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Building Your Own Home

Malaysia - Building Your Own Home

Building your own in home in Malaysia is a long process. It can be difficult in terms of language barriers if you’re using local builders and trade people. The building trade in Malaysia is a particularly knotty topic and many stories can be read that can be off-putting. That said, it can be done and the building trade is heavily regulated. As long as thorough research is undertaken, you ought to succeed. Building your own home in your native country is a stressful experience and more so in a foreign country.

Planning Permission

Foreign land buyers are not permitted by law to purchase Malay Reserve Land.

Planning permission is required for all property development on land and building without it is strictly prohibited.

Applications are made to the State Commissioner and will detail what the building will be used for, what temporary buildings may be erected and outside buildings. The Commissioner requires a number of details such as, frontage, access, the design of the building, the back of the building to mention just a few. If permission is not granted on the details, then there is an invitation for a resubmission within a set period of time. Once the Commissioner is satisfied that all requirements are made, then permission will be granted. Planning permission can have conditions attached or can be granted as unconditional although this is rare. Conditions are normally attached.


The building trade in Malaysia has increased over the last decade due to more developments and foreign investments. It’s vital that you use a registered builder or you could find yourself in very serious trouble. The Master Builder Association in Malaysia is recommended to source building companies.


Builder and construction companies are able to join the MBAM and enjoy accreditation and have access to training courses. It is the major regulator for the construction industry and members can enjoy a range of benefits. Membership gives builders the opportunity to gain contracts and keep up-to-date with health and safety requirements.

It is vital that builders are licensed to build on land which is subject to planning permission conditions and there are many builders who employ teams of contractors such as painters and decorators, electricians and interior planners. These are not required to be licensed.

Builders must have the following license if they are to work on land which is subject to planning permission:

- A General Builder’s License
- A Specialist Builder’s License

Builders who do not hold either of these licenses are committing a criminal offence if building without one. Builders can hold both licenses. It is advisable to use a builder who holds a Class 1 builder’s license as there are no restrictions in terms of construction.

Finding an Architect

Architects are specialized and should be registered by the Board of Architects in Malaysia.

Tingkat 17, Block F, Ibu Pejabat JKR,
Jalan Sultan Salahuddin,
50582 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tele: 00 60 (3) 2698 2878

This regulatory body has strict guidelines for architects: they have to produce identification, verifiable graduate degree details and pay a registration fee. This gives the user protection and professionally indemnifies the architect. Using a registered architect means the user has recourse to legal action if a registered architect fails in the delivery of his professional advice.

There is only one degree available in Malaysia to qualify as an architect and using such a service provider without this degree is an invitation for trouble. Expats dealing with architects have mostly reported good experiences and the profession is highly regarded.


Building your home in Malaysia is convoluted in many areas and an expat will need to be fully furnished with all of the information. Planning requirements are strict and planning permission is a lengthy process and at times, can be fraught with problems. Using professionally registered builders is a must and will help the process to run smoothly. Local trade people can be used for interior work but use decorators who come recommended by other expats. A recommendation by word of mouth from other expats is the best source. Using an expat forum if you’re handling this from overseas is a useful tool to ask questions about local decorators in the area.

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

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Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.