Project advice

Learn handy-tips every homeowner needs to know

Plumbing, Tiling and Swimming Pool Repairs and Maintenance!


This post will cover swimming pool plumbing, tiling and maintenance! If you are a swimming pool owner, you know that regular maintenance is essential to ensure your pool is in perfect condition for use. However, even with proper maintenance, there may be a need for repairs at some point. In this blog, we will talk about the most common pool repairs and how you can solve them.

plumbing pool


If you notice that the water level in your pool is decreasing, there may be a leak somewhere. To find the leak, you can perform a simple evaporation test. Fill a bucket with water and place it in the pool, making sure the water in the bucket is at the same level as the pool water. Mark the water level of the bucket with a pen or pencil and wait for 24 hours. If the pool water level drops more than the bucket water level, there is likely a leak. If the leak is small, you can use a leak repair kit to fix it. Otherwise, you will need to find a professional to do the repair.


Pool tiles can break or crack over time, especially if they are exposed
to harsh weather conditions. If you notice any broken or cracked tiles in your
pool, you should replace them as soon as possible to avoid further damage. You
can buy replacement tiles at your local pool store and use tile adhesive to fix
them in place.

pool tiles
pool plumbing pumping


Your pool pump is responsible for circulating the water in your pool, which keeps it clean and clear. If your pump is not working properly, your pool water can become dirty and cloudy. Check the pump regularly for any signs of damage or wear and tear. If you notice any problems, it is important to call a professional to repair or replace the pump.


Your pool filter is essential for removing dirt and debris from your pool water If your filter is not working properly, your pool water can become cloudy and unsanitary. Check the filter regularly for any signs of damage or clogging. If you notice any problems, clean or replace the filter as needed.

Pool Plumbing


Regular maintenance and prompt repairs are essential for keeping your swimming pool in good condition. By following these tips, you can ensure that your pool stays clean, clear, and safe for swimming. 

Balcony waterproofing and other great tips for balcony maintenance!

Balcony waterproofing and other methods to protect your property's balcony this Summer

As a Portuguese property owner, you know just how important it is to maintain your building. Whether it’s keeping up with the maintenance issues or protecting
your investments, these tasks can surely add up over time. But when it comes to preserving the longevity of your building and its aesthetics, balcony waterproofing should be top priority on your list. 

Not only will this prevent essential damage from occurring due to weather elements, but also keep your most valuable asset in tip-top condition for years to come! In this blog post,
we’ll discuss why protecting your balconies against weather extremes and
moisture exposure is crucial – read on to learn more!

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Balcony Drainage and Cracks

Water is known to often pool on balconies, therefore balcony waterproofing is essential as it can lead to leakage and property damage. It is vital to regularly inspect your balcony to help identify the potential risks. 

Water will likely pool on a balcony with obstructed drainage, poor drainage falls, structural sagging, or settling. Problems may emerge if your Portuguese property is not regularly cleaned thoroughly enough. 

It’s important to ensure blockages are not created and the grout especially is cleared of any impurities and particles that could cause cracking or blockage to your drainage system. In winter conditions, this water may freeze and produce ice, which may grow and crack within those minute surface cracks, making them larger. Each freeze-thaw cycle will cause more fissures and water penetration as more water enters.

Balcony waterproofing can really help with isolating drainage issues and prevent further structural damage. It’s important to recognize that even though this process can involve more work than you think, it is a crucial part of protecting your Portuguese property.

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Loose Balcony Handrails

Handrails that move when pushed or leant on are a huge warning indicator of further structural damage so it is vital to inspect the entire balcony not just the railing. In addition to being a potential threat to public safety, they could violate the building code. Plus, they almost always serve as an early warning indication of problems in the slab itself or the factors that contribute to problems.

You will detect movement between the plate holding the handrail and the slab in areas where there is a loose handrail. These areas are the ones where the handrail is fastened to the slab. If the gap where the railing post penetrates the concrete is not properly caulked, or if the quality of the caulking deteriorates over time, water will be able to seep in.  This will eventually cause the posts and the screws that are holding them in place to rust. This causes further cracks, which in turn enable more water to enter, further eroding the stability of the posts.

