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How to: Pick the best tradie for your project

Posted by Jasmin Chia on Jun 30, 2016 2:31:47 PM

Tradespeople can often make or break the success of your renovation, so how can you be sure you've chosen the right ones? From presentation, past work, references and contracts, here are the things to look for in your next tradie. 

Screen_Shot_2016-06-30_at_2.23.51_PM.pngSource: 500px.com

When it's time to start your dream renovation, how do you pick a tradie who won't turn the project into a living nightmare?

To some extent, you can judge a tradie by his or her ute, says Warwick Matthews, owner of Melbourne-based construction company Warwick Constructions. 

"If someone is neat in their appearance and you see their ute and it's all neat, it means they really care about what they do," Matthews says. 


Passion should also be a prerequisite. 

"We like people who are passionate about what they do. They are going to care about the result."

One quick and simple test is to select an item that you are planning to include in your renovation, then look up the manufacturer's instructions and ask the tradie how they would go about installing it. Their response could provide revealing clues about their attitude. 


Checking references is crucial. Matthews suggests asking for references from two current projects. This way, they have less scope to cherry-pick projects that went particularly well. Choosing work that is under way also reveals their current work practices and attitudes. 

"Somebody who is a fantastic tradesman or tradeswoman could have had something happen outside their work life that affects the way they work. They could have gone from being really reliable to having problems."


When quizzing current clients about the tradie's work, ask whether they turned up on time, how they worked with other people and whether they performed to a stuiable standard or if compromises had to be made. 

For trades such as painting and tiling, view past examples of work if you can. For structural work, you'll need to rely on references. 

Matthews recommends sourcing two or three quotes. 

"If you're getting five or more quotes, you're taking a risk that someone has not priced the work correctly or has made a mistake or does an inferior job."


Sydney architect and builder Oliver Steele of Steele Associates says it pays to check whether a tradie holds the appropriate licence for the type of work to be completed. 

"There's definitely a correlation between a tradesperson who is well organised and informed in terms of their administration and management and a tradesperson who has high standrads and a good work ethic," Steele says. 

Ensure whoever you pick is familiar with relevant fair trading rules including at what dollar value a contract is required and the maximum value of deposits.


Having a fair, clear contract can help avoid problems down the track. For example, ensure the name on the contract matches the name on the licence, specify outcomes and standards to be achieved and append specific manufacturer's documents. 

"The courts are choked up with people that have unclear agreements," Steele says.


Finally, if you have managed to find a tradie worth their weight in gold, ask them for recommendations. An ace electrician could put you in touch with an A-grade carpenter or gun plumber. 

Says Matthews, "Good tradies tend to hand out with good tradies. They're proud of the job that they do." 


This article was found in The Age, May 2016 and is written by Elicia Murray. 


Jasmin Chia

By: Jasmin Chia

Marketing Coordinator

Topics: Design