Sunday, April 12, 2009

House Remodelling: 2006

In 2005, foreigners could purchase houses outside of a few places (Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor, East Malaysia, and Malacca) as long as the price was RM150,000 or above, and were either bungalows or semi-detached (what we call duplexes in the USA). I negotiated a price of RM160,000 for our house, a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom, single story semi-D of 1,150 sq.ft. At the current exchange rate of RM3.60 = US$1, this equates to around US$39 per square foot for the purchase.
(Photo right: before)

Since the purchase, we have had many people (especially Chinese) say that we got a good deal. We had to remodel, however, in order for the place to be liveable. The remodelling costs totalled around RM49,000, which at the current exchange rate works out to less than US$12 per square foot. Here is the break-down of the major remodelling costs:
  • Retiling the living room, kitchen, bathrooms, and four small rooms: RM13,400
  • Rewiring the entire electrical system including the upgrading from single- to triple-phase: RM5,400
  • New lights: RM1,200
  • Kitchen cabinets, stovetop: RM12,500
  • Painting: RM950
  • Front roof (carpark) repair: RM3,000
  • Rear roof construction (for washing machine, drying rack): RM2,750
  • Sewer pipe replacement, septic tank cleaning: RM740
  • Bathroom fixtures (new): RM500
  • Unpaid water bill (previous owner): RM380
The bathrooms were a complete mess: old, rusted-out iron pipes, and grungy tiles. It was cheaper and easier to replace the entire bathroom floors and walls, and put in new fixtures than to contemplate repairing. Likewise, the kitchen was useless. There were only some old, doorless cabinets, half-eaten by termites. The tile was a hideous busy pattern of green and white, which made my eyes swim when I looked down. Again, it has easier to redo the entire kitchen; plus, it made the wife very happy.

(Photo left: after)

Outside, we put in a concrete pad and roof in the back to give my wife space for her washing machine and clothes-drying rack. The front car park roof had some minor leakage, which became major leakage after I attempted to repair said roof (and stepped through three times). Also, the iron sewer pipe, which runs above ground to the septic tank, had rusted through and been fertilizing the yard, which made for lush growth, but bad smells. All of these were replaced.

The yard was a mess of mud and weeds. Under them, I discovered buried construction rubbish which would have been too difficult to dig up and haul away. The decision was taken, therefore, to put grass sod over the top. We didn't keep track of money spent on the sod, but it would have been around RM2,000, I suppose. It was important to root out the lalang tubers, which would continue to produce even if covered. This was perhaps the most laborious task, but we benefit now by having a nearly weedless sod turf yard.
(Photo right: kitchen before)

All in all, we created a decent house, which is suitable for two people who don't need much in the way of living space. Although we have no park-view, we are close to the park (3 minute walk). Although we have no ocean-view, we are close to the beach (5 minute walk). Our house looks out over a road leading through our kampung, with the bicycle-riding neighbor children, and Mak Ciks and Pak Ciks hanging out and chatting with each other, whilst they tend to their laundry, and cats, and cars.

(Photo left: kitchen after)

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