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Irish Examiner: Tradesmen Fear Black Economy

Irish Examiner Builders and black market


By John Daly

Monday, April 11, 2011

THE black economy has seen a steep increase in the home improvement sector and may put many registered professionals into receivership, according to a new survey. Survey identifies threat of black market for tradesmen

ONLINETRADESMEN.IE SURVEY IDENTIFIES NIXERS AS CONTRIBUTER TO BUSINESS FAILURE, Ireland’s largest network of qualified trade professionals, today released survey results on the outlook of the Irish trade sector in 2011. Based upon replies from over 6,400 tradesmen and builders nationwide, the results reveal an increase in black market activity within the home improvement sector as a main challenge for registered trade professionals hoping to stay in business during 2011. on RTE Radio 1 Morning Ireland


Listen to Ted Laverty from talking plumbing tips on RTE 1's Morning Ireland on RTE Radio1 with Marian Finucane


Listen to Ted Laverty from discussing frozen and burst pipes with Marian Finucane


How to check and prevent freezing or burst pipes

 Back in Jan 2010 we compiled a list of tips on how to prevent freezing & burst pipes in your home. Who knew we would need to post it again so soon....

What is the risk of freezing pipes?

It’s a simple fact that when water freezes, it expands. Unfortunately the pipes used for your plumbing are not so flexible, resulting in burst pipes and water damage in your home. Any home with poor insulation is at risk (think many of the homes built in the last 7 years) and any space within the home where pipes are exposed to a cold air flow are vulnerable – think attic spaces, outside walls and cracked wall coverings. If in doubt, check your home out by following the investigative steps below.



The Sunday Times - Be eco-friendly for less


There are many ways to ‘winter-proof’ your home and reduce
your energy bills and it needn’t cost the Earth, finds
Siobhán Maguire

Irish Times - Cost of renovating not that cheap

Irish times 


Builders’ prices have stopped falling as fast as they did a year or two ago – and deals are hard to come by. launches new site today launched a new version of it's website. The new site design has been created to provide an improved the end user experience for both Irish property owners and tradesmen.

Anger grows over commercial vehicle ban

Irish independent and

By Treacy Hogan

Wednesday August 25 2010

STRUGGLING businesspeople and farmers nationwide are to flout the ban on their work vehicles being used for any family or social journeys.

This follows the revelation in yesterday's Irish Independent that local authorities have just been instructed to insist on owners of small commercial vehicles making legal declarations that the vehicles will only be used for work.

Home Improvement Guide For A Recession


TV - RTE News - Onlinetradesmen flood appeal appeals for tradesmen to assist in recent floods. Click here to view.

Cost of home repairs halve in 2 years

Cost of home repairs halve in 2 years

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The cost of an average home improvement project has also dropped by almost 60% since 2007, with many homeowners now opting to renovate rather than move. Plumbers have reduced their hourly charges from €109 to €59 while electricians have dropped from €65 per hour to €40 in the past two years. cited as digital success by government report cited as example of digital success by author of Irish government report



European nations see digital economy as a sure route out of economic crisis

John Kennedy, Silicon Republic, 20.08.2009

Make Your House a home

 sundya business post onlinetradesmen home extension

Making your house a home

Sunday, June 07, 2009 - By Alexander Fitzgerald

Remember not so very long ago, when lazy Sunday mornings were spent poring over page after page of extravagantly priced houses fitted out with every luxury gadget and appliance imaginable?

Back then, whether you were a first-time buyer, trading up or an investor looking to make a quick buck on a resale, the chances were that you had set your sights on a dream home with as many bells and whistles as possible.

The economic downturn may have altered all that, but our design ambitions - inflated by years of home improvement television shows and glossy interiors magazines - have not diminished. Finances permitting, there’s no need to deny ourselves, or our properties, the benefit of a few home improvements. If carried out correctly, improvements will not only enhance living standards, but also increase the value of a home.

It’s a great time to hire tradesmen for work around the house

Irish times and Onlinetradesmen tradesmen or builders



It’s a great time to hire tradesmen for work around the house

Jack Fagan, Irish Times.

THOUGH THE building boom is already a distant memory, we are still seeing some of the benefits of that exceptional period.

