Monday, May 13, 2013

Thai Workmanship - You gotta Watch

Assholes at Work
The whole reason this blog was not update over the past months was because I was literally driven up the wall by the renovations going on in my new home. Being in Thailand for a while, through the many sweaty walks downs the alleys of Chatuchuk and the Suan Lum Night Bazaar so long gone, I had the perception that Thai workmanship was one of the best around the region. The craftsmanship of wooden furniture, the arty lamps, the clay works of dining and all showcasing the creativity of the Thai talent - impressive. Yes, until you encounter them first hand and for real.

As would most new home owners, lets invest and spruce it up, spend. For this shall be our cozy nest for decades to come. My home where my life will be. So we engaged a designer, and he, his workforce of contractors summoned from his network. Of a crew made up of Thai managers, and the down line of labors which consisted of Thais, Cambodians, Laotians and Burmese, legal or not no one cares. The first revelation of frustration began with a realization that some auspicious Chinese date you pick to move in could not be fulfilled, because what should have been a two months completion period turned out to be five. So we had to move in unfavorably on some other dates, when the alignment of some distant planets, galaxies and whatever numbers the Lunar calendar that added up was not what we had wanted to be.

The five months that passed, I had learned the micro level of the home business. Designers, mine was a freelancer, found on Facebook, his protfolio impressive. He learned the ropes, his creativity outgrew the company, he came out on his own and made money. He won awards, his ideas superb. His unbounded creativity however has been limited by the network of work force within reach. The owner of contracting company, his leadership, his communication skills, the making of a good businessman. And that's about where it all ends for the respect I have for them. Down the line of workforce, was a circus of clowns. Electricians, they come and go, every time a different person. Crew of woodworkers, I seen a crew change of three. The painters, what language they were speaking in I no understanding really. And that's where hell began. My picture of craftsmanship in this land, totally tarnished. The control the designer has over his workforce, was there any control at all.

From far it looked good, at close you see the defects. Cupboard doors not aligned, they could have corrected it without me pointing.

They broke It!
What the heck was this? They used a screw too long. My wardrobe was broken. Was there common sense in this all?

And at the edges of almost every corner, the merger was a mess of spots and splatter up close. And I had to pinpoint everyone of them for corrections to be made. This I had not expected.

Just patch it Up
They broke my dressing table when fitting the electrical sockets, and they do only patch it up with cosmetic paint, no change to the panel and they compliment with a "mai-roo" look, not even an explanation, not even looking sorry.

This in my Bedroom leads to Narnia?
I ordered a glass covered wardrobe like those seen on magazines, they made a shop front in my bedroom. I asked of them to remove the doors and threw them away in anger, leave the design to me alone. SB furniture solved my problem and I had a real wardrobe finally, extra expense incurred.

Perpendicular Where??
I wanted to fence in my garden, part of the designs I had required a perpendicular fence placed against the main, oh my god the workers do not have any depth perception or what? The installation was totally off angle. Maybe their brains only able to process in 2D. I had to draw the guide line by rope for them. I attempted to explain to them the basics of geometry with a set square from my tool box, they gave me the lousy excuse that the fence was installed following nature.. . .. What the heck has nature got to do with this???? I guess redoing that fence will take too much work and so they just gave a lousy excuse in order not to redo it.

Oh come-on!!!!!???!!
And for simple straight sections, incredibly they didn't get it right too. A rope I had use to check, just look at how imperfect the straightness. I pinpointed and again, the lousy excuse of following nature. Bloody assholes must have very crooked dicks in their pants and so they thought that's natural. Screws heads damaged by excessive force when driven in by power tools (I can't unscrew them no more), shelves horizontally unbalanced, holes for fixtures misaligned, the worker that installed the ventilation shaft of my kitchen hood has an obsession with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the list goes on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on. The designer we engage hinted to us subtlety all through the months - "Thailand, what do you expect??". Yes he did try to ease our disappointment but to which I guess he didn't want to force his contractor too much and end up as breakfast for the workforce in action. He was thin, petite, easily overpowered and skinned alive with all the intimidating equipments on site.

I mean look, most of the issues I mentioned takes only common sense and could have been avoided to begin with. But it looked like these senses were missing from every person in the workforce. I don't want to judge that uneducated people lacks intelligence, but with all these, I can't help. Yeah, I could have just went Home Pro, Ikea or SB to get my furniture, but be warned there is another dark side to them merchandise. They are "disposable" not made to last, different from the real wood used when you do what the Thais called "built-in". For anyone with any upcoming home projects thus, I tell you, you gotta watch them close, inspect every day if you have the time. Scrutinize deeply their work, hold back the payments you must. Once they are out of the door, you may never be able to get them back to correct whatever the defects you uncover. It will only be too late, and by the way, even if it not, they will not want to correct it. And oh yeah.... Thailand, what do you expect? There are just some things you gotta live without with when making your living here, and that's QC and perfection.


Bestof2Worlds said...

Jewie, I used Index Living Mall for home interior. Some episodes did leave me frothing at the mouth but I don't think as bad an experience as yours. But building a house yourself, that is something that nearly made me become homicidal.

Jewie said...

You built your own house? Project managed, source materials, managed labors, design, inspect, etc.. . wow.. Must be though and extremely balls tearing.

Bestof2Worlds said...

I hired a project manager to coordinate the building works. Balls yanked off and put through the blender and then served as breakfast. Never again will I build again from scratch. But seriously, like you say there are some good examples of workmanship in Thailand...where are they hiding ?

Rachel at Tasty Thailand said...

LOL, I just wrote about something similar on my blog -- my experiences with a Thai workman plus those of a couple of my friend.

I've been in Thailand for 10 years, lived in the same apartment for all that time and had several workmen 'fix' things. The result is always, always, always abysmal :)

Jewie said...

Can't accept their work, yet can't live without them. Frustrating yeah?.. .