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Homeowners opt for DIY

Cash-strapped homeowners prefer to dabble in DIY rather than get a professional to do the job.

It seems the credit crunch has not only prevented many of us from moving house, but has also stopped us hiring professional tradespeople to tackle home improvement jobs. Builders, decorators and plumbers who thought they would get a bite of the home improvements pie have been left sorely disappointed as eager homeowners turn to DIY in a bid to save money.

New industry evidence shows that tradespeople have been worst hit in the north of England. Thousands of small building businesses and one-man-bands up had expected to cash in on the crisis as property owners opted to make home improvements rather than move house.  As the cost of living escalates and the average householder feels the pinch any non-essential home improvement work will undoubtedly be put on the backburner.

According to job-auction website e-genie, tradespeople, especially those in the north, are taking the brunt of the economic downturn. The job auction website deals with hundreds of requests daily from householders looking for skilled people to carry out building, repair or decoration work.

However, it seems homeowners in the south-east have more money to spare for vital home improvements than northerners, according to e-genie, which has been monitoring activity on its website over the past three months. More than half of the requests for work are from the south of England while only 28 per cent have come from the north and Scotland.

Stefan Troester from eGenie says: “We have witnessed the demand for plumbers, electricians, builders and other tradespeople has fallen sharply in recent weeks in the north of Britain. However, the opposite is taking place in the south – particularly London. This does highlight a marked change as earlier in the year, when the credit crunch was first starting to bite, as demand was spread far more evenly across the country.”

In contrast to their cash strapped northern neighbours, Londoners make up a quarter of all requests for building work and home improvement. The capital made up 26 per cent of the total requests for tradespeople on the website last month.

But it seems homeowners in Scotland and the northwest prefer a spot of DIY than paying out for a professional, as both areas accounted for less than nine per cent of auctions for workers.

This scarcity of work for skilled people could lead to an increase in “rogue traders” warns the auction website and it asks homeowners to be on their guard.

“In this difficult climate, tradespeople need to be even more savvy and proactive when marketing their services and attracting new business. As the competition for business gets tougher, consumers need to be even more wary of cowboy tradespeople. Many see this as an opportunity to attract customers through low-cost services delivered without any professional expertise or training. In the long run, consumers could be seriously out of pocket, as they deal with the aftermath of a botched job,” says Troester.

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