Complaints against renovation contractors and firms fell from 1,779 cases in 2013 to 1,462 last year even as more new flats were built, revealed the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) and reported in the media.
The number of cases taken up by the association also decreased from 269 in 2012 to 242 in 2014.
Industry players pointed to the slowing resale flat market and increasingly cautious customers as possible reasons for the decline.
“The slowdown in the property market due to various policy measures and loan curbs may have affected the home renovation industry in Singapore, as fewer consumers buy and renovate their homes,” noted Case executive director Seah Seng Choon.
In agreement, Sky Tan, vice-president of the Singapore Renovation Contractors and Material Suppliers Association (RCMA), said while more Build-to-Order (BTO) flats were constructed in recent years, these flats do not generally require as much renovation as resale flats.
“Most things are already fitted in a BTO. The scope of work is much less,” revealed Dr Tan, who also serves as chief executive of interior design and renovation company Sky Creation.
In fact, homeowners today are more careful when it comes to renovations.
“They go on websites, forums, social media to find out more about contractors,” shared Dr Tan.
Education efforts by Case may have also made consumers savvier, stated Seah.
However, there are still “some black sheep out there who cheat customers”, added Dean Lim, director of interior design firm Ciseern.
Case received 438 renovation complaints between January and April this year.
To avoid renovation disputes, industry players suggest requesting itemised billing, putting verbal agreements in writing, having realistic expectations as well as hiring contractors that are accredited under Case Trust.
“Customers should do their checks,” said Lim. “Contractors and interior designers should also undergo training on how to better run their businesses.”