MANY house owners opt to renovate or extend their homes without approval from local councils because of the difficulty in getting the stamp of approval.
Those interviewed by The Star felt that not only was it difficult, but it was also expensive to do so.
A housewife who only wanted to be known as Ying said she was aware of the process of submitting renovation plans and paying a fee to the city council but chose to forego it.
'I have consulted with an architect about doing some small renovation to the back of my house in Pengkalan.
'I was told that the renovation plan drawing and plan submission fee to the city council would total up to about RM5,000,' she said.
'If the Ipoh City Council rejects it, the fee paid will be wasted just like that,' said Ying, who is in her 30s.
'I can't be wasting another RM5,000 just to redo and submit everything again. It's too costly,' she added.
It was reported recently that about 3,000 households in Taman Cempaka and Desa Cempaka were unhappy with the increase of between 10% and 276% in their assessment rates.
The city council responded, noting that the changes in assessment rate was because of several factors.
These included revaluation of yearly assessment from a previous vacant plot of land to a building being constructed there, enforcement carried out on new extensions and illegal renovations, and changes in status for property owners.
The revaluation exercise was in line with Section 144 (1) of the Local Government Act 1976, which allows revision on property at all times.
Ying said she was now anxious to know about the assessment rate hike of her home when the revaluation exercise is conducted at her housing area.
'I just hope the hike will be reasonable,' she said.
'But I guess if it does increase by a lot, I would still need to pay it,' she added.
A clerk, who only wanted to be known as Tung, said she was advised by her contractor against submitting any renovation plans when she wanted to extend the back of her home a few years ago.
Tung, in her 50s, said she was told it would be a waste of money and to just carry out the renovation.
'I know we should go through proper channels.
'But I've been told many times that it was extremely difficult to get approval from the city council,' she said.
'I know nothing about construction and why the city council would reject anyone's applications to renovate houses,' she added.
Tung said there used to be an open space at the back of her home and she had renovated it as a security measure.
'I sealed it up so that burglars cannot break into my home.
'It was an open area and it could attract unwanted stray animals to take shelter there,' she said, adding that she spent about RM15,000 on the renovation works.
'It is now the wet kitchen area in the home,' she added.
HS Law from Pasir Pinji said it was common for people to renovate their homes after buying.
'Some want to beautify their house and some for feng shui,' said Law, in his 60s.
'It is, however, a hassle for people to submit renovation plans, seek approval and get consent from neighbours,' he added.
'People could also spend thousands paying various fees to the city council, architect, technicians and more,' he said.
Law said he understood that the city council has the authority to conduct revaluation of properties but the changes to the rate should be reasonable.
'The thing is, ratepayers want to know how the money collected by the city council is being spent.
'Many felt that the services provided by the city council are not up to par with the assessment paid,' he said.
'Maintenance of drains, grass trimming and collection of garbage are fundamental services that should be good but there are too many complaints,' he added.
Law said the city council needs to engage with the residents and hold dialogues to seek out amicable solutions to the matter.
'There should also be discussions with all stakeholders or relevant organisations involved,' he said, adding that assessment is collected to maintain public infrastructure and to provide relevant services.
'When it comes to collection of tax, it should be done properly,' he added.
Renovation contractor WK Lim said most people do not submit their renovation plans because most would be rejected by the city council.
'The proper procedure is to get an architect to draw up a plan and to submit the plan to the city council for approval.
'But most of the time, the city council would reject the plans,' he said, adding that it could cost between RM4,000 and RM8,000 for the whole process.
'This is because the built-up area of houses in a housing estate is fixed and the city council normally does not allow people to make any more changes,' he added.