Brett Masters, 58, is an Australian-born British national. He has been living in Phuket for 18 years, and has been living in the house, in Soi Saiyuan 15, Rawai, for the past eight years.
“The house was built 13 years ago, and was fully approved by Rawai Municipality at the time,” Brett explains.
At that time, the driveway was nearly perfectly street level. Since work on paving the street began late December, the road has been graded down, and now the freshly installed roadside drains are three feet three inches (99.06cm) vertically below the driveway, cut at the very edge of Brett’s property line.
“Me and my girlfriend came back from a holiday to Koh Payam, and we could not even get into the house,” Brett notes.
After much discussion, the contractor finally set down concrete ‘ballast blocks’ (lengths of concrete slab) for Brett and his girlfriend to use as a makeshift ramp to access their home. Two of the three slabs are placed alongside each other. The third slab leaves a dangerous gap to navigate when they leave the house or come home.
Brett contacted Rawai Municipality to explain what had happened, but Rawai Mayor Aroon Solos was too busy, so he was directed to speak with a civil works officer.
Speaking through the Rawai Municipality public relations officer, who can speak English, the civil works officer offered only one answer to Brett’s appeals to fix the problem: “Cannot”.
Brett, who lived and worked in the United States as general contractor in construction for 17 years, pointed out that all that was required to was take some of the “fill” from the bottom of the street to raise the grade, and the problem would be solved.
The “fill’ is the accumulation of years of the municipality fixing holes left in the street during the rainy season. However, all that was accomplished by those efforts was that with each heavy downpour the “fill” washed downhill, where it remained.
A second visit to Rawai Municipality about a week later returned the same results. The civil works officer said for Brett to just change the driveway gradient on his own property to match the street, and repeated that it was not his problem.
However, this time the civil works officer also said he had tried to call Brett many times, but Brett’s phone shows no evidence of any of the “attempts” even reaching his phone.
The civil works officer also threatened to sue Brett over the driveway originally extending beyond his property line – despite the house being fully approved by Rawai Municipality at the time the house was built.
The civil works officer even said that Brett made no attempts to inform Rawai Municipality of the problem – despite three posts highlighting the problem being posted on Rawai Municipality official Facebook page proving otherwise.
“All you have to do is raise it up two feet. Reuse the fill that’s still down the street. It would not cost much money, and would not take long,” Brett told The Phuket News.
“If they did it two weeks ago it would have been easy. Now they have installed drains past the home, and the problem is bigger,” he added.
Even the contractor agreed about the simple fix – but the decision to change anything to do with the construction of the street remained at the discretion of Rawai Municipality, Brett noted.
Brett also confirmed with the contractor that the level that the street is at now is where it will be when the street is to be completed. There will not be any extra fill or layering to raise the street, only a layer of concrete has yet to be applied.
“They will remove the existing dirt that remains above the drains then lay wire on the road and pour concrete over that and call it a road,” he said.
Brett has tried lawyers, but there has been a clear lack of interest in taking up his case. “Two lawyers just walked away,” he said.
Now the support pillar for the fence to Brett’s home is starting to crack. The trench for the drains has been excavated right on the property line, leaving the boundary fence wall at risk of collapsing.
“It will cost B100,000 to rebuild the boundary fence wall and a further B150,000 to excavate and rebuild the driveway so it can safely reach the street and install a new gate, which will have to be a concertina type gate in order to open with the new space restrictions,” Brett explained.
“Further excavation of the front of the property will be needed if we want to avoid banging the car doors on the ground when getting in and out of the car,” he added.
“When I spoke to them, fixing this was very, very cheap. Now I don’t know what to do,” Brett said.
“The initial cost to raise the street level would have been about B20,000-30,000,” Brett added.
Now he is facing about a quarter of a million baht to fix the problem.
Brett told The Phuket News that his intention of going public with the problem created by Rawai Municipality was to warn other people what may lay in store more than 10 years after moving into their home.
“If this is part of owning your own home in Thailand, people should know about it,” he said.
Brett invites anyone who has serious suggestions that might help restore safe access to his home because of a problem he had no part in creating to email him at email@example.com.
Hermann1 | 20 May 2023 - 09:24:49