Cash-strapped families opting to fix home appliances

CASH-strapped families are opting to fix or remodel broken appliances rather than fork out for replacements.

According to Onlinetradesmen.ie, the country’s largest online source of accredited trade professionals, there has been a 196% increase in demand for appliance repairs.

Ted Laverty, managing director of the firm, said people were opting to repair washing machines, dishwashers and dryers among other white goods, rather than buy new ones.

The firm’s research also reveals that last year’s harsh winter and flooding fuelled an increase in demand for both plumbing repairs and damp proofing. Plumbing repairs experienced a 168% increase during the period, with requests for damp proofing up by 236%.

Mr Laverty said the figures revealed that while there is still a large volume of home improvement projects being undertaken, consumers continue to focus on smaller refurbishment and repair jobs.

Additionally, Mr Laverty said prices had come down by about 50% since the recession kicked up.

He said tradesmen were under pressure to bring their margins right down by laying off staff and cutting overheads, and that the market was highly competitive.

“Consumers remain cost conscious and are demanding quality for their home improvement spend. Many trade professionals have recognised these trends and have revised their businesses accordingly to focus on smaller project categories.”

However, Mr Laverty warned that the black market was seriously affecting genuine business owners.

“The black market was always there with people doing jobs on the side, but anecdotally it is really starting to affect tradesmen.

“They have cut costs back as much as they can. Then they might hear they are being undercut and when they see the price quoted it is one that is just not viable for a business owner to compete with. It is a very serious issue that needs to be tackled,” he said.

Other areas of growth in sizeable domestic projects include attic conversions (+34%) and refurbishments (+23%). However, the size and outlay on such projects is down more than 40% from 2006 levels.


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