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Balcony Netting

Pigeon mesh, balcony screen, balcony fabric, and other forms of balcony netting are all included under the umbrella term “balcony netting.”.

No matter what you choose to call it, apartment balcony netting is an extremely important component of bird control systems designed for balcony use. For starters, having pigeons make their homes on the balconies of your apartment building can be a major source of frustration. They need to be prevented from accessing the floor, ledge, and rails of your balcony in any way, shape, or form. Unless you do something to prevent it, these birds will continue to return to your location.

As you can see above these nets can also provide security for things like pets small children and provide a safer experience for your guests. It is also important to note that the professional installation of these nets is not just vital for safety, but for the over all aesthetic of the property, as improper fitting could be an eyesore!

balcony sunset

Double-Coat Sealer

The use of double-coated premium sealer on the exterior of your balcony will further protect your property from weathering and additional coastal factors. Introducing the use of a waterproof membrane is an additional way to protect your balcony and tiles during more testing times.

Flexible Polymer Seal

The installation of flexible sealant accounts for minute structural fluctuations. This is even more relevant with coastal properties due to the further slight increase. Using a product like this will prolong the waterproofing and structural quality of your Portuguese balcony space. 

We get it, it seems like a lot of work, but holiday makers love a balcony and maintaining and even installing yours within your rental property will make it so much more attractive to future guests!

If you need help renovating your balcony, get in touch!

6 Problems With Electric Gates And How To Repair Them

Problems With Electric sliding Gates? Here are the Most common issues and How To Repair Them

electrician with electric gate

Electric gates are incredibly convenient because they allow for quick access and mean that drivers don’t have to get out of their cars in order to access the driveway. This is especially useful if you own a Holiday rental property in Portugal as it provides a seamless and luxury experience for your guests, who aren’t having to climb out of their vehicles on a hot and sticky day. Instead, drivers can open the gate with a simple touch of a button or a swipe of a card.

However, like most technology, sliding gates are not immune to problems. There are several different ways in which automatic gates can cause headaches for homeowners and guests. These problems should be dealt with immediately, otherwise, the gate could become damaged beyond repair and have to be replaced.

Large Amounts of Noise:

Sometimes, a fence in the Algarve which is automatic can generate a large amount of noise for reasons that don’t always seem immediately clear. A grinding sound could mean the mechanism which moves the gates together and apart may have become worn out. This problem can be fixed one of two ways: either have the mechanism taken apart and reassembled or have a new part fitted such as the motor for the electric gate.

A birdseye image of an electric gate

Vermin and Insects:

Automatic gates work by using sensors that trigger motion. However, if the sensors are blocked the automatic gate will fail to open. Insects and vermin can climb into the dark spaces provided by a gate and cause an obstruction. It is equally as important to take into account for the debris insects and vermin may also leave in front of the sensor or on the sliding tracks of the electric gate. Make sure that the inside of the automatic gate is kept clear of dirt and small animals so that the sensor will work perfectly at all times. 

vermin preventing electric gate working

Power Outage:

Automatic gates need to have a constant supply of electricity in order to work correctly. Power failures and cutouts will prevent the gates from working. If a power outage occurs, make sure to check for blown fuses. The power can be restored by putting the blown fuse switch back in position.

Faulty Remote Control:

The remote control needs to be kept in good working order to ensure that it will be able to open the electric gate without any problems. However, the batteries can start to fade so check if the red light is failing to ‘blink’. Replace the batteries and try again if this is the case. Replace the remote if the problem persists.

Obstruction in the Gate Tracks:

The electric gate tracks need to be kept clear in order to help the gate open and close smoothly. Debris in the electric gate track can cause the gate to become stuck and fail to open or close properly. Sweep up any debris on a regular basis.

Manual Mode:

Sometimes an electric gate can become stuck in manual mode. This could be a problem with the gate’s opening mechanism or the batteries in the remote.

electric gate

In Conclusion

It’s also important to remember diagnosing the problem can be just as hard as resolving it, therefore finding a local reliable electrician to address all of these problems and more, is easily found through us, Portuguese Tradesmen. We provide a flawless service to always insure you have faultless electric gates.

