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Koh Samui property: useful introductory guide to property in Koh Samui

Building on Koh Samui

Many expats have chosen to settle on Koh Samui in recent years, or at least acquire a second home here, and many end up building their ideal tropical villa for a piece of their own paradise. Building on Samui, and across Thailand, is a busy activity and is supported by a large and competent industry. The biggest attraction however is the low cost and limitless options for your imagination to create a perfect tropical hideaway based on local style and living. For this reason many choose the option of Building on Samui.

If you’re planning to have a house built for you, then you will need to find yourself a good quality contractor. On Samui There are several building companies owned and run by foreigners, which should remove any communication difficulties. Building costs are far cheaper in Thailand, though the building boom on Samui, and the fact that it is an island, has inflated costs here.

Building houses is a national obsession in Thailand and there are plenty of builders and suppliers to choose from, with an impressive range of local and imported materials. While everything may appear cheap, be wary of quality as there really is no limit to the level of compromise a local builder will go to in order to meet your budget. There are numerous dishonest companies who make a good living out of naïve and trusting foreigners and they are known to cut all sorts of corners, resulting in unsafe structures or fixtures and fittings that sometimes last only a few months.

You will need to discuss your plans with an architect before building on Samui can commence, so that official plans can be drawn up. Many contractor firms can handle this for you. With the ‘go ahead’ from the architect and the regional land office, building can begin without much fuss and you will find there are far fewer restrictions. The contractor will then normally ask for a sizeable deposit, in order to purchase materials and begin the work. Further payments will then be scheduled at agreed points in the property’s construction.

As ever, if you’re unsure about any dealings you have with contractors or agents, seek independent legal advice. If you’re buying a property ‘off the shelf’ as it were, there is a wide range of choices. Thailand is very much as ‘buyer beware’ place and you often can’t even trust your lawyer to do proper due diligence or represent you fairly and professionally. Local officials are open to bribery and building regulations on Samui can be easily subverted so that a massive condo block might suddenly go up beside your little piece of paradise. Zoning is virtually non-existent.

Although foreigners can’t own land in Thailand they are entitled to lengthy freehold periods. Many of those who do have houses have either married a Thai and placed it in their name or entered into an agreement with a local who is the ‘paper’ owner of the property. Of course you would need to be very trusting of them, some companies can arrange ‘sleeping partners’, but we recommend you do your due diligence as they could effectively claim ownership and you will have very little recourse to the local courts.

Many property development companies have set up structures whereby a large piece of land is acquired and half owned by Thai investors, while foreigners then have the right to build on sub-sections of the land. This is fairly popular and seems to work without much trouble. Be wary however of dubious developers who have encroached on National Forestry land illegally, as the land could be reclaimed.

The island has plenty of professional property agents and lawyers who can advise you fully, but we do encourage you to carefully investigate the situation and even take a second opinion from others.

Real estate on Koh Samui
Buying property on Koh Samui
Koh Samui long term rentals
Living costs on Koh Samui

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This page last updated: 27 August 2007
This site last updated: 17 June 2005

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