When buying a new home in Thailand, or anywhere else for that matter, most of us will at first and quite rightly so, think of the financial responsibility associated with such an investment.
Once you’ve got the financial side sorted out, you might then start thinking about perhaps buying some furniture, giving the place a new lick of paint or re-landscaping the garden.
If you’re buying a new build property which probably comes fully furnished then perhaps the only thing left for you to think about is planning your housewarming party.
But before you get caught up in all the excitement of buying a new property in Thailand, don’t forget that as a property owner it’s in your interest to care for and properly maintain your home.
Better things to do than home maintenance in Thailand
Sure, home maintenance in Thailand probably isn’t high on your list of priorities as you’re spending your days lounging around the pool of your new villa but making sure you regularly maintain your home will save you a lot of headaches and wasted money in the future.
The good news is that you can carry out most of these tasks on your own without needing too much experience or knowledge. For the times when you do need a little help, Google is your friend as is YouTube. Not forgetting that the Thaivisa Real Estate Forum is another great place to find out info and share ideas.
And let’s face it. When we talk about home maintenance in Thailand, more often than not, it won’t cost you the earth to hire the services of a local workman or handy man to carry out most of the labour for you.
Stay on top of your home maintenance tasks
In order to make sure you actually carry out regular home maintenance tasks, you might want to create some kind of planner or schedule, or at the very least mark on your calendar (either online or on paper) little tasks you can complete each weekend or when you have free time during the week.
Below you’ll find details on the kind of tasks that need to be carried each month, each quarter and those that need to be done a couple of times a year.
We’ve left off maintenance for swimming pools, which we’ll cover in more details in another article. What we will say is that all swimming pools should be properly maintained on a weekly basis and it is always a good idea to seek the expertise of a professional with regards to swimming pool maintenance.
Also detailed below are a list of tasks that can be carried out around the different seasons in Thailand.
- Inspect your air con unit and change filters
Some experts claim the filters on your air con unit should be replaced every month. Of course this depends how much you use your air con. If you have small children or pets living in your home, replacing your filters monthly is probably a good idea. If you’re a couple who only use your air con for a few hours each day, you’ll probably be OK replacing your filters every 3 or 4 months. Either way, get into the habit of inspect and cleaning your air con unit every month. An air con engineer will be able to do this for you for between 300 or 500 Baht.
- Inspect your fire extinguisher and smoke alarm
Don’t have a fire extinguisher or smoke alarm? Then go and buy them. They sell them in HomePro and many other household stores in Thailand. Most houses in the west have smoke alarms and fire extinguishers, yet expats buy a house here and often forget what are some of the most important health and safety appliances you could ever buy. There really is no excuse. If you do already have a fire extinguisher, inspect it monthly and make sure the gauge shows the adequate amount of pressure. You should also be cleaning and checking the batteries of your smoke alarm each month too.
- Clean and unclog shower heads of debris
You might not think this is that important but if you live in a part of Thailand that has poor water pressure then a shower head that is clogged with grime can have a real impact on water flow and cause lasting damage to the shower head itself. If your shower lets out a pathetic little trickle of water, try giving the shower head a clean – it could make all the difference.
- Keep on top of gardening and landscaping
Some properties might need the garden attending to weekly, but a month is about the length of time that things can start to become unmanageable. If gardening in the heat can become a bit too much look at hiring the services of a gardener. This kind of labour is usually pretty cheap and they will probably take of your whole garden and driveway for less than 500 Baht.
Every 4 months
- Pressure wash or deep clean the exterior of your home
Pressure washers are readily available now in Thailand and you can pick up a decent one for a few thousand Baht. Every quarter give the driveway and exterior of your house a deep clean with the power wash, which will help remove the dirt and dust that has accumulated over the months. A deep clean of the outside of your house and breath a whole new lease of life into your property and can be a good idea especially if you are trying to sell your home.
- Test all electrical outlets to the best you can
Before you start fiddling around with the electrics, be extra sure you actually know what you’re doing, and if you’re unsure get a professional in to do the job for you. A basic test you can do is to make sure that all sockets, lights and appliances are working as they should. Check power cables and extension leads for any wear and tear. Replace them where necessary.
- Check all locks, doors and windows
Make sure all locks and doors are working as they should. Not just for reasons of keeping unwanted intruders out but a faulty lock could result in you being locked inside your house. Tighten any loose door handles or knobs and make sure your windows can open and close easily.
- Vacuum or thoroughly clean behind the refrigerator
Check behind your fridge and the chances are that it will be full of dust and dirt. Did you know that your fridge can use as much as 15 or 20% of your homes power? Therefore, it is really important that it is running efficiently. Over time dust and dirt will collect around the coils at the back of the fridge which could lead it to requiring more electricity to work properly. By regularly removing the buildup of dust you could start to see savings in your monthly electric bill.
