Protect Yourself against Unscrupulous Contractor

Related Posts
1 How to Choose ID
2 Protect Yourself Against Unscrupulous Contractors
3 Engaging an ID
4 Our Renovation Cost & ID
5 ID Contact
6 ID Update
7 Renovation headaches
8 ID Topic Revisited

How do you protect yourself against an unscrupulous ID/Contractor?

Visiting an ID's work at his on-going project site(s) and seeing for yourself the quality of the work done is at best a comfort, but not a guarantee, that he will produce good workmanship for your renovation, for the foll reasons:

(1) the sub-con team he used for the work you have just seen may not be available for your renovation,

(2) most IDs / Contractors have a (bad) tendency to accept more jobs than they can comfortably handle, leading to "rushed job" for your flat. [ tongue.gif Hint: now you know why I don't recommend too much my ID while my renovation is still not completed!]

So, how do you protect yourself against shoddy work and unscrupulous IDs/ Contractors, as well as against the possibility that an ID may not produce good work foir your renovation despite having shown you good work done at his other project sites?

Simple -- don't pay a cent until you see evidence of the work done for your renovation!!

Let me rephrase that: pay only for work done i.e. use the progress payment method to control your ID / Contractor. That is, if he has detailed his quotation, pay hm according to the work done e.g. suppose he quoted $1,500 for replacing the windows, pay him that amount on completion of that job, after you are satisfied with the work done.

Most IDs / contractors ask for 10-30% down payment on first signing the renovation contract. I told my ID, not in a harsh tone but using a gentle, persuasive tone:

"Why should I pay you when work has not started? I have more to lose than you. In my case, I cannot run away since you know where my flat is, but if you produce shoddy work, or turn out to be a cheat, you can simply disappear and I would be left with a headache! I want to trust you but I have to be careful lah."

Any reputable and experienced ID / design firm (which is what you should get) will have good relations with suppliers. These suppliers don't ask for immediate payment

upfront whenever the ID brings his client to select materials but allow the ID firm to pay 1-2 months later, depending on their business relationship.

Therefore there is no good reason why you should pay upfront 10-30% of the contract price on first signing the contract. The only reason the ID asks for down payment is in case you change your mind and don't proceed on the renovation with him. That is a lame excuse, because you have signed the contract already! So I told my ID his interests are already (legally) protected when I signed on the dotted line.

Of course, as my renovation progressed and I saw that my ID was responsible and did his best for me, I relaxed the payment control and began to trust him more.

In other words, instead of you trusting the ID, turn it around and make the ID trust you for payment!

Second: insisting on progress payment gives you control.

If the work is shoddy or unacceptable, you withhold payment until the problem is rectified.

Now, if the ID is responsible and fair, you don't even have to resort to withhold payment. Usually a responsible ID will instruct the sub-con to correct the mistake(s) once he has seen the problem, or when you pointed out such mistakes to him.

On your part, you have to be responsible too. If you change your mind about a specific job or you want something done in another way AFTER you have agreed with the ID initially on what you want done, that is NOT the ID's mistake but additional work and is your mistake. Gracefully accept your mistake and be fair to pay the ID for the additional work.

If you treat the ID fairly and with respect, he will likewise reciprocate if he is a fair and reasonable guy, like in my case.

As my experience of my ID grew, my respect for him grew too. Not that he is totally blameless or perfect, but I found him to be responsible and he has access to sub-cons that produce really good work, as you can see for yourself on my blog.

Now, assuming you got an unscrupulous ID / Contractor, what do you do? Well, simply withhold further payment and stop all work. That will cut your loss.

Take photos of the work done as proof of the poor workmanship. Unscrupulous IDs / Contractors always shun publicity and you don't need to worry about any legal suits. If any, your photos will usually clinch the case for you.

Flat owners should learn how to protect themselves, and help stamp out unscrupulous IDs / Contractors using the method I advocate.


Proposal: Registry of ID Contractors by Consumers

I was disheartened to read on the Renotalk forum sad and unhappy experiences that some owners have had with unscrupulous contractors. So this is a proposal:

Contractors registered by RADAC abide by a code of business ethics and rules. Or try to. Disputes with consumers still occur. Whether RADAC best serves the

interests of consumers or contractors is for each individual to decide, although common sense would dictate it is difficult for any organization to represent both opposing parties in a dispute, isn't it? Nevertheless I have a healthy regard for RADAC and applaud its good efforts to improve overall construction standards and to weed out unscrupulous contractors.

Maybe we should have our own consumer's registry or organization to table consumers' experience with their contractors, both good and bad experiences i.e. a registry to serve best interests of consumers -- along the foll lines:

ID or Contractor name: xxx

No of Consumers who have used the firm : e.g. 10

No of complaints of poor workmanship: e.g. 3

No of good recommendations: e.g. 7

Forumers who have completed their renovation would be sent a questionnaire and encouraged to submit their judgment / conclusion on the work of the ID / Contractor

engaged, and the results tabulated in the above registry, and linked to the relevant thread(s) for the details / blogs. Obviously, the contractors wld have the right of reply to complaints filed by a flat owner, and then it is up to the forumer to judge for himself the complaint. If the contractor concerned don't respond after the registry contacted him for feedback, that also wld be telling.

Lots of administration work, yes, but RenoTalk is the ideal forum to handle such a registry. Obviously in this preliminary post the registry proposal is bare and many details need to be flushed out.

Let's see first if there is support. Many owners are simply too busy and are only keen while doing their renovation. Once that is completed, interest would vanish, so the registry idea may not take root at all.

So, what do you think of the proposal? Would you support it? And would you volunteer your services for such a registry?

Next: Engaging an ID

Related Posts
1 How to Choose ID
2 Protect Yourself Against Unscrupulous Contractors
3 Engaging an ID
4 Our Renovation Cost & ID
5 ID Contact
6 ID Update
7 Renovation headaches
8 ID Topic Revisited


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