Renovation can be a costly and inconvenient business. Yet most of us do not mind investing the money and time for a cosy dream home.

However, this dream can easily turn into a nightmare if we engage the wrong people for the renovation job. In the last 3 years, the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) has received more than 1,200 complaints against renovation contractors each year. These complaints include improper or sub-quality renovation works, post-renovation defects, such as cracks in the wall or damaged flooring, and renovation works not completed on time.

Case Study #1

John* engaged a renovation contractor to paint his flat. The agreed price for the service was $1,450, and John paid a $1,000 deposit. The agreement was to paint the living room, and the master bedroom in white and blue. However, the painting was not satisfactorily done, and the paint was not the shade of blue that was agreed upon. John requested for a refund of $1,150 due to the unsatisfactory work, but it was turned down by the contractor. He then approached CASE for assistance, and it successfully negotiated a refund of $800 for John.

Case Study #2

In January 2018, Marilyn* engaged a renovation contractor to renovate her flat. After having paid the full contractual amount of $36,600, a few weeks later, she discovered that a problem with the water pipes had caused her toilet to be clogged. She tried contacting the contractor for rectification but to no avail. Eventually, Marilyn approached CASE for help, who managed to get the contractor to rectify the issue at no cost.

Case Study #3

In May 2018, Timothy* signed a contract with a renovation contractor to renovate his flat for $35,000. It was agreed that all renovation works would be completed within 3 weeks. However, the renovation works were subsequently stalled, and Timothy found out that the staff that he had been liaising with had left the company. He was also unable to contact other staff from the company. After being approached by CASE, the renovation contractor agreed to resume and complete the renovation works.

(*The names have been changed to preserve confidentiality.)

Transforming a flat into your ideal home may involve some challenges. However, consumers can protect their rights by equipping themselves with the right knowledge before engaging renovation services.

Tips for Consumers:

  • Verify that the contractor is listed on the HDB’s Directory of Renovation Contractors (DRC), and has a good track record and reputation. For greater peace of mind, you can also consider Engage an a CaseTrust-RCMA accredited contractor to enjoy additional protection through a Deposit Performance Bond, that acts as a buffer for non-performance of contractors.

  • Obtain different quotations before committing to a renovation package. With the comparisons, you will be less vulnerable to misleading claims, false claims, overcharging and pressure sales tactics.

  • Work out a schedule with the contractor. Ensure clear deadlines for completion and rectification works are outlined and agreed upon with the contractor.

  • Payment for the renovation works should be rendered progressively. Do not make full payment upfront upon signing of the contract.

  • The contract agreement should reflect clear itemised billing, listing of products and services, and agreed work and payment schedules.

  • Read carefully, including the fine print, before you sign the contract.

  • Take photos and document the list of outstanding defects after renovation is completed. With the compiled list, you can resolve the defects systematically.

Article contributed by the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE). Consumers with unresolved disputes with their renovation contractor may contact CASE at 6100 0315 (Mondays to Fridays, 9am to 5pm) for assistance.

  • CASE

Recommended Reads


Renovate Your Flat

Reno Hacks: Choosing Good, Affordable Materials

15 November 2019


Renovate Your Flat

4 Questions to Ask Your Potential Interior Designer

20 September 2019


Renovate Your Flat

Ready to Renovate? We Answer Your FAQs on HDB Bomb Shelters

15 October 2020


Renovate Your Flat

A Guide to Renovating Your HDB Flat

7 June 2021