Madam Siti and her toddler in the undone master bedroom of her Sengkang flat. Photo credit: Gavin Foo, The New Paper
When she found the contractor on interior design website Renopedia, she didn't think twice about the $38,000 deal.
Wanting to be known as only Madam Siti, 34, the housewife consulted 6ix 5 Design Studio in December last year, to renovate her resale five-room Housing Board flat in Compassvale Crescent, Sengkang.
The company's director, Mr Kannie Wong, went to her home to give her a quotation. But after paying the full amount, her home has yet to be renovated.
Madam Siti, who has three children aged one, three and five, told The New Paper that she had gone to the company's office at City Plaza in Geylang to sign the contract.
She said Mr Wong had collected a deposit of $7,600, and she paid the full amount by February.
She said: "(The contractors) promised to do the air-conditioning, painting, carpentry and everything else for $38,600. They said they would finish by the first week of March."
When TNP visited her home on April 20, wooden parts meant to be shelves were placed haphazardly in the living room and kitchen. The toilets were not installed and wires hung loose from vacant holes where switches should be.
Madam Siti said: "They said they had an internal conflict, so they weren't able to finish the work. If I wanted them to complete the job, I would have to pay $7,000 more."
Her husband filed a police report against the company in March.
When TNP visited the company office at City Plaza on April 18, it had been vacated. The store sign had been taken down, and there were several plastic bags left on a table. A sign was also put up outside the shop, saying it was available for rent.
TNP understands that the company did not pay rent, and the landlord cleared out the shop on April 14. It had moved in in June last year.
A Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) spokesman said it received one filed case and three complaints against 6ix 5 Design Studio from June last year to April this year. TNP understands that at least one other client has made a police report.
Madam Siti said Mr Wong did not show up for a Small Claims Tribunal consultation last Thursday.
Later that day, Mr Wong told TNP over WhatsApp that he didn't attend the consultation as he was overseas. He admitted the company was having financial problems.
He said: "I explained to the owners and arranged to be given time to settle this issue. We are not out to cheat our clients. When I am back, I will meet up with them to see how to settle the case."
A Google cache version of 6ix 5 Design Studio's Facebook page, dated April 16, showed a one-star review, by shareholder Cavin Wong's wife, who claimed Mr Kannie Wong was being investigated by the police.
It included the police report number and a police spokesman confirmed a report had been made and an investigation was ongoing. Mr Wong said he was aware of the police report and was assisting the police with investigations.
Madam Siti admitted she should have done more research about the company.
She said: "It took us four years to save that kind of money. Now, we have to fork out another $13,000 to hire another contractor to complete our home."Tips from Case when engaging contractors
The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) said the number of complaints involving renovation contractors had dropped by 13 per cent from 2014 to 2016.
Case executive director Loy York Jiun said that when engaging a contractor, customers should ask for quotations that clearly list the breakdown of the cost for each item of the renovation work.
"They should work out a schedule with the contractor, setting clear deadlines for completion of the renovation works," he said.
"Any payment for services should be rendered progressively, and at no time should they make full payment or close to full payment upfront."
He added that customers are also encouraged to engage an accredited contractor by CaseTrust, as these contractors are required to protect the customers' first deposits against closure, winding up and/or liquidation of the business by way of a performance bond.
Customers with unresolved disputes may contact Case for further assistance at 6100-0315, or visit its website www.case.org.sg