IN FOCUS: “It was a nightmare” – Why is home renovation still such a minefield for homeowners?

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In total, the deadlines had to be extended. “Before COVID, a resale apartment would have taken 1.5 to two months, but now we need at least three months,” Mr Yea said.

Previously, carpentry took 7 to 10 days, but now the minimum time is 20 days, he added.

On the other hand, wages have jumped by 30 to 50%. “Everyone is asking for a higher salary because of supply and demand. There is a lot of demand but not enough supply. »

The price of all materials, such as wood and cement, has also increased over the past two years, he said. In particular, he cited soaring prices for nickel, which is used in pipes.

But the company must absorb those costs, to honor the contracts the owners signed a year ago, he added.

OWNERS ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM

While there really are bad apples in the sector, consumers also play a part when things go wrong, industry players have said.

Professor Ong of SIDS said: “We don’t play by the mantra that the customer is always right. Both parties could have contributed to the disputes.

Azcendant’s Mr. Choo said some homeowners without technical expertise might not understand the difficulty of achieving the desired aesthetic. It’s also a problem if the consumer is too demanding, even on differentials of around “3mm to 5mm”, he said.

RCMA’s Mr Ong added that the most frustrating consumers are the minority who “want to spend very little money, but who demand the most, or a lot, of designers”.

It’s even worse when those consumers then write negative and misleading online reviews as leverage to get what they want, Ong said.

“No harm in trying, mah. For them it costs nothing, but there is a chance they get something in return… And (for the company, challenging them legally is) quite complicated and you can’t guarantee any action.

“Some companies (give in) to their demands and then they ‘spoil the market’ because it causes other consumers to think the same way,” he said.

Design4Space’s Mr Yea said consumer indecision can be frustrating if it leads to delays.

“We meet a lot of owners who confirm today, then tomorrow (say): ‘Hey, change leh.’ So already changed, when we already started making the cabinets, they say we want to change that. Out of 10 households, I think about three to four are like this.

“The problem is that we can’t stop there, wait maybe a week (to see if there are any changes) and then start. Because the time frame is too long for us to wait, we don’t we don’t have time for that, you see.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM?

Associations and companies are pushing for regulation to be the answer.

RCMA hopes to emulate the path taken by the sector of the estate agent industry – which was once unregulated. A statutory board, the Board of Estate Agents, was created in 2010 to enforce a regulatory regime for the sector.

Mr Ong said authorities would like to ‘first see what the industry is providing’ and if ‘someone can come forward and show the way to show what can be done’.

To that end, RCMA launched an academy last year, with courses for those who want to join the industry, or who are already in it with no previous experience. So far the course has had five cycles with around 400-500 students in total.

“We want to make sure they understand the ethics involved, the right way to do the jobs. They need to have knowledge of tiling, carpentry, so they can be good project managers, making sure things are delivered correctly,” Mr Ong said.

At the end, they receive a certificate and an offer to join the association as a member. As members, they must respect certain rules of quality and practices – on pain of being expelled. It’s an affirmation of the quality of work they produce, he said.

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