Homeowners to get more protection from errant renovation firms

Homeowners can look forward to more protection against errant contractors who fail to honour contractual agreements and unsatisfactory services.

This is after the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) and the Singapore Renovation Contractors and Material Suppliers Association (RCMA) announced they would jointly develop a voluntary CaseTrust-RCMA accreditation scheme for the renovation industry.

Complaints against contractors have been increasing over the years, according to a statement by both parties issued on Monday (Aug 11). There were 1,488 complaints in 2011, 1,532 complaints in 2012 and 1,779 complaints in 2013, while 813 complaints were lodged between January and July 2014, according to the statement.

“The top nature of complaint usually involves unsatisfactory services and failure to honour the contractual agreement. Home renovation is one of the larger expense items incurred by consumers and it usually involves payment of large sums of deposit to the contractor even before the renovation is completed,” it said.

“We hope the joint accreditation scheme will help to strengthen and uplift industry standards and promote fairer business practices in the renovation industry.”

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS FOR ALL

CASE and RCMA said consumers can look forward to added protection through a performance insurance bond when they patronise a CaseTrust-RCMA accredited contractor. “The bond will act as a buffer for non-performance of contractors and provide greater peace of mind to consumers who are renovating their homes,” they said in the statement.

Other measures to be developed include:

– A standard contract signed between the consumer and the contractor, which will set out clearly the policies on fees and fee refund

– A redress system with proper and clearly-defined dispute resolution mechanisms for the business and consumers – including compulsory mediation by the CASE Mediation Centre in the event of any disputes

– Sales staff need to be well-trained based on ethical sales practices, and should be able to provide prompt, accurate information regarding the renovation

– Accredited contractors must go through an on-site workmanship site assessment – or CONQUAS – by the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore (BCA)

Additionally, RCMA said it is planning to work on a one-stop renovation city hub where many of the CaseTrust-RCMA accredited businesses will be housed under a single roof.

CaseTrust, CASE’s accreditation arm, currently has 22 accredited renovation companies on an existing scheme, and it hopes the partnership with RCMA will improve the renovation industry, said Mr Lim Biow Chuan, President of CASE.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 11 Aug 2014

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