55,000 and the mirrored steeled oven hood by itself is £8,000.  For the taps, well that’s also pretty special as these are Zaha Hadid Designed and cost… wait for it… £6,000!

So who will buy a kitchen like this? Who are the lucky 10? Well you can bet your house that it’s going to be someone who won’t be worrying about the cost.  Anyone who can afford £300,000 is certainly not going to worry about a mere £6,000 for the taps.

The question is… Would you buy a kitchen that costs this much money, if you had the money and why?  Leave your comments below.

Becoming a Millionaire

March 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve often heard people talking about creating the ‘Ultimate Lifestyle’ but what exactly is it and how do we obtain it.  I’ve got a really good friend of mine and quiet frankly he’s not exactly well off, but he lives life to the full on his small retirement pension.  He’s doesn’t have a large luxury home, nor a large yacht or even a nice car, in fact his car is 35 years old – sure it’s forever breaking down, but he loves it.  Does he have the Ultimate Lifestyle?  In his eyes he does, because he has no real worries and does pretty much what he wants each day and he simply finds things to do that do not involve spending large sums of money.

Ultimate Life Style - The Luxury Home

Ultimate Life Style - The Luxury Home

The ultimate lifestyle, for some might be a luxury home.  I for one wouldn’t want anything massive.  My ideal home is one that I want to build myself, so that I get exactly what I need, in terms of living space and how  the building looks.  I also definitely want a large swimming pool with a built in Jacuzzi.

Are my lifestyle choices extravagant or modest?  To some, it would be over the top in what you need for a comfortable lifestyle, while I’m sure there are others out there that will think my ultimate lifestyle choice in a home is rather modest.

Luxury Cars - The Rolls Royce

Luxury Cars - The Rolls Royce

So what about the cars?  Most of us like a nice car and most of us have a specific dream car in mind.  If money was no object, would you choose  a Rolls Royce, a Ferrari, or even both?  You might be one of those folks who is really into cars and so might, if money was no object at all, have a dozen or more.  Is this excessive?  Is this the ultimate lifestyle?  Again, it’s going to come down to two things, how much money you have and what your personal preferences are.

Recently a very young couple won over £45 million on the Euro Lottery.  They bought a couple of really nice cars, a Jaguar for him and a Range Rover for her.  Excessive?  Personally I think that was fairly modest.  But what about the house?  Again, and surprising to most, is that they paid just £250,000 for  a home.  A very nice home by all standards but nothing like what you might expect multi-millionaires to do.  Maybe they are just to green to their new wealth and will upgrade to something more elaborate in the future, who knows.  Maybe they now have their ultimate lifestyle.  Whatever they do, you can only wish them the best and hope that it provides them with their ultimate lifestyle.

Ultimate Living - the luxury Super Yacht

Ultimate Living - the luxury Super Yacht

If money was simply no object would you buy a luxury yacht?  Just recently in the news a billionaire couple took ownership of a Super Yacht that cost a staggering £100m to build.  Just to fill up the gas tanks is an eye watering £250,000 and you can bet your bottom dollar it drinks fuel like a herd of thirsty elephants.

Could you imagine yourself cruising around the Med or Caribbean in your own super yacht or is this simply too ostentatious for your taste?

The thing is, when it comes down to the Ultimate Lifestyle is really is all about personal preference.  I’ve often heard people saying that millionaire spending vast sums of money on these types of luxuries is obscene and yet these people fail to look at their own lifestyles within their own budgets.  Consider, as an example, that you live in a nice detached house, with a reasonably nice family car and that your annual salary is £50,000.  While you might not consider this to be luxury living, by a millionaires standard, it certainly far exceeds those living in parts of the world where the average daily wage is less than £3 and your home consists of a tin shack.

Would I buy any of these, or indeed all of these, luxury items if money was no object.  Probably, because as your wealth increases so does your lifestyle (in most cases).  Lifestyle, I guess is all about affordability, and the Ultimate Lifestyle doesn’t really exist as there will always be other things that you could own that would make your life more comfortable, more fun and provide a better lifestyle.

