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chan esther

Delay in construction - avenues for homeowners to seeking redress

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This message is directed at the experts including Snoozee for advice on this issue.

I am fully reconstructing my semiD for the first time - construction started in June 2020.  

I got an architect to design the building, and on his recommendation, proceeded with a builder whom he said had excellent workmanship and was sure to finish the project.

The contract was signed using the Singapore institute of Architects template and the duration of completion was stated as 14 months. It is now coming close to 36 months and the project is only about 60% complete (structural works done but toilets/floors/windows and lift not installed yet).   The builder has kept giving excuses about manpower issues intially and now says that completing my house now would cause him to lose money but says he is not going to run away. He is a smooth liar.  He does the work in bits and pieces here and there and at most has 2 workers on site or none on site for several weeks at a time. 

He has several other ongoing building projects including renovation projects and has been deploying his workers there.  He is also using my premises to house a few of his workers working at other sites (using my electicity and water).  I tried getting another contractor to take over, but since construction costs have increased significantly in the past few years, I would have to pay a significant additional amount to get the house completed.  The marble tiles and cisterns that I ordered more than a year ago are still at the vendor's warehouse.

In spite of repeated pleas from myself and the architect, the contractor seems unbothered, unapologetic and does not seem to be making any effort to get the job completed. Even the neighbors are complaining as they have had to put up with dust and dirt for 3 yrs.

I believe I may have no choice but to get another builder to take over at additional costs as this might drag on for some time.

But how do I proceed to seek liquidated damages for the delay.  The architect is still onboard - should I get him to issue a certificate of non-completion?

Should I get a lawyer on board?

 is there a channel like the BCA that one can complain to so that they can look into his license to practice - he does have builder and renovation licenses.

Lastly, is there a reliable contractor to recommend who has the workers on hand to do the job.  We have been paying for both rental/warehouse costs for 3 yrs.

Thanks in advance for your replies.


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My neighbour's house has been undergoing minor A&A for close to 2 years and house hasn't been handed over yet. Similar situation as yours on workers doing bits and pieces every few weeks.

Unfortunately your best course of action is to find another builder to take over. While it will cost you more, continuing on with this contractor will cost you more money in terms of loans and IRAS property tax. IRAS property tax remission is only for 2 years and you will likely be forking a 5 digit sum in property tax due to the remission expiry.

Since you have a proper contract signed with the builder, consult a lawyer on the contract terms and see if you can seek legal recourse over compensation for the delay. As to how to fire/discharge your existing contractor, this should be handled by your architect whom I presume is acting as your project manager as well. Just make sure all the relevant documentations are properly handed over by the contractor as there are quite a bit of submissions needed for TOP and I think every batch of concrete delivered to site needs a test report which needs to be submitted.

I don't think any government agencies will be concerned about the contractor's practice and such unless he is working on government projects. For the workers staying on your site, legally you are the one allowing them to stay on site as if you go to MOM site, you can check the particulars on foreign workers staying on your site.

I think the lesson learnt is that don't trust anyone's, even the architect's recommendations. There was a previous thread which is now deleted where there was some form of "collusion" between the architect and builder and it was quite problematic as well. Anyone who is building a new house should insist on the architect doing a proper tender process where multiple parties can bid for the project. In this way, the process is transparent and client can get the best deal as opposed to hearing someone saying "trust me, he is good".

Edited by snoozee

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I suggest you remove the image of your project board for you own privacy.

has your lawyer and/or architect provided you a solution on how to resolve the issue?

I'm not sure when your project was first mooted and quoted for but I guess your contractor is also blindsided by COVID and the increase in construction costs and manpower issues.

Not sure how much work had been done over the last 6 months but I estimate your project will take another 6 to 8 months or work before it can be fully completed. If you have already decided to change contractor, do check on whether your lift has been ordered from the supplier or not and if yes, you will need to take over that contract as well. If the lift has not been ordered then you will need to find another lift contractor who can supply the lift for you as well. The procurement of lift will take time as they are built to order so this is one of the first thing you should look into after changing the contractor. If your main roof is already completed then it's just working on the interior which will be easier and faster since you're no longer constraint by weather conditions.

I guess you are not taking any bank loans to finance the construction as paying to another party other than the builder which the contract is signed with will raise a red flag with the bank's lawyers. In any case, I think it will be a good practice to pay only to the company which the contract is signed with and insist on a receipt of payment. Keep these records properly as well in case there is a need to use them one day.

Don't believe what anyone tell you that you don't need to pay GST. Even though you don't see the GST component in your invoice, you are technically paying for GST in the amount already since your contractor is likely to be buying the supplies from a GST registered company hence GST is already paid. It's just that a non-GST registered entity cannot send you a TAX invoice with GST component and they cannot get GST refund from IRAS. eg: I buy a tin of paint which costs $10.80 from a hardware store which 80 cents is the GST. I resell the tin of paint to you at $12 and say no need GST since I'm not GST registered. But I'm technically making $1.20 from you as profit while you have indirectly paid for the GST to the original hardware store through my initial purchase.

Hope you can get the whole situation resolved fast and maybe there could be a chance you can see the house being completed by end of 2023 and I can drive by and look at your beautiful house.



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Its been 4 years since the start of construction of my SemiD and it is still not complete.

Has anybody had such along construction time I wonder.





Edited by chan esther

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Am looking for one at the moment.

This current contractor is truly the worst I have ever seen. 

The quartz vanity opening for the wash basins for all the bathrooms was made asymmetrical - one side bigger that the other - subcon is Polybuilding Pte Ltd

They had to rip off the quartz counter tops to amend (was glued with silicon) and in the process the wooden cabinets totally destroyed

The roof and one of the rooms started leaking yesterday after the heavy downpour.

Very very poor workmanship.

Am shocked to find such individuals still around in this day and age.





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Am open to recommendations for good contractors to complete.

Its about 85% done but progressing at a snail's pace

Current contractor manpower and finances are depleted.... he can't pay the subcons....so things not moving as they should

Main con is a very unpleasant and vindictive character. behaves more like a conman/thug than a decent person.


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Oh man.. your 4 years include the time needed for all the approvals?

im coming 2.5 years for my inter and same thing. The builder has liquidity issue and things are moving really slowly 

I don’t even know what recourse we have against the builder


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