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CASE - What To Do If Your Renovation Goes Wrong?

Interior Design & Decor



Getting your dream home may be on your bucket list and is one of many life goals in this age.

However, your dream house may turn into a nightmare if something drastic happens during your renovation - despite your best efforts, something unpleasant and unexpected may arise even after your renovation ends.

Your doors are warped and they are unable to close properly.

Your walls are flaking and peeling in various places.

Your home’s electrical wiring is either loose or does not have a flow of electrical current running through.

Your plumbing is either clogged or leaking.

Your floor becomes flooded because the waterproofing and piping works were not done properly.

The above scenarios are just a few ways your renovation can go south, even after completion. And unfortunately, such problems are more common than one may want to believe.

Image © Pixabay via Pexels

Case Study - Is Your Renovation Story Like This?

Here is an example from real life that details such an experience. Is your renovation horror story similar to that of Mr M’s?

Here is what happened to Mr M: He engaged a renovation contractor to renovate his 5-room HDB apartment. The package he agreed on cost approximately $30,000 for works such as laying tiles, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, and door works.

He was verbally assured by one of the contractor’s staff that the renovation will be completed in less than two months. They then agreed on a progressive payment structure as follows:

  1. 10% upon confirmation of job
  2. 50% upon the start of work
  3. 30% upon completion of wet works
  4. 5% upon arrival of carpentry
  5. And the final 5% upon completion

However, this structure was not followed; due to constant requests for payment from his contractor’s side, Mr M ended up paying up to 90% of the total cost even though only the demolition works, laying of wall tiles at the kitchen and toilet, and painting were done.

Outstanding works included the laying of floor tiles and installation of the toilet doors, toilet bowls, and washbasins.

Despite this, Mr M decided to give them the benefit of the doubt in hopes the company will speed up the renovation after receiving payment. However, this was not the case as the renovation works have yet to be completed even after nine months.

Sounds familiar? Ever faced a similar situation?

There are a few things to note so your renovation does not turn out to be a sour experience.

Protecting Your Renovation Prepayment

Image © Pixabay via Pexels

Prepayment is paying before the stipulated execution of works or services; it is a common industry practice for renovation contractors to collect advance payment to secure the necessary materials, resources, and manpower.

As money already spent will be harder to protect, you can better protect your prepayment via the following ways.

One way to protect your renovation prepayment is negotiating for progressive payment and planning your payment milestones. That is, making payments only after certain steps of the renovation work have been completed.

You should discuss with your renovator about payment breakdown; one way is to pay after each step of the renovation process or after certain amounts of renovation work have been completed (e.g. paying after masonry, then after carpentry, then after plumbing and electrical, etc).

Alternatively, you can spread out your renovation process and renovate in batches, thus cutting down on costs. There are also other ways to do up your home within your budget.

You should also negotiate to retain around 5% to 10% of the total amount payable until after the satisfactory completion of all renovation works. Your renovation contractor should also rectify any outstanding post-renovation defects within an agreed period of time from when you first notify them.

You can also employ a home inspection service to help you check for defects. Some common defects to look out for are:

  • Cracks, patches, and flakes in wall plaster
  • Cracked, chipped, or peeling in the paintwork
  • Faulty plumbing, loose faucets, or pipe leakages, leading to flooding or other plumbing issues
  • Loose electrical sockets, frayed cables, data connection issues, and other electrical faults
  • Unlevelled walls
  • Uneven carpentry and doors
  • Poor or hollow tiling, whether it be on your walls or floors. This may eventually lead to popped tiles in the future
  • Wrong materials used for cabinetry and countertop
  • Missing screws
  • Hinges are too tight or too loose
  • Incomplete or inadequate application of silicon sealant, leading to leakage or looseness

Protecting your prepayment will assure that your finances are kept safe and tight during the renovation process so that your renovation expenditure will not be at risk.

What To Do If There is A Dispute

Image © Anna Shvets via Pexels

Other than issues with prepayment, your renovation may also be disrupted by disputes between you and your renovation contractor.

Such disputes can happen due to:

  • Delayed completion of renovation or delivery of renovation works, with no clarifications from the contractor’s side as to why
  • Quality of workmanship that does not comply with the stipulated agreement between homeowner and contractor
  • Usage of wrong materials or materials not agreed on
  • Unrectified defects during and after renovation
  • Irregularities in the payment timeline, or disagreements on when the next payment should be made
  • Failure to honour any of the terms drawn up in the initial agreement prior to renovation

Fortunately, there are ways to manage these disputes or even avoid them altogether.

Firstly, insist on a clear contract; when drawing up the contract agreement with your contractor, ensure that it properly reflects the renovation items for billing and descriptions for the renovation scope of work.

All verbal commitments should be put down into writing. This means listing the scope, schedule, and completion dates with your contractor before putting them down on paper via the contract. This is so that both parties will find it difficult to go back on their word.

Before any write-downs or contract-signing, be wary of the following:

  • Is the renovation deadline feasible? Can it be met? Does it give enough time for the renovation to be completed without any disruptions?
  • Do your contractors come with good reviews and testimonials? Check around on online forums or ask from others for reviews of their past work. Research and reviews are vital here.

In case of any disputes, document outstanding defects through taking photos and compiling a list of defects post-renovation, so that they can be resolved systematically.

Some common defects to look out for can be found in the above points on ‘Protecting Your Prepayment’.

It may also be helpful to have a few back-up contractors in mind should there be a delay; some homeowners who had their renovation delayed were able to enlist other contractors quickly to help them finish up the job.

Others have turned to DIY, secondhand furniture, and local clearance sales to supplement any furnishings or carpentry their proposed renovation has left untouched.

So do protect your prepayment and yourself as well in the event of disputes to help make your renovation experience less stressful.

Who Can Help You With Your Renovation?

Image © fauxels via Pexels

For extra assurance and stability, you can consider approaching renovation companies and contractors with CaseTrust accreditation. Accredited firms will have on them:

  • Protection over a customer’s deposit payment through the purchase of a deposit performance bond, which safeguards your deposits against a company’s closure, winding up and/or liquidation.
  • A CaseTrust Standard Renovation Contract (which can be accessed here) which lists what should be accomplished on the contractor’s end, including the scope of work, renovation timeline, and payment procedure.

You can find a list of CaseTrust accredited renovation contractors here. Be sure to use the drop-down menu to filter results.

Equipping yourself with the right knowledge and taking necessary precautions before starting on your renovation will help it move along more smoothly.

However, if things do not go the way you had hoped for because of some disagreement, you can always approach CASE for advice should you be at a loss for what to do. If necessary, consider mediation to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement.

Contact CASE via:

You can also follow CASE on Facebook for more consumer tips.


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