We’d all like to live in a world where ALL tradesmen (and tradeswomen) were super-professional and keen to earn our dollar. But sadly this is often not the case.
Some tradies (just like any other occupation) are just duds. They hate their job and should have left years ago. You definitely don’t want them.
Some are good at the craft/skill/trade, but are hopeless at calendars, deadlines, time management, and communication. You probably don’t want them either.
And some are intelligent, skilled, organised, polite, professional people. Those are the ones you want, right? But heres the rub. The good ones are rare and in high demand.
So it should come as no surprise that to catch a good tradie you may have to dig a bit more, pay a bit more and wait a bit longer. But I can almost guarantee you wont end up sobbing on A Current Affair.
(Here, I’m mostly talking about home improvement guys - builders, painters, landscapers, bathroom and kitchen renovators and the like) rather than emergency guys - plumbers, electricians etc.)
- Do get references, from Google, Websites, Friends, or Facebook community groups. Try to only call a tradie when you have at least one reference.
- Do check out the tradie’s website. Look through it and get an idea of what they do and who their customers are.
- Don’t look for generalists. You need a specialist. Wrong - “I need a painter.” Right – “I need a painter who specialises in strata work and has done buildings similar to my unit block.”
The initial phone call
- Do leave a phone message. A drag I know, but good tradies have their hands full but will call you back. The ones that don’t call back are either far too busy or are disorganised. Either way, you’ve avoided exactly who you want to avoid!
- Do try to be clear about what you want. Leaving a message that says “Can you call me about some painting” will never get the response of “We need walls, ceilings, and trim painted for 4 bedrooms, a hall, and a bathroom.”
- Don’t say your job is small or won’t take long. All that tells us is you don’t plan to spend much money - whether the job is indeed small or is actually more complicated than it looks.
- Do ask if what you need is what the tradie can help you with, and when he would be free to start.
- Do get your story straight with your husband/wife/partner. Being the bystander in a domestic dispute is awkward and tells me this job could collapse at any time.
- Do take your time showing the tradie what needs to be done. Then leave him alone to measure up and get a good understanding of your home.
- Do follow your gut – ladies I’m talking to you. How does he look? Is he on time? Does he listen? Does he have ideas? If you have ANY uncomfortable feelings cross that tradie off your list.
- Do ask when you can expect the quote, how long the job will take and when is the tradie is free to start.
- Do get 2 quotes but make sure they are for exactly the same work and materials.
- Do read every part of the quote when it arrives. You need to be very clear about what you are getting. Some quotes have tiny extras sections that could add thousand to the final price. Some seem nice and cheap but have left out essential preparation or other tasks.
- Don’t just think about the price. Within reason, choose the tradie that you think will give you the best job and the best experience while he’s doing it. Is he keen? Is he polite? Will his process be disruptive?
- Do contact some past clients and see what they say. Seriously hardly anyone does this!
- Do respond to the quote. Yes – call and agree a start time. No – email thanks but no thanks. Maybe – call or email asking how a saving could be made.
And that’s it!
If you follow these do’s and don’ts you have a very good chance of success -not guaranteed, but very good. Good Luck!
I've been drawing and painting since I was a kid. I've studied art and design and have worked in visual areas my whole life. Now I'm a house painter!