The Frustration of a Neighbour's Never-Ending Renovation Project

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As I sit here in my rather fashionable living room, I can see out my wide and high kitchen windows which have a stunning view of a bountiful beauty of masses of bougainvilleas, greenery, and dozens of types of colourful flowers. I can also see views of the craggy mountains and hills… along with about a dozen migrant men standing around smoking their last cigarette before lying down in my spacious exterior hallways to take their lunch nap, but not before making sure to leer at me and signal their less-than-admirable intentions as to what they want to do with me.

I live in a moderately upscale condo on top of a hill in prestigious Bangsar. This condo, unlike the seven others I’ve lived in since 1998, is not expat majority but rather upper middle-class locals. Locals, I might add, who seem to be deaf and blind. Or are, perhaps, simply unable or unwilling to lodge complaints when grievously awful actions are taking place against them.

Sadly, being a non-local matsalleh, I am neither deaf nor blind, nor hesitant to complain. While on the topic, my sense of smell is quite intact too as the wafting of cigarette smoke, uncleaned bodies, dirty foot odours all have fiercely notified my olfactory system, which in turns notifies my gastric areas with resulting feelings of pregnant-level nausea.

Now, I really am a hell of a reasonable person, matsalleh or not, American orMalaysian. I could almost put up with this chaos for one week, maybe even an entire month. But my dilemma has been going on for over one YEAR with the only changes being that now the unit being “renovated” next door to me has been joined by the two other units on my floor, too.

A particularly torturous part of all renovs here involve floor, wall, and ceiling tiles. The commonality all renovs share with the tile removal issue, is once your shattered nerves have lived through the weeks of the drilling, hacking, and bone-curdling noise, the owners almost always change their minds and want different tiles installed and this process can be repeated up to six or more times.

I could put up with this a tad better if the owner of the unit, or even the condo manager, had come to me and told me how sorry they were that I was to be so inconvenienced. Even better would be their offer of pro-rating my rent since I have had to literally rent a hotel room if I am sick, have a monstrous headache, or painful muscles spasms, all of which have occurred in the recent past.

This of course has never happened. So, the next step is the aggrieved tenant, me, or the thousands of you, dear readers who have made this topic of construction renovations, number one on our website forum boards, is to politely complain. Or to point out the illegalities and safety violations being continuously committed, never mind the sexual harassment and the health hazards. These conditions are also a serious danger to a handicapped visitor to their country – me – who pays a 29% tax rate (no disability deductions), a high rent, and who has tripped, even fallen, many times over their plywood and other tools of the trade strewn on floors as I made my way very precariously to the lift to go to work.

Now, the unit being “renovated” since November 2011 is owned by a person who is apparently vastly more important a personage than am I – a person of lowly foreign birth to peasants, albeit white-collar professional peasants. It seems that this condo owner is, for whatever reason, simply above all the laws and rules and bylaws of the DBKL, the condo committee itself, as well as the police ordinances. He is such a regal personage that the condo manager won’t even approach his crew chiefs to ask them to have their workers act in a more civilized way.

Or to inform them that sawing through hunks of wood IN the hallways is quite bad form, as is spitting copious amount of, well, spit, phlegm, liquid nose innards, lung balls of tar due to their chain smoking, nor is it even legal to sleep in front on someone else’s door, actually right on her doorstep, or to shout at eardrum-destroying decibels to one another all day long (even when they are within inches of the screamee’s face) or into their cell phones as if their bodies are on fire and they need immediate dousing with water.

This has become my cause de la résistance. Please email me your own similar situations, because I plan on petitioning the powers that be at DBKL which is supposed to regulate such activities. We expats simply have to band together at times when such flagrant abuses are allowed to negatively us and to help each other. There is power in numbers so I hope you are “moved” to write me.



Source: The Expat March 2013

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