The top grievance is the contractor’s failure to follow agreements, followed by shoddy workmanship or unsatisfactory services.
The Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) received a total of 719 complaints against contractors doing home renovations for the first seven months of 2017 and 1,269 complaints in 2016, reported Channel NewsAsia.
The industry got the fourth highest number of complaints here last year and is among the top ten industries with the most number of complaints over the past decade. The top grievance is the contractor’s failure to follow agreements, followed by shoddy workmanship or unsatisfactory services.
According to CASE executive director Loy York Jiun, they have settled around 60 percent of filed cases. About 23 percent of the complainants pursued their case via the Small Claims Tribunals, while the rest sought legal advice or used other methods to resolve their issues.
One reason for the high number of complaints is that it’s easy to register and establish a renovation firm here, noted Dean Lim, vice president of the Singapore Renovation Contractors and Material Suppliers Association (RCMA).
In a crowded industry, competition is stiff and some renovation companies are forced to lower their prices just to secure jobs.
“Without a reasonable profit, these companies who undercut prices without a strong financial background will sooner or later run into debts and be unable to find good subcontractors to complete the jobs – or worse, wind down and go missing in action,” Lim said.
To protect themselves, Loy urged homeowners to make sure the contractor is registered with the Housing Board. They may also consider hiring one accredited by CaseTrust so that it would be easier to solve disputes. Moreover, it’s not advisable to make full payment upfront.
Adrian Wee, an attorney who has handled court cases regarding renovation issues, advised homeowners to do their own research about the work involved instead of entrusting it entirely to a contractor.
“If you don’t do your homework, you won’t have the expertise to scrutinise. You have to acquire enough knowledge, so that you are not taken advantage of.”
Meanwhile, Lim suggested choosing renovation contractors that offer a deposit performance bond, which protects a homeowner’s deposit payment against breach of contract as well as closure, winding up and liquidation of the contractor.