Your rights as a consumer in Ireland

According to the European Consumer Centre Ireland, when Irish property owners hire builders and tradespeople, consumer contracts are protected by the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980. 

Knowing your rights when building, renovating or repairing is important before hiring a trade professional. However, there are a number of things you can do to make sure your project goes to plan, like using a contract when hiring a tradesman or builder as it protects both parties. Download our contract template here.

When purchasing goods and services, consumers have the following entitlements under the Sale of Goods and Supply Services Act 1980 Act which are:

  • Goods must be of merchantable quality 
  • Goods should be of reasonable quality taking into account what they are meant  to do, their durability and their price 
  • Goods must be as described - the buyer must not be misled into buying something by the description of goods or services given orally by a salesperson or an advertisement
  • When you buy goods in a sale you have the same rights as when you pay full price for the goods;

If you have a contract with a supplier of services, such as a tradesman or builder, you can expect the following:

  • The supplier has the necessary skill to provide the service
  • The service will be provided with proper care and diligence
  • The materials used will be sound and the goods supplied will be of merchantable quality

If you have a problem with an item you have bought, it is the seller who should put things right.  As a general rule, the seller can either repair or replace the item.  Alternatively, the retailer can refund the cost of the item or service to the consumer

If there is a problem with a home improvement or a building project on your property, we suggest the following:

  • Make an official complaint to the tradesman or builder in writing. Send it by registered mail if necessary as it provides proof of delivery. Include copies of any contract, receipts, delivery notes, quotations, plans and any other documentation that supports your claim.
  • Ask for the situation to be corrected (know your rights in this case).
  • Record a log of all subsequent conversations and correspondence on the matter
  • If you fail to receive a satisfactory resolution, report the tradesman/builder in question to the relevant regulatory bodies, trade associations and, if relevant, to
  • If required, hire an appropriate professional ( e.g surveyor or engineer) to create a report on the situation to back up your claims. 

Should you need to take legal action against a tradesman or builder the following options are available to you:

Small claims court 

The small claims court can assist in disputes between property owners and builders and other trade professionals for claims up to the value of €2,000 only.  

Further legal action

For claims over €2,000, property owners may choose to take further legal action against a tradesman or builder. In this case, it is suggested that the property owner seeks advice from a reputable solicitor.

The following types are dealt with under the Small Claims procedure:

  • Consumer such as for faulty goods or bad workmanship. You must have bought the goods or services for private use from someone selling them in the course of business.
  • Can also be made for minor damage to your property. 

To view the Onlinetradesmen tips on hiring tradespeople click here.