Thursday, 24 July 2014

(The Star) Ahmad Zaki wins RM185.14mil Putrajaya job

PETALING JAYA: Ahmad Zaki Resources Bhd’s unit Ahmad Zaki Sdn Bhd has been awarded a RM185.14mil contract from Putrajaya Resources Sdn Bhd for the proposed construction and completion of certain buildings and infrastructure in Putrajaya.

It said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia that the deal included two blocks of office buildings, retail spaces and external works on Plots Z1 and Z2. – Bernama

(The Star) Malaysia's residential property sector enters cooling phase

PETALING JAYA: The residential property segment, a sub-sector of the overall property market, appears to have entered “a cooling phase” in the first two quarters with sales expected to stay “moderate” for the coming third quarter, according to the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (Mier).

“The macro-prudential measures implemented by Bank Negara to cool down the property market since 2010 look likely to have played a role here,” Mier said.

Mier based its conclusion after doing a residential property survey designed to be an indicator of economic activity in the property sector.

Its Residential Property Index fell for the second quarter to 109.9 points, slipping 1.3 points from the first quarter, and 28.3 points from a year ago.

The survey also showed that total unsold new residential properties have accumulated faster than sales in recent months.

More than a quarter of house builders reported bigger stocks in hand, which is at a three-year high.

The Mier report said that given the built-up in total unsold new units, those surveyed have decided to keep creeping prices at bay by maintaining them at current levels.

But in the months ahead, prices “are likely to escalate again” more than half of those surveyed said while the remainder said they will “neither raise nor slash theirs (their prices) for now.”

Fewer of them increased prices in the second quarter compared with the first and some even offered price cuts, the survey found.

Moving forward, about half of those surveyed expect sales for the current third quarter to remain the same while more than a third of those surveyed foresee higher sales as “home buyers bought ahead of the Goods and Services Tax” which will come into effect next April.

Property prices are envisaged to rise due to higher input costs after that.

Double-storey houses continued to be the most popular while none of those surveyed seem to have sold any bungalows during this same period.

The survey concluded that affordability issues may continue to haunt the market if property prices outpaced income growth and interest rates edged up.

“Housing demand may eventually lose ground,” Mier said.

(The Star) Sunway Iskandar's Citrine office suites sold out

PETALING JAYA: Sunway Iskandar has sold all its 167 Citrine office suites at the Lakeview precinct in Iskandar Malaysia.

“We are very encouraged with the strong response to our first launch as our buyers liked our approach in providing a holistic range of products to create a community within The Lakeview precinct to live, learn, work, shop and play,” Sunway Bhd joint managing director of property development division for Malaysia and Singapore, Sarena Cheah, said in a statement.

Cheah added that the company would next launch serviced apartments, followed by landed homes, all around the Emerald Lake within The Lakeview precinct.

“With the overwhelming response for the designer office suites, we decided to immediately open registration for the priority preview of Citrine’s serviced apartments,” she said.

The office suites range between 746 sq ft and 1,671 sq ft with an average selling price of RM760 per sq ft.

Citrine at The Lakeview precinct comprises 167 office suites and 51 retail units spanning over 140,000 sq ft next to the 20-acre tranquil Emerald Lake garden.

There will be 328 serviced apartments from 618 sq ft to 1,571 sq ft, with a price range of between RM800 and RM900 per sq ft.

“This is a remarkable achievement and encouraging news to all stakeholders of Iskandar Malaysia.

“Since Khazanah Nasional Bhd and Sunway teamed up as a joint venture back in 2011, we have been collaborating to drive Medini Iskandar’s progress as a catalyst development for Iskandar Malaysia,” said Khazanah executive director of investments, Hisham Hamdan.

(The Star) RM21bil in MRT jobs awarded, progress reaches half-way mark

KUALA LUMPUR: The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) line between Sungai Buloh and Kajang, which is the biggest infrastructure project undertaken by the Government, has so far absorbed RM8.02bil.

Three years into the project, which entails a 51-km MRT line, the overall progress rate of the job is 47.63%, with a variation order of RM184.16mil of the value of the contracts awarded so far.

