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How To Plan A Retirement House For Thailand - Essential Factors To Consider : Pitching Your House Specification - The Important Factors You probably already have a good idea of the type, size, layout etc of the house you are planning to build in Thailand for your retirement. After reading this article you may decide to review your ideas. In the time it has taken to get my house half finished in Pakchong (Pak Chong), Thailand, two colleagues have seen their houses started and completed and at half the cost. In fact the build of our house has turned out to be a nightmare of the kind you hear about in the newspapers or read on the Thai forum websites. On the other hand, these other houses were built quickly and cheaply with no hassles at all. (Compared to my problems anyway) So what was the difference between their house and ours that made all the difference? It All Begins With The Concept - What You Want Your House To Be What you want your house to be will depend upon many factors, who will use it, how do they want to use it and more importantly who is the house for and what are their expectations? Who Is The House Intended For? Our house was essentially my design. The layout of the rooms, style of house, type and quality of finishes etc was based on what I wanted as a retirement house and was of quite a generous standard. My Thai wife of course loved it. My colleagues houses on the other hand appeared to be based on the minimum that they could get away with whilst satisfying their Thai wives requirements. Essentially those houses were based on a Thai wifes expectations. They were designed for the Thai wife not for themselves. The standard of houses in the west tend to be much higher than in Thailand and the westerners demand more mod cons, western kitchen, security doors and windows, high grade fittings and finishes etc. On the other hand, such features of western houses are not commonly found in Thailand, the Thai spouse isnt aware of them and doesnt need them. Hence a house based on a Thai wifes perspective can be much simpler and cheaper than a house based on western standards. Sometimes the designs of these other houses were simply copied from one of the many pre-designed Thai houses that you can download from the Thai Government website. In short they were off-the-peg houses. In contrast I had a set of construction drawings produced by a registered Thai Architect in Bangkok and the set of drawings comprised some 42 sheets! Im glad I had those house plans made and for my large, high spec house, they are essential. Key Thai House Configuration Considerations Whereas there are a number of key considerations that will considerably affect the cost and time to construct a retirement house built in any country, number and size of rooms for example, there are some key considerations that apply specifically to a retirement house built in Thailand. These key considerations relate to the differences in what is considered as normal practice in a Thai house and in a western house. The key considerations are related to the number of floors, the bathroom, the kitchen where there are fundamental differences in approach between western practice and Thai practice. Another key considerations is whether the house is to be provided with air conditioning or not. One Or Two Floors What number of levels you intend to have is one of the most important criteria that can affect the price and speed of building your retirement house in Thailand. For thousands of years Thai houses are built with the living spaces lifted up from the ground on timber or concrete columns, or posts as the Thai describe them. A standard Thai house may exhibit, for example, a dozen posts set in a 3 x 4 matrix, and this is termed a 12 post house. My own retirement house is a 16 post house and the upper story containing the living spaces is 3 m above ground floor level. This is considerably harder to construct and costlier than a bungalow construction having all the living accommodation on the ground floor. I undoubtedly wanted to have a post house, and my Thai wife really likes it, but Im convinced she would have been equally happy with a bungalow. I am paying for my idea to have a traditional Thai post house both in terms of cost and time to construct. Thus think wisely if you certainly want a post house or if you can put up with a one-floor construction which will be less expensive and faster to build. Bathroom Or Shower Room This is a further decision that is most likely to s the price and period to build your retirement house and again, it is a Thai compared to Western subject. Conventional style and basic Thai houses are frequently not provided with a bath as is usually common in a western bathroom. Surprisingly, I prefer not to have a bathtub, because I dont use one. I usually enjoy a shower thats why a basic shower room is all I want. Unusual for a Thai, though my wife does like to relax in a bath tub filled with hot water and those smelly bath salts or bubble bath. So we are having a bath tub. Since i want a walk-in shower room, we are having two bathrooms, one is a western style bathroom with hand wash basin, WC and bat tub, the other a shower room with hand wash basin and shower only. Again, the decisions are made on the basis of answering the question who is the house for?. Type of Kitchen - Thai Style or Western Style Kitchen The style of kitchen you decide to construct is another area that can have a large impact on the cost of the house. Traditionally a lot of preparation of Thai food for cooking is done on the floor. Even though we have a normal western style kitchen in our house in the U.K., my wife still put the crok on the floor to pound the ingredient e.g. for a nam prick. Also the Thai food is often cooked on a single heat source, or at most two heat sources, one for the rice and the other for a pot of food, e.g. soup. In line with this pattern of usage, Thai kitchens traditionally are very simple affairs, and do not have the long waist level counter tops and ovens like a western style kitchen. Frequently the Thai kitchen even in modern Thai houses, is not an enclosed room, but is a simple external area with a roof and perhaps a short table and sink. So you do not really need the expense of a western style kitchen will all the counter tops, cupboards, cookers, grilles, cooker hoods etc that go into a modern western home. In Thailand you will need a refrigerator but many Thai kitchens do not have a freezer or a washing machine for clothes or dishes. Again, my retirement house in Thailand is designed with a western style kitchen, complete with long granite counter-top and integral dual sink, Fridge and Freezer. Provision of cupboards, drawers and washing machines is not part of the current scheme, however, but may be provided later.