At the height of the house building boom in 2005, 2006 and 2007 thousands of skilled tradesmen came here from Eastern Europe because of huge demand and the money available for those with the right skills. Regretfully, it all ended rather suddenly without any warning. The toxic combination of a banking crisis and a recession swept down like an avalanche and its speed and depth triggered a premature ending to the building boom. The game was up virtually overnight. Significant Increase In Online Home Improvement Projects

TCMNET and Onlinetradesmen Significant Increase In Online Home Improvement Projects


May 20, 2009 (M2 PRESSWIRE via COMTEX) --, Ireland's largest service to connect consumers to qualified trade professionals, today announced that it has processed over 200,000 home improvement projects from Irish property owners since its launch in 2005. It estimates the combined worth of these jobs to be in excess of EUR1.8Bn. The service has also experienced a significant increase in property owner activity over the last 12 months, with the number of home improvement projects submitted to it up by 63% in Q1 2009 when compared to Q1 2008.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Expert advice on installing a suspended retractable ceiling and its effectiveness for reducing heat loss due to Velux windows
By host @ 2:35 PM :: 2409 Views :: 38 Comments ::

Expert advice on installing a suspended retractable ceiling and its effectiveness for reducing heat loss due to Velux windows.

Read More..
Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Submersible Pumps - How they Work
By host @ 2:33 PM :: 979 Views :: 42 Comments ::

 Submersible Pumps - How they Work

Read More..
Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Is your garden is flooded, here are some tips on how to prevent this? Also what’s the best way of clearing flood water after the damage has been done.
By host @ 4:44 AM :: 1277 Views :: 53 Comments ::

 Is your garden is flooded, here are some tips on how to prevent this? Also what’s the best way of clearing flood water after the damage has been done

Read More..
Wednesday, May 02, 2012
The start of spring is a great time to shake off those winter blues and get working in the garden
By host @ 9:19 AM :: 1179 Views :: 32 Comments ::

The start of spring is a great time to shake off those winter blues and get working in the garden

Read More..
Friday, October 14, 2011
Blocked sink is driving me mad
By @ 8:41 AM :: 976 Views :: 37 Comments ::

My kitchen sink is driving me crazy, it's slow to drain and sometimes blocks for minutes at a time. There seems to be some sort of a blockage. What's the best way to get things moving again?

Read More..
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Over €1.8bn in Irish home repair deals sealed online
By @ 6:20 AM :: 1671 Views :: 30 Comments ::

Over €1.8bn in Irish home repair deals sealed online


Since its launch in 2005, has helped connect individuals and tradespeople, resulting in the completion of over 200,000 home improvement projects on Irish projects.

Read More..
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
DIY. Do It Yourself
By @ 11:01 AM :: 3335 Views :: 28 Comments ::

Irish independent and

Despite the current financial uncertainty, homeowners are still choosing to make improvements. But many are now turning to DIY rather than hiring professional tradesmen, writes Carissa Casey

Read More..
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Feeling the chill - Insulating your home
By @ 9:57 AM :: 1834 Views :: 26 Comments ::

Feeling the chill

Insulating your home will significantly lower your bills. But apart from saving cash, new EU rules require homeowners to certify how energy efficient their houses are before they sell, writes John Cradden

Read More..
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
BER ratings and what they mean to homeowners
By @ 9:41 AM :: 2688 Views :: 60 Comments ::

BER ratings and what they mean to homeowners

A BER certificate is similar to the energy label on your fridge that shows a scale of A1 to G. A-rated homes are the most energy efficient and G the least efficient.

Over 80pc of new homes, which have been rated since the beginning of 2007, have achieved a B-rating.

Read More..
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Builders who benefit from grants should be properly qualified
By @ 9:53 AM :: 2328 Views :: 28 Comments ::

Builders who benefit from grants should be properly qualified

Government-funded insulation work must be done by competent tradesmen. EDEL MORGAN reports

Read More..
Monday, January 26, 2009
PriceWatch - Upside to the downturn
By @ 11:21 AM :: 2320 Views :: 21 Comments ::

PriceWatch - Upside to the downturn

January 26, 2009 | by Conor Pope

EVERY EVENING George Lee does his turn on the RTÉ news, the nation’s hearts collectively sink. While his reports on the dreadful state of the Irish economy are generally right on the money, they are gloomy enough to make the most upbeat of souls sob into their cut-price oven chips. No one could deny that we are in a dire state, but, amidst all the incredibly depressing news about the state of our finances, there are reasons to be cheerful. Here are just some of them.

