When it comes to BTO renovation or condo renovation, there is no shortage of renovation companies to choose from. Plenty of companies do honest work, but there are also just as many shady companies. Unfortunately, scams run rampant in Singapore, where unwitting customers may find themselves being charged extra for services they did not use – sometimes even without them realizing until the bill comes in. Imagine walking into your newly renovated house, only to find that your contractors have fled with their payment, leaving behind a sub-par job that could cost you even more to fix. What a nightmare!
If you are new to the world of renovation firms, you may be wondering which company you should go with. How can you be sure that you pick a legitimate company and not a bunch of scammers that will make off with your money? In this article, we share a number of red flags you should definitely be on the lookout for when choosing your renovation company.
The Company Has Poor Reviews
Researching your potential contractor should be one of the first steps to take before contacting a company. When you find a prospective contractor, do some research on them – the Internet makes it easy to find reviews and other clients’ past experiences with this company. Information on the company should be available at HDB, CASE or ACRA. If your friends or family are familiar with the company, you could also ask them about their experiences. A company that appears to have more mixed reviews than good ones may be worth keeping an eye on. Some renovation firms may use different teams for different projects, resulting in inconsistent results. It is a good idea to be sure that the contractor you are talking to is the one who will be working on your home.
The Company Asks For a Huge Down Payment
It is normal for renovation companies to ask for a deposit prior to starting the job, but the first red flag is if your renovation company advertises an unbelievably cheap price, yet asks for most of the sum as a down payment. The old mantra that “you get what you pay for” is especially true for home renovation costs. If the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Usually, scam companies ask for large portions of their total quote without the capability or intention to finish the job. After getting the deposit, they simply pocket the money and leave.
To avoid getting scammed by such companies, never pay large deposits up-front, especially before the renovation company has even started on the job. Renovation payments should be done in milestones. It is important that these payment milestones have been agreed on by both you and the contractor before signing any papers.
There is No Contract or It Is Misleading
Once you have agreed to work with them, the renovation contractor should hand you a contract to read and sign before the renovation may commence. Paperwork might be lengthy and boring, but be sure to read the contract thoroughly before you sign it. These terms should be agreeable to both you and the contractor, and should detail a number of important points, such as the breakdown of the total cost, products and services included under the cost, an exact description of the works planned and materials used, the payment schedule, expected time frame, important milestones, the appointed project manager, and importantly, the termination clause should the project need to be stopped halfway for any reason. If you feel that your contract is vague or misleading in any way, always clarify with the renovation company before you sign it.
The Company Does Not Want You Visiting the Work Site
Depending on the nature of your renovation, the contractor will probably be spending most of their time alone at your new house. Be sure to check in on them frequently to supervise the works and see how the renovation is coming along. The company should be on track and keeping to the previously agreed milestones, notifying you in the event of any delays. A good renovation company should not mind you coming in frequently to check on their progress, as long as you do not obstruct the works. If your renovation company does not want you visiting for some reason, this should be a cause for concern. It could be nothing, but it could also be that the team is not on task or doing a sloppy job. The last thing you want is to leave the renovation team to their own devices and come in at the end of the stipulated timeframe, only to find that they were not able to renovate the house according to your specifications – costing you extra money even just to revert back to the original state of the house.
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