Renovation Misc

4 ID Horror Stories As Told By Singaporean Homeowners Who Were Put Through Reno Hell

17 August 2022 | BY

If you’re unlucky enough to be saddled with a “lemon” of an interior designer, the process can be one of the most harrowing moments of your life.

It’s widely known that interior designers are supposed to be a godsend for the style-less homeowners amongst us. The project managers that are not only supposed to design but spearhead your entire home transformation, plus feed you insider tips on how to cut costs and get the most out of your design – the premium we don’t mind paying for. 

In a twist of fate, these homeowners actually faced more problems working with their IDs. From ghosting episodes to gaslighting the owners, here are 4 ID horror stories by Singaporean homeowners who’ve been put through the reno wringer.

1. ID who couldn’t control his rogue contractors

We’re often told that word of mouth is the strongest – and safest – form of research. So when an ID recommendation came from a trusted friend, couple Mark and Linda took a leap of faith and went with him for their partial renovation.

Interior Designer horror stories
Image for illustrative purposes only.
Image credit: Unsplash

They had high expectations for a smooth, well-coordinated reno given the IDs impressive portfolio and the number of years under his belt; but they soon found themselves in a cat-and-mouse game where they were constantly blue-ticked on their group chat and left fishing for updates. Even phone calls went unanswered.

On top of that, at the initial meeting, the ID spoke confidently about his company’s team of skilled contractors. But when it came to the actual work, Mark and Linda realised that the workmanship they were seeing wasn’t as advertised

Upon further questioning, the contractors on site revealed that they were sub-contracted by the ID to get the job done because his own contractors couldn’t show up for the job for reasons not explained.

When questioned about all of this, the ID remained aloof and unaccountable the entire time, churning up a slew of excuses – even going so far as to use a sudden onset of illness to evade responsibility.

Interior Designer horror stories
Image for illustrative purposes only.
Image credit: Unsplash

In terms of timeline, the reno process dragged on for almost half a year past the expected handover date due to the power struggle between the ID and the sub-contractors. With the ID unable to control the sub-contractors, there were even instances of weeks going by with no work done and the house left in a state of shambles.

2. Verbal abuse, gaslighting & overcharging

In yet another case of a recommended ID turning out to be a total nightmare, Samantha and her mother trusted their family friend’s ID when it came to renovating their home. In a bid to save money, the duo wanted to order as many of their home’s fittings from the site as possible. 

So they did what any seasoned home owner would do: ask their ID if the dimensions for the items they wanted would work with the carpentry they were paying for. And while their ID has given them the green light to cart out their purchases which included two custom marble sinks. 

Interior Designer horror stories
Image for illustrative purposes only.
Image credit: @ryemarbleinc

Lo and behold, after the arduous wait for the items to arrive, came the rude shock that their premium, custom purchase was in the wrong dimensions and nothing could be done to the existing carpentry to have the sink fitted.

When asked about the discrepancies in the dimensions they had sought from the ID, he responded aggressively and even pinned the blame on Samantha’s mother for her inability to follow instructions. Not only did the family have to live sink-less for 1 month, Samantha’s mother was asked to repurchase the sinks in the “right” dimensions and foot all the extra costs.

Interior Designer horror stories
Image for illustrative purposes only.
Image credit: TheSmartLocal

And if that wasn’t bad enough, upon inspection of the final invoice, Samantha’s mother realised that there were errors that lead to an inflated final bill. She was being billed for two quantities of items such as power sockets when the ID had only provided one. When the two of them confronted their ID about it, he even went as far as to shout at her and a screaming match between the parties ensued.

And even though Samantha and her mother did emerge victorious, more problems arose even after the reno was complete. When their toilet started leaking, they sought help from their ID, but were ghosted. Desperate for resolution, they wrote into HDB. A representative came down to evaluate the issue and informed them that the ID and his contractors had taken shortcuts that were against HDB’s regulations.

It wasn’t until HDB threatened to revoke his license that he sent his worker down to rectify the job. To this day, the reno horrors still live fresh in the minds of Samantha and her mom.

