Ask The Experts: How can I spot a dodgy tradesman? Here are the red flags!

By Anna Shelswell-White 26-07-2016
Ask The Experts: How can I spot a dodgy tradesman? Here are the red flags!
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Trust is a massive thing when it comes to renovating a home successfully. As most of us can't be on site 24/7, how can we be sure that the tradesmen carrying out the work won't make a mess, annoy our neighbours or drink tea all day? Apart from sneaking out of the office every couple of hours (and potentially annoying our colleagues and managers), to check up on who we've hired, there's not much we can do when things get going. And this has the potential to leave us out of pocket and in a mess – literally.

Yes, the majority of the time, tradesmen are qualified, polite and get the job done, but what are the red flags to look out for if someone is trying to pull a fast one? To save you fretting while you work, we've asked four experts how we can tell these dodgy tradesmen from the good. Looking out for these major signs, early on in your renovation journey, will save you a lot hassle, so read on...


"...if they don't care about a neat and tidy appearance, then why would they care about doing a good job for you?"

"One of the indications that you're dealing with dodgy tradesman could be a dirty, unsigned vehicle," says Marcin Gill of Green Code Construction, whose work ranges from leaking pipe repairs, one room paintings, bathroom renovations, house insulations to complete refurbishment, house extensions and retrofitting of period houses. "This kind of tradesman doesn't want to be recognised, as they probably have past work that they're not so proud of. Many of them, change the name of the business, so often, to cover up their unfinished work. Another red flag, is the state of the tradesman's workwear and tools; if they don't care about a neat and tidy appearance, then why would they care about doing a good job for you?"

Green Code Construction was established in 2006 to provide complete, high quality, efficient and reliable home improvement service to clients in the Dublin and Wicklow area. "Currently, we are working on a period house in Claremont Villas in Glenageary and a renovation of a house, with new extension on Harold's Cross Road," says Marcin.

Contact: Green Code Construction Tel: 01 906 5831 Mobile: 086 350 3661


"...if someone arrives late and is not a great listener, then you should be a little concerned."

Tiler, Allan Townsend of Irish Tiling Services has an abundance of advice when it comes to getting the job done right – especially by someone you can trust: "One of the most noticeable red flags is dirty tiling tools. Why? Because, when tiling, every cut is down to a millimetre accuracy. If the tools are dirty, then you don't get the perfect cuts into the walls and around corners," he says. "Most eager tradesmen always arrive on site early, or on time, to discuss the project ahead – if someone arrives late and is not a great listener, then you should be a little concerned," Allan continues. "Also, your house should be covered in dust sheets and everything should be cleaned and hoovered, with tools put away, before you arrive home from your workday."

Irish Tiling Services are bathroom renovation specialists and tiling specialists. They cater for the private as well as the commercial clients and are currently tiling the Hilton hotel on Charleston Street, Dublin 4, and the Hilton Garden on Custom House Quay, Dublin 1.

Contact: Irish Tiling Services Mobile: 083 173 7176


"Get a number of references – not just one."

Sugrue Builders Ltd. are a family-run building contractors based in north Dublin who cover all ranges of construction, from commercial to residential projects. Cormac Sugrue keeps it clear and simple when telling us how to spot a dodgy tradesman: "Get a number of references – not just one, look at a number of their past projects and ALWAYS make sure that they are tax compliant and tax clearance registered," he says.

Earlier this year, Sugrue Builders Ltd. finished a house in Baldoyle that featured on season nine of Room To Improve alongside architect, Dermot Bannon: "This project left us extremely proud of the end result. From the very start, the clients were hit by set back after set back, but together, we worked it all out as a team," says Cormac.

Contact: Sugrue Builders LtdTel: 01 846 3554 Mobile: 087 251 2203


"...if they are extremely keen to start the job straight away," 

"If they offer very cheap quotes or estimates and are unwilling to put a quote/estimate in writing, this is a major red flag," says Eddie Feeney of Timberwise Construction. "The same rules apply if they are extremely keen to start the job straight away, are unwilling to offer references and ask for money upfront – equally if they are ONLY willing to accept cash as payment."

With almost two decades of experience, Timberwise Construction work with budgets starting from €10,000. Longstanding maintenance clients include churches in Firhouse, Palmerstown and Foxrock. They also provide standalone joinery services, and fit specialist joinery for Fitzpatrick & Henry. "We make doors, windows, bespoke cabinets, fitted furniture and stairs, as well as provide valuable storage, a beautifully made fitted cabinet is the perfect finishing touch to a new room," says Eddie. Timberwise Construction supply and manage all their own tradesmen to complete plumbing, electrics and plastering.

Contact: Timberwise Construction Mobile: 087 285 2106

Now we want to hear from you – do you have any renovation nightmare stories to share? What's the one piece of advice you would give people to avoid it happening again? Don't forget to tell us via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

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