I would like to feedback on my experience with an interior designer

TL;DR - Ken Tan (Tan Ken Liang, 91878226) delayed our 4 Rm HDB reno (2 bedrooms without furnishing) by 6 months. This delay might have stretched further had I not intervened and paid the carpenter and electrician myself on his behalf. Till today, more than 1mth since we moved in and almost 2 months since I paid on his behalf, he still owes us $7350 in total with no promise of repayment, only delay tactics. Please avoid him if he has approached you. He switches companies so I have no idea which firm he is with now, but he has a termination record from my investigations.

My wife and I were contacted by Ken Tan in early 2017 when we requested for IDs on Renopedia back then. He represented Se7en ID (no longer). Because of the unique design, we decided to go with him in March, paying the first 15%. We prepaid 2000 for the first 40% out of goodwill on 6 Jun 2017 because he claimed cashflow problems, and then $15000 as the rest of the first 40% on 28 Jul 2017 to commence works. In 29 Jul 2017 we received the keys to our house and wanted to commence screeding for laying of vinyl flooring. This was delayed and only ended on 11 Nov 2017 which was attributed to HDB's appointed screeding contractor. We took it well, but expected Ken to begin work immediately. Nevertheless, he made excuses that workers were out of town due to the holiday period. We only signed the HDB permit in January 2018 for Ken to begin wall hacking works, so from Nov to Jan nothing was done.

Then, Ken requested a downpayment of $2040 for electrical works to commence, which we paid on 10 Jan 2018. In the days following, we selected just the master toilet tiles and some water fittings and Ken claimed to have to go for reservist. This brought us to early Feb 2018 already and the hacking was still not done. On 6 Feb, Ken projected completion in end Mar/early Apr. 9 Feb, Ken claimed hacking would be done on 12 and 13 Feb. but when we followed up on 15 Feb it was still not done. He cited 'being busy and held up' as reasons. Hacking works were only confirmed to be done on 23 Feb 2018. We asked him for a schedule of works on 12th Mar, which was never fulfiled. On 13th Mar, he requested for an advance payment of $3000 despite not having done the masonry works yet, which we turned down. 31 Mar we went down to see the house, only to see that nothing much had been done, only the tiling of the master toilet and some minor masonry works.

April came, and the platforming was still under progress on 17 Apr. On 19 Apr we asked about the 3D drawings, which were never shown to us even after the renovation was finished. And yet he asked us for the second 40% saying carpentry work was going to start. However, a lot of the flooring and masonry works were still uncompleted. We asked him for the schedule again on 19 Apr, which he delayed until 22 Apr and only sent on 23 Apr. This schedule depicted that all renovation would end by end May. Seeing this we paid the second 40% on 25 Apr 2018, and asked for a receipt which never came. The vinyl flooring was not completed all the way until 21st May, despite his claim that everything would be done by end May. On 21st May he claimed carpentry was already in progress. On 2nd June we went down, and saw no carpentry. When we confronted Ken, he finally admitted that another carpenter was taking over the work. On 6th June, he said that carpentry would be coming in on the 14th. When we came on 15th, the carpentry was half done and things looked abandoned and untouched for some time. On the 29th he told us his carpenter disappeared. On 2nd July, we met Ken and his new carpenter at the house. We were reassured the work will proceed quickly and yet by 15 July carpentry was still unfinished. When we went up on 18th, we realised virtually nothing was added. Ken still had the cheek to ask us to leave him alone that day. This dragged until 7 August and still the work was not done. On 14 August he said a new carpenter was taking over, yet by 27 August the carpentry was still in shambles and then he said the earliest handover would be Sept 3rd week. On 8 Sept, still not much movement at all and on 17th I was still unable to see good progress and then on 21st October he said carpentry delayed till 1st week Oct. On 24 September, windows were still missing, not a single piece of carpentry was completed and toilet vanity table was not even installed.

