If you have bought a new home in the Netherlands, it is unlikely that you walked through your front door for the first time and thought: ‘Yup, precisely the way I wanted it’. Typically, you will want to make a start on some substantial home renovations, as soon as you are handed the keys. Whether you want to redo your entire house, or you just want a few odd jobs taken care of, read on. We will take you through how to hire good contractors, handymen and designers in the Netherlands, in order to create the home you want.

CONTRACTORS IN NL

The Dutch word for contractor is ‘Aannemer‘. As in other countries, if you want to redo your house in the Netherlands, this is the person you will need to hire. They will help you to make changes such as:

  • Putting up walls
  • Building new bathrooms or kitchens
  • Creating fireplaces

Hiring a Contractor in NL

So, how do you go about finding and hiring a good contractor in the Netherlands?

  • There are a lot of contractors to choose from in Holland, so it can be hard to decide who is right for the job
  • BouwGarant‘ is a great resource for finding reliable candidates
  • Contractors listed with BouwGarant are carefully vetted, and must meet strict requirements
  • Asking friends, family, colleagues and neighbors for their recommendations is also a good option 
  • Be sure to talk to several contractors, and ask them for quotes, before you settle for one
  • It is important to do this, in part because prices can vary considerably
  • What is more, this person will probably be in your house for weeks, or even months! So, you need to ensure that you are compatible with one another

OVERSEEING A PROJECT IN NL

Your contractor will be responsible for overseeing your home renovations. They should manage and supervise your home improvement project in the following manner:

1. The Employees

  • The contractor could be a one-man or a one-woman operation. In this case he or she will, of course, only be responsible for turning up and getting the job done himself or herself!
  • However, if you are having quite a lot of work done, you might be using a contracting company
  • The Dutch call a contracting company a ‘bouwbedrijf’
  • Dutch contracting companies range in size from two people to several dozen skilled employees
  • For substantial renovations a contractor might employ qualified plumbers, electricians, carpenters etc
  • Every member of the skilled personnel must be held accountable for completing his or her portion of the project thoroughly and on time

2. The Project Itself

  • The contractor is responsible for purchasing all the materials necessary for the renovations
  • These building supplies are referred to as the: ‘bouwmaterialen‘ in the Netherlands
  • They must also oversee the installation of the project
  • Materials should be of a good quality, and all the work must meet current safety requirements

BUILDING PAPERWORK IN NL

It can be tempting to take responsibility for the paperwork involved in carrying out home renovations yourself. However, unless you are experienced in this area, you might save yourself some considerable stress by handing the reins over to your contractor. They should be skilled and experienced in:

  • Dealing with the bureaucracy that surrounds securing permission to have building work done
  • Making requests for building permits
  • Executing building plans and blueprints

ILLEGAL WORK IN NL

In order to have a guarantee on your renovation work, it is best to work ‘wit met een bonnetje‘. This Dutch phrase translates as ‘white with a receipt’ in English. It means that the work carried out on your home is legal, and taxed.

‘Black’ Work in NL

Some Dutch tradesmen work black for the clients. Or, in Dutch ‘zwart‘. This means that they carry out a job without a receipt, and without adding the legally required 21% VAT or ‘BTW‘ as it is referred to in Dutch.

  • Agreeing to have this kind of work done will reduce your bill
  • However, it is illegal and is considered to be tax fraud
  • By acceding to have black work carried out on your home, you forfeit your right to claim on shoddy workmanship, or incompletion of a project
  • Insurance companies will refuse to cover any claims resulting from damages incurred by, for example, leaking pipes or electrical fires
  • You will have no proof of the services you paid for, or the materials that were used
  • In short, you will be completely unprotected if you pay for illegal work that does not turn out to be up to scratch

HANDYMEN IN NL

You may well need to hire a handyman, at some point during your time in the Netherlands. In Dutch, a handyman is called a ‘klusjesman‘.

  • Dutch handymen usually charge around €30 per hour
  • They will usually charge you ‘ex BTW. This means they will charge €30 before VAT
  • Some handymen in the Netherlands will offer to work ‘black’
  • Again, this will mean that he or she will not be insured
  • So, any liability claims that could arise from accidents will not be covered, and a settlement will not be possible

YOUR NEW INTERIOR

Whilst your contractor is responsible for facilitating the project, it is up to you to make the decisions about what you want where! You will have to pick out:

  • Kitchen cabinets
  • Bathtubs
  • Closets
  • Tiles
  • Curtains
  • Carpeting
  • Faucets
  • Paint colors
  • And much more!

Interior Advice

For interior design enthusiasts, this is a sacred creative opportunity. For others, this is totally overwhelming. Help is available in the Netherlands:

  • You can employ an interior decorator to help you with your new interior
  • In Dutch, an interior designer is called a ‘binnenhuisarchitectuur‘ or a ‘interieurontwerpers

Dutch Decorating Vocabulary

If you want to have complete control over your décor, there is some Dutch vocabulary it will be useful to know:

  • ‘Do it yourself’ = ‘woninginrichting’
  • Carpeting, curtains, beds and furniture all come under this title
  • ‘Kitchens’ = ‘keukens
  • ‘Bathrooms’ = ‘sanitaire artikelen‘ 
  • ‘Paint’ = ‘verf en lak

Associate Companies

Often, your contractor will have reached an agreement with a local bathroom, kitchen or tile specialist. This might mean that you could get some good deals on deliveries and some guarantees of quality. You are, of course, not obligated to use your contractor’s associates. Still, it can be useful to see who he or she recommends.

YOUR GARDEN IN NL

A garden center is the place to go, if you want to redo your own Dutch garden. Garden centers are called ‘tuincentra‘ in the Netherlands. You can find: plants, garden furniture, sheds, ponds, lighting and a lot of other equipment for renovating and tending to your garden at a Dutch garden center.

You can enlist the help of a professional if you wish. Garden design and maintenance is referred to as ‘tuinaanleg en -onderhoud’ in the Netherlands.

Take a look at our article on ‘Dutch Gardens and Curtains, to find out more about the rather unique approach residents of the Netherlands take to the appearance of their homes and gardens.

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