Wong Cho Lam (王祖藍) and Leanne Li (李亞男) were cheated in their new house renovations.
The couple, who are planning to wed on February 14, spent over $13 million HKD on a 4,000 square feet house in Sai Kung.
Cho Lam set aside an additional $3 million HKD to renovate the three-story house, but in the end, Cho Lam ended up having to pay over $5 million HKD for shoddy renovations, more than 70 percent of the original budget.
There were many impractical designs around the house.
The air conditioner was placed right above the stove’s range hood in the kitchen, rainwater leaked through the kitchen’s stainless steel wall, and the electrical switches were all placed in the same corner of the house.
One month after moving into the new home, there were already cracked walls, broken doors, water leaking through the ceiling, and more design problems.
The house was renovated by interior designer Joe Yiu (姚俊杰), whom Cho Lam met at church in 2013. Joe was a recovering drug addict.
Touched by Joe’s enthusiasm and his journey to recovery, Cho Lam opted to leave Joe in charge with the renovations of his new home.
Joe began working on Cho Lam’s new house in August 2013 and initially promised Cho Lam that renovations would only cost around $3.3 million HKD.
However, a few months after starting the project, Joe raised the budget to $3.8 million HKD and ultimately to $5 million HKD. Cho Lam initially did not think the budget increase was a problem, but about a year through the renovation, a friend told Cho Lam that he might have been conned.
Cho Lam then decided to get a friend to help him manage the budget of the project, and discovered that Joe had added many unnecessary construction features without consulting Cho Lam beforehand.
When Cho Lam requested Joe to give him the account numbers, Joe ignored him and refused to give Cho Lam the keys to the house’s garage.
Cho Lam later notified the police and Joe had no choice but to ask Cho Lam for a peaceful settlement.
Cho Lam refused to pay the additional $2 million HKD towards the renovation and recruited the help of a claims adjuster.