Choosing a contractor is a big decision for any homeowner. Whether you're looking to undertake a renovation project or move into your new BTO, making the correct choice of contractor is vital.
In recent years, there has been a surge in the number of Singaporeans who've had bad experiences with contractors. In some extreme cases, contractors have even been found guilty of cheating a large number of clients out of their hard-earned money.
Some common problems faced by homeowners include poor quality of work, delays in project completion, miscommunication, and even failures to deliver on promises. With the spike in contractor-related issues, Melvin Yong, president of the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE), has commented:
"We are concerned about this trend, and would like to urge consumers to do their research and only engage renovation firms with good customer service and track records."
So how do you know who you can trust? This article aims to guide you through a stress-free and successful renovation and building project. Here are five questions to keep in mind when choosing a contractor.
5 Big Questions to Ask When Choosing a Renovation Contractor
1. Are They Accredited?
When choosing a general contractor, the easiest way to find out if they can be trusted is to see whether they have official accreditation. CASE recommends referring to their list of accredited general contractors. These recognised contractors are obligated to safeguard a customer's deposit. Such accreditation is a validation of a contractor's skills and credibility.
If they're part of professional bodies such as the Renovation Contractors and Material Suppliers Association (RCMA) or Society of Interior Designers Singapore (SIDS), that's an even bigger badge of approval from official authorities.
2. Do They Have Detailed Testimonials?
A reputable contractor should have a history of satisfied customers and previous clients. And what better way to gauge this than with reviews from clients? Examining the track record of a company across multiple platforms is vital. Customers have been burned before by only looking up reviews on one particular site, and misjudging the ratings. Be sure to check Facebook, Google, the company's site, and any others you can think of.
On top of that, be sure to pay attention to previous client testimonials that talk about specific aspects of the contractor's work. Expertise, work ethics, speed, and overall performance are all important to take note of. The more comprehensive the testimonials, the better informed you will be in making your decision.
3. Do They Have Results To Show?
An accomplished renovation contractor should have a portfolio of their completed projects. This may include before-and-after pictures and detailed descriptions of the design process. When looking at a company's site, don't forget to check for their gallery of completed works. This can help you understand the range of services they offer, and help line up their expertise with the vision you have for your new house.
Here's a previous project done by us, where we revamped a residential property with our modern design solutions.
On top of home improvements, we've also renovated workspaces and given them revolutionary modern designs!
To see more of our successful past projects, check out our gallery of both Commercial and Residential Home renovations. We've worked on a wide range of spaces, including offices, retail stores, HDBs, condos, and landed properties.
4. Do They Have The Expertise?
Given the varied nature of renovation projects, it is crucial to choose a contractor with experience in the type of work you require.
A good contractor has all the necessary permits, uses quality materials, and brings the necessary expertise to the table. Different types of houses and projects have varying requirements. They should know all about plumbing requirements, window shapes, and whether you're able to build or remove walls.
There have been cases of several contractors providing unsatisfactory work, with improperly set up wiring, furniture that prevents windows from opening, or other major flaws that trained professionals should be able to avoid.
Be sure to do a background check on any contractor you consider. For example, if you plan to update your kitchen, inquire about their previous kitchen renovation projects and any particular knowledge they have in this area. A knowledgeable contractor should also be able to advise you on the best materials and techniques for your renovation. A good building contractor will know all about the applicable building permits and restrictions.
Eight Design has a dedicated team of expert designers, who are well-versed in different types of construction. With a proven track record of successful projects, our designers are ready to share their experience and work out the requirements for your ideal home. Find out more here.
5. Did They Receive Any Awards?
Lastly, consider whether the renovation contractor has been recognised within the industry. Awards are an official recognition of their quality, similar to accreditations. While being accredited means that it's a secure choice, having awards means that the quality is admired. Eight Design has been recognised by Best in Singapore as one of the top Interior Design studios, and has won both the Best Design and Best Service awards from Hometrust in 2022!
Ensure you ask these five crucial questions when choosing a renovation contractor to help you make an informed decision. Don't put up with the headache of making the wrong choice, and having to deal with a mess of a project.
What is the Average Renovation Cost in Singapore?
Renovating a home in Singapore can be quite an investment, with the average cost around SGD$45,000. The typical cost of renovating a home ranges from $30,000 to $100,000, depending on the extent of renovations required and the quality of materials used.
Resale properties tend to be more expensive to renovate, since they're older and may require larger changes in amenities. Having to change outdated plumbing or wiring can also cause the cost to rise even further.
Here are rough estimates of the average renovation costs you can expect:
Here are rough estimates depending on how much renovation you require:
Type of Remodelling
Upwards of $116,000
When planning a renovation, homeowners should research and compare different contractors. By having a clear understanding of renovation costs and the factors that influence them, one can better manage their budget and expectations.
How Do I Deal With a Bad Contractor in Singapore?
Sometimes, you might make a mistake and get stuck in a poor deal with a bad contractor, putting your entire project at risk. They might fail to deliver by the agreed completion date, choose not to obey building codes, throw their work to subcontractors, or have an unfair payment schedule.
When dealing with a bad contractor in Singapore, it's vital to understand your options and take appropriate action. Negotiating a settlement, such as requesting a discount or having the work redone, can be an initial step. However, if the contractor is unwilling to cooperate, you can resort to other measures to protect your rights.
What formal actions can I take?
You can explore various formal actions if the contractor didn't fulfil their end of the agreement. First, it's essential to document any outstanding defects and uncompleted work and show that it hasn't been remedied in an appropriate time span. With sufficient proof, you can claim damages for a breach of contract.
If a dispute is not resolved independently, you can approach CASE for assistance or lodge a claim with the Small Claims Tribunals. Furthermore, the Renovation And Decoration Advisory Centre (Radac) offers an arbitration programme for companies accredited to them.
What to do next?
Our advice is to cut your losses early. Don't fall for sunk cost fallacy, where you feel trapped because you've already invested money into it. If your contractor isn't delivering, it's time to find a new one. It can be hard to say goodbye to the money you've already spent, but swapping to a reliable partner is preferable to paying someone who you can't trust.
Once you've taken formal action, it's also crucial to follow the process and maintain open communication with the relevant authorities. They can provide guidance and support during the dispute resolution process. Be prepared to present documentation and evidence of the contractor's misconduct or failure to complete the work. Lastly, stay informed about your rights and obligations, ensuring that you take all necessary steps to protect your interests throughout the dispute process.
Invaluable Advice for Your Contractor Selection Journey
Choosing the perfect contractor for your project can often be a daunting task. Many homeowners have encountered challenges in the past, with unprofessional contractors or those who charge exorbitant prices. We understand the importance of reliability, trustworthiness, and transparency when it comes to contractor selection.
If you're still hesitant or looking for someone to guide you through this process, we at Eight Design are here to help. Our team prides itself on being reliable, trustworthy, and committed to delivering satisfactory results without scams or hidden charges. Contact us today and let us help you make the best decision for your home improvement project. Together, we can create a stress-free experience and build the home of your dreams.