By Craig Gibson
Tradies can be such an important part of designing our dream living space. But all too often it can feel like chasing shadows; the unanswered calls, no-shows and mysterious absences are frustratingly familiar to many of us. The no-show is perhaps the most exasperating, but worse could (and does) happen — especially once you have hired them. Absconding with your deposit or horrendous workmanship are two not uncommon scenarios, alongside a variety of other transgressions.
So do dream tradies really exist or are we asking too much? Is it realistic to expect them to call you back ASAP, get your job done on time and clean up after themselves? The good news (and answer) is yes! Like any industry, there are rotten and rosy apples, you just need some pointers to help you have the best experience when creating your perfect home.
So how do you go about finding that dream tradie, and avoid your reno dreams turning into a nightmare?
- Communication — your first point of contact with a tradie is a good indication of how professional they are. A dream tradie is punctual, courteous and ready to answer all your questions. If they are responsive — answer your calls or emails promptly and keep appointments (these are positive, heartwarming signs) — they obviously value you as a client.
- Reviews — online reviews and recommendations can make finding that dream tradie easier. Word (good and bad) travels fast online, and you can read consumer reviews and recommendations of individual businesses on tradie-finder sites.
- Price — don’t be seduced by the cheapest quote, the best tradies often charge more for a reason. They will tend to use quality materials and spend more time getting your job done right. Shonky tradies will often use low prices as bait to help close the deal with you.
- Licences — many jobs must be carried out by a licensed tradesperson, including all projects that require a sparkie, plumber or gas fitter, as well as larger building projects. Is it really worth risking someone unqualified making a mess of your dream kitchen? Checking a tradie’s licence is easily done; literally a few clicks away on sites such as Licensedtrades.com.au.
- Paperwork — besides licences, any reputable tradie will be forthcoming when it comes to producing documentation such as a detailed quote. If your job is a significant building project, then a contract is essential to protect you (and them). Builders are also required to have a range of insurances, including public liability and warranty insurance.
- Knowledge is power — educating yourself about your job gives you leverage in any dealings with a tradesperson. Take the time to find out the approximate market rate for labour and materials, so you can examine a quote with an informed eye. Dream tradies won’t try to hoodwink you, but it helps to be informed.
When you do find a dream tradie, you will want to adopt them, or at the very least share your good fortune with all your friends and family. Do feel free to spread the word — they will get more work out of it and very soon dream tradies will rule the universe!
–Craig Gibson is online editor of hipages.com.au, Australia’s most visited site in the building, renovation and home improvement sector, where you can post your job and three businesses are sourced to quote on the work.