Tips for finding a good tradie

If something needs fixing or updating in your home, it makes sense to call in a professional. But how do you know if the tradesperson you contact is the right person for the job, and how can you avoid engaging with unreliable or unscrupulous businesses? Here’s a checklist to help you navigate the process.

Is the tradie qualified?

Each state and territory in Australia has regulations for the licensing of trades. Electricians, plumbers, builders, carpenters (depending on the value of the job), and gas fitters are typically only allowed to operate with a specialist license or certificate.

Before you engage with a tradesperson, it’s wise to check their qualifications - both to confirm they have the skills to complete the work and to ensure you have access to consumer protections if something goes wrong. You should be able to locate their license number on their website, business card, or signage (if you can’t, this is already a red flag).

Once you have the number, you can key it into an online registry specific to your state or territory to confirm that they are a legitimate business with the correct license. Larger building jobs will require specific insurance – you can enquire about their insurance coverage when they quote the job (more on that below).

Does the tradie have good references and reviews?

First-hand recommendations are the number-one way to find a reputable tradie, so ask friends, family and neighbours about people they’ve used for work in their own homes. You can check online reviews by Googling the business name, but be wary that online reviews aren’t always accurate.

Tradies themselves can often recommend other tradies: for example, if there’s an electrician you’ve used multiple times before, ask if they know a good plumber – chances are they’ve worked with one or can point you in the right direction. You can also try asking for recommendations on your local community Facebook group. Particularly for smaller jobs, it makes sense to choose a local tradie who doesn’t need to travel long distances and who values their local reputation.

Has the tradie quoted the job?

It’s best practice to get at least three quotes for any work needed in your home. As well as comparing the price (which you may find varies widely), you also want to evaluate how reliable, knowledgeable, and personable the tradesperson seems based on their quotation visit. If they decline the opportunity to quote in person or request a large deposit upfront, this is a big red flag. If they fail to show up to quote at the agreed time with no communication, this is another indication that you might want to avoid doing business with them.

Once you receive the quote, check what’s included and if anything seems to be missing (such as parts or waste removal) so you’re not surprised by the final bill. Also, check that the quote has an ABN and business address listed. If the job is for building works (such as a kitchen fit-out), request a written contract stipulating all the included services, terms and conditions. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask questions – a reputable tradie will be happy to address any concerns you have.

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Australian Pensioners Insurance Agency Pty Ltd (Apia) ABN 14 099 650 996 AR 239591 is an authorised representative of AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 AFSL 230859 (AAI), the issuer of Home, Landlord, Car, Caravan, Motorhome, Boat, Travel & Compulsory Third Party Personal Injury (CTP) Insurance.

The information is intended to be of general nature only. Subject to any rights you may have under any law, we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, incurred as a result of reliance upon the information. Please make your own enquiries.