Every 6 months
- Give your house a real deep clean both inside and out
We’re talking about getting into every nook and cranny, every corner and crevice. Dust, wash and clean from top to bottom. Get the whole family involved if needs be or hire outside help to come and do the job for you. With the hot tropical climate and often dry weather in Thailand, the house can easily get so dusty. Thoroughly cleaning your house will prevent the buildup of dust and dirt accumulating over the years and help to keep your home, including appliances, windows and doors in tip top condition.
- Replace batteries in your smoke alarm
OK, so as mentioned above, you should be regularly checking your smoke alarm anyway but you can never be too careful with something like this. As a rule of thumb, replace the batteries in your smoke alarm every 6 months
- Inspect paint work and the exterior of your home
We’re not saying repaint your home every 6 months (although you should consider this every year or so) but by inspecting the paintwork you will not only identify areas which could do with a new coat of paint you’ll also be able to spot any cracks or signs which could be part of something much more serious such as structural damage.
- Weatherproof and treat all wooden surfaces
If it’s been a couple of years since you treated any wooden surfaces on the exterior of your home then you might want to think about retreating any decking, doors, or windows. Also inspect for any other damage such as wood rot and make the necessary repairs as soons as possible in order to prevent further damage.
Home maintenance in Thailand by season
Cool season (Nov-Feb)
Think of this as Thailand’s equivalent of spring, which traditionally is an important time with regards to home maintenance. In terms of tourism this is generally the most popular time for tourists to visit Thailand. In terms of home maintenance the cooler temperatures and refreshing breeze means getting to work in the garden and around the house is a little more bearable at this time of year.
- Get your air con ready for the hot season
So you should really have been regularly maintaining your air con anyway but before the hot season kicks in, think now about having all the air con units in your home professionally serviced. Older units may even need replacing. Think about doing this now so you’re ready for when the real hot weather starts.
- Inspect/install guttering
A lot of houses in Thailand, especially older ones, don’t have guttering but if you won a house here you should consider having guttering installed. When the heavens open during the wet season, guttering will help to control and properly drain water from the roof and will help to reduce the risk of flooding. You could even collect the rainwater to use on the garden. If your property does have guttering make sure it’s cleaned and free from any blockages. Seek outside help if you’re not like the thought of climbing ladders.
- Get out in the garden
Cut back bushes, and tend to the garden. Look around your property and make sure trees are not interfering with any cables overhead. The cooler weather means that now is a great time of your to get out enjoy your garden!
- Inspect the outside of your home
Is it time to repaint? Are there any chips or cracks that need tending too? Are there any holes in the brick work? Make any repairs as needed.
- Think about adding awning or outside shade
Before the hot season starts think about adding an awning or outside covered area to provide you with a bit of shade from the sun.
Hot season (Mar-Jun)
The hottest time of year is probably the time when you just want to stay inside with the air con on but it’s also important not to neglect duties around the home.
- Check roof for cracked tiles
Before the rainy season starts check on the roof and replace any missing or cracked roof tiles. Don’t leave it until you’re in the middle of a tropical downpour to find out you’ve got a leaking roof! If you don’t fancy climbing up on the roof yourself, arrange for outside help or professional roofer to come out and do the job for you.
- Check the grout and tiling in your bathroom
This will not help to maintain and prolong the life of your bathroom, it will also keep it looking great too.
- Take care of any unwanted guests
We’re not actually talking about the mother in law, instead check for mites and ticks (especially if you have pets) and always keep insect repellent within easy reach. Mosquitoes are a year round problem but they thrive during the wet season so make sure mosquito nets and covers on windows are cleaned and replaced where needed before the start of the wet season. Also inspect your property for any hoes or crevices where snakes, rats or other nasty critters might try and hide when it eventually starts raining.
Wet season (Jul-Oct)
Flooding, power outages, more mosquitoes and when the rain comes it is likely to be torrential! Prepare yourself and don’t get caught out by the wet weather.
- Check outside drainage
If possible, you’d be wise to do this before the rainy season. Check that rainwater will flow away from your property. If puddles stay around your property for more than 24 hours check your guttering to make sure you don’t have any leaks. If puddles are a serious problem, or are forming around the foundations of your house, you might want to consider having someone come out and raise where the puddles are forming so that water can drain away more easily.
- Prepare for power outages
During the rainy season power outages and short circuits are common place. Inside your home make sure you have flashlights and batteries within easy reach. Consider buying a UPS pack or surge protector to prevent any damage to expensive electrical equipment such as computers and TV’s.
- Prepare for the worst case scenario
This may sound like a little over the top but as the flooding in Bangkok and throughout other parts of the country have shown, when it floods in Thailand it can cause large scale damage and chaos. If the worst thing happens then make sure you have additional supplies of food and water. Stock up on medical supplies and other goods if necessary.
Of course the info above is just a guide, do whatever works for you around your schedule. As long as the task above are carried out, your home will be in top notch condition for years to come.