Top tips for choosing a tradie

By Staff Reporter

Not knowing the difference between a good and a bad tradesperson can end up being a great cost, not only in terms of money but also in terms of the quality of work.

While it is easy to identify what makes for a bad tradesperson after the fact, there are also telltale signs that can be good indicators during the beginning stages of negotiations.

Any tradesperson who is worth their salt will not only have a license and insurance, such as a white card, worker’s compensation as well as public liability, but also hold copies that are operating and valid.

It is not uncommon to see a lot of tradespeople lie about their licence details and claim to have all the necessary approval when they really don’t, says Cherie Barber, director of Renovating for Profit.

“You have got to be careful as some tradespeople advertising in the newspaper claim to be licensed but have instead just copied the licence number from other tradespeople’s adverts,” she says.  

Jumping on one of the relevant industry bodies websites and performing a licence check is one way to avoid getting the wool pulled over your eyes by dodgy tradespeople and uncovering such untruths.

While asking a tradesperson whether they possess working insurances policies is a good place to start, discovering the truth will require you to go one step further, adds Ms Baber.

“You must ask them not only whether they are insured but also whether you can see a copy of the policy in person if you want to guarantee they hold all the correct insurances.”

While you want a tradesperson who is willing to vouch for the quality of their work, a good tradesperson should have no qualms with providing you with current references as opposed to just past, says Ms Barber.

“A tradesperson is never going to give potential clients a list of bad recommendations so I believe asking for past references is pointless.

“I always ask the tradesperson what job they are currently working on as this not only tells you if they are in work but also allows you to use the current clients and work as a point of reference,” she says.

While it may be the most obvious, personal recommendations from friends, family or fellow renovators will always be an effective way to find a good tradesperson.

But there is more than one way to flush out the good from the bad and using the related industry associations to obtain a list of names of contractors can be great way to locate a qualified tradesperson.

“You can get good trade contacts from other tradespeople but you have to be careful because a lot of them will refer other tradespeople based on some sort of kickback incentive; this could be anything from a slab of beer or taking five or 10 per cent of the invoice price.”

Seven must ask questions

1.    How much experience do you have? (Number of years and different jobs - ask for specifics)
2.    Is this the sort of typical job you work on? (Throw in some 'curly' questions about technical details to see if they really know their trade)
3.    Do you hold a valid license? (Follow the steps in the article to ensure this is correct)
4.    Are you covered by all the relevant insurance? And can I see a copy of your policies?
5.    Can I see your current job as opposed to references for past work? (Go and inspect yourself to get an idea for the quality)
6.    How busy are you and when do you think you can complete the job?
7.    What are the terms of payment? What does the cost include?

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