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Ringgits & Cents: Costing for the Meraki Project [Updated Dec 2019]

December 30, 2019

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


As per last year, I am conducting an end-year review of the finances for the Meraki Tiny House project, and updating the post to capture the ongoing work and accrued expenses.


It’s been 2 years since the house was built, and within this year alone, there were several major developments that you will see reflected in the costing:

  • the slope underneath the house was reworked into a working area, with a retaining wall, floors, staircases and a storeroom,

  • the living room, kitchen and bathroom were furnished to a functional level,

  • the house was broken into, leading to damages that had to be fixed and increased security measures.

The house is close to my definition of completion, but I am unfortunately still missing a toilet. Tell you more about the adventures of procuring a toilet in a later post, but for now, let’s get on with this budget update. 


Note: Items with a noticeable difference since the last costing in December 2018 are marked in blue in the costing table, 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.


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


Update: Am facing issues with abnormal dirt and mold accumulation on the steel beams caused by the frequent cooling and heating of the beams depending on the weather (thankfully, the rest of the house does not have this issue, only the steel beams due to their properties). Hired someone to help clean the steel beams, however this doesn't solve the issue, so am still looking for ways to overcome this!






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.