Friday, November 10, 2006

Jack the lads, Jacks of all trades

Every week you read in the local free papers about people who have been let down by hookey tradespeople. There are enough horror stories from our estate to confirm these reports. Our next door neighbours are a good case in point. They have been let down so often you would think they were jinxed. For example, there was the paver whose business cards offered a two year guarantee. Six months later he had disappeared back to England without leaving a forwarding address. Fortunately he did a good job and the paving is still perfect.

The family in the middle of the estate, who were assured by one company that they could have a pool, were less fortunate. They had been told by the builder that they couldn't have a pool on their plot but choose to ignore him. When they started to dig the hole it was clear that the builder was right so they quickly filled it in. Unfortunately the damage was already done and the houses around now have garden walls that are badly cracked. The builder is blaming the pool people who refuse to accept responsibility.

Why does it happen? Lots of English people come out to Spain to live and to find work. Many of them had trades back in the UK but without the language skills it is difficult to find work with Spanish companies. So they find a niche and set up on their own to earn a living. Electricians become air conditioning installers; plumbers suddenly develop the skills to install pools; ; all without the necessary licenses and registration documents. People hire them because they speak English and in any case you can trust an English worker to do the job properly.

The niche that most find to work in is property sales and rentals. Without any experience or knowledge people set up companies offering their services. In the worst cases the properties they sell are not legal. There is only one conclusion if you have an illegal house; at some time in the future a bulldozer will arrive to knock it down. By this time the company you bought from will have ceased trading. At best you could find yourself paying over the odds for the property you rent or buy.

Of course there are perfectly legal and honest English tradespeople in Spain. They do a good job and offer proper back up. In our case though we would prefer to use Spanish companies and struggle through the language barrier. At least we have a good idea where they will be in six months time.

No comments: