The Senior

Seven tips to follow when hiring a tradesperson

The process of hiring tradies can be accompanied by a veritable minefield of potential risks. Picture Shutterstock.
The process of hiring tradies can be accompanied by a veritable minefield of potential risks. Picture Shutterstock.

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One of the most stressful components of securing home build, repair, or renovation services is simply finding the right tradesperson for the job.

The process of hiring tradies can be accompanied by a veritable minefield of potential risks. After all, working with a tradie requires a significant level of trust, especially if you're inviting them into your home.

And even if you do find a tradie who completes their work in a timely manner and with minimal disruption to your home or family, you may still find yourself being slapped with an enormous bill at the end of the job.

Suffice to say that this situation is less than ideal for Aussie pensioners or other households that are on a fixed budget.

So how can you find the most reliable tradies that won't overcharge for their services?

Search through secure and verified channels

Finding the right tradespeople to complete a job requires homeowners to conduct a little due diligence. This means doing some research online and using scheduled trade booking services like RACV Trades.

Finding tradespeople through secure and verified channels is key to reducing your risks of being ripped off. This is because the great majority of these secure channels require tradespeople to provide their ABN, licensing, and other industry information or even documentation in order to be listed.

Using these channels may also allow you to maintain secure communications with your shortlisted tradies, ensuring that there is a paper trail of sorts when it comes to securing quotes on jobs, though more on this later.

Check the services that they provide

Once you're able to find any local tradespeople that may be available to take on your job, the next step is to do a little research into their professional background to see if they're well-equipped to offer the services you require.

One of the easiest ways to determine that your shortlisted tradies possess the experience you're after is to simply ask them directly. For instance, most tradies may have a gallery on their business website that showcases some of their handiwork.

It's also a good sign if their business websites have dedicated pages outlining the different services that they're able to offer their customers. This attention to detail and the wealth of materials or resources is all indicative of a professional that's had plenty of experience working within their trade as well as plenty of passion for what they do.

And remember that any tradesperson can set up their own website, whether it be as a sole trader, as the owner of a private trades business, or even as an apprentice who's looking to build up their client base from the get-go!

Read up on their reviews

Yes, scrolling through a tradie's business website is undoubtedly a must-do before you sign any contracts or pay any deposits. But it's important to keep in mind that websites are developed by those individuals themselves, and as such any of the information provided can be easily manipulated.

So how can you ensure that your shortlisted tradies are as experienced as they're claiming to be? By reading up on their client testimonials, of course.

Looking over Google reviews and other online review platforms can help provide you with a little more information on what to expect from your shortlisted tradies. For example, some reviews may touch upon the quality of the work completed or any discrepancies between quotes for jobs and final bills provided.

You may even learn a thing or two about your tradie's professional qualities from former clients. For instance, reviewers could mention that the tradesperson was slow to respond to texts or emails, or that the job timeline kept being subject to change. If these concerns are deal breakers for you, it's best to be aware of them nice and early.

Check licensing and qualifications

Even if you have been able to find a tradie through a secure channel, it's still imperative that you check their licensing and look up their ABN independently rather than just operating on assumptions that all their certifications are still valid.

Too many Australians simply are not checking licences prior to hiring contractors, which can naturally leave homeowners vulnerable to experiencing dodgy repair or build jobs that can then go on to negatively impact the value of their property.

Thankfully, it's easier to check credentials now more than ever before. Homeowners can check that your tradesperson's ABN is valid by simply using the ABR's ABN lookup tool online.

And remember that if your job is set to cost over $10,000, your tradesperson will need to be registered with your state's respective regulatory body for building and construction. For Victorians, this would be the Victorian Building Authority (VBA).

Secure multiple quotes

The next thing you'll want to do is make sure that you do have a clear scope of the costs associated with the work you're looking to get done. Naturally, the best way to do so is to call up all of your shortlisted tradies and grab some free no-obligation quotes wherever you can.

Consumer Affairs Victoria recommends that you secure a minimum of three quotes for any job, and that these quotes are secured with the use of a detailed description of the work required.

The detailed job description is key, as it will ensure that your quotes are as accurate as possible, which will in turn help you make a well-informed decision when it comes time to pull the trigger and hire the right tradesperson to suit your project.

Ensure that all agreements are in writing

One surefire sign of a truly professional tradesperson is that they will provide you with a quote that's in writing to avoid the risk of any misunderstandings. In fact, you can tell a lot about a tradie from the quality and presentation of their quotes and any drafted contract agreements.

For instance, thorough and well-written quotes should ideally leave no space for ambiguity, as a professional would recognise that this vagueness could potentially leave them vulnerable to litigation if a job weren't to go as planned.

Securing your quotes and contractual agreements in writing can be just as important (if not moreso) for you as the client as well as the tradie that you've hired.

If the work is not up to the standard that was reflected in your contract, then you do have grounds to take legal action and seek financial compensation for any unauthorised or uncommunicated variations to or deviations from your original contract.

Use only secure payment methods

Once your job has been completed and is to your satisfaction, it's finally time to remunerate your trades professional. This will likely involve you being provided with a formal bill or invoice outlining the cost breakdown of their services.

You should also expect your tradie's invoices to be just as detailed as their quotes. This means including the following:

  • Trades business details and contact information
  • Your customer name and information
  • Invoice date of issue and payment due date
  • Total cost breakdown
  • Preferred payment method

The preferred payment method should also ideally be a secure form of payment, such as BPAY or account numbers for a direct bank transfer. You should not be expected to make any payments through a website or provided web link, as these could raise certain security risks and could be indicative of a scam.

If your tradesperson fails to provide a formal bill or invoice, then you should expressly request one, as this receipt record will also help protect you in the event of poor quality or even unfinished work.

Whilst there is always a certain level of risk involved when outsourcing any home repairs or renovation work to independent contractors, finding the right tradespeople can help you save hundreds if not thousands of dollars, making all of this preliminary work well worth your while.

By following the tips we've outlined above, you can boost your chances of having a glowingly good experience the next time you have to hire a tradie for your home.