Watchdog urges govt to fix home renovation woes - RTHK
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Watchdog urges govt to fix home renovation woes

2024-02-21 HKT 15:34
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  • Watchdog urges govt to fix home renovation woes
The Consumer Council on Wednesday urged the government to step in to make life easier for people getting their flats renovated, with ideas on how to make quotes clearer and readily comparable, as well as a way to protect people from unscrupulous companies.

The watchdog said it receives hundreds of complaints each year about renovation firms, regarding issues such as the quality of work carried out, completion times and cost disputes.

It warned that problems can crop up right at the beginning of the process, with a lot of quotations provided by firms leaving a lot to be desired.

"Traders only put down the general information, like how much, and sometimes they don’t even write down the completion time. So in this regard, a lot of disputes [arise]," said the council's vice-chairman Tony Pang.

The watchdog said a solution would be for the government to introduce a standard quotation template, covering things such as separate costs for various materials, labour fees, payment schedules and remedies for any delays, so that potential customers can make meaningful comparisons between various renovation firms.

"Many other countries already have these kinds of requirements of using standard templates, which include not just the pricing of the project, but also the scheduling of payments, and also the warranties and guarantees," Pang said.

With many flat owners worried about unscrupulous firms carrying out botched work or doing a runner after being given huge deposits, the council also suggested the government set up an accreditation system.

The watchdog said firms could be assessed on things such as their safety record, financial health, management and manpower, as well as customer satisfaction.

"Ultimately, it is hoped that home renovation companies would be incentivised to strive for accreditation as a differentiating competitive factor, and consumers’ emphasis on price alone in selecting a company would gradually be changed as a result," the council said.

It added that the quotation form and accreditation system should cut the number of disputes between renovation firms and homeowners, but to save those who still have problems from turning to the courts for potentially long and expensive litigation, the government should set up an alternative dispute resolution mechanism.

The council said mediation could be the first step to try to solve a dispute, before an arbitrator or independent expert settles the matter if necessary.

Watchdog urges govt to fix home renovation woes