Complaint cases in the renovation industry have been falling steadily over the past years, which contractors say is a good sign.
Last year, there were 234 filed and assisted complaints made to the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case). This is a drop from previous years' figures - 244 in 2015, and 262 the year before.
The complaints were generally about renovation contractors' failure to honour contracts or unsatisfactory service, said Case executive director Loy York Jiun.
The gradual fall in complaints comes even as consumers have become more cautious, noted renovation business players.
Mr Tan Chim Hoon, president of the Singapore Renovation Contractors and Material Suppliers Association (RCMA), told Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao in a report yesterday that consumers also tend to look out for reliable firms. He said that with consumers turning to social media and writing online reviews about their experiences, this has helped improve the quality of service in the industry.
Mr Elson Tan Yew Kiong, director of Image Creative Design, a CaseTrust-accredited renovation firm, told The Straits Times that the decline in complaint cases was a good sign. "It means more companies are taking the job seriously and listening to feedback. Reputation is extremely important in this industry, so improving their work and their name will help them."
A CaseTrust-accredited company adopts good business practices, such as having clear fee policies and documentation, and a proper redress system.
Mr Tan said there were still a few "black sheep" that leave consumers with bad experiences when they fail to fulfil agreements or clients' requests.
"To prevent this, I advise consumers not to choose a company by its price and freebies. Instead, they should look into the company's reputation and be assured of its reliability before hiring it."
In a number of past cases involving errant renovation firms, customers were left high and dry when their renovation works were not completed, despite multiple attempts to contact the firms after upfront payments had been made.
In May last year, a couple lodged a police report after a renovation firm they hired, Sense Ideas Design, became uncontactable. They had paid $63,000 in advance for works, which included installing kitchen and bathroom fittings, but these were not done.
In 2015, customers of D'Concept Design made at least 11 police reports against the firm. They also lodged at least 14 complaints with Case, mostly about multiple delays in renovation works despite payments being made to the firm.
Mr Steven Liew, an operations manager for another CaseTrust-accredited company, Living Gaia Interior, said more can still be done to improve the renovation industry.
"Companies need to continue to better themselves and go the extra mile to make clients feel assured. This can be done through detailed paperwork and better communication with clients."
In February last year, a new joint accreditation scheme was developed by Case and RCMA to protect home owners' deposits if the contractor closes or disappears. This was in addition to the existing CaseTrust scheme, and gave home owners extra assurance when hiring renovation contractors.