Home improvements SOS

June 6, 2023

Planning a home improvement this summer? You might have heard horror stories about rogue tradespeople and have some concerns. We’ve put together key tips for you to consider before progressing that attic conversion, extension or garden transformation you’ve been longing for.

Work out your budget

The first thing is to work out what you can afford. Our budget planner can help you work out a plan.

If you’re taking out a personal loan to cover the cost, check to see what interest rates are on offer. Our personal loan Money Tool will help you to compare the interest rates and total cost of credit from different providers.

Many people make the mistake of rushing into projects and underestimating the final costs. Think of any expenses you’ve still to factor in. For example, furniture, professional fees, accommodation and any other unforeseen costs.

Do your research

Check the references of contractors and physically review previous jobs they have done. You can confirm if they’re a registered company with the Companies Registration Office.

Make sure you ask for a quote (including VAT) rather than an estimate. A written quote is legally binding unless you make changes to the job, whereas an estimate has no such standing.

Home improvement costs have never been higher. It’s crucial that you think the project through fully and get a tight grip on your costs. There are housing grants and schemes you may be able to avail of.

Sign a contract

A written contract signed by both parties will protect you if things go wrong. Make sure to read the terms and conditions carefully of any contract the supplier gives you.

It’s important to have a clear agreement in writing before the contractor starts. Agree the scope of the job and the standard to which the work will be completed.

If the project is substantial such as an extension, conversion or complete renovation, consider getting a solicitor to review the contract.

Pay it safe

You should avoid paying with cash. Use your bank account as transactions can be verified, whether it be online, debit card or bank drafts.

Be careful when paying a deposit, as they are usually non-refundable. Use your bank card if paying a large deposit. Your card provider may be able to reverse the transaction with a chargeback if the contractor or supplier goes out of business.

Agree a payment schedule that details the amount to be paid at each stage, the work to be done and the total number of payments. An upfront payment is often required, try not to pay too much in advance.

Know your legal rights

When you hire a tradesperson, you enter a contract for service. The new Consumer Rights Act 2022 provides you with stronger rights when it comes to buying services.

If the tradesperson does not provide the proper service, you should try getting them to fix the issue first. For any renovation works costing less than €2,000, you can seek redress through the small claims procedure.


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