What is Epic?
Epic stands for Extraordinary People Impacting Community. We are an ecosystem of companies & platforms that activates everyone to be Extraordinary People Impacting Communities.
What is Epic Homes?
Epic Homes is Epic’s initiative that aims to build relationships through the act of building homes, bridging the gap between the urban and rural divide by mobilising trained volunteers to build homes with marginalised communities.
Epic Homes is focused on providing homes for underprivileged Malaysians – we are currently working with Malaysia’s indigenous population. Epic’s methodology focuses on a cross-sectoral and inclusive approach, where volunteers and targeted communities lead and organise projects (builds) together.
The projects bring together the public and private sector and government to form an ecosystem that supports one another.
With this collective effort, we are able to facilitate the power of choice, restore dignity and self-belief of the underprivileged and privileged communities so that they believe in their own talent & capacity to make a difference within their own lives and the lives of others.
How did Epic Homes start?
Epic Homes began as a small one-off project building a toilet and painting houses in an Orang Asli village in 2010. After viewing a man’s home on the verge of collapse the team (John-Son Oei, Loh Jon Ming, Jayne Kennedy, Jasmine Ng) was shocked to learn that he had been living in such unsafe housing for over two years.
Building a home seemed like an simple solution, but they also knew they wanted the community to be part of the process in creating long-term sustainability, and they wanted to build relationships with this community to understand their challenges on a deeper level. Inspired by Lego and Ikea furniture, the team looked for help from others to enable the community to build together.
Prima Avenue became the first sponsor by volunteering their services, providing architects, engineers and contractors. In October 2010 this idea became reality when the first home was built for ‘Pak Cihong’.
Since then we have built over 150+ homes and empowered over 6000+ volunteers.
How does Epic Homes provide these homes and solve this problem?
To empower people to provide these homes, we have designed a unique experience that equips ordinary people with the skills and technology needed to build a home in as little as three days. This system is modular, which allows for flexibility in terms of size and environment. The reason why for this modular system is to suit various geo-location that we build in and the family sizes.
Who designs the houses and how are they guaranteed to stand?
Epic has established a unique volunteer program to allow designers, architects and engineers to contribute strategically to the evolution of the Epic Home design. The design are approved by authorized engineers
The homes Epic builds are unique prefabricated, modular designs that allow us to build homes that suit the target family. Our modular designs are a result of input from around 30 architects and engineers over 2012.
All structural works are designed according to the latest edition of the following relevant Standard & Code of Practice:
British Codes of Practice
BS5950:2000 – Structural Use of Steelwork in Building
BS8110:1997 – Structural Use of Concrete
BS6399:1996 – Loading of Buildings
BS5268:1 – Structural Use of Timber
The home is also certified and endorsed by a Professional Civil Engineer in accordance with sound engineering practice in the country.
After the Epic Home is built by volunteers, we work with TNB to connect them to the grid and hire electricians to outfit the home with electricity and light fixtures.
What is the weightage capacity?
The home is generally 2 sizes, the 4 module at 440 sqft and the 6 module at 660 sqft. The weight capacity of the entire structure would be 150kg/m2. This translates to the 4-module being able to support 6131 kg and the 6-module being able to support a mass of 9197 kg.
How many houses has Epic Homes built?
As of September 2019, we have built a total of 154 houses in 8 villages in Selangor, Perak as well as in Kelantan territories. Currently, we are working on villages in Hulu Yam, Kuala Kubu Bharu and Jelebu.
How is Epic Homes sustained?
Epic Homes is sustained through various sources of funding.
1. Epic has received funds from the public’s good will and organization. For instance, during a multi-arts and cultural festival called Urbanscapes the Butter Factory organized a large installation of lights, of which the public could spend RM5 on a light bulb to plug into the installation. These funds were used to fund the building of more Epic Homes.
2. Corporate funding. Over 50 organisations have helped to deliver this project due to our social enterprise model of targeting corporates’ involvement, where groups assist in facilitating home-owner’s build while undergoing an immersive team-building experience.
We raise funds through crowdfunding and private corporations that want to sponsor homes as part of their corporate social responsibility or team building activity and Epic’s learning & development arm “Epic DNA” manages the client servicing, planning & logistics. We have worked with companies such as Prudence Foundation, General Electric Inc (Malaysia), Tetrapak, PEMANDU (the Prime Minister’s Department for Performance Management & Delivery), the Ministry of Youth & Sports Malaysia, ARUP, Gamuda, Energizer, Real Estate & Housing Developer’s Association amongst others.
3. Public Fundraising. This is an example in which a group of 30-35 volunteers fundraise the entire house sponsorship and event costs.
What materials do you use for an Epic Home?
Our homes comprises of various materials such as timber planks, fibre cement wall panels, polyaluminium or fiber cement roof sheets, concrete and steel footings, prefabricated beams and columns.
Does Epic / Epic Homes work with any governmental bodies?
We work in affiliation with JAKOA – Jabatan Kemajuan Orang Asli. Known as the Department of Orang Asli Development, is the Malaysian government agency entrusted to oversee the affairs of the Orang Asli. Their main objectives are to eradicate poverty among the Orang Asli, improving their health, promoting education, and improving their general livelihood. We also work with both formal and informal authorities of the villages we liaise with.
What is the Epic Homes process?
The process begins with Epic being invited to meet a community. Epic also trains volunteers (Pathfinders) to conduct research and obtain data in the village.
The inception stage with the community starts with getting to know each other, and agreeing on a shared goal. The community then work in partnership with external experts to organise among themselves for the rest of the project stages (preparing the land, obtaining permission, installing the foundation, maintenance, etc).
How are home-owners (Orang Asli) selected?
