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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tips on buying condo in Malaysia

1. Water tank & intermediate pump room

Price of land keep rising especailly in major cities and a few high class area of Malaysia like Georgetown and Kuala Lumpur, Damansara Heights ,Bangsar and Kenny Hills. many property developers with land bank in good location have embarked on building highrise luxurious condominium.They call them the "semi-detached" or "bangalow" in the sky.Not only that, some of the high end units even have own private lift lobby. The selling price of these luxurious condo range from RM400-00 per square feet in Penang to RM1000-00 per square feet or more in the Kuala Lumpur area depending on specification and location.As i have mentioned in other posts.Location location location.Location always determine the price and value.Some condos are going higher in storey because of limited number of units per floor.Many of them still remained 40 storey of height.

The water storage tank is equipped at the very top of the building.Authorities always require storage of one day water demand for the entire block.The roof top water tank supply the water to all units through a down pipe by mean of gravity flow.The water are taken to the roof top tank by means of a pump that pump water from a water tank situated at the ground floor pump room through a riser water pipe, pumping is automatically started when water level in the roof top water tank fall to a designated level.

When the building is too high, the authorities will require a two stage pumping whereby water from the ground floor is pumped from the ground floor water tank to a intermediate water tank and pump room at the middle height of the building before water is eventually pump to the roof top. Say if a building is 38 storey high, you may find a water tank and pump room at 19 floor or a bit higher or lower depending on the design of the consultants.

When purchasing a condo unit, purchasers are often presented with a sale chart which show the selling price of units at different level, sometime one or two units at mid level may be used as the intermediate water tank and pump room and very often the unit are indicated in the sale chart as the water tank room or some developer may choose to just leave it blank without assigning a name for that rooms.

If there are six units at the floor where the intermediate water tank and pump room is situated, usually two units will be used for the water tank and pump room with the remaining four units available for sale.

When buying condo units, it is wise to avoid buying units at the same floor where the intermediate pump room is situated as well as units at floor immediately above or below the intermediate pump room as you can expect some noise when the pump is running. As the pumping is a daily business, you do not want to end up with a unit where the occupant will be constantly disturbed by the noise of pump. Sub selling those units or renting out those units will be more difficult.

As there will always be a pump room at the ground level, it will also be wise to avoid unit immediately above the pump room.

As owning a condo unit is getting more costly, check carefully before commit on buying, talk to the sale representatives, do not believe everything they say, some will tell you that the pump runs only once in a while, some will say that there will be more privacy living above or below the water tank room as there no people living in the water tank room, some will say that it is a water tank room without telling you that there are actually pumps in the room.

Of course there are also good developers that provide proper rubber bearing to cushion the vibration of the pump or construct the proper insulation to prevent the noise from the pumps from affecting the neighbouring units. I say it is best to avoid those units especially the unit below and above the pump room which will be affected most by vibration and noise from the pump.

2. Lift

Highrise condo are equipped with lift with high where the up and down movement of the lift cars are guided by rails attached to the wall of the lift core. If a condo unit shares the wall with the lift core, the up down movement of the lift car will create noise and vibration and will more likely transmit to the condo unit.How much noise or vibration is transmitted depend on the structural design of the condo itself, if the structure is designed with sheer wall or reinforced concrete, then the noise transmitted may only be minimal compare to brick wall.

To avoid this problem,an ideal condo design should ideally have a buffer such as staircase area or any other utility area between the condo wall and the lift core wall so that the noise from the lift car movement can be well insulated from being transmitted to the condo unit.

However, how much noise there is also depend on the type or quality of the lift and the thickness of the wall of the lift core. In the most optimistic case where the good quality lifts are being used together with thick lift core wall, the noise transmitted will be very minimal.

3. Roof

The price of condo units at higher floor tend to be higher compared with the lower floor units as most higher floor units command better view. In most cases, the bigger units such as duplex or penthouse are also purposely designed to situate at the top most few floors. It is important to note the type of roof of the building when one is buying a unit at the top most floor, one should check if the roof is a tiled roof or concrete roof. Both types of roof if constructed properly would not pose any problem to the dweller of the top most floor.

However, there is one scenario where reinforced concrete roof can pose a problem. I had the opportunity to observe a case where the roof of a duplex unit is a reinforced concrete roof and the concrete roof also serve as the compound for the penthouse at the floor above. The subject building was designed with staggered height whereby the middle section is two floor higher to accommodate the penthouse at middle section with the duplex at the lower section at the side. With the reinforced concrete roof of duplex serving as the compound of the penthouse sound like wonderful idea but the problem surfaced when the owner of the penthouse decided to renovate his compound by putting on beautiful tiles. In the process of putting on the tiles, certain hacking would have to be carried out and unknowingly the waterproofing material to prevent seepage of water through the reinforced concrete roof is damaged. After completion of the tile laying, the penthouse owner has a beautiful compound but the duplex owner begin to suffer as the reinforced concrete roof started to have seepage during rain as the waterproofing is now not perfect and rain water starts to seep through the roof, the seepage may not be serious enough to cause a leaking roof but the roof will most of the time be wet because of the continuous seepage. Practically water is retained in the reinforced concrete roof until a prolonged dry season dry the roof. The seepage cause not only the roof to be wet but also the wall as water will find its way downward due to gravity flow. With the wet roof and wall, paint start to peel off and fungus developed.

