When it comes to remodelling your home, the last thing you’d want is a dispute with your chosen contractor. There are many ways of avoiding disputes and several ways of resolving them, should they arise. This guide will cover some of the most important considerations to make when handling disputes with your chosen remodelling contractor in Singapore.

Important things to bear in mind

Choose the right contractor

We cannot stress enough how important it is to select a good, reliable and honest renovation contractor. We have covered the guidelines for this in several articles and here is the link.

It is also always advisable to choose an accredited and licensed contractor. The RADAC website will help you get all the information you need. Not only are you ensured of reliable contractors through them, they also handle disputes, should they arise, neutrally between you and your chosen handyman.

Before the work commences

You need to start by signing a contract and understanding the rules and liabilities involved therein. Make sure you read the fine print in the contract and ask for a copy after signing. The Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) also recommends having standard contracts as against proprietary ones since the latter are more likely to be in favour of the contractor.

Read the contract

The ideal renovation contract is a legally binding agreement between the homeowner and the remodelling contractor. Naturally, it has very specific terms that are applicable to both the parties. Some kinds of HDB renovations need legal permits which are the responsibility of the contractor. These obligations are also clearly stated in the legal contract.

Many times, when you are in the midst of discussing the renovation, you and your contractor might discuss several things to which the contractor might make only oral promises. You should be aware that such oral commitments are not legally binding and hence un-enforceable. So, do make sure you get your handyman to commit to those things in writing.

As a consumer, you have every right to take action against a contractor or his team members if they make either written or oral false claims.

What the contract should include

Ideally speaking, a contract should include the following terms

  • Payment
  • Deadlines
  • Start date and end dates
  • Damages, losses clause– This is very essential in case the contractor leaves the job half done due to which the homeowner suffers losses. This clause can help accelerate the claims process and should be made an essential part of the contract.
  • Changes and variation clause– It is best to have mini bids or change orders in case you incur some unforeseen or unexpected changes or additions to the project. In large HDB renovations, contractors are often unable to give the exact estimate of the labour and materials. In such cases, it is best to negotiate beforehand how changes will be dealt with later.
  • Rectifications– This clause enables homeowners to demand changes and rework before handover of the project.

Apart from these important clauses, one must also check for warranties and dispute resolution clause in the contract. The latter is especially important for presenting to The Consumers Association of Singapore in case conflict arises.

Monitoring the work regularly

home renovation contractors dispute resolution

It is essential that homeowners play an active role in the home renovation. If you have hired an interior designer or architect, s/he can also supervise and monitor the work on your behalf. This can help ensure that the work is being carried on satisfactorily and you can make milestone payments to the contractor.

Conflict and dispute management

There are different ways to manage/handle disputes with your renovation contractor should they occur.

  1. The easy way– Read the contract completely. Bring to attention of the contractor the clause which you feel has been breached. Avoid name calling and tears during negotiation.
  2. Bring in a mediator- A neutral or third party person can help you and your contractor review the situation, state facts and make sure that both parties are heard. A neutral outsider can help suggest ways and alternative means to resolve disputes.
  3. Informal or formal arbitration– You can approach the CASE for legal advice. Other than that, you can go to the small claims court, which is part of subordinate court in Singapore.

You can also approach the RADAC to mediate between you and your contractor. As a final resort, you might want to consider hiring a legal business expert which is naturally very costly and can even take months to resolve.

Images: Unionconnect