We connect you to the best local tradesmen that will easily elevate and maintain your beautiful Portuguese properties including your electric gates.  See how it works here.

Let us Portugal Tradesmen help you put the plans in motion to always keep your electric gates in motion.

Spring Cleaning Your Portuguese Rental Property

Getting your Portuguese rental property ready for the season

Get ready for the spring season with these essential cleaning tips for your Portuguese rental property. Let our team of reliable tradespeople help ensure a clean and safe living environment!

Before the start of the summer season, your Portuguese rental property should be in top shape so that it can welcome visitors with open arms. To ensure your property is up to par, you’ll want to consider enlisting the help of local tradespeople for a thorough spring cleaning. From plumbing and electrical work to appliance fixes, painting retouching, and more, professionals have the know-how and expertise to get the job done quickly and efficiently. Here are some of the key benefits of spring cleaning your Portuguese rental property.

You will need to get organised in order to carry out a comprehensive deep clean without forgetting anything or becoming so exhausted that you pass out. Create a thorough spring cleaning checklist for each individual room, outlining all of the tasks that need to be completed. After that, you will be able to determine which cleaning responsibilities are within your capabilities and which require the skills of an experienced cleaner. Getting rid of the clutter first can be a smart place to start. After all, the less possessions you have, the less laundry and dusting you’ll have to do. After that, it is necessary to make a financial plan for any professional cleaning; below, we will go over all of the prices that you need to be aware of. If you plan on completing tasks on your own, you will need to acquire all of the necessary equipment and, if possible, enlist the assistance of friends and family members. 

Professional Quality Work 

When you use Portugal Tradesmen, you can rest assured knowing that the job will be done correctly. Professionals have experience working on a variety of projects and know how to troubleshoot potential issues. This means they can detect any underlying problems that may cause further damage down the line if they remain unaddressed. Plus, they use quality materials which will last much longer than cheaper alternatives.

Increased Safety & Security 

Safety should always be paramount when it comes to maintaining any type of property — especially one that is used as a holiday home or Airbnb by others! By hiring professional tradespeople for spring cleaning your Portuguese rental property, you’ll be able to make sure all important safety measures are taken care of such as checking wiring and pipes for potential hazards or replacing faulty appliances that could pose a risk in terms of fire or shock accident risks. Not only will this keep guests safe but also provide peace of mind for owners as well. 

Enhanced Aesthetics & Comfort 

When it comes time for a holiday home stay or Airbnb visit, aesthetics play an important role in providing comfort and relaxation for guests — after all, no one wants to feel like they’re living in an outdated space! Spring cleaning your Portuguese rental property with professional services is a great way to give spaces an upgrade without breaking budget constraints. Painting retouching services can instantly freshen up walls while appliance fixes can modernize kitchens or bathrooms. In addition, plumbing maintenance can prevent major water damage from occurring throughout a stay by ensuring everything is functioning properly before anyone arrives at the house! 

In Conclusion

Spring cleaning your Portuguese rental property is essential if you want it looking its best for visitors during high season! Portugal Tradesmen have years of experience working on various projects so you can trust them to do quality work with attention paid to safety protocols as well as aesthetics and comfort levels within spaces. With their help, you’ll be able to spruce up your rental home before welcoming guests into its doors this summer!

What to do if your tradesperson goes out of business

If you’re halfway through a big home improvement project, you expect the tradesperson you hired to see it through to the end. While this is usually the case, in rare instances the person or company you hired can go bust during your job, potentially leaving you high and dry.

This guide breaks down what you can do if your tradesperson goes out of business before your project is finished.

If the tradesperson goes bust mid-project

When you discover that your tradesperson is no longer operating and work on your job has stopped, it is important to take stock of where your job is at and what the financial implications are.

If you have just paid your deposit and work has not yet started or only just begun, you will want to take steps to reclaim your money.

Similarly, if you paid money to the tradesperson for them to purchase materials which were never delivered, you will want to get either the materials you paid for or a refund.

If you are midway through a project and have been making staged payments, then you may have received a fair level of work for what you have paid so far – in which case, you may just want to find another tradesperson to continue the work.

If the tradesperson is a sole trader

Many tradespeople are sole traders, meaning they are the sole owner of their business and bear its liabilities.

