Bad workmanship a cause of much grief

By Fr Michael Commane

Published 08/12/2015 | 00:00

michael commane
michael commane

A friend of mine called me at the weekend.

 She was in a bad way and upset. She had a months'-long nightmare experience with a builder. The builder had been recommended to her and she felt confident that he could do a good job. Alas, that's not what happened and she was out of pocket by a five figure sum. Eventually she had to cut her losses, call stop and go off and find herself another builder.

For starters, two absolutes, never pay 'cash' for a job. Be honest and pay the proper tax. It's ethically wrong and you are leaving yourself wide open to abuse. By using a registered contractor there is the possibility that you will be able to claim back tax on the work.

A small example between right and wrong. Some weeks ago I decided to replace gutters, downpipes and facia. I went to a cash-in-hand man who gave me a price. It was somewhat cheaper than a professional who came recommended. The professional explained to me that before he did the job I needed to contact ESB Networks so that they could lower the cable before he began his job. I did that and was most impressed with the efficiency and professionalism of ESB Networks. It's important that the cables are lowered, otherwise the new facia would conceal the cable and some years down the road someone might decide to drill the new facia for some reason or other. The cash-in-hand man was simply going to place the new facia over the electric cable.S econdly, no matter how much your builder might try to coax you, never pay any money in advance.

It's always advisable to shop around when looking for a builder. The best recommendation is word-of-mouth. Talk to friends, colleagues and ask them if they might have someone they could recommend and then go and have a look at the job. Doing your homework means that you have all your plans worked out before work begins. If you chop and change during the job you are adding significant sums to your final bill. There are rules and regulations governing the building trade and no doubt the overwhelming majority of builders conform meticulously to all the rules. It has struck me as a PAYE employee, whether working as a teacher or in the newspaper industry, both employer and employee are governed by rules and regulations. A code of conduct/behaviour is expected of the employee and likewise the employer is duty-bound to treat employees in a correct manner. Maybe in the current rush to the bottom in a number of industries there is a need as never before for workers to have the support of a trade union.

When it comes to the self-employed much is left to the ethical behaviour of the individual person. Without a good business ethic a trader or professional can take short cuts, ignore regulations, deliver poor quality work in order to maximise profits. Of course bad workmanship will eventually catch up on the trader/professional but in the meantime a lot of grief can be inflicted on an unsuspecting client. My friend has found herself out of pocket. Not nice before Christmas.

Isn't it strange how ministers of religion can get worked up on certain moral issues and not a word from them on so many other moral topics? As I keep saying, it's a funny old world.

Wexford People

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