KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Institute of Interior Designers (MIID) is urging the public to engage only interior designers registered with the Lembaga Arkitek Malaysia (LAM) and those registered with MIID before starting a renovation project to avoid being scammed.
This is in response to the horrendous scam highlighted by Seputeh Member of Parliament Teresa Kok in her recent press conference on Dec 15. The scam is connected to renovation companies which had allegedly eluded five victims of more than RM1mil.
"This is such an unfortunate event and we truly sympathise with the victims. We feel that it is part of our responsibility to create public awareness with regard to the matter. The renovation industry, be it for homes or commercial premises, has seen extensive growth over the past few years, more so after the pandemic.
"With this growth, we can see the increase of online directories/marketplace promoting interior design services and renovation services. These websites rigorously try to connect these service providers to their potential customers, in the name of advertising, which is a lucrative and convenient business, with the advent of today’s digital technology.
"Most of them do so without verifying the legitimacy and accuracy of the information, exposing viewers to unverified information. A lot of the companies featured are not registered with respective governing bodies. Some can be found misusing other designers’ portfolios and claiming that it belongs to them, while some make ridiculous offers that are beyond the normal standards of practice," said MIID president Ooi Boon Seong in a press statement.
Under Malaysian Law, the Street Drainage & Building (Amendment) Act 2007 (Act A 1286) stipulates the responsibility of any construction is under the Principal Submitting Person (PSP), where submission to authorities is mandatory. The PSP is a qualified person who submits building plans to the local authority for approval by the Act and also oversees the construction, completion of the project and relevant compliance with all relevant regulations and regulatory bodies.
This includes the likes of the Local Authority, Bomba, TNB and IWK. The PSP is usually a Professional Architect for most building projects or a Professional Engineer for simpler building and civil works or a registered building draughtsman for smaller building projects. All these professionals need to be registered with their particular board namely the Board of Architects Malaysia (PAM) for architects, interior designers and registered buildings draughtsmen and Lembaga Jurutera Malaysia (Board of Engineers Malaysia) for Professional engineers.
PSP bears all the liability of any construction process through the issuance of the Certificate of Completion and Compliance (CCC) at the end of the project. This CCC will include a signoff of all parties involved in the construction from the designers to the contractors and sub-contractors doing the work. This will enable any party to find the parties responsible if there are any issues with the project after it has been completed.
Some minor renovations might not require authority submissions in some cases, allowing interior designers or contractors to be engaged. Even in such cases, the public should always check on the legitimacy of both the interior designer as well as the contractor before engaging them for the renovation.
MIID is the national institute representing the interior design profession in Malaysia. One of its key priorities would be to raise awareness that people must hire registered professional interior designers. This would protect consumers and the public at large, ensuring that they are receiving quality design services.
And if there is a shortfall in the services rendered, they have legal recourse in protecting their rights. Under the Architect Act 1967 (amendments Feb 2015), Act 117, Clause 33(e), individuals who provide the service of interior design without having themselves or their company licensed by the Board of Architects Malaysia (LAM), will be charged as impersonating or misrepresentation, and if found guilty of an offence, shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding RM50,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to both.
For the general public, it is advisable to engage only interior designers registered with LAM and those registered with MIID. You may check their registration number on LAM’s website by keying their names and/or firm names and MIID’s website at https://miid.org.my/membership-roll/.
"It is imperative for you to engage with a registered interior designer prior to executing any renovation works or projects. This is to ensure competency in all areas relating to interior renovation. Make no mistake about it. Any other person unregistered with LAM is not an interior designer in the eyes of our Malaysian Law," warned Ooi.
"To check the legitimacy of contractors, you may refer to the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB)’s website," he added.
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