It is useful to establish if the tradesperson has actually gone bust – in some rare situations, an unscrupulous tradesperson could use this as an excuse to try and avoid their obligations.

If the tradesperson has a limited company

Some tradespeople operate limited companies, a structure that makes the business its own legal entity, separate to its owners (shareholders) and managers (directors) – even if the tradesperson is the only shareholder and director involved in the business.

If they are in administration, then as with sole traders, you can apply to the administrators to be made a creditor and hope that the money will be returned to you in this way.

Other ways to reclaim money

If you paid via credit card for any of the work you may be able make a claim, which can get your money refunded to you.

If you paid by debit card you could also try to make use of the Chargeback scheme, a consumer protection operated by card providers. You generally have 120 days to make a claim, which can be for any amount.

What to do if your job is left unfinished

Most home improvement projects run smoothly, leaving you with exactly what you wanted. But occasionally things don’t go to plan, and while work starts on schedule, for one reason or another it isn’t finished as it should be.

This guide looks at what you can do if you find yourself in the situation where work is left unfinished by the tradesperson you hired.

What has happened?

While the outcome – the job isn’t finished – is the same, there are several different ways in which a customer and tradesperson can end up in this situation. Some typical examples are:

  • The job is mostly finished aside from a few “snagging” or finishing jobs to sort out, but now the tradesperson is unavailable.
  • You had a disagreement over something, such as the tradesperson’s conduct or how the work was progressing, and the tradesperson has left the project.
  • The tradesperson claims the job is finished, but you believe there is still work to be done.
  • Your tradesperson has said they will come back but is making lots of excuses for why they’re not working on your project, and you’re concerned they won’t come back.
  • The tradesperson hasn’t given any reason for not finishing the work but now won’t respond to any attempts to contact them.



Key questions

Working out how to proceed when work has been left unfinished depends on two main factors:

Was there a clear agreement in place, either in the form of a written quote or a contract, about what work was to be done?
How much money have you already paid the tradesperson?

If you have a detailed quote that sets out exactly what the scope of work should be, there should be no doubt over whether a job is finished or not. If the tradesperson has clearly failed to fulfil what is in the quote, it is evidence that you can use later if you wish to make a claim against them.

Read our guide to quotes and contracts to get the most out of them.

How much you have paid for the job up to this point is also important. If you haven’t paid anything in advance, or have only paid a small deposit, then you may be better off simply finding another tradesperson to complete the job. While inconvenient, you will not necessarily have suffered financially from the original tradesperson abandoning the job, making it difficult to make a claim against them.

If you have already paid a significant amount, either because you paid upfront or were paying in stages, you may have been left out of pocket, which can be a starting point to take action against the tradesperson.

If you have only paid a deposit and work has not yet begun, read our dedicated article on deposits.

Attempt to contact the tradesperson

The simplest and best outcome is that the tradesperson returns and finishes the work to a standard you are happy with, so make an effort to contact the tradesperson and ask them to put the matter right.

In some cases, the tradesperson will have stopped work because the company has gone bust – if that is the case, take a look at our dedicated article on what to do if this happens during your job.

However, if you believe your relationship has broken down completely and you have been left out of pocket, a civil action may be your only option.


Document everything

Even if you do not have a written quote or contract to work off, document everything that has happened so far with the project, including any texts or emails between you and the tradesperson, and take photographs of the work that has been done so far.

Make a record of any phone calls you have, or attempts to call them, along with notes of what was discussed.

If the work left unfinished is such that you need to hire another tradesperson to put it right, make a record of all the costs incurred as this will form part of your claim.

Making a claim

Making a civil claim should be the last resort if you have been unable to settle a financial dispute in any other way.

Before starting your claim, you should send the tradesperson what is known as a letter before claim or letter before action, a formal notice that lays out your claim and what you want in return, giving them a chance to respond before you initiate action.

What to do if your job isn’t up to standard

When you hire a tradesperson to do a job, you expect the work they do to be good quality. While most home improvement jobs result in a finish everyone is happy with, sometimes people are left with something that doesn’t meet their expectations.

