SINGAPORE - The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) has published a guide on fair trading practices for the renovation industry, as 1,719 complaints were made about contractors to the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) for the whole of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022.
According to Case, complaints about the renovation sector were one of the highest across the various industries.
In a statement on Thursday (May 5), CCCS and Case said the guide aims to help improve business practices in the industry and help contractors who perform interior design or renovation services to avoid unfair business practices.
The majority of the complaints were about poor workmanship or poor quality of materials used for renovation, as well as slow progress or failure to complete renovation works on time.
Case said that it provided advice to 87 per cent of home owners who filed a complaint on how to resolve their disputes. It also provided further assistance for the remaining 13 per cent to help negotiate and mediate between them and their contractors.
About 40 per cent of the cases filed were resolved. In cases where a resolution could not be reached, more than 75 per cent were resolved through legal means, while the rest did not pursue further action.
CCCS and Case said the guide is intended to raise contractors' awareness of what may constitute an unfair business practice under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act 2003 as well as other practices to adopt to help consumers make well-informed decisions.
The guide covers five main areas:
- Consumers and contractors should have a mutually agreed timeline for the renovation work to occur;
- Pricing of the services should be transparent without any hidden costs;
- The goods and services provided by the contractor should be described accurately;
- Contractors should have a clear exchange, repair and refund policy; and
- Contractors should obtain the consent of the consumer for supplying goods and services
Ms Sia Aik Kor, chief executive of CCCS, said: "Home renovation typically involves a large financial commitment for many consumers. Consumers without the necessary technical knowledge would normally rely on contractors for advice on renovation work.
"Contractors should provide clear and accurate information to consumers and not make false or misleading representations regarding their services."
Ms Sia said service delivery might have been affected due to manpower and material supply shortages over the past two years.
"Adopting transparent and fair trading practices will help contractors build trust, maintain a good business reputation in the industry and attract more consumers in the long run," she added.
Case president Melvin Yong said: "Prolonged shortage in manpower and raw materials, pent-up demand in the residential property market and a corresponding demand for home renovation services have led to a sharp increase in complaints.
"Most of these complaints could be mitigated if renovation contractors are upfront and transparent in communicating expectations and timelines with consumers."
To protect their interests, Mr Yong said, consumers should avoid making large sums of payment upfront and instead pay progressively as each stage of renovation is completed.
"We also encourage consumers to consider engaging CaseTrust accredited contractors as they are committed to fair trade practices and consumer-friendly policies," he added.