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  • Writer's pictureAtiqah Nadiah Zailani

Ringgits & Cents: Costing for the Meraki Project

How much building a house (and an eventual farm-slash-orchard) is costing the wallet.

budget and calculator

If you've been following my Personal Finance series, you will know exactly how I feel about loans and interest rates. So when I decided to build my own home, I was adamant about keeping the costs down so that I could afford to do it without having to borrow money.

That meant:

1) I was limited by what little I have managed to save up or earn in less than a decade of working.

2) I had to look outside the city in places where prices wouldn't give me a heart attack.

3) I had to really prioritise what it was that I wanted out of my house, and leave out the excess and the unnecessary.

4) I had to make a few unconventional decisions about what my house would be like.

At the point in which I made the decision to build my own house, the only other option I had seriously considered was a 750-square feet studio apartment in town with a price tag of RM 500,000 - cue flashback to my father's infamous sassy quip: "You want to pay half-a-million bucks to live in a shoebox??"

Well, my father won't be impressed with the fact that my Meraki Tiny House, by deliberate design, turned out to be an even smaller shoebox at 520-square feet, but hey, at least it comes with 40,000 square feet of forest!

So, let's see how this Meraki Tiny House project stacks up in comparison to the half-a-million that I almost plonked down and signed my life away to the bank for.

Note: Given the project is ongoing, the costs below are not final and will continue to be updated as I slowly but surely go through the project.



Before deciding to embark on this major do-it-yourself project, I decided to test out whether the house and the lifestyle I was designing was something that I seriously wanted to do. I spent a day learning about organic gardening, then took a step further by spending a week on a permaculture farm, learning about the sheer amount of work it took to maintain a food-producing farm. Prior to the build, I was meant to undergo a builder basic workshop to learn the basic skills required for my project, but I unfortunately could not find the time. I did manage to scrape through the build, but I would've liked to be better prepared.

If your own project is also something very new to you, definitely take the time to learn and experience more about it before taking the plunge.



The land I ended up buying is a Malay Reserve Land in the outskirts of town. It is also a shared land title, which means there are risks linked to ownership, hence why the price was what it was. For land that is not reserved, closer to town and equipped with individual land titles, you would expect to pay a whole lot more.



The biggest costs were, quite rightfully, the steel and timber that formed the bones and flesh of the house. The all-glass walls and folding doors were very expensive and completely unnecessary (also not particularly secure either...), but I insisted on splurging on them anyway because I really wanted them. Hey, my house, my choice.



The build was done with a mixture of volunteers and specialists - the latter particularly for the more complicated or high-risk things like waterworks, or obvious things that you really don't want to mess up with noob hands, like paint and finishing.



The first three items are self-explanatory, while the remaining are costs associated with the group build of around 30 volunteers over the course of 2 weekends and 1 additional day.



As of now, the house is not yet liveable - there are no furniture, no electricity, no source of water and no proper staircase to lead up to the loft. Oh, and no toilet.

This sad state of affairs will be rectified over time (i.e. when I am finally able to be home for long enough to get stuff done), and I will update the costing as I go.





AMOUNT BORROWED: RM 0 (yaaaasssss!)

[Costing last updated: 26 January 2018]

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