Workmanship: Dispute Resolution

Workmanship Series
 1 Good Workmanship
 2 Workmanship: Dispute Resolution
 3 Workmanship: Walls & Floor
 4 Workmanship: Laminated Floor
 5 Workmanship: Electrical Work
 6  Workmanship: Air-Conditioner
 7 Workmanship: Doors & Architrave
 8 Workmanship: Gas Piping & Gas Dryer
 9 Workmanship: Kitchen Works
10 Workmanship: Hide Ugly Pipes
11 Workmanship: Windows
12 Workmanship: Plumbing

Disputes are bound to happen in any home renovation. Mine was no different. Though I was hard-nosed and demanding when it came to workmanship issues, I was also tolerant and non-confrontational. Amiable, in fact. I dislike abhor arguments and always avoid disputes as far as possible. To me arguments or disputes are non-productive. A waste of time and energy. In my case I was fortunate my ID was of the same ilk. We resolved major workmanship issues by focusing on possible solutions, not on who's right or wrong. We often discussed with a give-and-take attitude. That is, I always gave, he often took! *grin* Though there were occasions when I was unyielding. And he reciprocated by giving way to me. So we got along fine.

The Preliminaries
A major aspect of Dispute Resolution is therefore to choose your ID wisely. If you have a temperamental ID, you are headed for trouble even before renovation starts. If your ID is even-tempered and patient, disputes are less likely to happen. In my case, I assiduously avoided IDs who were impatient, short-tempered, and non-communicative. Those were struck off early from the short-list. But how did I know they were temperamental? Well, I gave each a personality test. That is, bombard the ID with questions. Bug, not merely ask, the ID for the quotation. Be loud. Be rude. Have an attitude. And observe how he responds. If you follow my example, you'll quickly know which ID is patient, even-tempered, can get along with.

You would also want to test the ID on his knowledge, contacts, and how he resolves problems with workers. That would give you an idea of his competence. Sure, no ID is perfect - but it helps to know where you stand with regard to the ID's personality, knowledge, competence, problem-solving ability. And how he treats and relates to his workers.

Finally, after going through the preliminaries, including site visits, you are now left with the final 2. One of whom you will select for your home renovation. The other would be a reserve in case the one you select pulls out at-the-last-minute. That happened to me, related in another post.

You will now want to discuss with the ID a method to resolve disputes. Just in case problems arise during renovation.

Disputes & Resolution Mechanism
Disputes and disagreements in the course of your home renovation may be easier to resolve if you and the ID first sit down together and agree on - for want of a better term - a dispute resolution mechanism.

First, you and the ID should agree on a standard of workmanship for your home renovation. You must be clear and explicit on the standard acceptable to you. To be clear and explicit, use photos of flats whose workmanship standard you and the ID can accept.

Second, tell the ID if there's a mistake in the work carried out, and you're unhappy with the work done, you have the right to withhold payment. And you will make payment only when the mistake has been rectified to your satisfaction. Agree with the ID mistakes are something that can be i) seen &/or ii) felt. Example: tiles of a different color from what you've ordered. Or worktop cracked and scratched badly by the workers. Or granite floor tiles that are not properly laid so that you could feel rough edges as you walk on the completed granite floor - a problem easily rectified with re-polishing after the floor tiles have been laid.

Tell the ID you're also penalized indirectly for any mistake made by the workers, because the home renovation will be delayed by the rectification work that has to be carried out.

But what if the ID or the workers are unable to correct the problem identified? Well, get the ID to agree when that happens you have the right to appoint another contractor to carry out the job. And to deduct the amount required from the renovation contract.

Finally, to underpin the resolution mechanism, payment for the renovation work should proceed in accordance with work completed, not upon delivery of materials to your home. Or based on a payment schedule that does not correlate with the actual work completed. That means you should not accept a quotation with progress payment based on the ID's schedule.

Summary
1 Show the standard expected - agree on what is good workmanship through photo examples
2 If poor standard, right to withhold payment
3 If still not good nor rectified, right to deduct from ID contract amount to pay another contractor
4 Be a reasonable guy - not asking for the sky, not hard to please, but fair, with a give-and-take attitude
5 Pay according to work done, not to ID's proposed contract

Workmanship Series
 1 Good Workmanship
 2 Workmanship: Dispute Resolution
 3 Workmanship: Walls & Floor
 4 Workmanship: Laminated Floor
 5 Workmanship: Electrical Work
 6  Workmanship: Air-Conditioner
 7 Workmanship: Doors & Architrave
 8 Workmanship: Gas Piping & Gas Dryer
 9 Workmanship: Kitchen Works
10 Workmanship: Hide Ugly Pipes
11 Workmanship: Windows
12 Workmanship: Plumbing

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