Establishing exactly when work doesn’t meet standards can be difficult, but sometimes the cases are clear cut – for example, if the work is obviously faulty, or a project can’t be signed off by a building regulations inspector.

This guide breaks down what you can do if you’re concerned with the quality of your tradesperson’s work.

Typical situations

How you proceed with a case where work isn’t up to scratch depends on exactly what the issue is. There are a few different situations people can find themselves in, including:

  • The finished job isn’t what you expected it to be – whether it looks different from what you imagined, or isn’t quite what you asked for.
  • The work appeared fine at the time but now you have a problem with it that has made you question the quality (for example you’ve noticed a leak).
  • You’ve realised that the tradesperson used different or inferior materials to the ones you asked for or were promised.
  • You weren’t issued with a certificate for work that you should get with certain jobs (such as installing new electrical circuits).
  • Building Control didn’t inspect the project at the correct points and wasn’t able to sign off the work.


Is it just a matter of opinion?

Ask any two experienced builders to do the same job, and the chances are they will do it in two completely different ways.

While there are some strict requirements for certain jobs – especially when it comes to safety – some methods and techniques are simply best practice or convention. Often there is no “right” answer, and their approaches are a matter of preference and habit.

This means that when it comes to assessing work standards, it can be difficult to pin down exactly when work isn’t up to scratch, as a second opinion from another tradesperson can be just that – an opinion.

The key is determining if there are specific faults that mean the work isn’t substandard, and if those faults are down to poor workmanship.

Do you have a written quote?

If you’re unhappy with the finished result, having a detailed written quote for the work can help you reach an agreement with the tradesperson.

Our guide to quotes and contracts will show you how to get the most from them.

Detailed quotes should cover things like the specific materials that should be used, meaning you can ask the tradesperson to make the work right according to the quote if it seems that corners have been cut.

If the work is not how you expected, but nothing in the quote covers the issue, you can ask the tradesperson to make changes, but they may want to charge more if it involves redoing work or carrying out additional work.

If you’ve noticed a specific fault with the work, then you should raise it with the tradesperson – many will offer guarantees on their work and will be keen to rectify issues, especially if they know you intend to leave feedback about their work. Read our article on insurance and guarantees to see if this can help you.


What if work doesn’t meet regulations?

For bigger jobs, such as extensions or loft conversions which alter the structure of your home, the work will need to be inspected and signed off by the Building Control department of your local authority or an approved inspector, to ensure that it meets standards for safety and energy efficiency.

Similarly, jobs such as electrical work will need certification, which can be issued by the tradesperson who carries out the work as long as they are registered with a Competent Person Scheme.

If you are not given the correct certification, or if Building Control doesn’t approve the work, you should contact your tradesperson and insist that they make the work right.

In the case of missing certification, contact the scheme that your tradesperson belongs to, as their membership will depend on them abiding by their rules on conduct.


What if I can’t make contact or they refuse to put the work right?

If you are confident that the work is substandard and the tradesperson is unwilling to make it right or has broken off contact, then you may want to pursue a claim against them.

Any documentation you have will be helpful in the process of making a claim, particularly written quotes and contracts with your original tradesperson.

Retain any written correspondence such as emails and text messages, and make notes about what you discussed in phone calls and face to face conversations.

If the rectification work is such that you need to hire another tradesperson to put it right, make a record of all the costs incurred as this will form part of your claim.

If you hired your tradesperson through MyBuilder, our experienced customer service team can provide impartial advice on the options you can take to help you reach a satisfactory solution with your tradesperson.

You could also check if they are a member of any trade bodies that may also provide mediation services.

If you are unsuccessful, you may want to go forwards with a claim.

Making a claim

Making a civil claim should be the last resort if you have been unable to settle a financial dispute in any other way.

Before you start your claim, you should send the tradesperson what is known as a letter before claim or letter before action, a formal notice that lays out your claim and what you want in return, giving them a chance to respond before you initiate action.

For more details on writing a letter before action and making a claim, read our guide on deposits.

Insurance and home improvements

Many people assume that work carried out on their home will be covered by some kind of insurance if anything goes wrong – whether that insurance is their own, or that of their tradesperson.

