Thursday, October 27, 2011

Design Dream or Renovation Nightmare.

My condominium is comprised of 3 bedrooms. These include 1 master bedroom, a middle sized bedroom and an extremely small bedroom. The master bedroom would be considered a quite small bedroom compared to American standards, while the other two would be considered closets. I have been thinking for quite some time about converting the smallest room into a walk-in closet and the middle room into a combination office/guest room.  I would like to simply take out the built in bed and put in a desk and shelving units for books and storage. There is a window, which opens out to a very small balcony. The window opens enough for the cat, but not Kevin or myself. I would like to replace this window with a door or a window which would open wide enough so a person could actually fit.

This seems to be a simple enough project. If I were back home, a couple of trips to Home Depot would take care of the situation. But I am here in Malaysia. Everything is concrete. Even hanging a picture is a major project. I would also like to add some more electrical outlets, but this too is a major problem. For some reasons the contractors in Malaysia think that all electrical outlets should be placed in one central location in a room, which are convenient to them, but not the owners. When you need to plug in a lamp, hair dryer, shaver or some other small appliance you have to find the nearest outlet, which is most often not convenient. You could use an extension cord, but the ones sold here are only 2 or 3 feet long. So they are useless.

I have now started talking with contractors and designers about my ideas. I stress that I do not want a lot of hacking, as both Kevin and I are allergic to cement dust. I also stress that I don't want to spend a fortune. So far I am having trouble with the concepts of a combination office/ guest room and also a walk-in closet. Most contractors have no idea of what I am talking about. The shelves they understand, so I can see some light at the end of the tunnel. The biggest problem so far is that no one seems to want to do a project that does not involve a lot of hacking. In other words they want the more expensive alternative. I will now start visiting DIY shops looking for shelves and hoping I can find a competent carpenter to do the work.


  1. I agree, Malaysia is not the best place for contractor work, I got leaking bathroom ceiling still waiting for plumbers to return to fix it.(2weeks now)

    But with regards to your ideas I feel you can tackle the jobs yourself.

    I went to the hardware store in JB they and most hardware store sell electrical cable from a hugh roll and can cut it to you size, then all you need are some plug and sockets, some trunking to hide the cable runs but all in all no concrete dust. I used the hard as nails to stick trunking to the walls.

    with regards to the shelves I also after lots of calls and getting myself annoyed at them not understanding the simple request for the shelves ended up buying ready made shelves from Ikea and again attaching the to the walls with hard as nails.(been up now three years still holding strong).

    I was amazed at what i could do once I got into it and being retired gave me something to tax the brain other than Golf and sports lol.

    Good Luck with your projects.

    Regards John retired in JB

  2. My limited experience has been that novel ideas are not really grasped. It is often that there are accepted changes, those can be done. Doing something different is really hard to get people to understand. And many I have encountered don't seem worried about gaining business. If you don't want exactly what they have done, well they can't help...?

    The layout of condos is interesting here. They do just seem to have a minimum of 3 bedrooms, no matter the size. So if the total square feet is small, the bedrooms get really small. Also they have more space for "common" areas in the condo/apartment (living room...) it seems to me than in the states.

    The style is very much for a family it seems to me. While many 3 bedrooms in the states would be for 3 20 somethings (and they want a room big enough to go camp in when they want privacy).

    And the lack of 1 bedrooms or 2 bedrooms is also interesting.

  3. Thanks John for your comments. I will keep you posted.