Your mate would have had his work cut out with a stone house, hard work.
I feel the thing about Chinese goods is that they're virtually all made down to a price, not up to a quality. That's from bitter experience. Having said that I feel it can be luck if what you buy is any good or not.
You obviously got a good product, but knowing what's what isn't always easy.
I posted on here recently about 'genuine' Philips clippers I bought (as claimed in an online message), only to find they were a Chinese copy with a Philips label on them.
The Special tourist Visa will still be my option in the times that I can spend prolonged periods in Thailand and in the mean time the normal tourist visa will serve its purpose up until then.
How lucky some must be in having the oportunity to take up such an offer. I am truly envious!! 555