Your Project

Stage 1: Planning

If you have a precise plan of the work you want carried out then the contractor will be in a better position to offer you a detailed costing of the work involved on the project. Consult with your local authority as to whether or not you may require planning permission.

When you have obtained planning permission, (if required) you will have on hand plans and working drawings drafted by your architect.  These will help when obtaining costings from the relevant trades.

Stage 2: Consult

This is where you contact the trade’s person, inform them of the works to be quoted for. Bear in mind they may need to inspect the site before they can offer a quotation. Always ask for the quotation in writing, plus the details of costs for extras and alterations or changes as the job progresses.

Stage 3: Compare

Having obtained your written quotations from the contractors it is easy to compare exactly what is and isn’t covered in the quotation. Bear in mind that the cheapest is not always the best man or woman for the job. If the tradesperson is supplying equipment the quality/brand may also impact on the cost and end result.

Stage 4: Inspect

Ask the contractor if it is possible to inspect some previous projects, this will give you a better understanding of the quality of work to expect.  Is the contractor a member of any trade organizations, are these mandatory or are they merely a means of advertising.  Ask questions, lots of questions and if you have forgotten to ask a particular question write it down and have it answered when you next have the opportunity. 

Stage 5: Award your contract

When you have chosen a contractor, which you can work with, it is time to award the contract. Set a time scale for the work, along with a payment schedule.

Never pay in advance for work.  Most contractors will expect to get paid as soon as the job has been completed,  depending on the size of the contract the contractor may make staged payments.  The stage payments may be something like 30%, followed by a further 30% and the remaining 40% on completion, or it may simply be 50% followed by a further 50%.  A smaller project may simply be COD, once the job has been completed.  There is an exception to this rule – when an item is ordered especially to measure, like curtains or kitchen units you can expect to pay a substantial deposit which may be non-refundable should you withdraw from the contract. 

Be aware that when a number of trades are involved, they progress in a particular order, i.e. bricklayer followed by carpenter, plumber, electrician all first fixing then the insulator, plastering contractor, plumber, carpenter and electrician for second fixing.  Where external works are involved ground workers, bricklayers, carpenter, roofer will also need to be considered.

The fact that all these trades work independently of each other will have an effect on the overall schedule of work, particularly in the event of unforeseen circumstances.

Stage 6: Decor

The final stage of your building works is the decor, whether you employ a painting contractor or do-it-yourself.  The task can again benefit from forward planning, whether you put together a scheme yourself or employ an interior designer, this is the fun part of the whole exercise. 

It is possible to have a consultation with a designer who will interpret your requirements and offer a design service through to a complete design and fit-out service.  A complete fit-out service would include flooring, wall coverings and lighting, soft furnishings through to curtains and finishing touches.

Stage 7: As the project progresses

During the carrying out of the project, bear in mind that extras and alterations will be additional upon the completion of the job. It is advisable to take a note of all the changes on a day-to-day basis. This will give you the advantage of having a list close to hand when the contractor is looking for additional funds.


Set aside a folder to keep all relevant paperwork, if the project is a large scale job you may require more than one trade, so keeping all the paperwork for the electrician or plumber together and likewise all the other trades will cut down on at least some of the stress.

Keep a Dairy. Take note of who was on site on which day and also keep a tally of to whom you paid and how much, an important point to note is the extras and alterations you request.  Also take note of parts of the project quoted for but which didn’t proceed for some reason – you should be allowed for this on completion when settling the final invoice.

Tradesmen should carry a valid Safe Pass card, you can ask to see this before awarding the contract, it is proof that the tradesman has attended a Safe Pass course which is recognised by Fás, the card is issued by Fás and contains their logo. Also each member of staff, who works directly “on-site” should carry a card.  

Also tradesmen who hold a current C2, should not have a problem in showing this to you, this card is issued by the Revenue Commissioners and is proof that the tradesman in question has a clear bill of health from a tax point of view.

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