Renovation Scam: How to Avoid Getting ScammedCommercial Services
5 minutes read
Have you heard of the latest renovations scam that stirred up the renovation world again? Have a read of the curious case of Husniyati Omar. She embezzled 1.8million from 89 victims. I wonder if there is a Guinness World Record for this because she seems like a serious contender.
Husniyati Omar, the 41 year old scammer. Image via Straitstime.
She not only duped homeowners, she even cheated sub-contractors, saying that she will pay them for the work they did, but in reality, she didn’t even pay a single cent.
In Singapore, there has yet to be an official regulation for renovation contractors or interior designers. It’s pretty easy for anyone to become an interior designer in Singapore. Even YOU can take up renovation projects! Basically everyone can claim to be one here. The barriers to enter to become one happens to be really low.
Well, I’m sure cases like these made you skeptical of going to IDs or contractors for renovation now. Fret not, there are ways you can avoid getting scammed and we will guide you through it! Don’t let a couple of bad eggs ruined your dream of having your dream home.
Even our very own Chief Online Strategist from Renotalk, Mr. Mohd Sabarudin Hashim has a few mindful thoughts about this topic too.
“As we get more sophisticated, the scammers are also equally sophisticated. So, we got to be mindful that our source of information are not coming from one person or one entity.” - he said.Without further ado, these are the useful guides on how to avoid getting scammed.
Image via Pexels.
Unleash your inner FBI and go all CSI on the interior firm you’re planning to work with. Make sure they are registered under ACRA, CaseTrust or RADAC (Renovation and Decoration Advisory Centre) to make sure that the renovation company is a registered business.
If possible, find out how much is the paid-up capital of the firm. Why is that important? Owners of private limited firms are only liable up to their paid-up capital amount, so if it’s only $5 put in, $5 is all you’re squeezing out from them if they run away.
You can also ask your friends or neighbours who has gone through a renovation journey to know more about the renovation companies or their past works. Don’t just rely on only one medium or person too. Explore the many choices you can get from renovation companies.
“As we get more sophisticated, we are more used to using digital marketing apps and all that, guess what, the scammers are also equally sophisticated. We gotta be mindful, that our source of information are not coming from one person or one entity. We need to talk to friends, we need to understand the processes involved, going on a home renovation journey, you gotta talk to people who has been on that journey.”
Check Their Social Media
Image via Pexels
In this digitalized era, social media is everything. Begin googling your chosen IDs and see their works and reviews about them. Go peruse through online discussions, entries, Facebook, Instagram and so forth and hotspot for the greatest number of data as you can before settling on a choice. You will be shocked with the data you can get from these channels.
Mr Sabarudin Hashim also said “In the old days, you have to call up your friend on the phone but now Socmed is the way to go. Hop on to our forum and scan the conversation, got a good feel of what you need to know, and can go on to the FB page, not just on renotalk but you can go to some of the partners that we work with and look at the company pages.”
Visit their Office/Showroom
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In case you haven’t already realised, it’s a bad idea to sign up for packages at renovation fairs. Some of these so-called companies are actually one man shows being run in the bedroom of some guy’s HDB flat.
If they have a physical office or showroom, request to visit their showroom or look at a portion of their on-going remodels. Organizations that are hesitant to allow you to drop by is either tricking you and most likely lying!
We strongly encourage you to visit the company’s office and request to drop by some of their ongoing sites before making a decision.
Many scammers don’t even have a proper office nor evidence of design work going on, and if they earn all their money by running away from their customers, they probably don’t have any decent sites, either.
Cheapskate Level: Getting Scammed
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Yes, we know! The promotion or the cheap quotes got your attention but be cautious, not all cheap stuff ensures good outcomes. As the saying goes, you pay peanuts, you get monkeys!
All things considered, this truly occurs in the renovation world. In conjunction to that, if you ever encounter an incredibly low costs, WALK AWAY, keep walking yes sis, go on to the next option.
Save yourself from a miserable journey of renovations, it’s really advisable to look through a couple of options. Don’t just grab the first and cheapest option you can find. It’s your house, we’re talking about here.
Black & White
Image via Pexels
Make sure you have a proper black and white agreement or contract with the renovation company you’re dealing with. Are you one of those people who tick that box after just scrolling through the T&C Facebook without reading it? Yes? Don’t worry, I’m one of them too, no shame in that but with your home renovation, please DO NOT skip this! Read and examine the agreement that you have with your renovation company.
Tedious, I know but it’s really vital. You wouldn’t want to have a half renovated house down the road! If you’re going for an Industrial theme, trust me, this is not the kind you would want.
Make sure to write down all the work needed to be done in the contract to avoid being short-changed. This is to ensure that everything that the contractor has promised will be done.
Be wary of contractors who verbally agree and insist on not needing to list down every job in the contract because they may just go back on their word. Some things that you need to look out for are:
- Payment terms and work of progress
- Cost of renovation and materials
- what are the things excluded from the renovation package
- Termination clause (check for penalties)
- refund policies
What we can do to save ourselves is be more cautious, be smarter at making choices and do a thorough research before investing into something big like a home renovation.
To add on that, Mr Saba added by saying “Renotalk needs to be involved in that ecosystem as well. Not just Renotalk, but the other portal as well. Because it takes a community and we need community spotters to kind of highlight to us who are the best players in the market and also who are the ones that are playing shady games.”
That being said, hop on to portals like Renotalk to get inputs on not just the trends but also who are the recommended renovation companies by the community. There are heaps of forums online that you can go on and ask questions and get answers from those who have been on that renovation journey too!
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