Home improvements: ‘Do your research before your renovate, it’ll save you money and worry,’ experts warn
Homeowners have been warned about rushing into house renovations without thinking through the project and getting a proper fix on the costs.
The shortage in the supply of new and second-hand homes on the market has led to a steep rise in the number of people renovating their homes or building extensions, according to the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI).
It has published a new consumer guide for homeowners embarking on building projects.
Chartered quantity surveyor Claire Irwin, who features on RTÉ’s Room to Improve, said those embarking on home-improvement projects are making similar mistakes.
“One of the most common mistakes we see is people rushing into projects without thinking them through fully and then underestimating the costs.
“Homeowners often agree works with a builder only to be presented with unforeseen costs later on in a project. Or else they just include the building works.”
Ms Irwin said those getting work done often do not factor in furniture, fitouts, professional fees, accommodation costs or contingencies.
Delays in drawing down finance if depending on bank loans, or failures to apply in good time for grants are other issues which can lead to cashflow problems, delays and inevitably stress for everyone involved, she said.
She advised those planning building work to talk to contractors well in advance as they are in demand.
“Employ a building professional or seek advice from one before you start. It will save you money and worry.”
The SCSI said construction work can be difficult and disruptive.
This means it is important the correct measures are put in place to ensure the works are carried out effectively, safely and in line with regulatory requirements.
Chartered building surveyor and SCSI vice-president Kevin Hollingsworth urged homeowners planning building work to do their research in advance.
“Renovation work and extensions don’t come cheap – especially with the significant increases we’ve seen over the last 18 months in construction costs.”
He said that given the sums involved, his profession is always surprised at the number of people who don’t check the references of their contractors and physically review previous jobs they have done.
“Other big misses would include not having a contract or even a written quotation in place – this is an important document should anything go wrong. Another common error we see is people paying too much in advance.”
Mr Hollingsworth said building standards are there for a reason and cutting corners was a false economy. He advised those getting work done to check the builder’s references, agree the scope/standard of the job and sign off on a payment plan in advance.
The guide, called ‘Engaging the services of a building contractor – a practical checklist’, is available free of charge at www.scsi.ie.