Everything You Need to Know About Section 8 Housing : For years, youve worked persistently for long hours yet your pay is just not enough to take care of your expenses. Health care, utilities and rising food prices are barely covered by your wage. Pretty soon, your take-home pay wont be able to keep up with your familys growing expenses. This distressing scenario plagues millions of American families today. Their salaries just cant be stretched enough to adequately provide for housing expenses. If you are a legal United States resident and dont earn enough money to cover rent or mortgage payments, you may want to consider applying for the federal governments Housing Voucher Program, which is also referred to as section 8. What is Section 8? The Housing Act of 1937 provided for financial aid to be paid by the federal government to local housing agencies or LHAs to make the living conditions of low-wage earning families better. Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937, usually just referred to as Section 8, mandates the payment of federal housing assistance to landlords for the benefit of about 3.1 million families with low income. It makes housing assistance possible through various programs, with the Housing Choice Voucher program being the largest, which subsidizes most of the rent and utilities payments of about 2.1 million families. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) manages and funds the Section 8 programs. There are about 2,400 public housing agencies (PHAs) that administer the program locally. A Brief History of Section 8 Section 8 housing had its beginning during the Great Depression. The passing of the U.S. Housing Act by Congress constituted the start of federal housing assistance in the country. It furnished the money to build quality yet affordable low income housing apartments for financially-challenged wage earners. These units are administered and maintained by local authorities. The U.S. Housing Act was revised in 1961 to give way to the Section 23 Leased Housing Program which allowed low-income earners to take up residence in private low income housing apartments leased by local authorities. Tenants agree to pay a certain percentage of the rent, while the difference between the tenants payment and what the landlord would have normally received in the open market. Building maintenance were also performed by the local housing authorities. In 1974, the Act underwent another revision which provided for the creation of Section 8. Rather than build and manage public housing, it aimed to assist low-earning tenants who were allotting the greater part of their earnings on rent payment. Federal funds were now used to pay a portion of the rent in housing units chosen by the renters on the open market. Since then, several more legislations were passed to amend and refine the Section 8 program. The Critical Need for Housing Assistance The 2005 HUD report to Congress stated that the almost 6 million renter families in the country who dont benefit from public housing assistance suffer from worst housing needs. A huge bulk of these families have undergone severe rent burden which HUD describes as paying in excess of 50% of the wage-earners income for rent. Other households made their homes in second-rate buildings. Groups being given priority by Section 8 are composed of low-income households with children, senior citizens and handicapped individuals. Likewise, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have a Section 8 program called the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) which distributes a number of housing vouchers to qualified homeless U.S. armed forces veterans. The Housing Voucher Program The main Section 8 program is currently engaged in the housing voucher program. Housing choice vouchers are locally distributed and managed by public housing agencies or PHAs. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provide federal funds to these PHAs to manage the voucher program. A voucher can be project-based which means its use is confined to a particular apartment complex. PHAs may appropriate up to 20% of their vouchers for this. A voucher can also be tenant-based where the tenant can freely choose any housing that passes the criteria of the program and is not restricted to units within subsidized housing projects. The tenant may choose to rent a housing unit in the private sector, is not confined to any particular apartment complexes, and can choose to live anywhere in the U.S as long as the total rent meets the standards established by HUD. This can include living in Puerto Rico which has a Section 8 program managed by a public housing agency. Under the housing voucher program, households or individuals who are eligible for Section 8 funding are given a voucher which allows them to find and rent a unit where they will be responsible for paying 30% of the rent. The housing voucher will pay for the remaining 70% of rent and utilities. Most families pay for section 8 housing using 30% of their adjusted income, which is