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Stand Alone House vs Managed Development

A plumber from Wagga Wagga considering to buy a vacation house in Phuket , e-mailed to ask "What are the pros and cons with regard the management and maintenance issues of a stand alone house viz-a-ziz one in a managed development?"

Many houses in Phuket's are on estates or managed properties that require a commitment from house owners to share in the cost of certain common services, such as security, gardening and communal swimming pool maintenance and optionally offer centrally managed additional services such as rental management, daily housekeeping or maid services and villa maintenance programs.

The range of services offered vary considerably from project to project. Developments targeted primarily at second home buyers (these are, usually located in water front or near waterfront locations) will usually offer a fare more comprehensive range of services, geared to the needs of non resident owners, who will most likely require rental management services and even if they do not, certainly expect to be able to show up when they chose and find their house ready for immediate use, cleaned and with a stocked refrigerator. Fees for this type of property will generally range from several thousand Baht a month up to several thousand dollars per month depending on the level of luxury of the property, the services offered and the number of units in the development sharing those costs (smaller developments tend to have proportionally higher servicing costs because there are fewer owners sharing the many fixed costs)

House on the primarily residential estates (usually located in the center of the island) will tend to be offered a far simpler range of services, and charges will be much less, typically in the order of a few hundred Baht per month. Fees are lower not just because services offered are less, but because these developments tend to be much larger.

If you buy either a stand alone house or one in an unstructured development, to use as a vacation home - you will still need to set up some form of staffing and maintenance service for your home. Homes left unattended for long periods of time will rapidly deteriorate in a tropical climate. Some sort of regular cleaning and airing program is essential, as is some sort of gardening service - a program of building maintenance is also to be recommended unless you plan to spend your visits being the family DIY man.

In a larger private villa, these services may be best solved by maintaining a private staff on the premises at all times. With generally low levels of salary for live in domestic help, such a full time staff may well cost less than the management services that would be charged in a fully managed development, the problem however may be in keeping your staff working efficiently in your absence. If you are unable to make frequent visits or maintain a good understanding and relationship with your household staff this approach can often prove to be problematic.

An alternative approach, more appropriate to a smaller home, is to try to arrange to share a maid and possibly a gardener / handyman) with a neighbor, this has the advantage of not only reducing staff costs through sharing salary, but can also build in a bit of supervision component into the employment (assuming that the neighbor is around most of the time to oversee the staff). Gardening is however one of the easiest aspects of property maintenance to solve, as there are several companies providing contract gardening services at very reasonable cost.

A final alternative, unknown until recently, but which is just beginning to become available, is the service of a professional company (often foreign managed) providing full household management, staffing and maintenance programs. Such companies are likely to cost just as much as the services available within a fully managed development, but can deliver such assured and worry free service to almost any property on the island almost irrespective of location.