When buying a home, renovations are often unavoidable. Even if you are buying a new housing project from a developer, at least you have to get someone to handle the lighting, as most homes are not fully equipped with fixtures and fittings. If you bought a resale property, the cost may increase depending on the condition of the home - your renovation expenses may include the cost of plumbing, electricity and appliances. Therefore, we thought it would be useful to provide a guide on important things to consider when renovating your home, and how much you should spend in different areas of the house.
Usually it depends on how much renovation you plan to do, the size of the home and the services you get from the contractor. The cost range may vary from what you expected. So, all we'll do is make rough assumptions to give you an idea.
The cost estimates and estimates below are based on 1,000 – 1,500 sqm sized apartments.
How much should you budget for home renovations?
Low (RM20,000 to RM30,000): This will include basic renovations, painting and minor "wet works" such as plaster ceilings, plumbing and simple cabinets or small wardrobes for small kitchens.
Medium (RM31,000 to RM60,000): This will include all of the above, plus some major wet works such as knocking down walls, large wardrobes and kitchen cabinets, and more installation works such as lamination/vinyl (vinyl )floor.
High (RM60,000+): This budget will cover all of the above plus basic equipment upgrades such as electrical wiring, water pipes and toilets. If you are taking over an older apartment, you may have to consider this budget as more foundation works will be required.
The biggest home improvement expenses can't be avoided
When renovating your home, there are costs you can't avoid. These are usually the items that cost the most, so you have to pay more attention.
Unless your unit has a pre-installed cabinet package, this should be the most common item on your renovation bill. While you can opt for more expensive (and certainly stronger) materials such as aluminium and plywood, it is more economical if you choose a combination of standard melamine and general solid surfaces.
Rough cost: RM5,000
A wardrobe is an essential item in a bedroom. You can use open hangers or even standard off-the-shelf wardrobes, but most Malaysian homeowners opt for built-in wardrobes because they last longer and can be customised to the size and height of the wall.
Rough cost: RM5,000
If you need to replace any tiles, floors or remove them, you may have to spend more on wet engineering. Of course, you can choose not to carry out these works in newer units, but for older homes, some wet works cannot be avoided. This will include work such as removing walls, tiling, cement works and plaster ceilings.
Rough cost: RM5,000
If it's a new unit, there's very little cost other than the cost of the light fixtures and plaster ceiling (assuming you opt for downlights). However, if you are buying an older unit and need to reset the wiring in your home, it is possible that replacing the old wiring with a new wiring system will add a considerable amount of renovation costs.
Rough cost: Above RM10,000
Some plumbing work is unavoidable, whether it's about your kitchen sink, washing area, or toilet renovation. If it's an older home you just bought, you may have to do a major remodel to the plumbing, toilet tiles, and waterproofing, which can be a huge expense.
Rough cost: From RM10,000
Unless you plan to coordinate all the different subcontractors yourself, you may have to hire a general contractor to oversee the renovation progress for you and hire various subcontractors depending on the project. For many people caught between work and family, it's a no-brainer. Their fee schedule is more difficult to quantify because fees are not itemized and added to subcontracted works that have raised prices.
Rough cost: 10-15% of total cost
This is probably where you'll need to spend the least, unless you want to watch Netflix in a space like the Grand Gallery of Vienna's Schönbrunn Palace. Otherwise, what you'll need to spend here is lighting and a plaster ceiling, assuming you're going to use the down lighting that most people use.
Gypsum ceiling (RM1,000)
Total cost: RM1,300
Same cost for lighting and plaster ceilings, but your main expense in this space is the aforementioned wardrobe. Of course, you can also find off-the-shelf wardrobes in places like Ikea, but in some cases the cost may not be much different than a custom wardrobe that fits your space. There is also the cost of making and installing blackout curtains that can increase comfort.
Gypsum ceiling (RM600)
Total cost: RM6,800
Many newer products come with an internal water heater pre-installed, so you don't need to worry about that expense. Likewise, you need to spend money on lighting equipment. You may want to install a simple cabinet under the sink for neat and convenient storage of toiletries. In some cases, you will need to install shower glass for your shower space, but there are some new house projects that have already been installed.
You may need to do some waterproofing work in the toilet, even in some newer units, sometimes water leaks to the downstairs unit. If this is within the defect liability period, then you can let the real estate developer handle it, otherwise you need to prepare a budget. This will include removing the original tiles, waterproofing and resurfacing the bathroom floors.
Gypsum Ceiling (RM300)
Wet Engineering and Waterproofing (RM3,000)
Total cost: RM4,000
Your main expense here will be the cabinets. Likewise, the price of kitchen cabinets depends on the size and the materials used. If you're lucky, the unit you buy may come with pre-installed cabinets and appliances like a range hood, lighting, or even a built-in oven, so you don't need to spend money on those things.
