askST: How can I be sure my home renovation is going ahead safely?

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SINGAPORE – On Wednesday June 8, a false ceiling broke off from the concrete ceiling of a family’s master bedroom and collapsed onto their beds.

The structure was installed less than six months ago and weighed more than 100 kg. Although no one was hurt, the incident left the family traumatized and their room in shambles.

Renovation experts Jackie Lai, board member of the Singapore Interior Design Accreditation Council (Sidac), and Kelly Chin, who sits on the board of the Society of Interior Designers Singapore (Sids), explain what to look for when renovating. installation of false ceilings and home renovations in general.

Q: What factors would cause false ceilings to detach?

Ms Chin: False ceilings can fall if they are not properly attached to the concrete ceiling and lack support structures. Improper ceiling anchor bolts can also cause a false ceiling to collapse.

Accidents can occur as a result of poor quality workmanship or when inferior materials are used.

Q: What permits are required for renovation work and what can be done to ensure such incidents do not happen again?

Ms Chin: HDB may require that all contractors or companies that install suspended ceilings be registered and licensed, or retrain or retrain their staff every two to three years to ensure that everyone has the appropriate skills.

Mr Lai: Apartment owners are required to hire renovation contractors registered with the HDB.

Even though installing a false ceiling does not require a permit, contractors must still adhere to HDB’s renovation guidelines.

For commercial units, it is mandatory to submit shop ceiling drawings and use approved materials. In some cases, a pull test may be necessary. (The test consists of attaching a suitable test rig to the bolt, screw, anchor or fastener, which is then subjected to the level of stress load specified in the design to determine the strength and safety of fixation.)

Q: How can homeowners ensure that they have hired accredited or reliable contractors and interior designers?

Mr Lai: They should hire interior designers accredited by Sidac, such as qualified interior design consultants and renovation interior designers.

Unqualified individuals and companies bring discredit to the home decor industry with their poor workmanship and poor service.

Homeowners who have already hired a contractor can also hire an accredited interior design consultant as added insurance.

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