Before you renovate your home, watch out for contractors with these red flags

Things such as hacking of walls, meanwhile, require an application for a permit, he noted.

Then there is a “common practice” in the industry for experienced firms to help new, unlicensed contractors by applying for a permit using their license, he said. “Most of (these experienced firms) are inactive. That means they (retain) the license to get service fees from these newcomers.”


But there is a problem not just with HDB renovation contractors. Many consumer complaints can be explained by the “low barrier to entry” in the industry as a whole, said Tan.

Singapore Interior Design Accreditation Council chairman Keat Ong agreed, saying: “We’ve seen masses of people … salesmen (and) even taxi drivers, lawyers, pharmacists coming into the interior design profession as a midlife change.”

Hence an accreditation scheme was set up last year to address the “root of the problem”. There is also the Certified Renovation Practitioner Course introduced by the RCMA.

“There are at least two to three groups of people you should be looking at, and each is performing a different task,” Ong said.

And among the architects, contractors and subcontractors within the renovation ecosystem, “there’s a whole area of ​​proficiency that we’re looking at” for interior design consultants, he said. “Accreditation looks at the individual’s proficiency in … performing a job that they’re tasked with doing.”