Interior Design Contractor Fails To Complete HDB Renovation, Owes Couple Over S$130K

Interior Design Firm Studio Kalasan Doesn’t Complete Renovation, Owes Couple Money

An interior design (ID) contractor owes a couple over S$130,000 after they took money for extensive renovation works, but ended up not executing them.

This caused the couple to incur rental costs on top of the money they paid for the renovations.

To date, they have only received S$1,000 from the company — this is S$200 a week paid in five instalments.

This is even though the parties signed a settlement plan to have the first instalment of S$35,000 paid by 1 Sep.

The ID company has since confirmed that they do owe the sum, explaining that the studio was facing financial difficulty.

Interior design contractor fails to complete tasks even after 3 months

Jeremiah Lim told MS News that he had engaged a firm to renovate his BTO flat last December.

The 35-year-old picked the studio as his friend A — now an ex-employee — was working there at the time.

As such, he wanted to engage them to support her and grow the company.

After signing the contract, Jeremiah made a total of 16 different payments between Dec 2022 and Apr 2023.

These included 15% payment for Confirmation of Project, 50% payment for Commencement of Renovation, 30% payment for Carpentry Progress Installation, and final 5% payment after works are completed.

Although the couple moved out to facilitate the renovation, they found almost nothing done even after three months.

“As soon as they got us to move out on 15 Mar, they told us, ‘Works are scheduled to commence the same day'”, Mr Lim said.

Mr Lim and his wife made numerous payments to the studio director while being told that arrangements would be made to engage vendors.

“But we checked twice weekly for the next two to three months — nothing.”

According to him, there were no works done beyond what appeared to be DIY works.

There was barely any work done. . . they just pulled out the floorboards, took a hammer and tore apart the fake wall.”

Image provided by Jeremiah Lim

He said, “I remember telling my wife, ‘This looks like a DIY job — no way a hacking team would come and do 10% of the house and walk out.'”

On top of that, no one applied for a hacking permit the entire time, according to Mr Lim.

He found out about this only after enquiring with various contractors, who told him that nobody had engaged them to do work for his home.

Work not done during next two months

For the next two months, Mr Lim observed “little to no” work done on the flat during regular check-ins.

However, when he asked the ID about this, they only gave some messages saying they’d check in with the contractors.

To make matters worse, the seemingly DIY works prevented the couple from moving back into their flat the entire time.

Image provided by Jeremiah Lim

On 3 June, Mr Lim eventually had enough of the delays and lack of progress.

He then sent a message to the renovation group asking for an explanation.

A few days later, Mr Lim decided to take over the project and dropped Studio Kalasan.

Interior design contractor owes clients more than S$130,000

However, the studio still owed Mr Lim and his wife over S$130,000 for the undone works, which they said they would pay via instalments.

The agreement was that they would pay the first instalment of S$35,000 by 1 Sep. However, this didn’t happen.

According to Mr Lim, he has only received S$1,000 in five S$200 instalments.

He added that he only received the first instalment on 11 Sep, which was way beyond the agreed date. The last time he received payment was on 9 Oct.

This obviously wasn’t going according to plan, so on 23 Oct, Mr Lim visited the studio director’s guarantors — her parents — at their home.

But her mother appeared to be unaware of her being a guarantor when asked. Meanwhile, her father reportedly said, “Are you threatening me?”

Mr Lim took this to mean that her parents refused to cooperate.

Following this, he made a police report and is now preparing to take them to court.

Owes others money, including ex-employee

MS News also spoke to the ex-employee of Studio Kalasan, A, whom Mr Lim had wanted to work with.

A was officially employed at the studio between Feb 2023 and May 2023, but said she always faced late payments and did not receive her salary between Mar and May.

She had to ask for her salary several times, only to be told that there were delays due to “accounts being held”.

A’s employer would also tell her that she was unable to perform “credit advances” due to her “credit limit”.

Image provided by A

She detailed how in Sep 2022, Mr Lim had approached her to design and renovate his home.

However, the director took over the project without her knowledge and dealt with him directly, creating a new group chat that didn’t include the ex-employee.

Using this new group chat, the director asked for payments from Mr Lim.

As such, A was unaware of what happened until much later, when Mr Lim had already paid Studio Kalasan.

She also found out that the QR code and bank account number belonged to the director’s personal bank account.

To date, the ex-employee says she hasn’t received any money.

She had earlier reported the case to the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM), but Studio Kalasan would avoid their calls and house visits.

The ex-employee added that the people behind Studio Kalasan also run an events company called The Weekend HangoutMS News independently confirmed this through checks.

She alleged that the DJs they hired for these events were not paid as well.

Studio says there were funds misappropriations

MS News contacted Studio Kalasan for comment, and they confirmed that they owe Mr Lim the amount stated.

“Yes, there was an agreement that was initially drafted by the party and was tweaked by our side for its first instalment of S$35,000 due on 1 Sep,” a spokesperson said.

They further explained, “The studio was facing financial difficulties, and there was a misappropriation usage of funds hence, the clients fully took over the project as the studio was in no capacity to try to salvage the project despite attempts to do so.”

“Studio Kalasan has halted all engagements for any design and built projects,” they added. “We are, however, still open for design consultations or interior styling as those transactions are more transparent with our current clients which we have.”

“We are adhering to the terms stated in the contract drafted by the party, for an additional 10% interest for every default in payment.”

Through ad-hoc jobs that Studio Kalasan is doing weekly, they said they’re paying the party back “a few hundred dollars” every Monday.

“We will clear the party of the full reimbursement without interest by the stated timeline in the contract.”

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