Read More..
Thursday, December 25, 2008
National Consumer Association - Report on Builders
By @ 5:09 PM :: 2092 Views :: 31 Comments ::

Irish independent NCA builders reporT



National Consumer Association reports that cowboy builders' shoddy work costs €80m to rectify reports Louise Hogan

Read More..
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Energy retrofitting: damned if you do, damned if you don't
By @ 10:03 AM :: 2036 Views :: 66 Comments ::


Energy retrofitting: damned if you do, damned if you don't Brenda McNally  

Home heating bills have long been a worry for the elderly and those on low incomes. But the recent gas price hikes, which will inevitably be followed by ESB price increases, are going to force all of us to reconsider our 'on again, off again' commitment to energy efficiency. 

Read More..
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Irish Times - Tradesmen are diversifying
By @ 5:23 PM :: 2267 Views :: 23 Comments ::

irish times tradesmen and builders logo

Diversification is the name of the game in these difficult times, says Edel Morgan

THE RECESSION has seen many business and tradespeople having to diversify and become more entrepreneurial to survive.

Read More..
Monday, October 02, 2006
Whats the story with getting builders' quotes?
By @ 5:29 PM :: 3401 Views :: 181 Comments ::


builders quotes and tradesmen prices

What’s the story with getting builders’ quotes?

By Conor Pope.
A reader in search of a new roof recently contacted a number of tradesmen plucked randomly from the Golden Pages. Living in a small terraced house in Dublin, she thought getting the tiles replaced would take no more than two days, but the quotes - the details of which looked identical on paper - ranged from less than €3,000 to closer to €10,000.
Read More..
Latest News - The Guide To Home Improvements in a Recession
The home improvement guide for a recession
Advice, tradesmen prices & more to ensure results in challenging times.
In the current economic climate Irish property owners are choosing to invest in home improvement projects rather than purchase new homes. Indeed the service has seen an increase of over 27% in these types of projects for the first half of 2008 when compared to the same period in 2007. Now, more than ever, it has become essential to ensure that property owners receive both value and quality when undertaking these projects. Through this guide has compiled advice and information which can assist property owners in achieving these goals whether building, renovating or repairing in their homes. While some of the advice will only apply to building projects, the general concept is applicable to every type of home improvement project going.
        I.      Set your limits
The devil is in the detail. Prior to commencing any home improvement project, from building a new home to laying a floor, it is vital that homeowners pre-agree the scope and budget of a project. While it sounds like common sense these are the very things that have a tendency to change during a project – causing financial and emotional stress to all concerned. By nailing down exactly what you want to get done, and limiting your financial outlay from the outset, you are putting controls in place for your project and protecting it from your tendency to change your mind. Enter into a mock contract with yourself or each stakeholder if needs be – just write it down!
      II.      Reality Check
Next thing is to check if both your project concept and, as importantly, your budget are feasible.
Prior to getting in touch with a trade professional, do some research to see if what you are looking to achieve is possible and to learn a bit more about it. This goes from mid sized projects right up to building a new home. The easiest way to research is to browse the internet for content that matches your project, visit retailers, shows and talk to people who have already undertaken such a project. You will get an overall feel for what you can do here and the approximate costs. Be prepared to refer back to point i. above if you need to – if the money is not there maybe you need to change your scope or save a while longer! This will also direct you on whether you need to hire an architect or other trade professional and whether you need to apply for planning permission for your project. Contact your local authority if you need initial guidance on planning permission.
The Hiring Process
    III.      Use qualified trade professionals
We always recommend that you only engage with qualified trade professionals such as those on In Ireland FAS is the government agency responsible for training and educating tradesmen which they do to a high standard. In addition to this regulatory bodies such as RECI (Register of electrical contractors of Ireland), RIAI (Royal institute of architects) and the PSA (Private Security Authority) have been put in place to uphold and maintain standards within their chosen fields. Irish property owners should take advantage of these standards and use the service to access trade professionals who are qualified and regulated by these bodies. This will provide peace of mind for your project.
For building projects unless you have decided in going down the self build route, we suggest that you engage with a registered architect through as your first point of call. An architect will not only design your structure and assist with the planning process but can also project manage the build process from start to finish if required. A quantity surveyor can also assist with specifying materials for a job if required. 
   IV.      Get Quotes
Armed with your new found knowledge on the project, it is time to get some pricing estimates / quotes in. You will find that the more you know about the project, the more accurate the pricing you receive and the harder you can bargain. Here are some tips:
+       Get a minimum of 3 quotes in for every job. If needs be you should meet with each party and give them access the relevant project details (such as site surveys for construction and renovation work).
+       As above make sure that they are all qualified and, where relevant, have public liability insurance.
+       Always ask for quotes from each supplier in a uniform format. This can as an overall project price, a price per square meter or a daily rate. By doing this you can compare like for like.
+       Make sure you are quoted the correct VAT rate - the VAT rate for building services is 13.5%. The same applies for the building materials used on the project if their overall cost does not exceed 1/3 of the total build cost. However, for the normal supply and installation of fittings the VAT rate is 21%.
+       If you are game for the additional work load involved, ask your shortlisted tradesmen to itemise and cost out the materials for the job. You can potentially save money here if you are willing to shop around for materials and fittings. While you will not get the same level of discount that a tradesman will get from the local building supplier, internet sites like can save you money on your project
When choosing your contractor cost should not be the only consideration. Remember that you will most likely get what you pay for. A low cost operator may not have the qualifications or experience of a more established trade professional and may not use the same quality of materials. In the final mix ask your chosen trade professional for references and, for building projects especially, see if you can visit them.
     V.      Compare Quotes
Nobody wants to pay over the odds for a project. On a level playing field, where each tradesmen has the same credentials, insurance cover and standards of work, pricing should be roughly similar. However prices will vary from county to county as the cost of living in each dictates, with urban centres such as Dublin, Cork and Galway proving more expensive than rural areas.
The grid below provides an overview of the average rates charged by qualified trade professionals nationwide in each of the main home improvement areas for Autumn / Winter 2008. They are taken as an average of over 5,000 projects processed on the service.

