Comply with laws when renovating

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Ever since mass housing development as we know it today became a permanent trend in providing housing accommodation for the masses over the recent decades, along with it came the flourishing of the spin-off industry called ‘renovation’.

Renovation, in gist, refers to varying the original design of the existing habitat or housing unit either by addition, omission, or a combination of both to the existing property. Some common examples are kitchen extension, adding a bedroom upstairs, a study downstairs, widening the living area, etc. 

For the benefit of wannabe renovators, the National House Buyers Association (HBA) offer the following cautionary pointers:

6) Getting consent from your Management Corporation (MC)

In many gated and guarded stratified community schemes, the Management Corporation (MC) is vested the right to vet through the proposed renovation by the house owner in an attempt to preserve the neighbourhood from becoming ‘disjointed’ and ‘incohesive’ which was mentioned in Part 1 titled: ‘Renovation pointers for house buyers which was published earlier, through the signing of Deed of Mutual Covenants when the property was purchased from the developer.

The MC has vested the right through the Deed of Mutual Covenants to comment and approve on issues ranging from aesthetic, style of design, extent of works, colour scheme, height and how the surrounding environments would look like.

HBA opines that despite the good intention of the MC to preserve the integrity of the neighbourhood but the Local Authority (LA) or ‘Majlis Tempatan’ remain the only body to approve and comment on these issues. The MC in-house policies and procedures are subservient to the Local Authority laws, for example, Town and Country Planning Act, 1976, Uniform Building By-Laws, 1984 and a host of others.

Nevertheless, that aside, house owners are advised to seek consultation with the MC in order to smoothen your paths to carrying out these work through amicable arrangements.

7) Timing of Renovation works

For houses (including those singles and individually built) completed with or having obtained Certificate of Fitness for Occupation (CFO) or Certificate of Completion and Compliance (CCC) or Occupational Certificate (OC) may commence their renovation subject to making an application to the LA for amendment(s) to those previously approved building plans.

As for the landed houses you bought, such as terrace, semi-detached, superlinks and zero-lot bungalows and even the individually built houses from the developer; ideally, you may commence your renovation works after the attainment of CFO / CCC/ OC. However, clause 14 of the Sales & Purchase Agreement, schedule G of the Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Regulations 1989 allows ‘renovation’ to be carried out concurrently with the construction of the main body of the house based on your preferred specifications.

Should you choose to exercise this option of the S&P Agreement, it is paramount that you work out the detailed works and specifications to be incorporated in your housing unit while the main body of the house is in progress. Remember, the key issue is for the house owner to coordinate closely with the housing developer on these works.

8) Time and manner for carrying out renovation

For those who reside in the gated and guarded stratified communities, it is important to check on the terms and conditions stated in the Deed of Mutual Covenant signed between the developer and purchasers/ owners. Essentially, for most gated and guarded communities, the MC would impose the placement of a deposit with them to enable them to utilize these funds to rectify non-compliances left behind by the building contractor engaged by the house owners such as non-removal of building debris, materials or damaging the common properties such as road and drains, etc to preserve the integrity of the neighbourhood.

By understanding these conditions, the owners can impose the same on the building contractor at the engagement stage where a sum owing to the contractor to be set aside to cater on the same.

For those who do not stay at the gated and guarded communities, these non-compliances will expose the house owners to the fine(s) and sanction(s) imposed by the Local Authority. By the same token, where a sum owing to the contractor to be set aside to cater on the same, otherwise the authority fine(s) and sanction will be borne solely by the owners for breaching the laws not caused by them but by their contractors.

Photo by Agê Barros on Unsplash

The timing for carrying out such renovations is stipulated by the MC as part of the approved conditions. This restriction is to ensure these construction works are limited to the day, typical working hours would be 8am-6pm from Mondays to Fridays and 8am-1pm on Saturdays, and no work is allowed to be carried out on Sundays, a rest day for most residents.

Similar time restrictions would also be imposed by the Local Authority regardless of whether the property is within the gated and guarded communities or otherwise. This is to ensure the neighbourhood is not overtly burdened by the constructions activities that they become a nuisance to the neighbourhood especially during the evening and weekend if the same is not governed.

9) Aesthetics

This is meant for owners of terrace, semi-detached, superlinks and zero-lot bungalows where indiscriminate renovation would render the neighbourhood ‘incohesive’ and the property value devalued as a resultant consequence as mentioned earlier.

Try to pay attention and be sensitive to the existing architectural aesthetic. Consult your designer / architect before venturing on renovation affecting the overall aesthetic/ outlook of the building.

10) Compliance with Approved Plans

Failure to strictly follow the approved Building Plans has accounted for many cases where the house owners failed to obtain CFO/ CCC/ OC for their renovation works.

In some cases, the owners had deviated from the approved drawings with/ without consulting their architect and not following the requisite procedures for obtaining approval on such amendments. The end result is that they suffer setbacks and delays as they were imposed with a hefty fine(s)/ penalties by the LA and ordered to ‘Stop Work Order’ on site until the proper procedures have been complied with.

HBA is a staunch believer of carrying out works in compliance with the requisite LA requirements to cut the necessary hassles from the authority threats, delays and not to mention paying a hefty fine(s)/ penalties to the LA on top of your renovation costs.

Financial Outlaw

Having the financial resources and capital outlay is crucial to the successful completion of the dream renovation works. If at any instance, there is an interruption in the steady stream of money, the progress of the renovation would surely be affected. One should ensure that ‘one does not bite off more than one can chew’.

This article is jointly written by Datuk Chang Kim Loong, Hon Secretary-General and Ar YS Ng, Technical Advisor of the National House Buyers Association (HBA). HBA can be contacted at: Email: Website:,   Tel: +6012 334 5676

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