Unfortunately, as many people find out too late, home improvement works are rarely covered by any insurance policy you or your tradesperson might have. This means that if work is done poorly, or you end up out of pocket following a dispute, you won’t be protected.

This article looks at common types of insurance and how they might be relevant to your home improvement project.


Buildings insurance

Typically, buildings insurance is designed to protect you in the case of damage that you couldn’t predict or prevent, such as fires, floods and storms, a vehicle crashing into your home, and other dramatic scenarios.

It is very unlikely that your policy will cover building work and any damage that happens as a result of this work.

Although buildings insurance will typically not cover your building work, you should still contact your provider ahead of any significant work to update your existing policy. Making any changes to your home without first informing your insurance provider may invalidate your current policy or prevent you from making a claim.

Contents insurance

While buildings insurance is designed to cover the fabric of your home in case of disaster, contents insurance is designed to cover the things in your home – everything from your carpets and curtains to your electronic gadgets and jewellery.

If you have contents insurance with accidental damage coverage, you may be able to make a claim if the tradesperson damages your covered possessions during the course of the work – for example, they knock over your TV, or irreparably stain your carpet. The tradesperson could also claim on their own public liability insurance for the damage and make it right with you.

If the tradesperson damages materials needed for the job, for example a new bathroom suite being installed, this obviously won’t be covered by your contents insurance, but the tradesperson could claim under their public liability insurance.

In most cases, it is generally most beneficial to come to an agreement with the tradesperson rather than make a claim on your contents insurance policy and risk raising your future premiums.


Public liability insurance

All tradespeople should have public liability insurance, though there are many misconceptions about what it covers.

This insurance covers accidents that cause injuries or damage to a property or a third party as a result of their work – for example, if they spilled paint on your carpet or dropped a tool while working on a roof, which hurt a passerby or damaged a parked car.

Public liability insurance is also designed to cover a business’ legal costs or compensation claims that may be made against them as a result of their work.

While it protects a business from claims where there has been an accident or injury, it does not cover poor workmanship or other disputes.


Professional indemnity insurance

Similar to public liability insurance, professional indemnity insurance is a type of insurance that is designed to cover businesses if they make a mistake in their work that causes their client a financial or reputational loss.

Companies or sole traders who might make use of professional indemnity insurance include those who provide architectural plans and structural reports.

If a building firm provided you with plans which proved to be inaccurate and led to damage to your home, they might make use of this insurance to cover their costs if you made a claim against them.

Tradesperson guarantees

Some tradespeople offer guarantees on their work. Unfortunately however, many are worthless. A tradesperson’s own guarantee might claim to cover workmanship and materials but would only be valid if they are still trading, at best.

Ideally, any guarantee should be backed by an insurance policy which would pay out in the event that the tradesperson ceases trading for any reason.

At the very least, you should always ask for details in writing. A written guarantee might be useful if you find yourself in dispute down the line.

Product warranties

Manufacturer’s warranties cover specific items such as roofing materials or damp proofing products. If the product is faulty or broken they are obliged to offer a refund or replace it – though you may have to pay for the installation again, depending on the tradesperson.

If the item is installed incorrectly, it will likely void any warranties, leaving you stuck with the cost.

Dealing with deposits

When you take on a home improvement project, especially a larger job, some tradespeople will ask for a deposit before the work starts.

Handing over money before any work takes place can make many homeowners uneasy and, while in the vast majority of cases the work proceeds as planned, there can be rare occasions where money is handed over but the work never materialises.

This guide talks you through how the problem can arise and what you can do about it.

Why tradespeople ask for deposits

Not all tradespeople ask for deposits, but for larger projects, such as extensions or loft conversions that will take several weeks to carry out, it is fairly common to pay some money up front.

Sometimes, this is just a token amount of a few hundred pounds, but in other instances, you may be asked to pay a larger deposit that forms a sizable chunk of the overall value of the job.

The main reason tradespeople give for charging deposits is that it allows them to purchase materials up front.

The other common reason is that it provides a small amount of cover for the tradesperson if you decide to pull out of the job – since they have blocked out the time for your project and may be unable to take on other work for that period, the deposit guarantees them some income for that time.

How much should a deposit be?

