Hands down I owe a huge part of my renovation and house flipping success to a fantastic team of trades. The team has everything from builders, plumber and electricians to surveyors, town planners, property developers, estate agents, stone masons and great suppliers.
There are loads of mainstream ways to find trades — the net, new apps, advertising etc — and there is naturally an important due diligence process that you must always follow that involves checking licences and insurance before you engage anyone. But today I am going to share with you my more common sense secrets to finding and keeping good trades; the human element, you could say. Unfortunately, people sometimes overlook these points when looking for and working with trades.
Ask other trades. If you are already working with a good team and want to add to it, ask the trades you are working with for their recommendations. Like attracts like, so if you like the trades you have, more than likely you will like the trades they enjoy working with too.
Meet with the tradies before you get them on site, offer to meet them on one of their job sites. This will allow you to get a feel for them and also get an idea of how they work. For me it is very simple: if they look me in the eye, shake my hand firmly and can hold a respectful conversation with me about the work they do, then we are off to a good start.
I generally ask them about what jobs they have on at the moment, who is in their team, what their lead times are and specifics about the task that I am keen to have them work on. I also find out who they know in the industry, as cross checking them with other trades is a great way to get honest feedback.
Then… give them a shot. Using a trade once does not mean they are yours forever. On the first job, make sure you communicate extremely well, in multiple mediums. Call them to tell them what you want done, meet them on site to show them and have the instructions and diagrams of what you want done written and stuck on the walls of the job. Then leave them to it. Don’t micromanage them or watch them work! That shows no trust.
This is all about respect, respect for their skill, their trade and most importantly them as people. How you do this really comes down to simple things that apply everywhere in life.
- When I go on site I great every trade with a handshake and a big hello.
- If I see someone on site I don’t know, I always introduce myself.
- If I arrive to site with a coffee, I will always bring drinks for the tradespeople too.
- Every day I tell them how happy I am with the job (as long as I am).
- If I am not happy about something, I seek to understand before I seek to be understood.
- I pay very quickly! Inspect the job as soon as it is complete and then you will be ready to pay as soon as that invoice comes in. I never leave a trade to wait for pay.
- I get dirty! When required, I join my trades to demo and to clean up.
- I show and interest in what they do and ask why. Most trades are so keen to share their knowledge they are just waiting for someone to ask.
- I involve the trades in the project. Feeling part of a team can make all the difference.
- I plan well. Trades are constantly being asked to do things at the drop of a hat. Be the standout client and book them in as much in advance as you can.
Enjoy your trades! It is so great to be part of a great team of tradespeople and it can be such a joy to be on site with a great team!
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What advice would you add to the above?