Tax scheme is a game plan for Nightmario Bros
PERHAPS it's no coincidence that Mario – the world's best known computer game character – is a plumber who can perform all manner of tricks for coins, but never seems to do any proper plumbing.
My job was simple: to retile the en-suite bathroom; acquire and install a new shower with a glass cubicle and doors and to incorporate the existing white enamelled shower floor pan. The tiler was a dream. He did his job well and efficiently.
But the plumber was a complete Nightmario.
First off he tried to persuade me that I needed an expensive power shower, not the gravity fed version I wanted. Next he tried to steer me into getting rid of the existing shower pan – a heavy enamelled metal affair – in favour of a brand new plastic version. The old one wouldn't clean up well he argued – it would spoil the finished room; he'd take it right away for me.
It was after he'd gone that I noticed the upside down "this way up" stickers on the base of the new glass shower doors – just before the chrome shower tap handle fell off and chipped my precious enamel shower pan floor.
At this point I should warn that I am severely biased against plumbers – to me they are the Nightmario Brotherhood.
I might be the exception to the rule and I might be exceptionally unlucky, but in 17 years of being a home owner I have yet to encounter one plumber that I could truly recommend to a friend.
There are Nightmarios in all Irish trades – carpentry, electrics, building, plumbing. Aside from shoddy work, they are expert upsellers and make a heap of their coinage by upscaling your bills and, along with them, their labour costs and margins.
Upselling is persuading you that you need more doing than you do. It's not illegal and it's good business for those who can pitch it. But you pay out more than you need to spend.
In contrast, over-ordering is akin to stealing. Dodgy tradesmen make substantial chump change by deliberately over-ordering materials, which you end up paying for. When the expected surplus is left over, they'll kindly offer to take it away and dump it. But they'll sell that material for a profit to future clients.
Which brings us neatly to the new tax credit scheme for home improvements.
For sure this scheme represents a welcome boost for the majority of struggling and honourable builders and tradesmen out there and a great opportunity for homeowners to save money on big domestic jobs. Technically, it should also help clear out a good deal of dodgy operators because claims are only valid from the work of tax compliant traders.
But by giving the contractor control over everything, it's also a cash charter made for the Nightmario Brotherhood. Because, contrary to popular belief, plenty of dodgy builders, plumbers and carpenters are also tax compliant.
The dodgy operators have already been salivating at the Budget measure's stipulation that the homeowner can't get the tax cash back unless the whole job is firmly in the hands of the professional. This means the acquisition of all the materials, components and parts required for the job.
Party time for Nightmario.
So if you're planning to get a big domestic upgrade done under the new home improvement incentive scheme, do yourself a big favour: Do your online research on prices. Go out virtual shopping for the parts and materials and write the details down for future reference.
Otherwise, you could end up having a complete Nightmario.