October came, and 4th Oct he sent us some pictures of carcasses at the carpenter's factory. Nothing moved after that and on 7th Oct he asked for the last 5% payment. . By now we had no trust in him and refused to pay. 17th October, still incomplete. On 21st he claimed that the carpenter still couldn't start because he was shifting offices. By now the carpentry had already dragged 2 months. On 24th October he claimed that things are not moving because I refused to pay the last 5%. At that point we gave up and through a bit of investigation we found the carpenter and contacted him directly. He told us works were stalled because Ken owed $7000 and by right the works had been possible to be done much earlier before his office moved. But because of this $7000 deficit this work was delayed. Angered by this and Ken's lack of transparency with us, I arranged to meet the carpenter, the electrician (who referred the carpenter to Ken) and Ken on 26 Oct 2018 at my apartment.

Ken brought along a friend, presumably to act as the witness. With all present, I gave my word to the carpenter that I will personally pay him $3000 to restart works, and $4000 when carpentry works have been completed. I would also pay the electrician for the electrical works myself, bypassing Ken. Ken would then reimburse me $3000 first the following week and then $4000 for the carpentry works. Ken will also continue to supply the other missing items, such as timber for our TV console, partition creation, glass works etc. Carpentry works eventually ended on 12 Nov 2018, and electrical works ended soon after. Once again, Ken delayed the supply of glass for my half open kitchen and mirrors amongst other items. He also could not pay up the $3000 despite saying he would do so, and even when the carpenter issued the final invoice for 17 Nov 2018 Ken still refused to pay up. On the 18th, my wife and I had no choice but to move into a semi complete apartment with missing glass works. In the interim, we had to pay the general cleaners $200 on Ken's behalf on 14 Nov as well. This general cleaning was notably done without first having an acid wash as stated in our quotation. Even today our master toilet tiles have unremovable stains which contrast greatly with the tile colour.

On 23 Nov 2018 we got Ken to get his plumber over to take a look as the master toilet vanity table showed some leaking below. The plumber believed that the copper pipes hidden behind the vanity were leaking and this incurred $150 from the carpenter for services rendered to remove and fix back the vanity. During the removal the plumber Ken engaged was unhelpful and late, leading to a lot of unhappiness and lost time. In any case, Ken agreed to bear responsibility for this defect, and rightly so. By now the total amount owed by him was $7350. Originally we had given him till 31st Nov to pay up, but out of goodwill we extended this to 15 Dec 2018 as a hard deadline, failing which we promised to file small claims against him, and included financial damages due to rental paid because of the 6 month delay (we were staying in a rented unit) to the nominal sum of $2500.

Between 18 Nov and 15 Dec, I had to correct the numerous defects myself due to horrible partitioning, plastering and painting. I had to scrape paint droplets off the vinyl flooring, buy wall putty and sandpaper to fill up and smooth out pitting on the walls, and repaint entire walls due to peeling paint and overly thin coats of paint where the white wash beneath could be seen. My decking wood stain was also not done properly, resulting in multiple dull patches, but out of worry for my unborn child I could not afford to restain the wood.

15 Dec came and went and Ken never said a single word nor tried to work out a repayment plan. He showed no remorse in delaying again. So on 15 Dec I filed a case against him. Despite presumably receiving an email and snail mail of the case, Ken said absolutely nothing and remained silent. Meanwhile, we kept having beetles appearing in the master bedroom where there were some dried bamboo used as part of the deco. On 25th Dec morning, we were awoken by a relatively loud repetitive snapping sound. I found a beetle biting out a 5mm wide hole in one of the bamboo and trying to crawl out. At this point i contacted Ken to show him the photos and asked him for the contact person of the bamboo supplier, which he ignored. I also asked about the payment, which he just kept brushing aside, saying he would give me a date next Mon. A quarrel ensued over the phone, and he progressively extended the date to "before Chinese New Year" despite me telling him that this amount was saved for my daughter's delivery fees in January. Yes, my wife was pregnant throughout this horrible renovation and yet there was no extra effort from Ken to expedite it. And now he still owes us money and never showed any signs of wanting to pay it, from his lack of initiative to work something concrete since beginning of November when I first paid $3000 on his behalf.

I am not sure if I ever will get my money back, and I hope those who have engaged him can see this post. I have heard from his sub-contractors that he gambled away our money during the course of renovation, resulting in delays. While I cannot confirm this myself, it seems like a plausible reason for all these delays in renovation and repayment. Ken switches companies and he has been terminated before, so for those who are looking for an ID, please avoid him.