How much will it cost to renovate your home in Malaysia?

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The scope of work, size and floor area, and age of the property are among factors that determine the cost of a home renovation. (Unsplash pic)

The Malaysian property market continues to recover from the effect of the last few years, but while demand for new homes exists, growth is slow.

One of the reasons for this is due to rising inflation: buyers are more cautious about their spending habits and future financial plans. And one big-ticket item for any homeowner is renovation.

Homeowners need to plan and allocate resources carefully to stay within their financial means – it’s easy to go over the estimated amount if the project is not budgeted realistically.

Before any actual renovation takes place, it’s worth knowing the biggest factors that cause a budget to shoot up. This will help you set a realistic budget for any renovation, big or small.

The land size and floor area of the home will provide a rough estimate of how much it will cost to renovate the whole property or specific space. The renovation cost for a small studio apartment will differ from a double-storey semi-detached house, simply because there is much more floor area to renovate.

The scope of renovation work can be large, from demolition or hacking to wetwork, cabinets and plaster ceilings, wiring, plumbing and painting. So, even if you are renovating a small area such as the kitchen, the costs can increase if you have a long list of work that needs to be done. The more detailed and complicated your requirements, the larger the budget will be.

Do you want Italian marble or a cheaper alternative? Merbau wood or laminated plywood? For every build, you can choose from premium materials to mass-produced synthetic alternatives.

An older property is usually in need of a lot more attention compared with a new home. Internal components such as wiring or plumbing may need to be fixed or changed, and an older property may also require more hacking if you want to change the layout.

Renovation costs

Taking into account the current prices of materials – more on this tomorrow – here are the latest estimates for common renovation works, depending on the size of the home:

( pic)

1. Wall hacking / room extension

Changing the layout of rooms – for example, to expand the living room or kitchen space – can be one of the most expensive types of work done on a renovation project. Such changes involve the “bones” of the home, such as walls, roofing, or supporting structures.

Estimated costs:

  • Studio apartment: Not applicable for strata-titled property
  • Condo unit: N/A for strata-titled property
  • Two-storey terrace: From RM4,000
  • Semi-d/bungalow: From RM6,000

2. Kitchen or bedroom extension

Bedrooms are commonly extended into the balcony space; alternatively, a new room might be added on top of the porch. In the kitchen, a popular extension involves converting and adjoining the outdoor wet area into the dry kitchen. Such works will need the addition of structural elements such as concrete formwork and new load-bearing columns.

  • Studio apartment: N/A for strata-titled property
  • Condo unit: N/A for strata-titled property
  • Two-storey terrace: From RM30,000
  • Semi-d/bungalow: From RM40,000

3. Kitchen cabinets and others

Cabinets are among the biggest expenses in the kitchen because of materials needed per foot run, which refers to the length of the cabinet. You will also need a hardy countertop with a solid surface made of rubberwood or engineered stone, in addition to items such as the sink, drying racks, cabinet lights, and more.

  • Studio apartment: From RM6,000
  • Condo unit: From RM6,000
  • Two-storey terrace: From RM10,000
  • Semi-d/bungalow: From RM15,000
Stainless steel has become the material of choice for kitchen cabinets in recent years. ( pic)

4. Built-in wardrobe

Built-in wardrobes are usually done to the full height of the ceiling (about 3m), and have a standard depth of about 60cm. Costs are based on per foot run, and also vary depending on your choice of wardrobe layout; for instance, more shelves requires the use of more materials.

Studio apartment: From RM3,000

  • Condo unit: From RM6,000
  • Two-storey terrace: From RM12,000
  • Semi-d/bungalow: From RM15,000

5. Wetwork

Wetwork refers to cement and tiling, which is usually done in areas that come into contact with water such as bathrooms and kitchens. The cost of cement and mortar has increased since the start of the year due to rising coal prices, a key component in its production.

Meanwhile, tiles can come in a wide range of designs and prices. Porcelain floor tiles need to be more durable, while ceramic wall tiles can have more elaborate designs.

  • Studio apartment: From RM4,000
  • Condo unit: From RM6,000
  • Two-storey terrace: From RM15,000
  • Semi-d/bungalow: From RM20,000

6. New car porch

In a landed property, it’s common for homeowners to build a new porch so their vehicles are not exposed to the sun and rain. These can be built with a steel frame and glass or acrylic panels, or using traditional concrete formwork with roof shingles.

  • Studio apartment: N/A
  • Condo unit: N/A
  • Two-storey terrace: From RM25,000
  • Semi-d/bungalow: From RM35,000
As it is one of the most-used and intimate rooms in your home, why not make the bathroom a luxurious space? ( pic)

7. Plumbing work

Plumbing work includes repairing, installing, altering and replacing pipes, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, as well as water tanks. The plumbing system is complex and difficult to change, which is why it costs a lot to shift the placement of a shower or toilet since inlet and outlet pipes have to be moved as well.

  • Studio apartment: From RM2,000
  • Condo unit: From RM4,000
  • Two-storey terrace: From RM10,000
  • Semi-d/bungalow: From RM25,000

8. Electrical and wiring renovation

Prices for electrical work can vary greatly. If you’re just adding new electrical outlets, it can cost RM80 per outlet – but if your electrical work involves repairing, installing, and replacing power sockets, internal wiring, lighting points, and/or replacement of the distribution board, it can start upward of RM10,000.

Estimated costs for major replacement:

  • Studio apartment: N/A for strata title
  • Condo unit: N/A for strata title
  • Two-storey terrace: From RM15,000
  • Semi-d/bungalow: From RM18,000

9. Laminate flooring

When it comes to flooring, the chosen material plays a large role in the cost. Floor tiles can be more affordable but will take more time to install as there is wetwork involved. In comparison, vinyl or laminate floor planks are easier to install, and can even be placed on top of an existing floor.

Estimated costs for laminate flooring:

  • Studio apartment: From RM4,000
  • Condo unit: From RM8,000
  • Two-storey terrace: From RM15,000
  • Semi-d/bungalow: From RM18,000
Laminate flooring consists of planks coated with photographic images of wood. (Unsplash pic)

10. Plaster ceiling

To get a clean ceiling design with no exposed piping or cabling, a plaster ceiling is a must-have. A flat plaster ceiling is the most affordable, but costs will increase if you want L-boxes, cornices, or dropped tray ceilings where you can hide your lights.

  • Studio apartment: From RM2,000
  • Condo unit: From RM5,000
  • Two-storey terrace: From RM8,000
  • Semi-d/bungalow: From RM10,000

11. Exterior and interior painting

Painting is on the lower end of the price list as materials are often more affordable and labour isn’t very expensive. Prices depend on the surface area and whether it needs to be jet-washed to remove old paint.

The paint itself plays a part – for instance, if it has properties such as anti-fungal or -UV, or requires special techniques to achieve a certain look.

  • Studio apartment: Exterior painting N/A, interior painting from RM3,500
  • Condo unit: Exterior painting N/A, interior painting from RM4,000
  • Two-storey terrace: Exterior painting from RM5,000, Interior painting from RM8,000
  • Semi-d/bungalow: Exterior painting from RM6,000, Interior painting from RM10,000

Check back in tomorrow for part two of this article, which explains why renovation prices have increased and how to stick to your budget.

This article originally appeared on – Malaysia’s #1 Home Improvement Services Platform, offering a safer and more convenient way to hire the best home improvement and home maintenance professionals. From flooring to interior design to air-conditioner servicing, get access to thousands of the best local contractors and professionals at your fingertips.