If these things don’t interest you, and for many it doesn’t, then certainly there is no denying that other things do interest you.  If they didn’t you wouldn’t be worried about earning a higher salary or even working much more that simply to put food on the table.

Therefore I have to conclude that the Ultimate Lifestyle only exists in the mind of the individual and as individuals we all have different needs and desires.

Here’s something for you to consider and maybe leave a comment for… If you won the lottery what would be the first thing you would buy – I’m not talking about helping out friends or family, that’s something most of us would do.  What I want to know is what would you buy for yourself to enhance your lifestyle. Try and be imaginative!

Self Build Horror – Thailand – Part 6

March 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

Welcome back the the Self Build Horror – Thailand.  This is the true story of a guy who built a 4 Bedroom Pool Villa in Phuket, Thailand. In this final part we’ll find out what goes wrong and how one man found himself penniless and hiding from people who wanted him dead.  The following is the account of events in his actual words.

Internal Rendering Complete

Internal Rendering Complete

Week 17 & 18 – During these weeks I had to keep out of the way as much as possible. I was still on-site but it meant that I had to be careful that I didn’t get in the way.  There was even more people on-site, some where working on the Pool, some were starting on the building of the perimeter walls, while others where busy finishing the internal and external rendering.

The guys knew that the windows would be arriving soon and so had to have all the rendering and plaster work complete before they arrived.

Ridge Tiles on and Roof Complete

Ridge Tiles on and Roof Complete

The roof finally got finished during the week and once the Ridge Tiles were on it really did make the villa look so much better.

Plaster work - Front of Villa

Plaster work - Front of Villa

Week 19 – When I turned up on Monday morning it was obvious the guys doing the plaster work had been working non-stop over the Sunday and working late.  The font of the villa was now a brilliant while with beautiful fresh plaster work.  It really did look wonderful and the transformation was just incredible.

The whole thing was set off with the roof tiles and the carport being finished and the building was beginning to look like a home.  I had started to advertise the villa for sale and had a few people come and view.  Two people in particular made appointments to come back once the villa was completed, which was due in another 10 weeks.

Front Side View of Villa

Front Side View of Villa

When driving down the road the villa looked great from all angles.

Windows being installed

Windows being installed

The windows arrived early!  I was told this was not a really big problem, even though the plaster work hadn’t been done on the internal walls.  I was assured the windows could be easily masked off and that no harm would come to them.  I had chosen a ‘Green Tint’ glass.  The glass was designed to reflect the outside heat, so this would make it cheaper to run the air conditioning.

Windows and Patio Doors

Windows and Patio Doors

It took just 3 days to install all the windows and french doors.  With the reflection of the ‘Green Tint’ glass against the pure white of the plaster work the villa looked just fantastic.

Front View of Villa

Front View of Villa

Front view of the villa with the walls plastered and windows installed.

While I was outside taking photographs I could see my wife and the architect inside having , what I can only describe as a heated discussion.  I wondered in the Villa to find out what was going on, only to have the architect pass me and in very curt words said “Your wife no good.”

Obviously I needed to have a chat with my wife so we drove home and discussed the situation.  She dropped a bomb shell by saying that we couldn’t pay the final installment of the build – which was why the architect was unhappy.  I was more than a little upset as I had given her the final installment to give to the architect just two days earlier… so where was the money?  She explained that the last owners of the land had not paid the tax on it and so it was now our responsibility – by the time she paid that and the fines for late payment all the money had gone.  I wanted to know why we should have to pay, this should be the responsibility of the previous owner.  I got the usual Thai excuses that they can’t be found and that’s the way things are done in Thailand.  One thing I’ve learned over the years of living in Thailand is not to trust a word that a Thai speaks.

