Heart-wrenching stories of
23/02/2009 NST By Es Tung
I SYMPATHISE with the plight of Taman Sri Manja residents in Old Klang Road,
whose houses are sinking. Reading their story recently reminded me of the
predicament faced by my father-in-law in Malacca 15 years ago, although on a
The poor man had used his savings to buy his dream home. However, unknown to
him, the house was built on swamp land and six months after he moved in, the
foundation began to sink. Another six months down the road, cracks started
to appear on the walls and soon, some of the gaps were large enough to allow
one's hand to slip through.
Although the house was considered safe because the beams did not show signs
of impending failure, my father-in-law and his neighbours knew that the
developer had not been entirely honest with them. Patching up was done at
the developer's whim and fancy, and before long, two years had passed and
the liability period during which developers were required to undertake any
remedial measure for free had ended.
My father-in-law has since accepted his bad luck and continues to live in
the house, occasionally reminded of the mental anguish he had to live with
when guests asked about the partially patched-up cracks which bore grim
reminders of his encounter with a bad developer.
News about house buyers being given the short end of the stick is not new.
The path to successful house purchase is littered with even more
heart-wrenching stories of deals gone sour. Some of the luckier ones only
have to deal with poor aesthetics but the not-so-lucky ones end up with a
lifetime of problems -- or until they manage to sell the property to an
unsuspecting secondhand buyer.
The unluckiest ones are those who have no choice but to live with the
nightmare for the rest of their lives. This is because more often than not,
they have spent their entire savings on what was supposed to be their dream
The guidelines for successful house ownership are simple: check the
developer's reputation and track record and don't be taken in by sweet sales
talk. But really, is there any guarantee that cunning will not outwit
intelligence and you will not end up with a lemon after all the trouble?
If you remember, back in the mid 1990s, the frenzy of house ownership had
driven property prices sky high and everyone who had any opinion would tell
anyone who would listen that one should live far away from the city to avoid
traffic jams and to get better value for the shrinking ringgit.
Droves of sensible people made a beeline for the new townships north of
Kuala Lumpur. Houses were unbelievably cheap and at that time, it appeared
quite logical to live away from the city centre, after all there is a
highway which connects the townships with the city and it shouldn't take
more than 30 minutes' leisurely drive to get to work and home daily.
What the careful buyers forgot to figure out then was that fuel prices would
go up one day, and so would toll charges. And when the combined expenses
amounted to a huge chunk of their salaries, many realised that it was wiser
to stay put in the city.
The glossy townships painted in the developers' colourful advertisements are
today sparsely populated urban outbacks. Some of the housebuyers were
careful people like you and I. But in the end, they end up paying for the
bank loans and maintenance fees for a place that they no longer want.