How to hire a reliable tradesperson

Katie Hume

Finding a professional tradie to renovate your investment property can be a bit of a guessing game.

Blogger: Katie Hume, digital marketing specialist, Airtasker

The most budget-friendly quote is not always the best bet. If you've ever been subjected to shoddy workmanship or been overcharged for home repairs, you’ll know how difficult it can be to get it right. This checklist will help you steer clear of the shady operators and find the right person for the job.

Clear communication

When requesting quotes, be specific and set out a detailed brief. Think about exactly what it is that you need done. Are there any unusual conditions or challenges that a tradesperson may need to factor in when assessing the project?

It’s easy to point the finger at your tradie once a renovation project goes pear-shaped but, if you let them start the job with incomplete or inaccurate instructions, you are partly to blame. Clear communication is the first step towards getting your home repair job done properly.

Get a written quote

Once you've outlined the task at hand, the tradesperson should give you a detailed, written quote, including start and finish dates and agreed payment terms.

Don’t settle for a verbal agreement – even for small jobs. A written quote tells you much more about a tradesperson than their bottom line. It is a contract that removes any ambiguities or scope to change prices mid-project, and it lays the foundations for a smooth transaction.

Most quotes outline all inclusions (materials, tool hire, labour, etc). Make sure you are also informed of any out-of-pocket exclusions. When doing major work, set a penalty clause to protect you if the work is not completed by an agreed deadline. And tread with caution if a quote doesn't cite a licence number or ABN.

Licence check

Would you trust a taxi driver who didn't have a driver’s licence? Of course not – nor should you trust a tradesperson without the right licence.

Before you hire a tradie, do an online licence check to ensure that they have the appropriate licence for the job. The licensing authorities in most Australian states offer simple online verification forms. In NSW, for example, you can run a background check with the Department of Fair Trading. If you want to do all your licensed trades checks in one place, indexes 48 licensing authorities, and more than one million tradies around the country.

Seek referrals

A tradesperson might be a good salesperson, but the quality of their work and the satisfaction of their previous customers are the most reliable indicators of what you can expect from them.

Word-of-mouth referrals can help you avoid dodgy tradies and find the keepers. Ask around within your networks. If you can’t find the right person for the job within your immediate network, request references, speak to previous customers and, where possible, visit previous jobs.

If you’re using an established firm, make sure they have an office address and landline phone number. Be wary of firms that only give you a mobile number.

No upfront payment

When a tradesperson asks for an exorbitant upfront deposit, it’s usually a bad sign. Only pay for work that has been done and not by advance payments. Where costly materials need to be bought in advance, it's reasonable for the tradie to ask you to pay a percentage of these costs as the job progresses.

Most tradies will accept different forms of payment, and many will offer a discounted rate for cash in hand.

Katie Hume

Katie Hume

Katie is a blogger, digital marketing specialist and community manager for Airtasker, a community based marketplace. People post and receive offers for handyman services from Airtasker in Australia.

How to hire a reliable tradesperson
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