We were now stuck and we didn’t have enough money to finish the villa.  I decided to try and sell the villa as it was, with a heavy reduction in the asking price.  After nearly a month we had no one interested and my wife then asked me if it was possible to borrow what we needed, to finish the villa, from a friend of mine.  I really didn’t like the idea of it but it did make sense. We could finish the villa, sell it and pay my friend back , with interest.

My friend graciously agreed to lend us the money and even though we were good friends I made sure that a legal contract was made, just so everything was clear and in writing.  My wife left the next morning with the money to go and pay the architect.  On her return I asked her if everything was OK and when would they be back on-site.  I also asked her if she remember to get the receipt for our records as asked before she left.  She told me that she had the receipt and would put it with the rest of the paper work and that the architect would resume work in the next couple of days.

Each day I visited the site for the next week there was no sign of the architect or the builders working.  I was getting really upset and asked my wife to call him and ask him what was going on.  She made a call while I was there, not that I would have known, the writing on her phone was all in Thai and she spoke only Thai… for all I know, she could have been speaking to her sister or mum.  After hanging up the phones she told me that he had been caught up on another job and couldn’t start back for another week.  I was not happy!  I did point out that we had a contract to pay our friend back, so the longer the delays the less chances we had of meeting that contract deadline.

The next morning I received a phone call from a Thai woman, who spoke very good English, making an inquiry about my villa for sale.  I was pretty pleased and explained to her that she could buy it now, at a reduced rate (I wanted to pay my friend off as soon as I could) or wait until it was finished and then pay a higher price.  She said she was keen to buy  it now and could we meet on-site to discuss it.  My wife had already left the house and I tried to call her but she didn’t answer.  I would have much preferred it if she had been with me on-site to explain in Thai if necessary.  However, I wasn’t about to loose the chance of a sale and so I set off on my own.

To my complete surprise, when I arrived on-site, I was met by the lady and my architect.  Apparently is was all a ruse to get me to come on-site and she was simply acting as a translator for the architect.  She then explained that my wife had not given the architect the last payment to complete the villa.  I told her that I had given her the money just two days ago and that she told me the architect had to finish another job before he could resume work.  Apparently this was not the case and so the questions going through my mind were:

1. Where is my wife? I tried to call her again, but she was not answering her phone and;

2. What had she done with the money we had borrowed off my friend?

I apologized to the architect and said that I would get to the bottom of all of this and sort things out within the next few days.  As I was driving home all the horror stories began playing in my mind of all the other foreigners you hear about in Thailand falling foul to their Thai wives.  It wasn’t uncommon to hear of foreign husbands loosing everything they owned and in some cases even murdered by their wives for their assets.  I shock my head… we had been married for 4 years and we were happy together.  We were very much a couple, we played golf together and we never really went anywhere without each other.  I just refused to believe that she would do something like this to me, and more importantly to us.  The villa was to be our future together and there just were not any signs of her being under-handed in any way.

I arrived home but my wife was nowhere to be seen.  I tried to call again, but again she was not picking up the phone.  I tried on several other occasions but without success.  It was about 2.30pm when my phone rang.  It was my friend, whom I had borrowed money from.  I answered the call… it turned out that my wife had gone to see him in the hope of borrowing more money.  He asked me if I knew anything about it.  I told him honestly that I had no idea and then explained what had happened earlier that day with the architect.  He and I were both shocked and as we were discussing possible reasons when my wife turned up back home.  I told my friend that she was home and that I would call him back later with news of what was going on.  He was understandably concerned, considering the sum of money I borrowed was US$10,000.

My wife strolled in with a smile on her face, kissed me and asked if I wanted to eat.  I was in complete shock, knowing what I knew then, and yet by her actions, demeanor and the way she spoke you would never of have guessed in a million years anything was wrong… what she didn’t know of course what that I had been on-site with the architect and on the phone with my friend.