Mass Rapid Transit Corp Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp) chief executive Datuk Wira Azhar Abdul Hamid said yesterday that 83%, or RM6.65bil, of the amount paid out was for the work package contractors for the construction work of the line.

He said the remainder was for payment to the project delivery partner MMC Gamuda KVMRT (PDP) Sdn Bhd’s fees (RM1.03bil) to independent consulting engineers, overheads and insurance.

“As far as funding is concerned, we have some money left (from its sukuk issuance previously),” he said when asked on its funding.

He added that the company could be issuing some sukuk this year, but believes it would not be a huge exercise.

To a question on MRT Corp being listed, Azhar said it was not looking at such an option. “We’re not running it as a business. We’re the owner and developer of infrastructure. We’re not embarking on a (listing).”

Of the overall progress rate of 47.63%, the elevated portion completed is 37.24% while the section of the works has progressed to 63.34%.

To date, 77 out of 85 contracts have been awarded, at a total value of RM21.09bil. He said there were seven contracts, including a car park facility worth some RM300mil, to be awarded.

Currently, there are five tunnel-boring machines in operation along the 9.5-km underground alignment.

MRT Corp project director Marcus Karakashian said for the elevated section, 95% of piling works for the elevated guideway had been completed while 35% of the guideway had been constructed.

Azhar added that the car bodies of the first MRT train set had been delivered to Malaysia. “Our first train set is now being assembled at the contractor’s assembly plant in Rasa, Hulu Selangor,” he said.

These are expected to be delivered by November to the Sungai Buloh Depot, where they will undergo testing.

The contract to supply the trains went to Siemens-SMH Rail Consortium that had put in the lowest bid of RM1.37bil in a competitive tender.

The contract to supply depot equipment and maintenance vehicles went to a joint venture between Siemens and Hisniaga Sdn Bhd.

On the third Light Rail Transit (LRT 3) line straddling Bandar Utama and Klang, Azhar said the potential delay in the proposed project would not affect the MRT line.

He said the LRT 3 line was still in the early stages of planning.

(NST) Ahmad Zaki bags two Putrajaya jobs

KUALA LUMPUR: Ahmad Zaki Resources Bhd was awarded a contract to build two blocks of office buildings, retail spaces and external works from Putrajaya Resources Sdn Bhd. The company also secured another contract from Putrajaya Resources to upgrade roads and other associated infrastructure at Jalan Alamanda at Precint 1, Putrajaya. The contracts amount to RM185.14 million with a contractual period of 28 months, commencing from the date of site possession,” it said in a statement.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

(NST) 100pc take-up for Sunway Iskandar’s office suites

JOHOR BARU: Sunway Bhd’s Phase 1 office suites at Sunway Iskandar in Johor has achieved a 100 per cent take-up, at an average selling price of RM760 per sq ft.

Called Citrine, it comprises 167 office suites and 51 retail units spanning over 140,000 sq ft.

The office suites, located next to the eight-hectare tranquil Emerald Lake garden within The Lakeview precinct, range between 746 sq ft and 1,671 sq ft.

Citrine also consists of 328 serviced apartments ranging from 618 sq ft to 1,571 sq ft with a price range of RM800 per sq ft (psf) to RM900 psf.

Sarena Cheah, who is the joint managing director of Sunway’s property development division for Malaysia and Singapore, said the opening of the Sunway Iskandar sales gallery had bolstered sales.

She said the serviced apartments will be launched next, followed by landed homes — all anchored around Emerald Lake.

With the overwhelming response for the office suites, Sunway has decided to immediately open registration for the priority preview of Citrine’s serviced apartments, said Cheah.

“We are very encouraged by the strong response to our first launch as our buyers like our approach in providing a holistic range of products to create a community within The Lakeview precinct: to live, learn, work, shop and play,” she said.

Cheah said, Citrine is designed to be a community where residents can enjoy having every convenience of a modern city, including a high- speed broadband connection, while immersing in the beauty of nature.

