Consumer watchdog concerned over rising home renovation spend, complaints against industry

For the past decade, the renovation contractor industry has been among the top 10 in the number of complaints received by the Consumer Association of Singapore. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Home owners are spending more on renovation packages in recent years and the consumer watchdog is worried, given the many complaints made about the renovation contractor industry.

For the past decade, the industry has been among the top 10 in the number of complaints received by the Consumer Association of Singapore (Case).

Yet, the average value of renovation contracts signed has gone up - from an average of $5,742 per contract in 2008 to $11,237 last year. The total contract value of the renovation packages went up from $7.2 million in 2008 to $14.26 million in 2016.

These figures are according to complaints received by Case.

In a statement on Tuesday (Aug 29), Case said that it was concerned. "This is especially so when many consumers pay a large deposit, or even pay in full upfront to the renovation contractor, and then subsequently run into disputes due to multiple delays or unsatisfactory renovation works, or encounter renovation contractors that cease operations and become uncontactable after collecting payment," said the watchdog.

Last year the renovation contractor industry was the fourth most complained about, with 1,296 cases lodged with Case.

Most complaints were about a failure to honour contractual obligations or promises, followed by unsatisfactory services.

Case said it has reached out to the Singapore Renovation Contractors and Material Suppliers Association (RCMA) to look into improving standards and protecting consumers.

It added: "Last year, we launched the CaseTrust-RCMA joint accreditation scheme for renovation businesses where consumers' deposits are protected against business closure by way of a deposit performance bond. There are currently 30 CaseTrust-RCMA accredited businesses under this scheme, and the list of accredited businesses can be found on our website at"

Case is also organising a consumer fair next month for those looking to renovate their homes. Talks at the fair will cover topics such as selecting a reputable contractor, consumer rights under the Lemon Law, and tips on protecting deposits.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.