Why CaseTrust-RCMA Accredited ID Company
Why CaseTrust-RCMA Accredited ID Company
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HOME owners planning to refurbish their abodes can look forward to better protection from botched or incomplete renovation jobs.
They will get insurance which compensates them should the contractor fail to finish the job, and contracts that spell out all the fees the contractors are charging.
These changes are part of a new drive aimed at raising standards in the renovation industry, said Consumer Association of Singapore (Case) president Lim Biow Chuan.
“Ultimately, this scheme is meant to raise the standards of the renovation industry, as well as to provide greater assurance to consumers that in the event of a dispute, there are proper ways to resolve it.”
There are more than 1,800 renovation contractors registered with the Housing Board.
Currently, there is a renovation accreditation scheme under CaseTrust, the consumer watchdog’s accreditation arm.
The scheme, which has 22 accredited contractors, promises workmanship assessment and compulsory mediation by Case in the event of a dispute.
But under the new scheme, accredited contractors, who have to be RCMA members, are required to purchase a performance insurance bond for their customers. This will allow customers to claim from insurance companies if the job is unfinished.
“The amount claimable depends on the case. But, in general, it will help to compensate for what’s not completed,” said Case executive director Seah Seng Choon.
Complaints against contractors have been increasing over the years, according to a statement by both parties issued on Monday (Aug 11). There were 1,488 complaints in 2011, 1,532 complaints in 2012 and 1,779 complaints in 2013, while 813 complaints were lodged between January and July 2014, according to the statement.
“The top nature of complaint usually involves unsatisfactory services and failure to honour the contractual agreement. Home renovation is one of the larger expense items incurred by consumers and it usually involves payment of large sums of deposit to the contractor even before the renovation is completed,” it said. “We hope the joint accreditation scheme will help to strengthen and uplift industry standards and promote fairer business practices in the renovation industry.”
“CASE has been in discussion with RCMA on this scheme for the last few years,” said Mr Lim Biow Chuan, president of CASE. “There are more and more complaints against renovation contractors. The common complaint is, firstly, shoddy work. Secondly, they take the deposit and they do not perform at all. Third, the businesses close shop after a while – they go into liquidation or they are unable to turn up.”
MANAGING EXPECTATIONS FOR ALL
Other measures to be developed include:
- A standard contract signed between the consumer and the contractor, which will set out clearly the policies on fees and fee refund
- A redress system with proper and clearly-defined dispute resolution mechanisms for the business and consumers – including compulsory mediation by the CASE Mediation Centre in the event of any disputes
- Sales staff need to be well-trained based on ethical sales practices, and should be able to provide prompt, accurate information regarding the renovation
- Accredited contractors must go through an on-site workmanship site assessment – or CONQUAS – by the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore (BCA)
Additionally, RCMA said it is planning to work on a one-stop renovation city hub where many of the CaseTrust-RCMA accredited businesses will be housed under a single roof.
Most companies welcomed the move but some were concerned that they would be disadvantaged if they did not sign up for the scheme.
“They will not be affected much because for small firms, normally their customer base will be on a referral basis so I do not think it will affect them that much. Of course, we will encourage all firms to join this scheme because we can grow together,” said Dr Sky Tan, vice-president of RCMA and chief executive of Sky Creation.
“Those accredited with us will have the advantage of offering consumers the added protection that they are looking for. I do not think consumers will label contractors who are not in the scheme as a bad egg but they will certainly be more discerning,” said Mr Seah Seng Choon, executive director of CASE.
A company looking to accredit with the scheme must first be a member of the RCMA. The process takes around three months.
Dr Tan said there are certain requirements before a company can be a member – it must be registered with the HDB, have a healthy financial statement and a good workmanship assessment. The association has over 100 companies and targets to have around 50 of its members to sign up.
Meanwhile, some homeowners Channel NewsAsia spoke to said the scheme is timely.
Educator Noreisah Aziz said: “For us, the normal layman, we do not know what are the rules and regulations involved so they can always swindle us. It is timely that they put in place such a scheme because it will help average people understand more.”
Civil servant Lai Han-Wei, 30, who renovated his four-room Punggol flat last year, said he would opt for an accredited contractor, even if it means paying more.
“My wife and I were over-quoted for carpentry and tiling, and there were hidden costs that were conveyed verbally. The contract and insurance would have given us peace of mind,” he said.
source^CNA, SPH articles
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- Why CaseTrust-RCMA Accredited ID Company