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Intellectual Property of Perle Noire (Singapore) 2009.
In collaboration with R.I.D.S. (Renovations & Interior Designs Singapore)
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Finding the right
contractor or Interior
Design firm...
The Dos & Donts for a
home owner in desperate
need of a home
How can home owners
look out for con-artists
disguising themselves as
Interior Designers
what can they do if they
have been duped?
Have you been duped? Don't Get Cheated!
5 Red Flag Alerts to Avoid Errant Interior Design Contractors in

So you have finally got your keys to your new house and are now
anxious to have it decorated and  renovated  to  your  
requirements. You  have  heard  horror  stories  of  interior  
designers disappearing after collecting their initial deposits,
leaving their victims short of cash to engage another party to start
the work. Worse yet, the contractors could have started work,
and made a mess of the victims place and vanished.
1. The Sleazy Salesman
Con-artists are fast talkers. Their aim is to push for fast decisions to close sales. Most of them sweeten their talk by
lavishing flattery, but there are the more sophisticated ones who would use reverse psychology by bossing you around
and asserting their control over you with their steely cold eye contact. Some will take a step further to nitpick on
something in your house to suggest that they are of shoddy standards and that you have been cheated in the past, in
order build the trust with you. When they enter their chatty mode, keep them going. Ask many questions and check if
their answers matches up to logic. If they dont, or that they are only able to give vague answers, then it is time to drop
them. For instance, you can ask who the person would be to supervise the work should their company be engaged. If he
can give you the name of the person, the designation and how much time the supervisor will spend on site, then it is
assuring. However, if he could not give you a name, giving excuses that his company has a lot of work to do and will only
assign somebody upon confirmation of the contract and receipt of your deposit, then the first red flag is raised.
It can happen to others, it can happen to you!
This  article is a step-by-step guide to help you avoid engaging  
an errant interior design contractor. It is listed in a chronological
and prioritised order. That means, if the contractor fails in Step 1,
then dont bother going further with the subsequent steps. Here
are the steps:
2. The Fraudulent Company
If you find the salesman reasonable, then proceed to perform your

a. Check with ACRA if the company is a registered business.

b. Call the company to confirm that the said salesman is indeed working
for the company.

c.  Check  if  the  company  is  a  Housing  Development  Board  (HDB)
Registered  Renovation Contractor, or Renovation and Decoration
Advisory Centre (RADAC).
3. Fabricated Clientele
Ask for a list of clients/customers. They should be able to provide you the list instantly. If you have to call back in a
few days, then it is time to pull the plug. Upon receiving the list, call up the clients / customers and check on the
following :

a. Was the work done exaggerated or fabricated? What is the scale of the work? For instance, just fixing the wall
paper of a meeting room is a million miles from the claim of being the interior design contractor for their entire office
occupying several floors.

b. If possible or appropriate, contact the client and ask if you can turn up to see the quality of the works done.
4. The Proposal
Before working out the payment terms, ask for work time lines. Question them on the time lines. While you want your
work completed as soon as possible, it is also important not to be lured into an unrealistic expectations. If the time stated
is too short to complete the task, the risk of delays are higher. So work together with the contractor for a realistic time
line, then stay firm with them. Ask if they work until the project is finished in one go, or will they be working on multiple
projects at a time? Check the prices for each item of work, paying particular attention to those that look too low or too
high. The lowly priced ones could be an indication that those items could eventually be hastily completed leaving you
short of the quality you want. On the other hand, ask about the higher priced items and if there are any legitimate
reasons to be so. It could be that the other competitors who priced the items lower, could have missed out on several
finishing and essential treatment to the work. Essentially, what you are working towards is not necessarily for the
cheapest, but to get what you deserved and paid for.

Where to Seek Help?
In the unfortunate event, that despite having exercised all the care and caution and that you still end up with
incomplete or shoddy work, with a vanished contractor to boot, then it is time to seek help with the relevant

Renovation and Decoration Advisory Centre
Consumers Association of Singapore

These associations will help you in reconciling disputes with the contractors. Mediation is preferred compared to a full
blown litigation, as the latter is costly and takes a much longer time. Throughout the process, stay calm and have the
contract, invoices, payment slips and receipts ready for inspection.

Well, I hope that helps you guys out. Do ''Follow Me'' and read up on my other articles and stay tuned to my
upcoming ones.
d. Check the company's physical address and turn up unannounced to verify. Is the company the key
occupier/tenant/owner of the premises or are they sharing a premise with other companies?
How does that correlate with their claim to be a successful firm?
Article written by Michael Chua
Producer/Director/Actor, Writer and Technologist
Read Another Article
Home renovation is a
necessary process
to transform an
empty or problematic
living space into a
dream home. It is
immensely personal
because the interior
designer or
contractor has to be
aware of your living
Wallpaper has been
making a come back
in recent years. It
be used as a great
decorating trick to
make rooms look
bigger  and ceilings
look higher, but get
it wrong and you can
be left with  the
opposite effect.
Have you
experienced this in
your home?
You and your family
were sound asleep
only to be awaken
by thunderous
cracking noises and
when you came out
to your living room to
5. Payment Terms
Agree on a  payment  term, with payment trenches upon the delivery of each item of work specified. Make sure that
the items of work are unambiguously specified in writing in the contract. Some con-artists will complete work fast in the
beginning to gain your trust, then bargain for accelerated or full payment. Do not yield to their demands and stick to

theoriginal payment terms. Make it clear that it is the contractor that is responsible to seek all the necessary approvals
the authorities, and get their company to guarantee it. This will help you avoid getting into a legal mess or
punitive fines
after the work is completed.
“Most renovation budget overruns are the result of poor planning – changing the design half way through, trying to fix up problems you
didn’t see coming, or simply failing to make the most of the opportunities presented.”
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