Written By: Henny Maherah
We’ve all heard of home renovation horror stories that have left homeowners with nothing but tears, a gutted home, and an empty bank account. Believe or not, home renovation scams are more common than you think in Singapore. In May 2019, 74 homeowners and subcontractors were cheated out of more than $1.6 million in a renovation scam. How can you avoid falling into this trap?
3 Proven Steps to Avoid Common Home Renovation Scams
Due to the nature of home renovations, contractors often ask for large amounts of money upfront. This makes homeowners vulnerable to cheating when precaution is not exercised. Nonetheless, a scam is avoidable if you adhere to the following tips:
1. Look for reputable and licensed renovation companies
When scouting for a renovation company, it is best to choose contractors that have been professionally licensed by the Housing and Development Board (HDB).
While possessing an HDB license has yet to become a legal requirement, this certification provides an added layer of security to your home renovation procedures. HDB-licensed renovation companies would have successfully fulfilled the requirements such as a minimum 3-year experience in the renovation industry and completion of the Renovation for Public Housing training course.
HDB-licensed home renovation companies tend to have a more thorough knowledge of HDB renovation criteria and permits involved in renovation proceedings. This expertise makes them a better fit for BTO or resale homeowners.
To check if the company has an HDB License, simply key in the company name into the HDB Directory of Renovation Contractors for verification.
2. Research on past projects and customer reviews
It is best to check the company’s past renovation projects online. You can google the company name and click the “Reviews” tab, check third-party platforms, or browse through the company’s social media page and website.
If a squeaky-clean record sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Genuine homeowners are more likely to leave comprehensive reviews that include both good and unsatisfactory aspects of their experience. In addition, observe how the company responds to bad reviews. Do they offer a sound explanation or provide compensation, or simply ignore the review?
3. Verify if the contract is comprehensive
A legally-binding contract is your best protection against scams, so double and triple-check this crucial document. Don’t be so distracted by renovation costs or design packages that you skip drawing up a formal agreement.
While contracts vary between companies, here are the key things that should be included and discussed thoroughly with your renovation company:
Be clear about the exact changes you would like to make to your property to prevent renovators from making unnecessary mid-renovation charges. A common trick home renovation scammers use is to demand extra payments in the middle of a project, all while threatening to cease ongoing renovations. This crucial first step will ensure that all costs are accurately calculated and transparent.
Clarify any renovation terms that are unfamiliar or confusing. For example, remodelling versus renovation have distinct meanings , so be sure you and your interior designer (ID) are on the same page when planning out your home design.
Project timeline and payment schedule
The next step is to draw up a realistic project schedule, with clear milestones. Your contractor will usually include this in their proposal. When you create the timeline, agree on when payments are due. It’s recommended to pay in stages instead of a large lump sum.
A good contractor would provide a detailed run-down of the costs involved instead of requesting for lump sum payments that may be ambiguous for homeowners. Also, if you pay after each milestone is completed, you give the contractor an incentive to work more efficiently.
Why is the timeline crucial? Not only does it keep the project on track, it also helps you see that the contractor is delivering what they promised. A timeline also allows you to spot and address potential issues quickly. Take note that if you need to stay in other accommodations during the home renovation, any delay would mean additional costs.
This refers to your right as a homeowner to terminate the renovation contract in the event that the company is incapable of meeting the terms of your home renovation.
Most termination clauses only require homeowners to pay for the work that has already been completed before the invocation of the termination clause. If you are seeking other arrangements, you should discuss with your renovation contractor in advance to prevent disputes.
Defects liability period
You can ask the contractor to fix certain items free of charge within the defects liability period, which is usually 12 months after the completion of the project. The contract should also clearly state the scope of changes that are covered during this period.
Why is this crucial? Scammers are known for substandard materials, poor workmanship, or incomplete parts. Instead of prioritising quality, they cut costs and pocket the difference. Some renovation works may appear thorough at first glance, but start to show cracks weeks after the work has been completed. This often shows up in the form of internal fixtures such as poor piping work, faulty electrical wiring, or cracks in the flooring.
Protect yourself from scams and unnecessary expenses by going through these steps before and during your home renovation.
Ohmyhome Renovation Services
The Ohmyhome Renovation team offers round-the-clock quality services to help you achieve your dream home. You can be sure that our customers are well taken care of during and even after their home renovation.
Our home renovation partners provide high quality materials and furnishings from Europe, USA and Japan. From conceptualisation till completion, our team is dedicated to providing you with a seamless renovation journey.
Ready to kickstart your home renovation? Learn more about Ohmyhome Renovation Services and request for a free site visit.