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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.

Though most of the tradesmen took cheap Ryanair flights home, a great many stayed on in the belief that the economic prospects here were still better than in the depressed economies of Eastern Europe. That decision has proven the right one for quite a few overseas workers now employed refurbishing second-hand homes and commercial buildings, as well as those working in the general services area. Some builders have shown a distinct preference for the overseas tradesmen because of their versatility and work ethic, as well as the fact that they won’t rip them off with excessive charges.

Before the Poles arrived, many Irish plumbers, plasters, brickies and carpenters in the greater Dublin area, in particular, had a free run and could almost charge what they wished. Call out fees were frequently over the top and, in a great many instances, two distinctly different prices were quoted: one for cash with no VAT and the other for a recorded transaction including VAT.

That era is well and truly over (partly because employers seldom, if ever, pay casual workers by cash) and Irish tradesmen now have to compete on similar terms with the overseas tradesmen. The result is that it is now considerably easier to find a tradesman at short notice because of the virtual collapse of the new homes industry. Equally, the fee charged is no longer plucked out of the air like it used to be, depending on the personal circumstances of the employer or the size of his house. One of the reasons this service has been regularised stems from the setting up of an online facility linking property owners with qualified tradesmen. Since Onlinetradesmen.com was established in 2005, it has handled over 200,000 home improvement projects with fees estimated at an impressive €1.8 billion.

The advantage of the service is that you can book a plumber, electrician or other tradesman online and check what the charges will be in advance.

Equally important, you can monitor online what previous customers had to say about each tradesman on the list. Customers using the site generally “rate” a tradesman that they hired under a number of categories, including workmanship, pricing and tidiness. The better the ratings, the more work the tradesman is likely to get.

Ted Laverty, MD of the Onlinetradesmen.com, says that there is currently a shortage of work for the 11,000 qualified trade professionals” associated with the service. Because of this, he says the charges for hiring tradesmen are down a minimum of 30 per cent from the highs of 2007.

He warns property owners about the dangers of opting for the cheapest contractors in the market and argues that a qualified tradesman with adequate insurance cover, training and a willingness to use high quality materials cannot compete with “cowboy operators” who engage in “nixers”.

He also warns that property owners need to know that a tradesman will be in business if something goes wrong down the line.

With the new homes market unlikely to pick up for at least two years, it is a great time to hire a tradesman to convert the garage or upgrade your home. Irish tradesmen are really feeling the pinch.

 

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