I thought I would approach all of this slowly so I started off by asking her why she didn’t pick up the phone.  She simply said that she was busy with all the papers at the land office and forgot to call me back.  Then I dropped the bomb shell on her and asked…. Why did you go and see our friend to borrow more money? She just looked at me and then I asked another question… Why didn’t you pay the architect?  … It was the answer to these two questions that ended our marriage, left me penniless and the worst was to come.

It turned out that she had been gambling.  She had used the money, that we borrowed, to pay off one of her gambling debts but she owed more.  She had already refinanced our vehicle (which I had paid in full and in cash for). The vehicle, she persuaded me at the time of purchase, should go in her name otherwise we would have to pay more tax on it if it went in my name (a foreigners name), which the dealership told me was true.  I found out, from what she told me, that she had, within three weeks of owning the vehicle, refinanced it to pay off a gambling debt and then refinance it again to pay off another gambling debt.  Both debts were over US$25,000.

It gets worse… during the build she had gambled over US$60,000 and having no way of repaying it put the villa up as security to borrow the money from a loan shark. The interest payments were over US$6,000 a month and that was ONLY the interest payments, we would still need to find the US$60,000 she owed and she was already 3 month in debt to the interest payments.

The only money I had left was about US$2,000 in the bank … just enough to get me on a plane back home… or so I thought.  When I told her I was leaving to get my money out of the bank she then explained that she had taken my ATM card out of my wallet for several nights while I slept and cleaned out the account.

So there I stood. The only thing I owned was the shirt on my back.  The home I was living in was rented and I couldn’t afford to  pay it.  I was furious and I then threatened to go to the Police.  She told me that would not be a good idea… it was the Police that she owed the gambling debt too, but a few other people were also looking for her.  All in told, she owed over US$130,000 and she was telling all her creditors not to worry because she was married to a foreigner who has money.

That night I didn’t sleep at all.  My wife, on the other hand didn’t have any problem sleeping.  After all told I had exactly US$1.73 to my name and at 44 years old, it’s not a pleasant thought.  All my plans and dreams were gone and I was stuck, with nowhere to go.  I can’t really explain the feelings and the thoughts I was having, but is was a mixture of fear, disappointment and even raw hatred.  With that said I didn’t want to see any harm come to my wife but I didn’t want her around me either.  She wanted to stay and try and work things out, but the old saying “Scratch a Liar, Find a Thief” came to mind and there was no way I could ever trust here again.

So, here I was, penniless and about to be homeless.  Unless I could find enough money to pay off all the debts I would loose everything.  I held the telephone in my hands for over an hour thinking about who I could call for help – there were a few people but I really didn’t want to burned them with my problems.  I finally called my mother and she was understandably very upset.  She rallied around and managed to find enough money to pay back my friend – he was my biggest concern and I had given him my word that I would repay him.  This was at least one thing off my mind but it did wipe my mother’s saving out.  I felt so bad.

They say that when the chips are down you really find out who your friends are and you can trust me when I say that no truer words have ever been spoken.  I ended up contacting eleven people.  Four of whom I knew would be able to afford to bail me out without any problems.  I didn’t just ask for cash I was offering a deal – enough to bail me out and then when I sold the villa I would give them their money back plus 50% of the profits from the sale of the villa.  I thought that if someone was good enough to help then this would be the decent thing to do.

After eleven phone calls I had been turned down eleven times.  Some where very sympathetic but weren’t in the position to help while others showed no real support other than saying I should go to the police.  On an average week I would normally get plenty of phone calls from my friends – whether it was asking me to come to dinner or play golf.  From the point of making the last phone call I didn’t ever receive any phone calls from any of my friends again.  I guess they just didn’t want to be burdened with my problems, although in all honesty I would never of mentioned it to them again.

I did get one phone call from a guy I hadn’t spoken to in over 2 years.  He’s a nice old fella and he once asked for my help and I was in a position to do so at the time.  He repaid the money that he borrowed and I never thought any more about it.  When I answered the call he told me he had heard what had gone on and then told me to pack my bags as there was a spare room waiting for me.  I was just so grateful.

