Embracing the inevitable: Buildings will eventually require refurbishment

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Painters painting exterior of building

There will come a time when upgrading works must be done 

By Joseph Wong

As time marches on, buildings age. What was once new and vibrant gradually shows signs of wear and tear, demanding attention and care to maintain its functionality and aesthetics. 

Like any other man-made structure, buildings are subject to the effects of time and usage. External factors such as weather, environmental conditions and structural stresses gradually take their toll, leading to the deterioration of various components. Interior systems, from plumbing and electrical wiring to HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), also undergo wear and may become outdated or inefficient over time.

Inevitably, there comes a time when refurbishment and upgrades become necessary to ensure that buildings remain safe, efficient and appealing for occupants and visitors alike.

For house owners, it is more simple. The average refurbishment cost for a landed property in Malaysia ranges from RM31,000 to RM60,000, depending on the complexity of the work required. This budget includes essential tasks such as demolishing walls, installing new wiring and piping, repainting as well as waterproofing and flooring installation.

However, for residents of high-rise and condominium complexes, the situation is different, particularly in mixed-use developments that include both commercial and residential components. This is where the management corporation or joint management body (JMB) comes in as they would have to represent the collective whole.

Addressing safety and structural integrity

One of the primary reasons for building refurbishment and upgrades is to maintain safety and structural integrity. As buildings age, structural components may weaken, posing risks to occupants and neighbouring properties. Refurbishment projects often involve structural assessments to identify any weaknesses or areas of concern, followed by necessary repairs or reinforcements to ensure the building's stability and safety.

Moreover, with growing awareness of environmental sustainability and rising energy costs, upgrading building systems to improve energy efficiency has become a priority for many property owners. Retrofitting older buildings with modern, energy-efficient technologies such as LED lighting, smart thermostats and insulation can lead to significant reductions in energy consumption and operating costs over time.

repair leak water pipe on gypsum ceiling interior office buildin

Improving functionality and comfort

Refurbishment projects also aim to enhance the functionality and comfort of buildings to meet the evolving needs of occupants. This may involve reconfiguring interior layouts to optimise space utilisation, upgrading amenities and facilities to modern standards and installing new technologies to improve comfort and convenience.

From a financial perspective, building refurbishment and upgrades can significantly increase property value and marketability. Well-maintained, modernised buildings command higher rental and resale prices, attracting tenants and buyers seeking quality, updated spaces. Investing in refurbishment not only protects the owner's investment but also positions the property competitively in the market.

For outward appearances, it is much easier as something as simple as a fresh coat of paint over discoloured walls can instantly uplift and add value to a property. For example, when Ken Damansara II in Petaling Jaya was repainted in 2016, the selling price for a unit jumped by as much as RM40,000 compared to the price before the repainting. 

Preserving architectural heritage

In cases where buildings hold historical or architectural significance, refurbishment projects take on added importance in preserving and protecting these cultural treasures for future generations. Careful restoration efforts, guided by preservation experts and historical research, ensure that the building's unique character and heritage are retained while addressing structural and functional concerns.

Understanding that there are many pain points to deal with, StarProperty will be hosting a roundtable discussion, supported by Nippon Paint, to address the issues with the findings and solutions to be published in the July StarProperty Pullout on July 5. Those who wish to contribute to the Sustainable Refurbishment of Existing Buildings 2024 Wishlist can access the Google form at https://forms.gle/EyohBnyUSUcruDxM6

The experts invited for the roundtable include the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association president Datuk NK Tong, Royal Institution of Surveyors Malaysia (RISM) president Adzman Shah Mohd Ariffin and past president Datuk Lau Wai Seang, Malaysian Institute of Property & Facility Managers (MIPFM) president Ishak Ismail, Rahim & Co International Estate Agency chief executive officer Siva Shanker, Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) past president Sarly Adre Sarkum and ESG committee chairman Axxu Hoi and two highly experienced Nippon Paint refurbishment experts. 

In the life cycle of every building, refurbishment and upgrades are inevitable milestones that cannot be ignored. By proactively addressing ageing infrastructure, improving energy efficiency, enhancing functionality and preserving architectural heritage, property owners can ensure that their buildings remain safe, attractive and valuable assets for years to come. Embracing the necessity of refurbishment is not only a wise investment in the present but also a commitment to the future sustainability and vitality of our built environment.


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Want to contribute articles to StarProperty.my? Email: editor@starproperty.my
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