FAQ Friday: Top tips when planning home improvements

May 7, 2021

Every Friday, we share the answer to one of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) from the hundreds of consumers who contact us each week. This week we take a look at home improvements and the steps you can take to hire the right tradesperson for you.

If you’re thinking about livening up your living room, converting the attic or revamping your kitchen, there are a number of things you can do before work begins, to make sure your home improvements go as planned:

  1. Research & make a plan: have a general idea of what you want changed or improved. If you’re looking for some inspiration, try collecting photos from magazines, websites or on social media to give the builder or tradesperson a clear idea of what you want.
  2. Work out your budget: this is an important step, as this will help to make sure you are spending within your means. It also helps to keep the builder or tradesperson on track so that you don’t overspend.
  3. Find the best loan interest rate: if you are planning to take out a loan, check out our loan Money Tool to see what banks are offering. Our loan calculator will help you see how much you could borrow and for how long.
  4. Remember! deposits are usually non-refundable: This means that if you pay a deposit and then change your mind about the product or service, the supplier or business may not have to refund you.

When it comes to planning home improvements, it’s important to find the right tradesperson for you. Here are some top tips to help you with your search:

  • Make sure they are well-established: if it’s a company, check that the company is registered with the Companies Registration Office or a member of a trade association. Check the company is on the Construction Industry Register and ask for their registration number. If you are looking to hire a tradesperson for gas or electrical work, check that they are registered with the Registered Electrical Contractors Ireland (RECI) or Register of Gas Installers of Ireland (RGII).
  • Look for recommendations: ask friends or family for their recommendations on tradespeople they have used in the past.
  • Search online reviews: of the tradesperson on social media or discussion forums, but don’t rely on reviews too heavily as some may not be genuine.
  • Ask for references from previous clients: call the clients to confirm references and if possible visit them to see the work done.
  • Check for insurance cover: check if they are covered for damage to your property, or if your own home insurance policy includes this.

Once you’ve picked the right tradesperson for you, remember to:

  • Look for quotes instead of 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’s requirements.
  • Always use a contract: when hiring a tradesman or builder as it protects you. Never sign any contract offered to you by a company without reading it carefully, including the terms and conditions or small print.
  • Put the details in writing: make sure you have a clear agreement in writing before the contractor starts the building work or repairs. The agreement should describe what they will be supplying and the payment schedule.

CCPC top tip

Always try to pay a large deposit using a debit or credit card, because if the supplier goes out of business, your card provider can reverse the transaction with a chargeback. Contact your bank immediately and give them details of your transaction.

For more top tips and advice when it comes to home improvements, click here for more information.  

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