Gypsum Ceiling (RM500)
Total cost: RM5,700
In addition to lighting, one of the things you might want to consider is installing a faucet on your balcony, if your unit doesn't have it. This will make cleaning and watering outdoor plants much easier. However, while this sounds simple, it actually requires some major engineering, as water needs to be taken from the kitchen or bathroom, and the plumbing is hidden within the plaster ceiling.
Wet Works and Plumbing (RM1,500)
Total cost: RM1,600
If you are going to make major renovations on a landed property that will change the look of the house (extensions, changing doorway locations, etc.), you will need to apply for a renovation permit from your local council.
To obtain this permit, you will need to hire an architect to draw the design of your home and submit it along with the required documents for approval. Depending on the size and complexity of the project, the number may be significant. As a rough estimate, if you are expanding for a landed double storey property, you may have to pay a consultation fee of around RM3,000, which includes site surveying and charting for applying for a permit.
In addition, you will also need to pay an application fee of RM2,500, a deposit and a trash can for disposal of renovation waste. It also depends on the size of your renovation. The deposit will be refunded if your construction is completed according to the approved plan.
If your plan is large, like a structural rebuild of a home, you'll also need to hire an engineer to draw up a structural diagram to support the safety of the plan. This will be the decision of the local municipal council.
While the deposit will be refunded once the project is completed, you must still factor in your budget as you may not be able to access the money for the time being given the timing and expected completion date of the renovation. Even for basic cabinet work, most apartments will require a deposit. This means that if you plan to renovate in stages, your deposit will be held for a considerable period of time.
This amount depends on each apartment and sometimes the size of the apartment, but is usually RM2,000 or more.
Most of the interior design schemes handled by major design firms in Malaysia are "turnkey projects". Until the keys are handed over to you, the company you hired will be responsible for the main design, fit-out and most of the furniture purchases. When completed, the home is usually ready to move in.
Smaller companies may be willing to give you a more personalized design based on different areas of the home.
On average, if you hire an interior designer for a mid-sized apartment of 1,000 to 1,500 sq ft, no matter how simple the design is, it will cost you between RM150,000 and RM200,000. If you are looking for a more luxurious design in a larger space, turnkey projects can cost up to RM800,000 for interior design. Interior design work for landed homes, no matter how simple, will cost upwards of RM500,000.
IMPORTANT: While you may be happier with a company that offers fixed prices from the start and promises not to adjust them, be warned. Make sure they also maintain the quality of the material. This is because some interior design companies may quote a fixed amount from the start and end up giving you less durable inferior materials in order to make up for the rising material costs. If you are on a budget and have a high demand for materials, you can choose a company that charges based on the materials at each stage at the time. This will ensure you get the quality you want.
If you're new to investing in a house and planning to rent it out, what kind of renovations should you be considering, or is it even worth the money?
Today, the rental market is very competitive. Mostly, people are looking for more affordable options. Many have had to lower rents to keep tenants, but only to a limited extent.
The way to stand out is to invest some money in your unit to make you more visible in the same project with multiple ready to rent. Textured features such as beautiful kitchens, floors, lighting and paint will make your unit easier to rent.
Well-furnished or interior-designed properties often command better rental yields than older-looking, unfurnished properties. In some cases, it can be as high as 10-20%.
Still, that doesn't mean that if you invest a lot of money in renovating your home, demand and rental yields will increase.
For example, if you have a small studio or loft in a commercial area, it may be worthwhile to spend more to renovate, specifically, given that your unit is going to be a target for single professionals, by placing furniture and Appliances create ready-to-live-in environments because they may not have much furniture themselves.
On the other hand, if your property is a larger unit in the suburbs and it feels like home, you might keep the electrical options for basic necessities like air conditioners and refrigerators, as your unit may be tempted to have its own furniture or appliances family. Conversely, putting more of your budget into the unit, such as creating elegant bathrooms, airy kitchens and beautiful laminate floors, might make your unit stand out.
We hope this guide will give you a rough idea of how much a renovation project will cost. Again, this is only a rough estimate as there are many factors that can affect the price of a renovation project, such as the size of your space, the quality of materials and the complexity of the project. For example, a simple project like a faucet can cost RM60 – RM2,000. The solution is to compromise between what you want and what it really costs.
If that doesn't work, do the renovation in stages, starting with the most invasive wet works and tiling, and saving things like cabinets and wardrobes for later when you can afford them. The point is, this can be completely renovated according to your plans.