a familys total earning less the deductions for dependents below 18 years old, senior citizens, handicapped individuals, full-time students, as well as medical expenses and disability assistance. The voucher program is currently subsidizing the rent payment for nearly 2.1 million households in the United States. Whats more, these vouchers can be used at times by low income households to pay the mortgage or purchase a house. Prioritization of Housing Voucher In many instances, your local public housing agency will receive more applications than it can afford to approve vouchers for, and will as a result create a waiting list of applicants. PHAs can move certain applications forward or put them way back of the waiting list, and may choose to grant priority to households who are presently without a home or are residing in second-rate housing, wage-earners who spend more than half their income in rent, or individuals who are displaced against their will. Know more about prioritizing by inquiring at your local public housing agency office. Since section 8 isnt actually an entitlement benefit, people who become eligible for a housing voucher cannot be 100% sure that theyll get one. According to the latest figures, only 1 out of about 4 households who qualify for housing assistance receive it. Waiting lists can take long to be processed. In several places, eligible applicants fiercely compete with other applicants for vouchers. Due to the huge volume of demand, some LHAs have entirely ceased taking in applications. For instance, in New York where rents are exorbitant and oftentimes beyond reach of low-income earners, many households set their sights on section 8 vouchers. Today, as the country teeters toward the reality of the sequestration cuts to the federal budget, it seems that New York City may miss out on up to 6,000 section 8 vouchers that were intended to be made available this year. In Chicago, more than 2,300 households are on the waiting list. Recipients are picked out of the list by a lottery held every month. Only when the list is exhausted will the application process resume. Requirements to Qualify for Rent Assistance Putting these realities on one side, if you belong to a low-income bracket and you require rent subsidy or other support provided by the voucher program, you first need to make sure that you have what is financially required to qualify for Section 8 housing. Whether you qualify or not is dependent on certain factors which include your total household income, how much rent you are paying, the members of your household, the average income in your locality, and your assets. Income requirements differ from place to place, but as a rule you will need to have a total household earning of not more than 50% of the average income in your locality. The program is open to all U.S. citizens and people with legal immigration status. Another criterion is the number of your household members. Your Section 8 income limit gets lower as the members of your household gets fewer. Other factors are also put under consideration by HUD and its local agencies when checking an applicants qualifications. Generally taken into consideration are homelessness and other factors that are linked to a particular location like involvement in a local welfare-to-work program. Other criteria that may help you get considered for assistance are: • presently living in a homeless shelter • working over 42 hours each week • being a veteran of the U.S. Armed Services (widow or widower) • suffering from disability • being a senior citizen 62 years old and over • having children LHAs should also give priority to very low-income households whose total earnings dont even amount to 30% of the average income in the area. 75% of the new applicants that get qualified for housing assistance each year must be near or at the lowest-income level. If you think you have every reason to qualify for a housing voucher, you must go and get in touch with the public housing agency in your locality. You can get all the information you need on the HUD website including local office address, toll-free phone numbers, and email addresses. Dont get yourself fooled by professional con artists. There are fly-by-night agencies that will promise to help you to get all the Section 8 paperwork done for a certain fee. You can get all the help you need to apply for a housing voucher at no cost just by visiting your local public housing authority or your federal HUD office. Bear in mind that no person should ever ask you for money for a low income housing assistance application. Anyone who charges you for a voucher or an application can be arrested for fraud. Obligations Since a public housing authority approves the housing unit of a qualified household, the landlord and the family head sign a lease agreement. At the same time, the PHA and the landlord sign a contract for housing assistance payments that will run concurrently with the lease. This demonstrates that the PHA, the landlord and the tenant all have roles and obligations they must fulfill under the program. 