Matthew Allan and his wife had paid $63,000 to an interior design firm, Sense Ideas Design, to renovate their new three-bedroom apartment. Mr Allan, an Australian with a Singapore permanent residence here, said that he had paid the firm up to 90% of the total renovation costs.

However, it all went down the drain when the firm refused to complete the work it had promised to do and became uncontactable when the couple asked for their money back.

Speaking to media reporters on Sunday, Mr Allan says the couple had been cautious and had even gotten quotations from other renovation companies before settling on Sense Ideas Design last December.

“They could communicate with us and could understand what we wanted from the apartment that we had bought. They were doing work, such as electrical cabling and some hacking, so we thought that the renovation was underway,” said Mr Allan, 32.

But by early March, the works had stalled and attempts by the couple to contact the company went unanswered. A spokesperson then said that the works had been delayed.

“The company had installed a loft in one of the rooms as well as retractable awnings on the patio. But the carpentry and electrical work were half-completed and their apartment was in a mess, filled with trash and other equipment.”

By May, Sense Ideas Design came out and told Mr Allan that it was unable to continue the project as it was facing financial difficulties.

The couple lodged a police report and also made a complaint with the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case), even turning to debt collectors to try to get their money back.

“We wanted to build a place where our baby girl could thrive and develop, but we can’t really afford to spend that amount of money now on the new place.”

Sense Ideas Design did not respond to press queries.

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