27 August 2020 - Each year Hong Kong records a large number of disputes concerning interior home decoration work. In fact, the Consumer Council rates it as one of the top three most complaint-ridden industries in Hong Kong. Do you want to avoid disputes and protect your decoration plans?
Let’s take a look at four things that must not be overlooked before any renovation project begins!
Make good use of public guidelines to reduce disputes
In the past year, Codeco, the Hong Kong Institute of Arbitration, and the Hong Kong Institute of Building Inspection integrated their respective historical decoration data and assembled a set of mainstream home decoration standards, which were then compiled into The Hong Kong Decoration Guidelines for public use.
In short, these guidelines and indicators were published to reduce decoration-related disputes. Now customers need only come to an an agreement with the decoration company on a series of potential disputes before the start of any decorative work.
There are many types of home decoration projects in Hong Kong that involve a great deal of professional expertise, but to date, there has been no unified set of regulations. Even basic engineering information is difficult to find on open platforms.
Examples of common disputes:
1. Halfway through the ‘old paint stripping stage’ of the painting project, the contractor suddenly said that he would be adding on additional charges. The reason was that there was a water leak upstairs, which caused the bottom floor to loosen up.
2. A particular project was delayed over to the issue of custom-made appliances. The contractor believed the reason was that the customer was unable to determine the actual size of the built-in appliances in the kitchen. The customer accused the contractor of not setting aside enough time to make purchases.
Who should be responsible in these two instances? The entire decoration industry, from fee charging, construction, acceptance and other standards to the collaborative process between the contractor and the customer is seriously lacking in transparency.
4 major issues to protect your renovation plan:
In theory, there can be an infinite number of issues that create the opportunity for disputes to arise on decoration projects. However, from a practical standpoint, as long as you make contingency arrangements for the dozen or so disputes that occur most often, you can go a long way toward preventing most disagreements.
For this reason, remember to make the following agreements with the other party beforehand!
These issues can be divided into the following four categories:
1. Collaboration process:
This is mainly aimed at misunderstandings that occur between the service provider and client when collaborating on various decoration processes.
• Issues surrounding the prep work for the customer, such as materials purchasing, measuring and determining the size of appliances, etc., before the start of each major stage of work (i.e., demolition, water and electricity work, muddy water drainage, etc.),
• Accurate requirements for particularly important processes, such as waterproofing height and materials
• Delivery arrangements from, third-party suppliers
2. Special issues that may result in additional engineering costs:
Include some special unit conditions that may not have been considered before the start of construction, or other subsequent special requests made by the client.
• Building problems discovered after construction work is completed
• The client makes special construction plan requests like sourcing at a ‘herringbone shop’ for tiles
3. Completion acceptance criteria
The so-called ‘manual’ standards in this area are actually the source of many disputes. A list that can be checked item by item will help both parties make an objective assessment.
• Acceptable procedures associated with ‘hollow bricks’
• Acceptance of observable paint distance
• Furniture closing requirements
4. Quotation requirements
The quotation is essentially the engineering contract, which must contain the most important engineering details. To protect both parties, the following items must be listed in sufficient detail:
• Itemised prices
• Payment arrangements
• Warranty period
• Terms and conditions, etc.
The above are just some of the common contract item examples. A detailed list can be found in the Hong Kong Decoration Guidelines manual.
If you don't want to pay unnecessary extra expenses on decoration projects, or if there is a disagreement with the decoration company about the level of quality, remember to make a detailed, relevant agreement with the other party before the start of the project!
*Codeco is a one-stop decoration service platform that uses technology and professional teams to match reliable decoration experts with designers, making long and daunting projects easier to master and manage.