1. Tenant Expect some delays before you receive the final decision on your application. Many applicants can be on the section 8 housing waiting lists for months, or possibly even years. If your application gets approved by the local PHA and you have received a housing voucher, you have to be absolutely sure that your present or future living situation meets HUD safety and health requirements. If you are renting, youll be asked to sign a one-year lease with a willing landlord who will be obliged to provide you with safe quality housing and fair rent. The landlord may require the tenant to pay a security deposit. After the first year, the landlord can draw up a lease renewal contract or allow the household to reside in the unit on a monthly lease. Know how much rent youll be paying. Section 8 housing requires you and your household to pay 30 percent of your monthly adjusted gross income on rent and utilities. The voucher you received will cover the rest of the cost. Visit your local PHA if you need help in determining how much you need to allocate each month. When the household has moved into the new home, each member is expected to abide by the lease and program rules, keep the housing unit in good condition, pay the percentage of rent promptly, and inform the PHA of any changes in family composition or income status. If you need to, you can move to another area without losing your eligibility to Section 8 housing. Just be sure to inform your local PHA ahead of time, terminate your lease according to its provisions, and look for another housing that will comply with HUD safety and health criteria. 2. Landlord The landlords responsibility in the voucher program is to provide tenants with a suitable, sanitary and clean low income housing unit with a fair rent. The living space must meet the HUDs housing quality criteria and must be kept up to those criteria for as long as the landlord receives housing assistance payments. Whats more, the property owner will extend the services that were agreed upon as was mentioned in the lease signed with the tenant and the contract signed with the public housing authorities. The landlord cannot charge the tenant any extra money except that of the reasonable rent and cannot accept any amount of payment that is outside the contract. Although required to follow fair housing laws, landlords are of no obligations to take part in the housing voucher program. Therefore, some landlords can refuse to accept Section 8 tenants. This may be due to several reasons such as: • Not desiring the government to get involved in the landlords business, as in conducting a full inspection by government workers of the premises for HUDs housing quality standards and the probable redress that may follow. • Concern that the tenant or members of the household will fail to keep proper maintenance of the unit. • Finding that the programs rent price is below the landlords expectation. • Not willing to take matters to court to evict a tenant. According to HUD requirements, judicial action is required to evict section 8 tenants, even if there were other legal procedures allowed. • Depending on state laws, it may be against the law to refuse to accept a tenant just because they have Section 8. Landlords have only past eviction, credit, criminal history and other general means of disqualifying a potential tenant. Other landlords, however, seem to have no beef against accepting Section 8 tenants. This could be because of: • The long waiting list can provide a vast reserve of potential tenants. • Generally on-time payments sent by the PHA for its share of the rent. • Tenants are motivated to take care of the low income housing unit to avoid paying for damaged property. Owing a previous landlord money can be ground for a tenant to be disqualified from the program. 3. Public Housing Authority The public housing program manages the voucher program locally. It provides a qualified household with housing subsidy that allows the family to look for a decent housing unit. The PHA signs a contract with the landlord promising to provide regular housing assistance payments for and on behalf of the tenants. Should the landlord fail to comply with their lease contract obligations, the PHA can immediately discontinue sending assistance payments. The PHA will re-assess the households income and composition for any changes at least once a year and must conduct an annual ocular inspection of each unit to make sure that it complies with HUD quality standards. Research appears to suggest that the section 8 program has yielded a lot of happy and productive results. It helps millions of households live above poverty level, have more money to spend on food and health care instead of rent, and improve their quality of life. It has helped families to move into safer neighborhoods and has reduced the number of homeless people. As a result, it has also lowered the incidences of anxiety, depression, and other mental and emotional problems.



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