“As a sustainable community developer, we believe that we are not here just to sell properties, but to co-invest and continue to grow with the community in line with our build, own and manage business model. To ensure livability and comfort, we are also building our purpose-built Sunway International School,” she said.

Sunway Iskandar, located within Medini, is one of the largest township projects on 720ha of land, offering a world-class city balanced with the beauty of nature.

The master plan brings luxurious city lifestyle in nature with spacious homes and more landscaping for all residents to enjoy with a plot ratio of one.

(The Star) Ideal for living and leisure

Imperial Residences in Sungai Ara is replete with leisure facilities.
Imperial Residences in Sungai Ara is replete with leisure facilities.

Living in a condominium is all about leisure and nothing quite beats Ideal Property’s Imperial Residences in Sungai Ara.

The developer has assigned three acres of recreational area in the project, divided into six well-named areas.

The condo’s Sunshine Zone has all the necessary bells and ribbons: a 50m-swimming pool, Jacuzzi, island cabana, sun and pool decks, indoor and outdoor gymnasiums with a yoga room and a multi-function games court.

The Kids’ Adventure Cove has facilities to keep children occupied for hours, beginning with an ‘Adventure Cabin’, playground, water slide deck and a pool with a beach, bubble zone, wading and splashing areas.

Not far away, the Repose Bay has a gourmet cabin with a grill, teppanyaki and BBQ pavilion.

It also has a gardener’s cabin, a reflexology path and a family seating area.

The greener section of the recreational area of Imperial Residences is named Enchanted Nature.

It comes with a garden pavilion, meditation pods within an exotic garden, a fitness and wellness corner and a jogging track.

For some peace and quiet, or just time alone, residents can lounge in the Tranquil Bay with its Evolvulus Court (named after a bright blue species of morning glory flowers), a leisure lounge with water fountains and a viewing lawn.

At the Outdoor Leisure Bay, a bicycle trail awaits residents.

“We themed the recreation area to emphasise the resort-quality luxury of Imperial Residences,” said Ideal Property’s sales and marketing manager Teh Yeow Jin.

The condominium, he said, would comprise three towers with 816 units.

The built-up area of each unit is between 1,100sq ft and 1,200sq ft and prices start from RM450 per sq ft.

There are also limited number of exclusive garden houses at each tower.

“We had overwhelming res-ponse from housebuyers when the project was first launched,” Teh said, adding that the condo-minium was expected to be completed by 2017.

Imperial Residences will be showcased during Star Property Fair 2014 from tomorrow to Sunday at G Hotel and Gurney Plaza.

Ideal Property is also introducing Solaria Residences in Bayan Lepas during the fair.

Situated along Jalan Tun Dr Awang, Solaria Residences is strategically located in the bustling industrial district of the island.

“This development is built with a work-live-play concept,” Teh said, adding that the 25-storey building would have 399 residential units and also retail outlets on the street floor.

Solaria Residences is also great for families because it is mere minutes away from SMJK (C) Heng Ee and SJK (C) Heng Ee, SJK (C) Chong Cheng and SJK (C) Chung Shan.

Unit sizes range from 1,100sq ft to 1,430sq ft and prices begin from RM520 per sq ft.

Aside from the full range of leisure facilities including a 50m swimming pool and a party hall, Solaria Residences will also have a library.

Housebuyers will have five unit layouts to choose from and there are also semi-detached types.

The completion date of Solaria is expected to be within 36 months from the sale and purchase agreement.

Star Property Fair 2014 is the 12th instalment of the popular property exhibition in the northern region and a host of other property offers in Malaysia and overseas will be featured.

Visitors can come in for free from 10am to 10pm and also sit in for multiple property-related talks and forums by specialists in their respective fields.

Watch out for The Star’s booth and sign up to win iPad Minis, Samsung tablets, mountain bikes and gift vouchers daily, by taking part in the Dip & Win Property Fair contest, sponsored by Ivory Properties Group Bhd.

The event partner is Zeon Properties Sdn Bhd.

For details about the fair, call Eric Voon at 04-6473388 (ext 3021).


(The Star) A place to relax and recharge

The Promenade Penang is an urban and chic project that is destined to become a new icon in Bayan Baru.

