top of page
  • Writer's pictureAtiqah Nadiah Zailani

Ringgits & Cents: Costing for the Meraki Project [Updated Dec 2018]

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

budget and calculator

Since I first published the costing for this project earlier in January, there have been ongoing work and expenses accrued as I attempt to put this place together. The end of the year seems like a good time to review and update, so here we go.

Note: Items with a noticeable difference are marked in blue, and updated remarks are marked as such. 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.

Update: The rainy season sent a lot of water streaming down the hill, so I had to modify the land a bit more to allow for drainage away from the house structure.


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.

Update: The house was treated with anti-termite spray that should be good for the next 3 years.


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.

*** NEW ***

If you read the post on the things I'd do differently with the house build, you would know that a major problem I face is the monkeys with whom I share the location with. To be fair, I am the human intruding on their habitat, so I fully expect them to be annoyed with me and to exact revenge, or at least claim their share of the property. However, I did not expect them to destroy parts of the house, and that led to some pretty expensive replacements of damaged property!


It was an unexpected long and uphill climb, but I finally managed to install solar power in the house! The above is the breakdown of the components involved.


The rainwater harvesting system is mostly complete - it is collecting rainwater very well - however it is missing a crucial part: being connected to a water pump and the pipes in the house. Am currently forced to carry water into the house in buckets. I also plan to do a water test and add a first-flush diverter later.


I've started to slowly (and I mean, very slowly) furnish the place, now that the place has electricity, starting with lights and fans. This is just the beginning, though, so expect the figures in this category to balloon up soon.


Also another slow and steady category. In fact, this will probably take up the rest of my life as I've got 40,000 sq ft to work with, and I'll probably pull this category out of here into its own separate tracker, as it shouldn't really be lumped in with the house budget.

On a side note, am constantly accepting plant donations if you are so inclined!


I've managed to tick off a bunch of the pending items, which is good. Regardless, there's still tons to do (in fact, there will always be something to do) - we'll see how far I get by this time next year!




  • Land ~ RM 93,000

  • House ~ RM 146,000

  • Energy & Water ~ RM 20,000

  • Furnishings ~ RM 1,000


Ugggggh, an obnoxious red, negative number!

As you can see, I have unfortunately blown past the initial budget I set, partly due to the unexpected expenses listed above (thanks, monkeys) and partly due to some things being more expensive than initially anticipated (for example, the platform to hold the water tank and the solar power system).

There's still work to be done, though, and the next big ticket items include the staircase, kitchen and toilet before the house can be reasonably deemed complete and furnished. To this end, am dipping further into my savings and allocating more money in order to increase the budget I have to play with:



Hopefully I won't blow past this budget too! But hey, even if I do, some things are worth it, and a dream house is definitely one of them.

bottom of page