Renovation Contracts: Towards A Worry-Free Relationship With Your Contractor

Author:Mr Raymond Mah and Gan Chong Chieh
Profession:MahWengKwai & Associates

Most people, at some point in their lives, will deal with renovation contractors. Whether the job is big or small, for the office or home, we can half expect delays, defects, cost overruns and stress from the renovation process. This is often based on our own prior experience with renovation contractors, or what we have heard from friends or family. However, many disputes with contractors can be avoided with an adequate written contract and by managing the process diligently. Here are useful answers to some commonly asked questions:

What are the indicators of a trustworthy contractor?

Most problems are avoided with the appointment of an honest and reliable contractor. A personal recommendation is a good start, but ask the recommender specific questions about working with the contractor; ask for examples of both the good and bad. Also ask the contractor for photographs of sample work and recent referees on similar jobs, and then call those referees for feedback on the contractor.

You can conduct a company search with the Companies Commission of Malaysia ( to confirm the registration and status of the contractor. The search may reveal financial information on the contractor, which you will want to consider especially if the contract value is high. A search will also allow you to confirm whether the person who represents himself as the owner is in fact a director or shareholder of the company.

Contractors can register with the Lembaga Pembangunan Industri Pembinaan Malaysia (CIDB) ( A registered contractor is far less likely to be a fly-by-night outfit.

Lastly, trust your gut feeling. If you are not able to communicate well with a contractor, or if you don't feel comfortable with them, keep looking for another. These days many contractors are technologically savvy and are able to communicate quickly over Whatsapp or email, and you may prefer this convenience. Yet, bear in mind that some old and experienced hands still produce the best quality work.

What are the issues to be discussed with the contractor prior to the commencement of work?

Three main issues which require clarity and agreement are:

(i) the scope of the works - exactly what you want the contractor to do;

(ii) the contract price - how much the contractor will be paid; and

(iii) the duration of work - when the work will start and finish.

The scope of work is best defined by drawings or sketches along with a description of the method of construction...

To continue reading