However one may say that any defect to building can be rectified but the problem highlighted above is more complicated as the roof which serve as the compound of the penthouse cannot be accessed other than going through the door of the penthouse. The owner of the penthouse does not suffer any ill effect out of his renovation and therefore will not allow anyone to enter his house for any rectification works.

For the owner of the duplex below, the leaking problem could only be rectified at the floor above, the management couldn't do much as the compound is part of the penthouse and considered as private property. The owner of the duplex can resort to legal recourse to compel the owner of the penthouse to carry out the rectification works but that would be time consuming.

Therefore if one is buying a condo with reinforced concrete roof above, make very sure that the roof is part of the common properties where the management can gain access to the roof if there is any damage to the waterproofing system.

4. Carpark

Condominium for sale from developer especially those high end condominium is packaged with a minimum of two car parks as accessory parcel to the sale & purchase agreement.Somehow some condominum only eligible for one parking per unit.Thus you need to rent extra parking unit.The car parks are already allocated for each unit of condo unit.One should ask for the car park layout to ensure that you like the car parks location.The two or three car parks allocated are usually in the same location, usually side by side or the same floor.An attempt to change the car park location after signing of sale & purchase agreement is rather hard or should sometimes quite impossible as every single car park would have been allocated to a condo unit.As car parks are key component to condo living, be very sure you like the car park location before signing the agreement.

5. Refuse area

All highrise condo block are designed with a refuse room at every floor to allow the residents to dispose off their rubbish without taking it to the ground floor. When one is buying a condo unit, what is normally given by the sale person to the potential buyer is a beautiful brochure that shows the location plan, site plan, floor plans, building perspective, specifications and all other information that the developer wants the buyer to know. Thing like the exact location of the refuse room is never clearly indicated in the brochure, the refuse room is normally located at the common area at each floor and because there are many other facilities like the riser duct, escape staircase, meter room etc within the common area, it is inevitably that the refuse room will be closer to certain units. Therefore always ask the sale person specifically where is the exact location of the refuse room before finalising on the purchase. You sure would not want to end up buying a unit where the refuse room is close to your unit.

However if the unit that you like is close to the refuse room, then make very sure that the refuse room is designed with double doors, two layers of door whereby if a door is not fully closed, chances that the other set of door will be closed, which mean that when a resident wanted to dispose off rubbish in the refuse room , he or she will have to go through one door after another. The two sets of door will minimise the smell of rubbish from escaping from the refuse room.

6. Air-con piping

Air conditioning is such an integral part of condo living today, a three rooms condo would need five aircon units, one for each room and one each for living and dining area. Most of the high end condo units are designed with a designated area for aircon compressor unit and these area are usually accessible through windows or balcony for ease of future maintenance. Some of the reputable developers have even included the aircon units in their sale package and for those who don't, they probably have included the aircon electrical points as well as the piping for the aircon units. However, there are some that only provide the aircon points without the piping.

Therefore when one is comparing between different projects, be sure to compare apple to apple and take into consideration the cost involved in the installation of those aircon piping as well as the drain pipe for the aircon units. While the air compressor units are required to be placed at certain designated area, the drain pipe would most ideally be required to be taken to bathroom and most of the time require certain hacking and patching which sometime can involve replacement of floor tiles and most probably will require repainting of certain area. Some developers will include aircon units and piping and sell the units at slightly higher price while some will sell at lower price and provide only the electrical points.

7. Land status

There are two kind of status,can either be commercial or residential.If you intend to buy a unit,knowing the land status of the development project is important.If the land status is commercial, the quit rent, assessment and the utilities bills will be charged at a higher commercial rate compare to residential status. For those who are buying for own staying, this maintenance cost will be higher for the unit. For those buying for rental yield, the utilities bill may most likely be paid by the tenant, the higher quit rent and assessment may translate to a lower rental yield.


  1. Thanks! I think your tips and suggestions can also be used not just in Malaysia, but also in some other countries where you are planning to purchase a real estate property..


  2. This is interesting. I will apply those tips. Thanks!


  3. Most people buy condos for convenience especially if it's near their work place. Buyers should take some time and check the place themselves to see if there's any problem with the condo. Lifts are very convenient, especially if your unit is on a higher floor.

  4. These are a great help for buying condos and other real estate properties.


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