The development consists of two components — the Promenade Suites and Urban Walk — and the projects will be on showcase at Star Property Fair.

The 29-storey Promenade Suites is a residential project which features flexible interior planning, smart layout and space utilisation.

The unique design produces an efficient yet cosy environment with built-up areas ranging from approximately 847sq ft to 1,651sq ft.

One of the main features of The Promenade is the exclusive ‘Environmental Deck’. The deck is an entire floor of indoor and outdoor recreational facilities, providing a soothing environment for homeowners to relax, rejuvenate and recharge.

The area would also be stylishly landscaped and comes with an open-top glass structure, an infinity pool and a 15,000sq ft eco-deck. The eco-deck has a host of installations and amenities.

The ‘Environmental Deck’ has a Zen-like ambience, which makes it a welcoming daily retreat for city dwellers.

The second component is the Urban Walk, which is located at the bottom of the Promenade Suites. It has four-storey and five-storey boutique shops which line an airy and spacious promenade.

The retail units have ultra-modern glass façades and would be dual-frontage, which provide a good opportunity for al fresco dining, shopping and leisure.

There are limited units available for the Urban Walk.

The Promenade is being developed by Inspirasi Elit Sdn Bhd.

More details on the project are available at A1 booth at Gurney Plaza.

The fair, in its 12th edition, is the premier property showcase in the northern region.

It will be held simultaneously at Gurney Plaza and the adjoining G Hotel from 10am to 10pm, tomorrow to Sunday.

Exhibitors will be showcasing various local and foreign properties.

Specialists will be giving talks and conducting forums to provide visitors with useful information on various property-related topics.

Visitors to the fair can also look forward to winning iPad Minis, Samsung tablets, mountain bikes and gift vouchers daily by taking part in the Dip & Win Property Fair contest sponsored by Ivory Properties Group Bhd.

Zeon Properties Sdn Bhd is the event partner. For details about the fair, call Eric Voon at 04-6473388 (ext 3021) during office hours.

Admission is free.


(The Star) Value engineering consultants help developers build better, cheaper projects

During World War II, General Electric Company purchase engineer Lawrence D. Miles was assigned to deal with material shortages when production of turbochargers of B-24 bombers had to increase from 50 units per week to 1,000 units per week.

Miles, who is recognised as the “father of value analysis and value engineering”, developed a systematic methodology that reduced unnecessary costs by identifying and separating costs that had no impact on customers.

Value engineering (VE), as the methodology came to be known, is a powerful approach that can be applied in various industries and Perunding ZNA (Asia) Sdn Bhd uses it for civil, structural and geotechnical consultancy works.

The consultancy company, which began in a rented room in Old Klang Road, Kuala Lumpur in 1992, was set up to use VE so construction projects could be designed and built while reducing cost without compromising safety.

Founder and executive director Zulhkiple A. Bakar said his interest in the field began when he worked in the engineering design section of the Public Works Department (JKR).

“I noticed that most of the engineering designs were conservative, wasteful and sometimes unsafe. I started questioning the conventional wisdom but, working within the government hierarchy, it was not easy to introduce radical changes in the design approach,” Zulhkiple said.

This prompted him to carry out his own research and, with the guidance of his former lecturer from Liverpool Polytechnic (now known as John Moores University) in the UK, realised that even in the 1980s, most projects in Malaysia could be optimised while maintaining or even increasing safety levels.

By using VE, he said, construction costs could be reduced as much as 20%. For example, a 50-storey mixed development could see its construction costs reduced from RM750mil to RM650mil.

With considerable savings at stake, it is no surprise that the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) of the Prime Minister’s Department has stipulated that all public service projects costing more than RM50mil will require value management analysis, which includes VE, to ensure value for money.

Benefit of the doubt 

When Zulhkiple first started out, he used savings from his salary as a government engineer and also fees earned from his part-time design work. However, he was surrounded by people who were sceptical about his idea of helping housing developers reduce construction costs by optimising the foundation and structural design. 