There is no industry standard for deposits, and different tradespeople will charge different amounts if they even ask for one at all. Anything from 10% to 30% of the total value of the job is fairly common – deposits that are significantly above that could be a red flag.

Tradespeople should be happy to explain the purpose of the deposit and provide you with a receipt when you’ve paid. On larger projects, a deposit is commonly the first payment in a series of staged payments that are made throughout the job on the completion of certain milestones.

A contract that details when payments should be made is an invaluable thing to have when working with tradespeople, especially on bigger jobs – find out more about quotes and contracts in our dedicated guide.


You’ve paid a deposit, but something is wrong

All cases are different, but there are a few scenarios in which homeowners can find themselves, for example:

  • You’ve handed over the deposit, but can no longer make any contact with the tradesperson – they don’t answer their phone, or don’t reply to messages.
  • The tradesperson is still in contact but keeps making excuses for why work hasn’t started, and you’re becoming suspicious that the work won’t ever take place.
  • After handing over the deposit, the tradesperson has begun asking for more money before they start work, which can raise concerns that they don’t intend to start at all.

If you find yourself in any of these situations, you may not want to continue working with your current tradesperson, and instead get your deposit back.


Keep a record of everything

Ideally, you will have kept some kind of proof that the deposit was paid, even if it was in cash, with the tradesperson having given you a written receipt to show they have taken the money. This will help if you need to take further action later on.

Regardless of how you paid, and whether or not you have a written quote or contract in place, from this point on you should keep records of all your attempts to contact the tradesperson and any responses they make to you.

Even if you speak on the phone, write down the times of the call with notes of what was discussed.

Reclaiming the money

In some instances, you may be able to reclaim your money through your bank or credit card provider.

If you have paid by bank transfer, you may be able to ask your bank if they can recall the money – however, this will depend on the recipient agreeing to it with their bank.

If you paid by credit card, you may be able to make a claim and get your money refunded.

You can’t reclaim the money – what else can you try?

If the tradesperson belongs to any trade bodies, you could contact them, as many will have mediation services that could help you settle the matter.

If you hired your tradesperson through MyBuilder, our experienced customer service team can provide impartial advice on the options you can take to help you reach a satisfactory solution with your tradesperson.

However, if your relationship has broken down completely, or you are unable to get in contact with them at all, your only option may be to pursue a claim against them.

Before you make a claim

Although the process of making a claim has been relatively streamlined in recent years, it is still a fairly involved process that requires compiling evidence and potentially attending hearings.

You will also be charged fees to make a claim which will not be returned if you are unsuccessful.

If you do win your case, there is still a chance you will not get your money back if the tradesperson is unable to pay. If the tradesperson has gone out of business or is personally bankrupt, it will make matters more difficult.

Sending a letter before you take action

If you want to go ahead with legal action to reclaim your money, the first action should be to send a letter which outlines your claim, giving them a chance to respond – this is known as a letter before claim or letter before action.

This formal letter must comply with Pre-Action Protocol, and include certain details, such as the result you want, how you calculated your claim, and any documents you will be using to support your case.

You should also state that you are willing to try mediation if you have not already pursued it.

Your letter should also give a clear and reasonable deadline for them to respond – usually 14 to 28 days.

Utility emergencies

We’re always impressed when homeowners have the confidence to do some jobs themselves and thanks to the internet there’s no shortage of places to find out how to tackle home repairs and improvements. But how many homeowners know what to do when things go badly wrong?

Gas, water and electricity

Sometimes a job that seems as simple as putting up a picture or nailing down the floorboards can lead to disaster. And often the most expensive and dangerous examples involve the live services supplying our homes: gas, water and electricity.

The reason for that is simple – unsightly pipes and wires are often hidden away under the floors or behind walls so they’re not always easy to spot.

Do you know the basics?

According to a survey, homeowners could be putting their lives in danger and risk causing thousands of euros worth of damage because they don’t know what action to take if they accidentally interfere with these live services.

Forewarned is forearmed, so we’ve compiled a helpful advice guide explaining where to find them and what to do.



Turning off the water

If you have accidentally broken a pipe, dripping water can quickly damage your floor, walls or possessions, so you need to stop the water flowing straight away. To do so, you’ll need to find your stopcock, a valve between two pipes that can be turned to stop the flow of water in your home.

