SINGAPORE: Warning letters have been sent to three companies for allegedly failing to complete home improvement projects, the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) announced on Wednesday (April 13).

Complaints have been received from customers against the three renovation contractors – Sense Construction Werkz, Sense Visual and K&L Interior.

The majority of complaints refer to home improvement contractors failing to complete home improvement projects on time despite consumers making substantial payments up front, the watchdog said.

The association received a total of 21 complaints against the three contractors from November 1 last year to March 31. Nine of the complaints were against Sense Construction Werkz, seven against Sense Visual and the remaining five against K&L Interior.

Consumers have complained of making near-full or partial payments for home improvement projects, but work has been repeatedly delayed or left unfinished.

“According to clients, the contractor had cited labor shortages and COVID-19 contracting personnel as reasons for the delays,” CASE said.

Some consumers have reported that companies have increased the cost of the project without their consent and that mistakes have been made in renovations, electrical and painting.

Customers also told CASE that companies have failed to respond to requests to complete unfinished renovations and fix outstanding defects.

“The companies also requested a deposit to continue the renovations, although they did not complete the ongoing renovations on time,” CASE said.

“According to consumers, the total contract value of the renovation works was approximately S$580,000.”

Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) records show Sense Construction Werkz and K&L Interior have the same director and secretary, CASE said.

Both companies also have the same registered office address at 10 Admiralty Street, #04-22, North Link Building.

“According to complaints received and contracts signed by consumers, Sense Visual has the same contact person and/or contact details as Sense Construction Werkz and K&L Interior,” CASE said.

The consumer watchdog urged the three companies to fulfill their contractual obligations.

He said he was “monitoring renovation contractors closely” and would not hesitate to refer them to Singapore’s Competition and Consumer Commission for further investigation into possible unfair practices under the consumer protection law (fair trade).

“Consumers using home improvement contractors are advised to inquire about the credibility and track record of the business, and to avoid making substantial up-front payments,” CASE added.

CASE chairman Melvin Yong said the association had seen a “sharp increase” in the number of home improvement complaints over the past year.

We are concerned about this trend and would like to urge consumers to do their research and only hire home improvement companies with good customer service and track records,” he said.

“To better protect consumers against prepayment losses, CASE would like to reiterate our call for the government to consider making prepayment protection mandatory in industries that collect large sums of prepayment, such as the renovation, beauty and furniture.”

He said the association will continue to work with stakeholders to encourage fair trade practices and reduce the number of consumer complaints.