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7 Tips To Avoid Renovation Fraud

You have probably heard of complaints against contractors or interior design companies for incomplete work and services. 

The Singapore Police Force receives such complaints regularly that it has posted warnings on its Facebook page to warn consumers about being careful when engaging renovation services. 

Whether it is to protect yourself against scammers that take your money and run or contractors who produce shoddy work, here are 7 tips to consider when engaging a contractor or interior design firm. 

1. Physical Location
Make sure you know where your contractor's business is physically located. It is always best to arrange a meeting with your contractor or interior designer at his or her office so that you can verify that he or she operates a legitimate business. 

2. Check With ACRA
Another way to find out if the contractor is operating a legitimate business is to check with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) to confirm that the renovation company is a registered business. Go to the BizFile website to look up registered companies.

3. Registered HDB Renovation Contractor
If you are renovating a HDB flat, check to see if the renovation contractor is a HDB Registered Renovation Contractor on HDB's website before you proceed with signing a contract with the contractor. 

Such contractors are registered under the HDB Renovation Contractors' Scheme meant to ensure that service providers engaged by homeowners are regulated and do not damage the building structure when carrying out renovation. 

4. Current Onging Projects
Another background check on the legitimacy of a renovation contractor is to take a look at his or her past projects and clients. The contractor / ID should be able to produce a portfolio or a list of clients. If possible, make enquiries with past clients to check on the background and services provided by the contractor.

5. Upfront Payment
In addition to background checks, another way to avoid scams is to avoid paying for the job upfront. Sure, some contractors require customers to pay an initial deposit before commencing work, but be wary of contractors who ask for full payment before the renovation is completed. 

6. Hand Written Contract
Make sure to write down all the work needed to be done in the contract to avoid being short-changed. This is to ensure that everything that the contractor has promised will be done. 

Be wary of contractors who verbally agree and insist on not needing to list down every job in the contract because they may just go back on their word. 

7. Second Opinion
You've probably heard of situations where contractors tell customers that they have run into unforeseen circumstances and may need to do additional work. 

While these additional work and additional fees may be genuine, it is important to get a second opinion before proceeding. This is to avoid contractors from pulling a quick one to get more money from you. 

Also, before signing the contract, make sure it includes a procedure for change orders-that is mini contract that specifies work description and fixed prices for any additional work that needs to be done. 

The extra work whether it is due to unforeseen issues or homeowner's whims can proceed only after both the contractor and the homeowner signs the change order.

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