External stopcocks

Homes typically have two stopcocks, inside the home and outside. The external one is usually found just in front of your house under a metal cover marked ‘água’.

Turning it will usually need a stopcock key – a metal T-shaped bar that can reach into the hole to turn the valve. Turning it will turn off water to the entire building – worth bearing in mind if you live in a block of apartments.

Internal stopcocks

Your home should also have a stopcock inside, that isolates the water in your property. It can be in a variety of places, often under the kitchen sink, bathroom, or in a cupboard under the stairs.

They can also crop up in odd places like cupboards, or even boxed in under the floorboards near the front door. If you’re not sure, try asking the previous owners or tenants, or the neighbours if their property is similar.

Turn and test

When you find it, turn it by hand or using pliers clockwise until the water stops coming out of the taps. You can use a lubricant like WD40 if it’s stiff to move, but be careful not to make it too slippery to turn. It’s a good idea to test it every few months to keep it operable.

Any plumber will need to know where your stopcock is so they can get to work.


Isolating the gas

Drilling into a gas pipe is thankfully a rare occurrence as most of the time they tend not to be in the places where we want to drill.

However, whether you suspect a leak or you’re tackling a job inside your home or outside at the front where gas enters the property, it is possible to disturb the gas supply – and when that happens, it’s crucial that you know what to do.

If you’re unlucky enough to have drilled into a gas pipe inside you will quickly notice the strong smell plus a noise similar to when you turn on the gas hob.

It’s at this point that knowing how to turn off the gas supply to your home is vital.

Where to find it

In newer houses, the isolation valve is normally outside next to the gas meter, housed in the same meter box or close by. If it’s not there, it could be under the stairs, beneath the kitchen sink or in the garage.

If you live in an apartment you should have your own secondary gas ECV (shut off valve) where the pipe enters the property and this should be clearly marked.

Often the valve will be within the plastic casing that houses the meter so make sure you have a meter box key for fast access.

As soon as you suspect that you have pierced a gas pipe you need to turn the handle of the isolation valve so the lever is at 90 degrees to the gas pipe to stop gas from entering the property. They should, in accordance with regulation, have yellow tape on the pipe indicating how to turn the valve off.

Call the hotline

The next thing to do is call the free 24 hour National Emergency number which is 112.

In the meantime, get everyone outside the property, don’t smoke or light matches, don’t turn electrical switches on or off and open the doors and windows to allow air to circulate.

The emergency advisor will dispatch emergency engineers whose priority is to keep you and your home safe by stopping the flow of gas; you will then need a Gas Safe registered engineer to repair the leak and test it before turning the gas back on.


Finding the fusebox

Just like a stopcock can control water coming into your home, your consumer unit or fuse box can control the electricity coming from the mains.

Like stopcocks, your consumer unit should be easily accessible, but they can be tucked away – sometimes in understairs cupboards, or in a cabinet near the front door.

A modern consumer unit will be fitted with Residual Current Devices (RCDs) and circuit breakers, that will trip or switch off in case of a fault, stopping the electricity flow to a particular circuit.

This is a safety feature to prevent accidents like power surges that can cause wiring to overheat, causing fires, and protecting devices that are plugged into your sockets.

Time for a replacement?

Older models will use fuses which contain a length of wire which melts when it overheats and needs rewiring – if so, this is a sign your unit is out of date and is due a replacement.

Consumer units will also have a main switch that controls all the power to your home, and can be turned off to stop the electricity entirely.

Electricians will need to access your consumer unit so they can work on your electrics safely, so it’s important that you know where it is.

Prevention is better than cure

If you are tackling home improvement work, then you’ll want to make sure you reduce the chances of disturbing your utilities as much as possible.

If you have architectural plans of your home, refer to them as they may give valuable insight into the location of wires and pipes.

If you don’t have plans, before carrying out any drilling, hammering or putting screws into a wall or floor check what’s behind it with a pipe, cable and stud detector If you are in any doubt, post your job for a vetted local tradesperson who will have a good understanding of where cables and pipes could be – plus they’ll also have professional tools that help them locate them.

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