New accreditation scheme for renovation industry

SINGAPORE - Those planning to renovate their homes next year can look forward to a new accreditation scheme which aims to promote fair practices.

A collaboration between the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) and the Singapore Renovation Contractors and Material Suppliers Association (RCMA), the new joint accreditation scheme will introduce a performance insurance bond, which will guarantee compensation or deposit refunds if a contractor does not deliver.

The scheme will also impose a standard contract specifying policies of fees and fee refunds, to be signed between the customer and the contractor.

And if there are disputes between contractor and consumer, Case will step in to mediate between both parties.

The collaboration was introduced partly to address the rising number of complaints in the renovation sector, said Case president and MP for Mountbatten constituency, Mr Lim Biow Chuan. There were 1,779 complaints against contractors last year, up from 1,532 in 2012 and 1,488 the year before.

"It's an unregulated industry," said Mr Lim.

"Ultimately this scheme is meant to raise the standards of the renovation industry, as well as to provide greater assurance to consumers that in the event of a dispute, there are proper ways to resolve it."

The consumer watchdog's accreditation arm, CaseTrust, has an existing scheme with 22 accredited renovation contractors, but it does not include the performance insurance bond and a standard contract. So far, 15 RCMA member contractors have signed on to the new scheme.