The community is facilitated to coordinate and determine their own criteria for housing assessment and working methods, and in turn establish a priority list. Epic then verifies this information with the village.
For example, they would look at the structural integrity of their current home, conduciveness of the environment and/or prioritisation of children and the elderly.
With the above criteria, we would then come out with a Priority List, confirmed by the community. We would then work together with the sponsors in providing in respect to that list.
Home-owners are partially engaged in the design process, determining select components based on family needs and preferences. They are also involved in preparing the build site and prior build coordination and communication.
Additionally, the homeowner must be willing to participate in our Pay-It-Forward Programme where he/she must build his/her own home and 2 more homes for future homeowners. This also helps curb the handout mentality as homeowners must pay “sweat equity”. This provides them ownership and instils pride and dignity within their family.
Are Epic Homes environmentally conscious?
Epic Homes is mindful of the impact our homes have on the environment. Epic Homes aims to minimise our impact on the environment and we are constantly working with individuals in relevant industries that advise us on making Epic Homes environmentally sustainable.
How can I participate as an individual?
We post missions (public build or other volunteering programs) in a volunteering platform called sedunia.me. Register through that portal and you are on your way to impact the communities around you.
I have a group of friends, how can we participate?
Besides the above option, you and your friends could opt for something more meaningful by fundraising the entire home and build it collectively.
Corporates can opt to have Epic’s training arm (Epic DNA) plan, manage and design specific learning outcomes for builds.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
How many people do you need for a build?
The optimal number for a build is 30, we can accommodate 25 – 35 people. This allows a good flow of rotation so everyone can take turns to have a little rest.
Anymore would cause overcrowding of space around the build site which limits movement and increases safety risks.. Any less would be taxing for the volunteers.
How many days do I need to commit if I want to participate the Epic Home build?
A team of 30-35 people can successfully built a home within 3 days with the help of an Epic Core team.
What happens if volunteers don’t go through Basic Builder Workshop?
It is compulsory for Volunteers to undergo a Basic Builder Workshop. In the event an untrained volunteer arrives on site, the information will be given to the Master Builder & Specialists in advance. Participants should have their helmet marked with a sticker to indicate they are untrained. It will require an Apprentice, Specialist or team member to train them on site, with the Master Builder giving approval as to when the participant can operate specific tools.
If no approval the participant will be limited to certain roles and responsibilities that do not put others at risk.
Is there an age limit to Epic Homes Build?
The age limit of Epic Homes Build is 18 years old with special considerations:
If agreed upon by Epic, we may allow a participant under the age of 18 and over the age of 15 to join (for example, if this participant has undergone a build in the past with their school and has shown themselves to be mature, responsible and capable).
– This participant must have a legal guardian observing and caring for him/her throughout the entire duration of the build.
– They will not be allowed to use any saws or tools with blades (such as circular saw, dropsaw, angle grinder, jig saw).
We do not accept young adults below 15 years old unless it is for a build specifically designed to accommodate such ages, in which extra considerations and precautions are taking in designing the build experience.
How long does it take to plan a build?
We would need at least 2 months lead time to organize the build upon confirmation of build.
Can sponsors choose a village/home recipient slot?
For the time being, you cannot choose which village to build in unless clearly stated that we are concurrently building in 2 villages, and this is dependent on the priority list and availability.
We build based on the need of homes, following a priority list provided by the village and are constantly working with companies, organisations and/or individuals to build homes in these villages.
Therefore funds collected earlier in the year would be allocated immediately to the villages mentioned to complete the homes as soon as possible, in order of the priority list, which is why we are unable to confirm the exact family details in advance.
We generally confirm the recipients 1.5 months prior to the project date, to avoid delays or changes which will affect expectant families who may have to take apart their homes or prepare the site to accommodate the new one.
Do you provide insurance for the build?
We provide personal accident insurance for participants in accordance with Epic’s current personal accident insurance policy, by Tokio Marine.
Notwithstanding that, for the safety of participants throughout the build event, participants are required to follow instructions and guidelines set by site personnel who are authorised by Epic.
However, this insurance does not cover foreign volunteers.
We are now working on issuing insurance for each home thanks to MSIG!
What is the liability of the volunteers who participate in the Build?
The structural integrity of the house is endorsed by a professional engineer. Any failures due to design fault will be the responsibility of the engineer.
Master Builders are responsible to ensure the house are constructed to the design specifications and to ensure the quality of the construction. The house would only be deemed fit for use once the Master Builder assess the completed construction are according to the specifications.
All participants are unskilled volunteers working under the direction of “Epic” and will not be held responsible in the case of a failure in the structural integrity of the completed home.
Is Epic Homes tax exempted?
We are still in the works of getting Epic Homes tax exempted. However, if you are a corporate company who is HRDF approved, you can claim HRDF.
Are all homes valued at RM50,000?
RM 50,000 of Epic Homes Sponsorship only applies in areas that are approximately within 100km radius from our main office.
There will be an increase of the Epic Homes Sponsorship Package fee if the village is more than 100 km radius or the location of the village is extremely difficult to reach.
What are the roll forward funds?
Epic Homes offers a fixed sponsorship package regardless of the size of the home – whether 3, 4,5 or 6 modules.
Epic Homes commits to a roll-forward fund policy on this sponsorship package where if there is any excess of funds it will be utilised for any future needs subsequently identified after the build is completed.
These needs are periodically discussed with the local community and agreed upon with the community representatives and Epic Homes.
Examples of how Epic Homes has utilised the roll-forward funds are:
Addressing challenging site conditions for a new build site (eg. steepness, soil density, size constraints) which require more resources by our technical partner for site studies, design customisation or logistical costs. Repairing physical damages to the home due to natural occurrences.