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New Housing Projects To Adopt GBI Standard

20/05/2009 eastern.times.

KUCHING: All new housing projects in the State will soon be based on the green building index (GBI) standard so that houses will be more environmentally friendly.

Speaking to reporters after delivering his winding up speech at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) yesterday, Housing Minister, Datuk Amar Abang Haji Johari Tun Openg, said that the new concept of housing design would be more environmentally friendly and houses would be built in such a way that they would receive more sunlight so that less electricity would be used for lighting.

He said the new building architecture would probably emphasise bigger windows to allow more light in and better air circulation.

“This is something totally new and I believe that we will be the first state to implement this concept. So far only Singapore and Australia are doing it and we want to introduce it here to create environmentally friendly housing,” he said.

Johari told the media that he had spoken to the Architect Association of Malaysia (AAM) to encourage its members to apply the concept when designing future houses.

“There’s no point of having sophisticated designs that are not environmentally friendly. Probably the designs for houses with GBI standard could be even cheaper and the money saved could be used for the design of the floor area,” he suggested.

On abandoned housing projects, he said there were only eight in the State so far, and two quite big ones would be taken over by Syarikat Perumahan Nasional Berhad (SPNB) while the other six would be looked into by Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers’ Association (SHEDA).

Meanwhile, when delivering his winding up speech earlier, Johari said the housing industry in Sarawak was rather healthy as there were still good demands for houses, except for houses priced above RM300,000.

He said that the demand for houses below RM300,000 was still encouraging and this could be due to the fact that the state was not building any flats for sale.

“Here in Sarawak, we prefer to sell landed properties rather than flats. The Federal government seems to have agreed with the State’s policy on this matter (not building flats for sale),” he disclosed.

He said the State was not keen to build flats as it could cause a lot of social problems.

“We have carried out a study with the help of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) and found that people staying in flats do not have conducive living environment,” he disclosed.

“Since the State has plenty of land, it is better for us to build individual houses. Places like Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya or Penang need flats but not Sarawak,” said Johari.

He said what the State needed now was to improve its public transport system because most of the housing estates would be in the sub-urban areas.

“With good public transport system, there will be no difficulty for the residents to travel to the town,” he added.

Johari told the august House that SPNB, a subsidiary company of the Finance Ministry, would be building 1,000 units of Rumah Mesra Rakyat (RMR) or People-Friendly Houses in Sarawak during the 2009-2010 period.

He said, however, the price of RMR units had been increased from RM55,000 to between RM68,000 and RM74,000 per unit, depending on the locality.

“The price of RMR units built on stilts has been increased from RM65,000 to between RM88,000 and RM100,000 per unit, depending on the locality.

“The increase in the price was due to the increase in the cost of building materials,” he said, adding that RMR housing scheme was meant for families earning less than RM1,500 a month.

On private sector housing, Johari said that the prices in Kuching had recorded new levels with a double-storey detached house selling beyond the ceiling price of RM400,000 per unit, double-storey terrace unit beyond RM300,000 and single-storey terrace house, RM180,000 a unit,

“The prices of houses have gone up between 25 and 30 percent compared to five years ago, probably indicating a potential bubble in the housing market, which essentially is a ‘buyers’ market’ and the developers are conscious that any more increase in the prices will drive sales down,” he said.

As such 63% of houses built in Kuching, Sibu and Miri were priced below RM300,000 per unit, he added.

“In fact, buyers were more cautious in 2008 as a result of the economic downturn with some 40% of houses remained unsold compared to 32% remained the previous year,” revealed the Housing Minister.

Johari pointed out that it was fortunate for the State to have maintained the “sell and build” policy rather than adopting the “build and sell” policy as the former policy had worked pretty well for the housing sector in Sarawak with not many housing project being abandoned compared to Peninsular Malaysia.


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