Cheap Home Refurbishment Guide

1:07 AM

I recently bought an old run down flat which required A LOT of work. To start off, the electrical wires were all stolen. All the doors(including the front door) were missing. It was full of rubbish.

My strategy was:
1. Buy it dirt cheap with all its flaws
2. Fix all that needed to be fixed
3. Touch up the unit to make it comfortable for tenants
4. Be kedekut gila in getting it done.

My aim was:

"To provide a quality residence at a fraction of a cost. Low cost living with style."

After getting all the doors replaced and the electricals in order (took a large chuck from the budget), I proceeded to the aesthetic part. This is the part that is worthy of sharing.

Before the touch up
At the beginning of the touch up:
1. The walls were plain white with some smudge here and there due to wear and tear.
2. The floor was just plain cement.
3. Looked very dull and not so pleasant to stay in.


Due to my kedekut-ness and lack of budget, I painted everything myself. It took me a while to get it all done though. Roughly two weeks as I only spent time painting the walls after work. I used the cheapest (but rather good quality) paint I could find. RM 37 for a bucket of 7 liters. If I were to paint the whole unit, 7 liters wouldn't be enough. So, I just painted the feature walls.

In every room, I would identify the wall that can be seen upon entering the room, best illustrated with this awesome drawing.

The line of sight of a stick man upon entering the room

Only the wall on the left is painted
I preferred to use bright colors to make the room appear bigger. This is a flat, so the perception of spaciousness makes the tenant feel better about his or her room. Happy tenant, duit masyoook.


Bare cement floors tend to look awful and uncomfortably rough. One option is to resurface it with tiles which would cost thousands of Ringgit. The next best and cheapest solution is to get a tikar getah (rubber mat?). It costs me RM 17 per meter. Cutting it up to fit into the dimensions of the room can be a bit tedious though. I like the wooden flooring look as it exudes a certain class to the whole room.


Not all second hand furniture shops sell items at reasonable prices. I came across a few shops selling second hand furniture at only RM 20 to RM 50 discount. There was one shop in Balakong selling a used metallic single bed frame for RM 150, while a brand new one can be purchased at RM 160 from a store just across the road!
I bought a single bed (wooden) frame with a mattress for RM 130. You see that three seat sofa in the picture above? That one was only RM 50!
The key here is to survey as many shops as possible. Once you find a good shop, make sure you kow dim properly with the tow kay and become a loyal customer.


1. Lights

The standing lamp costs RM 35 at IKEA. (But DO NOT buy the light bulb at IKEA. It's too expensive!). The warm light gives a warm home feel to the whole living room. When prospective tenants come into the room, they will instantly be enticed to have a sit at the sofa. 

2. Wall fixtures

Notice how the frames give life to the otherwise dull looking wall? Those frames can be bought at IKEA for RM 3.90 each. I would prefer the frames to be black though as it gives a better contrast to a bright wall, but black was out of stock.

3. Throw and cushion

The used sofa appeared worn out and a bit stained. Refurbishing the sofa would cost at least RM 100. An alternative would be to use a throw or a blanket with patterns to cover the sofa up. That throw cost RM 8 (on sale) at IKEA and it totally gave the sofa a new life.

The cushion matches well with the wall and throw as well. I bought the cushion a few months back at Parkson for RM 10.

4. Curtains and bed sheets

Don't leave the windows and mattresses bare. Cover it up with curtains and bed sheets. I bought the curtains and bed sheets at AEON during it's AEON Member's Day at dirt cheap prices. The curtains were RM 20 a pair and the bed sheets were RM 40 - RM 60. You can get them cheaper at warehouse sales of AKEMI or WINSIR. But that only happens roughly once a year. REMEMBER, don't expect to get the bed sheets back. Just let the tenants use it until jadi belacan.

I hope this would be of help to some newbie property investors like me. Ukur baju di badan sendiri. If you can't afford a condo with built in kitchen cabinets and swimming pools, start off with a flat. It's a matter of finding a suitable property for your budget.

Happy Investing


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