“I was only a junior JKR engineer when I left the government. I don’t blame detractors in those days because the public perception then was that anything cheaper was considered inferior,” he said.

Perceptions changed after Perunding ZNA won first prize in the Prime Minister’s Award in the Malaysian National Low-Cost Housing Competition in 1995, beating more established competitors.

“We were able to build 620sq ft single-storey terrace houses in Negri Sembilan for RM14,600 per unit using building methods similar to those in the UK,” he said.

Even today almost all residential houses in the UK are built using load-bearing brick walls and the developers do not use the expensive reinforced concrete structures used in Malaysia.

“Today, we can still see some examples of load-bearing brick wall construction in the Sultan Abdul Samad Building and the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station built during British colonial rule in Malaya,” he said.

While the technique helps reduce foundation and structural construction costs, he explained that the steel and cement industries market themselves as more modern materials.

“Our local universities also taught engineers to design their projects with concrete and steel, which has led our construction industry to where it is now,” he said.

Apart from public perception, some of the early challenges that his company faced included the culture of secrecy where companies, including listed companies and government-linked companies, did not want to reveal construction details to an external party.

“They prefer to keep certain things like costing a private affair, which is understandable, because sometimes their strategic operations are not based on being cost efficient alone,” he said.

However, he said developers are slowly opening up to ideas and several large private and public-listed property developers are engaging the company’s services to help reduce construction costs.

ZNA used VE and managed to save about 12% of the construction costs for The Haven, a residential condominium development in Ipoh
ZNA used VE and managed to save about 12% of the construction costs for The Haven, a residential condominium development in Ipoh

The human touch 

The company long since left the rented room behind and now occupies a 4,000 sq ft office in Petaling Jaya, housing 40 employees.

Zulhkiple explained that clients can consult the team for an audit.

From there, his team works out how the client can optimise designs.

“If the client agrees, we sign a contract with the client where we share a percentage of the savings,” he said.

He cautioned that VE involves a lot of study and skills before using computerisation to calculate the materials needed for a project. He explained the situation using the example of the number of beams in a building.

“If the engineer over-engineers the design and uses too many beams, you would end up allocating more steel than needed,” he said.

Over the years, Zulhkiple has created a field manual of observations and construction wisdom thatcan be shared with the team.

He said it was a “live” document that continues to evolve and he has been invited to share his knowledge with various universities, the latest being the National Defence University of Malaysia.

“I was also invited to assist the university in introducing VE as part of its engineering curriculum. This is a very good move to train a new breed of cost-conscious engineers,” he said.

(The Star) PJ Old Town's converted commercial properties in grey area

Petaling Jaya Old Town was once known as the Effingham Estate, built by the British to deal with overpopulation in Kuala Lumpur.

That was in 1952, when the roads were not tarred, were dusty and layered with stones, and only wooden houses lined the street.

At that time, only about 800 residential houses were built and sold to residents by the British with a 60-year leasehold period.

There were only two main roads, Jalan 1 and Jalan 2, which are now Jalan Templer and Jalan Othman respectively.

Now, over 60 years later, Old Town has been developed into one of the busiest areas in Petaling Jaya, filled with not only residential but also commercial lots.

Section 1 and Section 2 are considered the oldest parts of Petaling Jaya Old Town. The additional buildings here were developed at different times over a span of 10 years after the first 800 units were built.

These various construction dates caused the leasehold expiry period to vary.

While some leases have been renewed, there are still a number of property owners who are finding it tough to do so, especially those who have converted their residential properties into commercial units.

Difficulties in renewing leases

“My lease expired in March and I applied for a renewal in 2012 but I’m still waiting for the approval,” said property owner Tony Chen.

Chen, whose house is in Jalan 23 in Section 2, said he had yet to receive an official letter from the Petaling District Land Office.

Chen, who is currently in his sixties, said his parents moved into the neighbouhood from Perak in the late 1950s and left the house to him and his late brothers.

The house is now occupied by his two sisters-in-law.

“They asked me to help them renew the lease for the house and I initially tried doing so with the state government’s RM1,000 lease renewal scheme,” he said.

