Tips for hiring a tradesperson

April 1, 2016

If you are planning on carrying out work in your home, maybe some decorating, or even an extension, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has put together tips on what to WATCH OUT for when hiring a tradesperson:

What work do you want done? – collect examples from magazines or websites of the type of work you would like carried out. Giving the builder or tradesperson a clear description of what you are expecting is very important. This will mean there is less chance of a misunderstanding.

Add up the costs – get a rough idea of how much the work is going to cost, researching online can be a good way to do this. If you don’t have enough money saved you may be thinking of taking out a personal loan. Many banks are advertising rates for home improvement loans so spend some time comparing rates.

Take time to find a reputable tradesperson – search on social media and discussion forums for reviews and ask your family or friends for recommendations for good tradespeople. Check the company is registered with the Companies Registration Office or that the individual is a member of a trade association. If they claim to work for a company, take the time to check that they are an employee and are not in fact working independently.

Check that they have a valid certificate for public liability insurance – this is important as you will need this in the event of an accident on site. Also check that they are covered for damage to your property.

Handling a tradesperson who calls to your door – if someone visits your house offering their services make sure to carry out the relevant checks to ensure they are genuine. Don’t be pressurised into buying on the spot, even if they offer you a very good deal. Remember, this is a business transaction and you don’t need to treat the tradesperson like a friend or feel guilty for refusing what is being offered, or taking time to think about it. Only go ahead if the offer is good value for you, suits your needs and the person is qualified to carry out the work.

Only ask for quotes when dealing with a builder or tradesperson and avoid estimates – an estimate is an educated guess with no legal standing, and the price could go up during the job. A written quote is binding as long as you don’t make changes to the job. Get several quotes but don’t automatically go for the cheapest – quality of materials, experience, and reputation are important too. Depending on the size of the job you might want to ask them to provide references from other clients.  Also, remember that paying a deposit indicates that you intend to buy the service and are entering a contract.  Paying by credit or debit card will give you greater protection in the event that the service isn’t provided or the company goes out of business.

Use the available state (HRI) schemes – the Home Renovation Incentive enables homeowners or landlords to claim tax relief on repairs, renovations or improvement work that is carried out on the main home or rental property by tax-compliant contractors. The HRI continues until December of this year, but is not suited to every home improvement. The spend to qualify for the scheme for home renovations is between €5,000 and €30,000. If you are upgrading your home to make it more energy efficient contact the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). The SEAI provide grants to homeowners who are upgrading their homes to make them more energy efficient. If you are claiming an SEAI grant, your supplier and installers must be SEAI approved.

Talk to the tradesperson if you are unhappy with the work. This may be because you feel that they did not provide a proper service with care and diligence, used faulty materials, or didn’t complete the job as agreed. You are entitled to have the problem sorted out. Explain why you are not satisfied and try to agree how the problem can be solved. If they are unwilling to complete the work properly or give you a refund or reduction in price, you can take legal action. You can use the Small claims procedure if the job was for less than €2,000. For claims over €2,000, you can choose to take further legal action against the tradesperson but you may want to seek independent legal advice.

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