The island of Koh Samui is subject to certain land and building regulations that aim to protect its natural environment and to promote sustainability. Such measures to protect the future of the island are granted under the Building Control Act B.E. 2522 (1979)** and the Town and City Planning Act B.E. 2518 (1975)**.
The regulations concerning the distances from the beach are part of the Building Control Act, which describe what can be built in proximity to the ocean. The Town and City Planning Act designates areas or zones for land and building purposes.
Building regulations on Koh Samui govern a structures’ height and area in relation to the distance from the beach. Further environmental regulations include the governing of design factors that are based on both the height above sea level and the sloping of the land in which the building sits. Other laws that can govern building and construction include, but are not limited to, the Forest Act and the Nature Reserve Act.
These regulations must be observed when planning to start construction on land in Koh Samui. Therefore, before starting any construction, a building permit must be applied for at the local land office in Koh Samui. If the building and environmental regulations are adhered to, then a permit will be issued. Such a permit is needed when building from the ground up on vacant land, as well as significantly modifying existing structures.
As part of a building plan, there are certain things that need to be considered that will ensure that guidelines are being followed. For instance, how close the structure will be from the beach, to what gradient in which your land slopes measure, and the height of your plot in reference to the sea level.
Although the regulations are set forth by the city or town where construction takes place, the exact position of the beach is open to interpretation and is under the discretion of local authorities.
Distance From The Beach Regulations
Within 10 meters from the beach: No construction at all is permitted.
From 10 to 50 meters from the beach: Only one-storey buildings are allowed to be constructed and must have a height that does not exceed 6 meters (roof included). The total built area cannot exceed 75 sqm. The roof structure should also be peaked and not flat.
From 50 to 200 meters from the beach: A structure can be up to 12 meters high (roof included) and the total built area cannot be larger than 2,000 sqm. The roof structure should also be peaked and not flat.
From 200 meters and further from the beach: A structure can be up to 12 meters high (roof included.) The roof structure should be peaked and not flat.
Height Above Sea Level (Altitude) Regulations
Less than 80 meters above the sea level: In general, no additional measures apply at this level. However, property developments featuring more than 10 units are required to have suitable waste treatment and water systems. Hotels at this level must feature 50% of their land as being considered “green” or unbuilt.
Between 80 and 140 meters above the sea level: Land at this level needs to be at least 400 sqm, with 50% of the land being “green” or unbuilt. Construction must also not exceed 6 meters high, including the roof. The roof must also cover at least 80% of the built area, with its architectural design matching its surroundings of tropical, local, or traditional Thai aesthetics.
More than 140 meters above the sea level: Land at this level needs to be at least 400 sqm, with 50% of the land being “green” or unbuilt. Construction must also not exceed 6 meters high, including the roof. The roof must also cover at least 80% of the built area, with its architectural design matching its surroundings of tropical, local, or traditional Thai aesthetics.
In addition, structures cannot exceed 90 sqm.
A slope of less than 35 degrees: No additional restrictions apply beside the distance from the beach and altitude.
A slope of 35 to 50 degrees: This degree of slope only permits for a single family home to be constructed. The home cannot exceed 6 meters high (including the roof), and 80 Sqm. 75% of the land must be “green” or unbuilt on, with half of the unbuilt area must feature untouched native trees (in order for the strong roots to be able to hold the land.)
A slope of more than 50 degrees: Construction is not allowed.
The Town and City Planning Act governs the zoning regulations for Koh Samui. The following is a list of zones that are especially pertinent to those planning to build residential properties on the island.
Zone 1 (Yellow): This is a low-density residential zone and is the largest residential land area on the island. It is designated for properties like villas that feature surrounding land space.
Zone 2 (Orange): This zone is also for individual residential buildings and hotels, although the population density allowed in these areas is higher. It also allows for large, residential projects for different types of housing structures. However, water supply and waste disposal regulations must be observed.
Zone 3 (Green Stripes): This zone allows for a mix of residential, commercial and recreational projects. There are various regulations which must be observed for residential buildings, such as a maximum height of six meters. At least 50% of the total plot area must be left green, or unbuilt upon, and residences must use a Thai or tropical design.
****Although these details and recommendations have been checked for accuracy at the time of publishing, we recommend verifying the information with a property lawyer as rules and regulations can frequently change without notice.****
For more information about living and investing on Koh Samui, check out our customized guides: