In the first article of the series, lawyer Kelvin from Vicki Heng Law Corporation talked about renovation disputes and shared tips on how to avoid and deal with them when it arises. Through the course of the week, 99.co has fielded questions from their readers and here are the top three questions.
Question 1: Halfway through my renovation, all work came to a halt and my interior designer could not be reached by mobile, office landline and office email address. I have already given them 50% deposit (i.e. $25,000) out of a budget of $50,000. I am at a loss. What do I do next?
I would take steps to ascertain if the company was first still in operation. This can be done by going down to the interior designer’s office. Alternatively, you can do a search on Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) and/or litigation search on the Singapore Commercial Credit Bureau (SCCB) to see the present status of the company. The results of the searches will also likely indicate the prospects of being able to recover monies from the company. If for example, a litigation search reveals a number of claims and suits against them, then in such cases we would normally highlight to clients that the prospects for recovery are likely to be quite low.
Question 2: The quality/look/width of parquet slabs installed in my home is different from what was agreed upon. My interior designer and I are at a standoff as I am insisting that they re-do the parquet flooring in all 3 bedrooms. However, he refuses to do so as he is accusing me of changing my specifications now. The exchange was done verbally and not included in the contract. What shall I do? I have paid a 20% deposit so far and my ID is threatening to sue me if I don’t pay up the remaining 80% deposit within the next 30 days. Can he really really sue me if I don’t pay up? I don’t see why I should pay for a look I hate and have to spend extra money replacing.
This would very much depend on the terms of the contract itself. For example, did the contract state or specify the type, quality or color of the parquet slabs? Also, does the contract contain any clause that would exclude oral arrangements from being part of the contract? Separately, even if this was not specified in the agreement, was there any other communication between parties that can prove the existence of this agreement, for example, SMS or WhatsApp conversations. Also, was there anyone who witnessed the discussion regarding the parquet. Unfortunately, as there are many issues that would dictate whether you have a case or not, those would need to be addressed before any opinion can be given.
Question 3: I engaged a contractor from Johor Bahru and paid a 10% deposit ($5,000). He did not turn up on the first day of work. I cannot contact him on his mobile number anymore. Is there any way I can get my $5,000 deposit back?
Once again, this would depend on the terms of the contract. The fact that he did not turn up on the first day does not mean the deposit must be repaid. See also answer to Question 1 above. Do note that Malaysia has its own registry of companies so you would have to use their own local registration database.
Speak to Kelvin Tan about your renovation disputes
If you have a legal question about your options in renovation disputes, you can request a quote with Kelvin Tan from Vicki Heng Law Corporation. You can also get a quick consult with one of our practicing lawyers. With Quick Consult, you can check out in minutes and for a transparent, flat fee of S$49, the lawyers will call you back on the phone within 1-2 days to answer your questions and give you legal advice.
This article does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area. If you require any advice or information, please speak to practicing lawyer in your jurisdiction. No individual who is a member, partner, shareholder or consultant of, in or to any constituent part of Interstellar Group Pte. Ltd. accepts or assumes responsibility, or has any liability, to any person in respect of this article.