Launched in 2011, the Private Residential Ownership Scheme allows owners to renew their 99-year lease for only RM1,000 instead of a hefty six-figure premium.

This scheme, however, is only limited to the owners of residential properties and the rule is that the balance of the premium will have to be paid if the property is sold.

“When I applied for it, the Land Office rejected my application verbally and did not send me a letter so I do not know what the status of my house is now,” said Chen.

He further explained that the Land Office rejected it because his sisters-in-law were selling food outside the house.

This then led the officers to label the property as a commercial property.

“We cannot afford to pay the premium of between RM300,000 and RM500,000 to renew the lease for the house. We are already in our sixties. How can we afford that huge sum of money?” he asked.

He added that his sisters-in-law depended on the income from selling the food as their livelihood, and argued that they only had a small table set up outside their house.

Apart from Chen, there are many other houses in Section 1 and Section 2 that have been turned into commercial lots and run by the elderly, who may not have the means to renew their leases.

Those owners cannot qualify for the RM1,000 renewal scheme although their property is gazetted as a residential property, because they are using it for commercial means.

Commercial lots are seen all around Petaling Jaya Old Town, especially along the main roads and even on one or two nearby streets.

Most of these houses-turned-shops have been operating for over 30 years and they never had a problem renewing their leases until now.

To calculate the lease renewal fee of a commercial property, the formula used is 3/4 multiplied by 1/100 multiplied by current land value (in sq metres) multiplied by tenure of lease and multiplied by area of land (in sq metres).

The minimum tenure of lease is 60 years and the maximum is 99 years. The amount will normally come up to an average of six figures.

If this fee is not paid, the Land Office has the right to evict the residents.

“Those who are running businesses will find it difficult to renew their leases but for residential properties, there will be no problem renewing it with the scheme,” said Old Town Residents Association (RA) president Yap Kian Kiong.

The 50-year-old has been living there since he was born, in the house bought by his grandparents when it was first built.

He explained that even back then, the neighbourhood had some commercial shops among the houses.

“In the past, there were kedai runcits (sundry shops) for people to buy daily necessities.

“It was more for convenience but now there are many rows of shops,” he said.

Yap, who lives at Jalan 27 in Section 2, added that according to the Local Plan, Old Town is still considered a residential area as it has not been gazetted to commercial.

Proposed solutions for the state

Property owners are hoping that the state can help them with the issue by either lowering the premium fee or giving commercial lots the commercial status.

Without the recognition as a commercial property, most of them are finding it hard to renew their leases.

“The Selangor Government should consider their plight and consider offering shorter renewals,” said Bukit Gasing assemblyman R. Rajiv.

He said the state could also look into flexi instalment plans or have a scheme for commercial units similar to the Private Residential Ownership Scheme.

“Most owners in Old Town are in their fifties or sixties — how can they afford to pay?

“Even the bank will not give them loans to pay their six-figure premium to renew their lease,” he added.

If the state does not come up with a solution, there will be more and more businesses in Petaling Jaya Old Town operating on expired leases.

Also, age-old businesses will have to close down as the owners cannot afford to renew the lease.

“I urge the government to look into this matter immediately as there are quite a number of people who are unclear about the whole situation.

“Leases in Petaling Jaya Old Town are also expiring at different times and most have already expired,” said Rajiv.

When contacted, Petaling Jaya City Council’s (MBPJ) one-stop centre (OSC) head Lee Lih Shyan said that some parts of Section 1 and Section 2 in Old Town had been allowed a limited commercial status.

According to the Petaling Jaya Local Plan 1, only certain business activities are allowed under the limited commercial status.

These include small-scale enterprises that do not have high traffic, like art galleries, old folk’s homes, as well as law and accounting firms.

Business activities which are not allowed include car workshops, vehicle showrooms, used-car dealers and eateries.

“Those along the main road of Section 1 and Section 2 such as Jalan Othman and Jalan Pasar have been zoned as limited commercial.

“Activities there are controlled,” he said.

Even so, not all residential turned commercial units have applied for the limited commercial status at MBPJ, he added.