5 things that should be in your renovation contract

Make sure you and your contractor are on the same page to ensure a hassle-free renovation process

An open plan kitchen. Additional costs may be needed to obtain permits for wall hacking, or endorsement from a professional engineer.
An open plan kitchen. Additional costs may be needed to obtain permits for wall hacking, or endorsement from a professional engineer.PHOTO: RECOMMEND.SG

Building your dream home goes beyond finding the interior designer or contractor whom you feel can understand and meet your expectations.

If you are a home renovation novice, avoid unnecessary lost time and costly mistakes by going through every detail in a renovation contract before entrusting your contractor with the task of materialising your vision of your new home. And when in doubt, never hesitate to ask for clarification.

Most importantly, have a good grasp of what is included in your renovation contract. For instance, you need to know what actually goes into the estimate provided by your contractor, and how much of it goes towards materials and labour cost.

If you are a home renovation novice, it is advisable that you consult with trusted sources on what you may have potentially overlooked in your contract.

Mr Alex Tan, marketing director of and Mr Stanley Tan, project manager at Hometrenz Design & Construction share their views on what should be covered in a renovation contract.

Does the scope of work cover everything you have discussed with the contractor?

It is important to get every detail fleshed out with the contractor, even if the process may be tedious, says Mr Alex Tan.

For example, a simple request such as building a low cabinet under the window should follow with details such as the materials to be used, the type of finishing and even the brand of hinges preferred.

Such details are crucial in accounting for the differences between contractors’ quotes —materials of higher quality will be more costly.

Mr Stanley Tan adds that homeowners should also clarify with their contractor if Goods and Services Tax (GST) is included in their quote.

What is the schedule of the job, and how often should payments be made?

Mr Alex Tan recommends that payments should be made when each major milestone is reached in the renovation process.

Here’s a sample schedule for reference:

All agreements should be put down in writing, should complications arise later.

Which permits are required?

With open floor plans becoming popular, many homeowners are looking to knocking down walls in order to enjoy a bigger living and kitchen area. However, such works may require approval from the Housing and Development Board.

For private property owners, approval from the Building and Construction Authority is required.

If you live in a condominium, you will need to seek approval from its management. Depending on the scope of your renovations, you may also need to contact the Management Corporation Strata Title in charge of your condominium.

As part of the application process for all types of homeowners, you may be required to engage a professional engineer to endorse the project plan.

It is the responsibility of the homeowner to ensure that all the necessary permits are obtained, says Mr Alex Tan. Your renovation contractor can submit the applications on your behalf, but may add this into the final cost.

Is there a warranty available?

Make sure you know whether the contractor is providing a warranty on the workmanship performed in the house.

If you receive a quote from a company that is significantly lower than its competitors, it is likely that it does not come with a warranty.

It is also important to know the warranty on the materials used in the renovation too.

According to Mr Alex Tan, materials may have longer warranties than the workmanship done. For example, quartz kitchen countertops typically come with a 10-year limited warranty.

What happens if the customer or the contractor fails to honour the contract?

Mr Alex Tan emphasises the importance of drawing up clauses to outline the penalties for either side, even in the early stages of the contract.

For instance, your contract can have a clause that states that the contractor must pay the customer a specified amount for every day of work delayed. Or the contractor can stop work if the customer fails to pay on time, and only resume when payment has been made.

In the event that there is a dispute that falls outside the purview of the contract, the conflict should be resolved through mediation by a neutral third party, such as the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE). The CASE Mediation Centre provides a neutral space for customers and service providers to resolve disputes.