3. Left to design their HDB & project-manage their reno

For the lot of us homeowners with nary a creative bone in our bodies, engaging an ID is a necessary expense to make sure your Pinterest board dreams are realised and the entire process runs smoothly. They’re also there to provide sage advice on what’s practical and cost effective, and what’s not.

Maryann chanced upon a sponsored post on Instagram advertising an Interior Design firm. Wowed by the firm’s portfolio of tastefully renovated homes, she slid into their DMs and contracted them for the job of rehauling her HDB flat.

Interior Designer horror stories
Image for illustrative purposes only.
Image credit: vivadecora

Nothing seemed amiss in the beginning, but after a couple of initial consultations, problems started to worm their way out of the woodwork. She had shown her ID her Pinterest mood board – as most eager homeowners do – for them to get a feel of the kind of theme she wanted for her home. But instead of sitting back and letting the ID firm work their creative magic, Maryann soon found herself spoon-feeding her ID with “exact designs” for them to replicate.

She was shocked to find that the ID working on her reno didn’t put forth a single shred of originality and just copied the designs lock, stock and barrel. From there, things progressively got worse. Maryann soon found that the template response to all her questions about the reno was “hmmmm” with no definite response given. 

Interior Designer horror stories
Image for illustrative purposes only.
Image credit: @_la.casita_

Even after explicitly telling her ID that she planned on purchasing a gas stove, her requests fell upon deaf ears. This resulted in Maryann purchasing a gas stove, only to be told by her ID that the firm didn’t plan for a gas pipe in the unit.

“We negotiated for them to either compensate [us] for the stove we bought, or to have them redo the whole kitchen but we wouldn’t absorb any cost from our end so they chose the first option.” shared Maryann. Her ID even had the audacity to request that Maryann stand in for him multiple times to oversee important parts of the reno while he disappeared without any explanation. 

4. Lack of communication & “missing” fixtures

ID portfolios can be impressive, but the process might not always be as pleasant as the final look of your flat post-reno. For Sara and her husband, this was exactly the case. She had been enamoured by her IDs portfolio from the very beginning and was almost confident that her ID would be able to execute her vision to a tee.

Interior Designer horror stories
Image for illustrative purposes only.
Image credit: @leefamilymaisonette

Being organised individuals, the couple initially arranged to have bi-weekly meetings with their designer to track the progress of their renovation. But communication proved to be an issue with their ID, with him often leaving the couple in the dark with regards to the status of their reno. 

Sara shared that the couple had purchased a vintage coffee table for their home, leaving it on site as they didn’t have anywhere else they could store it. They had also alerted their ID to this in their shared group chat so that his contractors would know not to discard the table come hacking day. To their horror, they arrived back on site a couple days later to find that their gem of a find had been hacked away and disposed of along with all the debris.

Interior Designer horror stories
Image for illustrative purposes only.
Image credit: @georgiemoody1994

In another case of poor communication, Sara was slightly perplexed to find out that her ID didn’t send her any work-in-progress shots of the bathrooms. It was only after she went to physically check on the reno progress that she realised that the contractors had tiled the bathrooms wrongly. The couple ended up forking out more money to overlay another set of tiles to conceal the error.

To add fuel to the fire, workers had broken a prized pendant light that the couple had purchased for $1,000 but no one “came clean” about their mistake, leading the couple to believe that the item went missing. It was only after some interrogation that the truth came to light.

ID renovation horror stories in Singapore

Renovating one’s home is undoubtedly an exciting journey that most homeowners look forward to. But in some cases, if you’re unlucky enough to be saddled with a “lemon” of an interior designer, the process can be one of the most harrowing moments in your life.

While word of mouth usually is a pretty good guarantee, as seen from the stories above, it’s not all that foolproof. To avoid picking the wrong ID, homeowner Sara advises that homeowners should look into the ID’s project management in addition to their past client reviews so as to avoid landing in sticky situations when it comes to reno.

Read our other articles on renovation here:


Cover image adapted from: TheSmartLocal, @ryemarbleinc

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