Renovation scam: How to prevent yourself from becoming a victim?

Have your heard of homeowners being scammed by Interior Designers or contractors where nothing is done or incomplete renovation after money is paid? This kind of scam is rare but do exist. Below is a story of a scammer who cheated a number of innocent homeowners:

Source from Mitsueki’s blog and Suzannah Fazli’s Facebook page. For more information, do visit the links.

Singapore Renovation Scam-1


Singapore Renovation Scam-3


Singapore Renovation Scam-2

Singapore Renovation Scam-4

I have heard of a few such cases where these scammers change names and open up new companies frequently just to scam innocent people off their money. Most of them are still out there and not prosecuted. Even when lawyers are involved, the lawyer fee would have wipe out any gains (if there is any). Moreover, would you even spend additional money on prosecuting the scammers when its not a 100% sure win case? Most victims simply forgo their lost and move on instead of spending more money. That is also one of the reasons why these scammers are openly enjoying the victims’ money scot-free.

Is there anything you can do when you are a victim of a renovation scam?

You can try to prosecute the scammer by all means. However, the chances of getting back your money is very slim. Just like what happened to Suzannah Fazli. She is really doing everything she can and even resorting to media. She understands that she will not get back her money but only doing for justice. Three cheers for Suzannah Fazli!

Its a fact. There is nothing that you can do or worth doing. If anyone did managed to claim back they money, please drop a comment to tell us how! Even if the scammer is willing to complete the project, I don’t think you will even want to because you can no longer trust him.

How to prevent yourself from becoming a victim?

This is what you can really do. Minimised your chances of being cheated. I am going to show you how!

1) Look for recommended IDs – Recommendation from friends, relatives or reliable sources (like Vincent Interior Blog!). Once the IDs are recommended, it means that they did a good job previously and will very likely to continue doing that. Please make sure that your friends or relatives employed their services before. That is a more valid recommendation.

2) Site visiting – A good ID will alway have on going jobs. Request to visit their work in progress job sites (on going) or completed job site (recent ones are the best). Only scammers do not have any job site. This is because they are afraid that their lousy work or scam is exposed!

3) Contract terms and conditions – (this point is not valid for small renovation jobs) Ensure reasonable payment terms and reasonable contract termination clause. For example, 15% downpayment, 35% materials at site (usually for wet works), 40% after carpentry measurement and 15% final payment is reasonable. Different companies have different terms and its up to you to negotiate with them. For contract termination (before start of renovation) clause, usually the deposit will be forfeited. Even if you are scammed, your lost will be at the minimum.

4) Do not go for really cheap quote – If you think its a deal that cannot be miss, please avoid it at all cost! Cost for contractors and IDs are quite similar in Singapore. Their cost will only differ at about 20%. For example if you get to renovate a full kitchen with 2 toilets (for resale unit) at only $8,000, which is a super cheap price, please do not go for it. There is no free meal in this world. No one open their business to give you a free meal. Compare quotes from a few companies and you should be able to figure out the market price for your renovation job.

5) Visit the ID’s work place – Small ID companies can sometime be home based (sole proprietor with home office). Therefore it does not really matter where but as long as you visit the work place at least one time be it for big or small companies. A scammer will not even want you to visit their office, let alone their own house. If the ID’s work table is full of renovation materials and floor plans, I think its really safe to say that the ID is serious about his work!

6) Do not sign the contract in a rush or under pressure – When you sign your contract, please make sure you are happy with your purchase and your mind is clear. Its good to bring along a friend or your partner for second opinion. Two heads is always better than one!

Hope my tips can prevent you from being a victim of a renovation scam. If you do have something to share, do post it in the comment below!


Blog about Interior Design, renovation and home improvement.


5 Responses to “Renovation scam: How to prevent yourself from becoming a victim?”

  1. Victim of Renovation Scam

    Mar 09. 2015

    There’s another one who has joined in the scam to do the same to many home owners under the name of S Illusion Interior! Till now we are left stranded not knowing what to do as going to small claims and lodging a police report was useless!

    Reply to this comment
    • Vincent

      Mar 24. 2015

      Sorry to hear that. At the moment, there is not a really good system in the renovation market to solve these kind of conflicts.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Victim 2

    Feb 27. 2016

    Pls help to share how to deal with scammers and if there’s any successful cases. I had my renovation done incomplete and couldn’t recover my money as well even though I’ve done all the above stated. Moon Liew from r&r gave me another contract to sign stating that to sign directly under their sub-con to assist in my financial situation. In the end, I’ve signed under RE and the boss refused to take any full responsibility of my project and I wasn’t refunded of the shabby and design flaw faced in my house, no warranty, my shelves had all collapsed but I can’t do anything abt it. There are some items I had to engage another contractor separately to complete. And these companies confidently told me to go ahead to small claims or case. I’ve done all. I think nothing can be done abt it. My money is gone. She changed company and changed her name too.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Don

    Oct 10. 2016

    Once it comes to home renovation, many look at the price & designs. These are secondary. You will be surprise what’s the primary factor when you shortlist your selection.

    Reply to this comment

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