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National Consumer Association - Report on Builders

Irish independent NCA builders reporT



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

Tuesday November 25 2008

SHODDY building work and poor quality materials cost householders more than €80m last year, with one in five encountering a problem with recent construction work on their homes.

The financial loss and cost of remedying poor workmanship amounted to just a small fraction of €22.7bn residential building and improvement works carried out in 2007.

But the National Consumer Agency (NCA) warned much more needed to be done to protect rights as buying a house or renovating a home are the single biggest purchases a person makes in their lifetime.

A series of 25 recommendations were issued yesterday by the NCA, which highlighted the need to develop a simple, standardised contract for small domestic building work or refurbishment. Ann Fitzgerald, chief executive of the NCA, said they wanted to ensure strong standards for the future, with the current economic downturn expected to remove many of the so-called "cowboy builders" from the sector.

There is a need to provide more information in 'plain English' to consumers, ensure proper compliance with building standards and provide easy access to redress where difficulties arise.

Ms Fitzgerald pointed out this was particularly important in the home improvement sector where more difficulties arose as consumers often operated without a contact.

"Times are now getting tougher for everybody. I would hope that reputable tradesmen would recognise their interests are protected also when there is a contract in place," she said.

Ms Fitzgerald said the enforcement of the recommendations should not increase costs as tradesmen should already be working in compliance with the building regulations. The NCA will be contacting stakeholders in the construction sector to set up a forum to implement the recommendations arising out of the study on the protections available to consumers buying or upgrading a home.

According to the Grant Thornton study more problems arose in relation to the home improvement sector than in the purchase of new homes.

The survey found around 21pc of 800 people surveyed had encountered a problem with their most recent construction work, such as the quality of workmanship, failure to complete the work or poor time-keeping.

Ted Laverty from said a contract was vital and in the interests of both parties, as many trades people also report problems like non-payment by householders. The Construction Industry Federation's Hubert Fitzpatrick said it was working closely with relevant regulatory bodies on issues such as building regulations.

Mr Fitzpatrick urged consumers to use reputable builders and have a properly prepared snag list when purchasing a new home to avoid misunderstandings.


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