When someone asks me about the standard of Thai workmanship when it comes to having house repairs done in Thailand, honestly, I have to laugh. That’s because, as lovely as most Thai workmen usually are, the jobs they do might not exactly be what you expect.
Thai Workmanship and My Apartment Repairs
Case in point, this week the Bangkok apartment I’ve been living in for almost 10 years suddenly developed what seemed like an endless number of problems. My air-conditioner, which had been repaired three times in the last six months, finally gave up the ghost. The tap in my kitchen wouldn’t stop dripping and the one in my bathroom wouldn’t allow any water through at all. Not unless I banged it with a heavy object first.
On top of that, my refrigerator was leaking water so badly I spent half my life with a towel shoved under it to mop up the flood.
So, I finally asked my landlord if I could a) have a new air-conditioner, b) get a new fridge and c) get my tap problems fixed. After a little negotiation, the answer was yes and the workman appeared at my apartment on Wednesday to get everything done. And by the way, yes, he is a lovely man.
My ‘New’ Air-Conditioner
Taking down the old air-conditioner and replacing it with a different one (notice I said ‘different one’ and not ‘new one’) took TWO DAYS. Yes, TWO DAYS. Luckily the apartment next door is currently vacant, so me and the rabbits slept there.
Two days later, the replacement air-conditioner was installed, the refrigerator was replaced, my taps were fixed and the workman even threw in a new phone cord as my old one kept falling out of the wall. Everything was perfect. Or….was it?
Now, when I turn on my ‘new’ air-conditioner, it sounds like an aircraft engine starting up and the howling gale that comes out of it is just about as strong. When I turn it off, I get a ‘dub dub dub dub dub screeeeech‘ sound that makes me feel like something huge and spinning is about to fall on my head.
In fact, so loud is it, I daren’t turn it on after 10pm, in case I wake the neighbors.
On top of that, there’s no temperature control on this air-conditioner at all so my choices for air are on (freezing cold air)…..and……off (no air at all).
There’s also now a huge plastic pipe sticking out from the air-conditioner that runs along my bedroom wall and then outside. According to the workman, it has to be there as it’s the only way to get enough ‘slope’ on the pipe to be sure the water from the air-conditioner drains out. I’m currently trying to think of a way to cover it up.
Why Does the Refrigerator Drawer Not Fit?
Again, my replacement refrigerator isn’t a new one just a ‘different’ one but at least this one doesn’t have water flooding out all over the floor.
What it does have is a freezer compartment with a door that won’t open unless I pull the ice drawer underneath it all the way out. Why? Because the ice drawer seems to belong to a different model of fridge entirely. Unfortunately, my building management has no idea why.
The kitchen tap was a raving success. It no longer drips and it turns on and off magically.
The bathroom tap, however, is a little odd. Since the workman ‘fixed it’, I do now have decent water flow but……..I have to turn the tap a good 8 to 10 rotations before any water comes out at all. Why? Search me.
Thai Workmanship and Window Frames
Friends of mine have also had similar experiences when they have had house repairs in Thailand done.
My closest Thai friend paid a handyman to replace four metal window frames at her townhouse. When the windows arrived she noticed, instead of the same cream color as the other window frames in her Bangkok home, these frames were black. She immediately told the handyman they simply wouldn’t do.
Fast forward three days and the handyman called her and told her “The problem is fixed”. It was lucky she arrived home when she did as she caught him spray painting the black window frames cream.
As she said at the time, he probably figured he wouldn’t be around when the paint started to peel off in oh, about a week’s time.
Needless to say she made him get rid of them and buy the window frames she needed.
Where Do You Want the Window?
A western friend who speaks fluent Thai had a Thai workman knock a hole in a living room wall so he could build a window that would allow more light into the room. They discussed the job for quite a long time, in Thai I might add, and all the details were carefully marked on professional looking plans.
Imagine his surprise when he came home a few days later to find a lovely new window……..in the wrong wall.
This is all why, when someone asks me about Thai workmanship and house repairs, all I can say is “Chock dee”.
That’s Thai for “Good luck”.