Sunday 11 December 2016

My Big Idea: 'Hiring your husband is a risk - but we both love working together'

Published 10/12/2015 | 02:30

Clodagh Doyle’s Placelift gives makeovers to houses which are being let or in the process of being sold
Clodagh Doyle’s Placelift gives makeovers to houses which are being let or in the process of being sold

Clodagh Doyle (42), from Bray in Co Wicklow, set up Placelift two years ago. The business helps homeowners around Leinster to improve the appearance of their home before letting or selling the property.

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"Our personal circumstances changed during the recession so in 2011 we decided to let our home, and then sold it the next year.

It was then that I realised just how much work it takes to get a house up to scratch for a sale.

We were lucky because I have a good eye and my husband has 25 years experience in construction, but I realised it must be a nightmare for people approaching it from scratch.

I saw a business opportunity and went for it. I have always had a passion for home improvement so was eager to move into this field.

I left my previous job in sales and marketing and set up Placelift in 2013.

There are lots of small changes you can make that can really add to the value of your home.

In a lot of cases it is about depersonalising and neutralising a property.

Naturally people decorate their homes to their own tastes but that quirky statement wallpaper won't help you sell a house - buyers or renters want a blank slate.

Homeowners are often blind to this, they just can't judge their own home objectively.

Then there are the things that impact a viewer's first impression, like an untidy garden or peeling paintwork on the exterior of the property.

But we are not limited to those jobs. Placelift can do almost anything needed, from bathroom upgrades to new flooring, to a total revamp of every room.

We will also help with the staging of the home prior to viewings and offer other services like vacant property management, regular property management and retail fit-outs.

We complete on about 80pc of the work ourselves and the remaining 20pc is carried out by our carefully chosen tradespeople and suppliers. We are hoping to hire for some of these positions in the new year rather than sub-contracting this work out.

Clients range from professional landlords to families. Often they know what they want done already, but just don't have the time to source and oversee various contractors.

We are fully qualifying registered contractors for the Government Home Renovation Incentive Scheme.

In the October 2013 Budget, it was announced that over a two year period you could avail of The Home Renovation Incentive Scheme for works carried out on your principle place of dwelling.

The scheme provides an income tax credit to homeowners carrying out work on their home in the next two years. The credit will be calculated at 13.5pc on spending between €5,000 to €30,000.

My husband left his own job to join Placelift six months after I started. Hiring your husband is a risk, particularly since your income is dependent on the success of the same project!

But he was obviously the best person for the job with more than two decades of construction experience, and we love working together.

The biggest challenge to getting the business up and running was probably securing finance. However much it was I thought I'd need... I needed more.

But we got a grant early on from the Wicklow enterprise office which really help, and vehicle finance from AIB to allow us to buy a van. It was impossible to find good quality second hand vans during the recession, the market just dried up.

Like many small businesses our biggest challenge now is getting in front of our target customers. A lot of people come to us by word of mouth; family or friends of people who we have renovated homes for.

Our goals for 2016 are to grow smart and build our brand name.

We want people to see us as a one-stop shop for getting their home ready for a sale or let. We are interested in partnership up with real estate agencies too although we value our independence; we are not working for anyone else and we don't work on commission."

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