Project Type
€ 2008 Tradesmen Labour Rates (EX VAT)*
Building - Extensions
126 per sq ft
Building - New Homes
99 per sq ft
Plumbers - Repairs*
85 Callout + 1st hour
Electrician – Repairs*
€56 per hour
Flooring - Semi Solid*
€19.50 per sq m
Tiling - Ceramic**
€28 per sq m
Painting - Interior**
€305 per day




  VI . Contract & Hire

It is essential that property owners enter into a contract for anything but the smallest of jobs. A contract will protect both parties in the event of things going sour and helps provide a clear picture of what it included in a project. For building projects check with the RIAI (Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland). also makes a sample contract template available online for projects in the property owner section of its site at the following web address: ( At a minimum your contract should cover off the following:
+        A detailed specification of the project (with plans if applicable)
+        An exact specification of what labour is included
+        A detailed bill of materials
+        A full cost breakdown of all each element
+        A payment schedule for the project with defined milestones
+        Any items specifically excluded from the project
+        Any contingency payments and limits
+        Compliance to relevant building regulations
+        Warranty periods

Managing the Project

 VII.      Monitor progress
Now that you have started the project you may think it’s time to put your feet up. Not so. It is still vitally important that you monitor the progress of the project – whether you have hired a project manager or not. The reason for this is that unforeseen issues can crop up in every project and the earlier you identify them the better for all concerned. Schedule meetings with your architect, builder and / or tradesman as required discussing the progress of your project and address any issues early.
VIII.      Compliance and qualifications (again!)
Always remember that buildings projects such as extensions, conversions etc. will need to comply with the building and/or planning regulations of the day. For this reason you need to ascertain whether any new building work requires a compliance certificate from a qualified structural engineer or similar. Achieving compliance should be a condition in your contract with any builder and final payment should not be made without it.
Often contractors will subcontract work to other tradesman – such as a builder using a preferred electrician or plumber to carry out the work. While the builder may have verified their own qualifications it is worth making sure that each sub contractors used is also qualified. For electricians, for example, you should ensure that they are members of RECI – which they will need to be if they are to connect a new structure to the main electricity supply.
   IX.      Sign Off & Warranty
This document has outlined a number of checkpoints for you prior to signing off a project and parting with your hard earned cash. Prior to signing off on a project you should ensure that it is completed to your satisfaction and complies with any relevant regulations. If required you should hire a surveyor, building engineer or snagging professional to check each element of the job.
Many builders will provide a warranty on a structure as include it in a contract. This will cover any defects that become apparent after a project has been completed such as subsidence. As standard a builder should provide a minimum of 1 years warranty cover for any defects. Builders who are members of Homebond can provide cover for new homes for a period of 10 years on all structural defects. Property owners should apply a minimum warranty period to other trade professions in their contract document.
+        Set realistic limits and stick to them
+        Research your project
+        Only approach qualified trade professionals
+        Get quotes, compare them like for like
+        For sizable jobs, insist on a contract
+        Monitor the project
+        Ensure compliance
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