Customers' deposits protected in new voluntary accreditation scheme for renovation firms

The scheme protects homeowners if their contractor goes bust through a bond that safeguards their deposits.
The scheme protects homeowners if their contractor goes bust through a bond that safeguards their deposits.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Homeowners seeking trustworthy renovation contractors can now refer to a new voluntary accreditation scheme launched on Saturday. The CaseTrust-RCMA joint accreditation scheme also protects homeowners if the renovation business closes or goes bust, through a deposit performance bond that safeguards their deposits.

It is a step up from the existing CaseTrust accreditation scheme, which does not include deposit protection. There are currently 30 CaseTrust accredited renovation firms.

The new CaseTrust-RCMA scheme, which was 1.5-years in the making, was developed by the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) and the Singapore Renovation Contractors and Material Suppliers Association (RCMA).

CaseTrust-RCMA firms must also use a CaseTrust Standard Renovation Contract, to ensure cost transparency and accountability. This was not a requirement under the previous CaseTrust accreditation.

Among other criteria, both the old and new CaseTrust schemes require firms to have clear and proper dispute resolution mechanisms, trained sales staff, clear policies on fees and refunds, and compulsory on-site workmanship assessment.

At the launch, five renovation contractors were the first to be accredited under the new scheme. They were Add Space Design, Ciseern by Designer Furnishings, Rezt and Relax Interior, Sky Creation Design and Vegas Interior Design.

Another 12 contractors are also in the process of getting the accreditation.

Also launched on Saturday was the 2016 Singapore Renovation Guide Book, which educates consumers on what to look out for when engaging a renovation contractor.

To be published every year, the guidebook includes a list of RMCA members with CaseTrust accreditation. It will be available free at all HDB branches and Town Council offices after Chinese New Year.