Two years ago, John Cleese accused the BBC of being “goodless” for removing Fawlty Towers’ “Germans” episode from its streaming service.
he Beeb claimed that it contained racist passages. But Cleese argued that the popular sitcom written by him and Connie Booth in the 1970s actually serves to satirize the racism of characters like Basil Fawlty and Major Gowan (think Tarantinos). Django Unchained for a modern version).
That means some FT Scenes are still particularly difficult to watch, not least those featuring the quirky, forelock-plucking, garrulous Irish builder O’Reilly, played by the late David Kelly.
O’Reilly is the “cowboy” that Basil hires to do construction work at his hotel against his wife’s wishes. He doesn’t use steel beam when pushing a door through a load-bearing wall, which is structurally detrimental to the hotel. In these scenes, he is described as “a dimwitted, fat Irish prankster” who “belongs in a zoo” and his Irish assistant is referred to as an “orangutan”.
Aside from the ape Irish stereotypes of Hit Magazine, is it fair to portray our builders as incompetent and scheming? Because regardless of the 1970s, our construction industry today undoubtedly has a serious reputation problem.
During the summer, and after a 15-month investigation, a government working group released its controversial findings, which claimed that up to 70 percent of Celtic Tiger-era dwellings are likely to suffer from built-in fire control deficiencies and other construction-related problems.
For the Irish construction industry, this is a simply stunning percentage of sectoral failure. Given these percentages, there’s absolutely no way to abandon the old caveat: “It’s the few that give the rest a bad name.”
When it comes to even larger citizen projects, we’re now so used to sectoral volatility with estimates and deadlines that we just shrug. As every time, the latest version is shared with us about what the National Children’s Hospital will cost. With a contract value of 650 million euros and completion this year, the latest estimate is now well over 2 billion euros (an increase of more than 1 million euros a day), with completion pushed back to 2024, along with a waiting slot in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s most expensive medical facility of all time.
And whatever you do, don’t mention the war (that is, mica and pyrite).
At the domestic construction level, it was this time last year that RTE’s prime time revealed the terrible failings homeowners had experienced with dodgy small builders. This program specifically emphasized that the contractors involved could continue to operate under Irish law despite proven negligence. Thanks to the legacy of “self-regulation” for the pet sector promoted by Fianna Fáil; that Fine Gael has never been approached in government since.
It’s hard to believe that something as costly and safety-sensitive as building can go largely unhindered by the kind of standards legislation and enforceable penalties/refunds/responsibilities that govern almost everything else in Ireland, a country where you can’t pay for not having a television license however, cannot be imprisoned for the construction of fire-prone apartment buildings. Where you’re entitled to a refund for a Duff watch that costs a tenner but have to fix a dodgy construction costing tens of thousands out of your own pocket.
Among those who have helped out over the past year prime time The program was Kevin Hollingsworth of the Society of Chartered Surveyors of Ireland (SCSI), who deserves some credit for highlighting sectoral deficiencies.
It was a SCSI report that underscored the tremendous extent of fire damage to Irish homes following the 2017 Grenfell fire in the UK. At a time when the government was trying to keep its head in the sand over the burgeoning apartment block fire scandal, it was the SCSI report that compelled the investigation that, in turn, ultimately led to the publication of the group’s findings that summer.
Meanwhile, in response to last year’s RTÉ inquiry, Hollingsworth has helped SCSI put together and publish a simple guide for Irish homeowners who are considering hiring builders but are rightly afraid of hiring a fawlty cowboy in this climate . Hiring the Services of a Contractor – The Homeowner Checklist is a clearly written guide to avoid the pitfalls of botched construction. It was launched by Hollingsworth this week with the help of Claire Irwin (best known for regulating Dermot Bannon), Room to Improve’s resident chartered surveyor, who also made contributions.
“To prime time We recognized that the public could use an easily accessible guide to help them negotiate home improvements such as extensions,” says Hollingsworth.
Content includes the need to check references, create a clear contract, manage payments, and monitor work along the way. The guide can be downloaded for free from scsi.ie.
In the meantime, based on his content and Hollingsworth’s advice, here are 10 traits of homeowners who are more likely to be annoyed by a Fawlty builder:
1. You do not receive offers: The SCSI Guide recommends getting three quotes before naming a builder to avoid getting ripped off from the start.
2. They don’t look at previous work: “Don’t just ask for and look up references, make sure you go out and look at different examples of work done.”
3. They don’t verify credentials: “A reputable construction company should register their details with the Companies Office and the Construction Industry Register of Ireland (CIRI).”
4. You forget a contract: “You don’t need a formal paper contract for a small extension. However, you should have written down the cost details, the schedule for the work, penalties (the cost to the builder for missing days or not meeting deadlines), and exactly what you want the builder to do for the money. Have them sign. Now you have a fallback if something goes wrong.”
5. They Don’t Hire Sampling Experts: “Not everyone can afford a professional project manager, such as an architect or licensed building surveyor, to manage the project full-time. In fact, for smaller projects, it makes no financial sense at all. However, you can commission them to carry out spot checks at important points in the construction work. You are better off identifying defective work while the project is still ongoing. Three-stage tests should cost around 1,500 euros plus VAT for the three.
6. They don’t take stage photos: The SCSI Guide recommends taking photos and video of all aspects of construction as site work unfolds as a valuable visual record for future reference if a dispute develops.
7. They pay cash because it’s “cheaper”: “All payment steps should produce receipts, which are also evidence. If you pay cash you don’t have that and obviously less recourse. Avoid builders offering VAT-free deals or cash-only deals.”
8. They don’t check health and safety credentials: “You must have property insurance and health and safety requirements for site work at your home and obtain health and safety credentials from your contractor.”
9. They don’t keep money in reserve: “No matter how good your builder is, unexpected problems can be uncovered through the work and result in the job costing more.”
10. You do not confirm the details: “Request a detailed quote based on a detailed design/scope of work. You should be aware of what is not included in the price, e.g. E.g. flooring, wall coverings/painting, kitchen, tiles or footpaths.”
https://www.independent.ie/life/home-garden/renovations-ten-ways-to-hire-a-fawlty-builder-42065218.html Renovations: Ten Ways to Hire a Fawlty Builder