Before moving I did have a few things to clear up and my wife decided to leave because of all the threatening phone calls she was receiving.  She finally left me alone in the house we were renting.  Over the next 5 days I had received no less than 35 phone calls, each looking for money.  On 23 of these occasions I was threatened that if I didn’t come up with the money then I would be killed.

Unless you’ve ever been and stayed in Thailand for any length of time it’s difficult to understand how things work here.  Life is cheap and a Thai will think nothing of killing someone over money.  9/10 the killings are contracted out and 8/10 it’s police who are paid to  do the killing.  There have been hundreds of cases where foreigners have been murdered for money here so I knew the treats were not idle.

I slept even less in the last few days of staying at the house I was renting.  I kept seeing a gold pick-up truck passing my house. I lived in a very quiet area and this was very unusual. On the day of the move my friend came over to help me finish the packing.  As we were doing so the gold pick-up truck appeared again and this time stopped.  Two Thais got out and approached the gate and called my name.  When I went outside I could see both were armed and both were police.  This was worrying.  The two guys spotted my friend and obviously decided that shooting me wouldn’t be a good idea, unless they killed us both and again, I was extremely worried.  One of them asked me where my wife was. I told them, honestly, I didn’t know.  They then told me that she owed them over US$25,000 and had come to collect – apparently they had called her and she told them to go to the house and collect it from me.

I told them the whole story and they did seem genuinely sorry for my situation but the bottom line was they still wanted their money.  The only thing I could do was to tell them that I would try.  They took my phone number and told me to keep in touch otherwise things would take a turn for the worst.  What amazed me, after they left, is that they obviously didn’t spot that I was packing. I waited an hour before packing my friends car and then left.

Over the space of the next few weeks I was getting lots of phone calls.  I had now lost the villa to the loan sharks she had borrowed from, so there was nothing left.  I did speak to my Embassy but the only thing they could do was to recommend a firm of lawyers.  They gave me three to contact and I did just that.  After I told them that it was the police who were involved all declined to take on my case. Self preservation is a high priority in Thailand, which is why very little ever goes to court.  Most people with financial problems generally solve it with a gun.  At one time Thailand was out ranking Columbia in gun crime and again, killing here is a daily occurrence.

I ended up throwing my old sim card away and getting a new number on a Pay-as-You -Go, which is the normal practice here.  At least now I wasn’t getting any phone calls and I began sleeping better at night knowing that no one knew where I was.

With no money I wasn’t able to travel back home.  I certainly couldn’t get a job here because that requires a work permit and then I would be easy to track.  Over the last few years I’ve been running a small website from my room.  My goal now, my only goal, is to raise sufficient funds from the business so that I can leave Thailand for good and I continue to work every day in the pursuit of this goal.

My now, ex-wife, I heard was dating another foreigner.  I just hope that the poor guy doesn’t end up like me.  Throughout all of what happened she never showed much in the way of remorse.  She even phoned me a couple of times to see if I had any money to give her.  One thing I have learned is that Thais generally care about one thing and one thing only… MONEY and it doesn’t matter how they get it or whom they get it from as long as they do get it.

I’ve never been one for quitting and I remain optimistic that one day I’ll be able to leave here and put this chapter of my life behind me… once and for all.

So there you have the conclusion of the Self Build Horror in Thailand.  We did ask if he would ever build again, to which is told us he would, but not in Thailand.  Feel free to ask any questions or leave comments.  We’ll pass the questions on and see what answers can be given.

If you are thinking about building a home, we wouldn’t recommend Thailand as a destination.  The laws in Thailand do not allow a foreigner to own land, so you will need to put the land title deed in a Thais name or form a company.  Note that if you form a company then as a foreigner you will only be allowed to own 49% of that company so again, 51% will be held in a Thais name.  This goes the same if you are just buying a house.  It can be extremely perilous owning anything in Thailand and our advice, especially what we have learned, is that if you must live in Thailand then only rent and NEVER buy.

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