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Insider Tips

How can we be of service? Let us count the ways. We actually mean service – unlike those who have promised it before and didn’t show up when it counted most. Consider these insider tips your key to consumer affairs.
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How you can choose great tradespeople

When it comes to home improvements and maintenance, a great tradesperson is like a magician with their hands. Carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and technicians… give them a task to do and, hey presto, it appears. So, how do you decide who to hire and what factors should you consider? We have a few of our handy tips on navigating the course to engage the right tradespeople. Australia is facing a shortage of skilled trade workers as there has been a shift to getting kids into university and TAFE rather than learning a trade. As a result, finding a good carpenter, bricklayer, electrician, or plumber is trickier than it used to be.

Deciding on tradespeople

Choosing the right person for the job, at the right price can be tricky. Prices charged by tradespeople can vary significantly depending on the job, the skill of the tradesperson, and even the suburb. First up, you should always do a licence check to verify the tradesperson’s licence number and that the licence is current before engaging a tradie. It is crucial to know if the job you need to be done requires a specific type of licence before hiring a tradesperson. State-by-state standards for industry licenses do differ. In certain states and territories, tradespeople are not required to obtain a licence if the job is under a certain value (for example, $1,000 including labor and materials). In Australia, these jobs require licensing irrespective of the value of the work:
  • Airconditioning and Refrigeration Mechanic
  • Electrician
  • Plumber

How to deal with tradespeople

Staying true to our promise of making your life easier, we have compiled the following tips to help ensure good value for money with any home maintenance or repairs.
  • Use the quote process to learn about the job. Ask for details about the process; a time estimate to complete the job and cost of parts as well as the validity period for the quote.
  • Don’t agree to a job until you’ve obtained quotes, in writing. Compare at least 3 quotes, even if the work is urgent.
  • Don’t be afraid to recontact tradespeople to ask further questions. If you’re obtaining a quote for a repair, ask about any potential issues that may arise during the repair. Ask what’s involved in terms of costs for hours and parts and if more than one callout may be required.
  • Research online to compare hourly rates and parts prices quoted.
  • Ask the tradesperson to outline their policy if there are any issues with the completed job.
  • Don’t pay the full price up front, and never pay for incomplete work.
  • Check the work fully before making the final payment.
Tradespeople working

Paying deposits

Before paying a deposit, it is important to know the rules in place for your area. Laws and regulation vary per state, and the amount you need to put down differs as well:
  • In Victoria, the laws say that deposits for building work are:
    • 10% for contracts less than $20,000.
    • 5% for contracts worth $20,000 or more.
  • In NSW, you need to have a contract when:
    • The contract price is over $5,000 (including GST). Jobs worth between $5,000 and $20,000 require a small job contract with basic information.
    • Residential building work worth more than $20,000 requires an extensive home building contract.
    • Under the NSW home building law, a tradie can only ask for up to 10% deposit.
  • In Queensland the rules for deposits are below:
    • For jobs worth $20,000 or more, the maximum deposit allowed is 5% of the total contract price (including labour, materials and GST).
    • For jobs between $3,300 and $19,999, the maximum deposit is 10%.
However, there are exceptions to these rules. For jobs where more than 50% of the value of the work is done in another area like the contractor's workshop, a tradie is allowed to ask for up to a 20% deposit. In Queensland, for jobs priced at $3,300 or less, the deposit is negotiable between you and the tradie according to the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC).

Resolving complaints with your hired tradesperson

These tips will help get you on the path to resolving a problem you encounter with a tradie:
  • Stay calm. Think about your next steps. Take photos, and compile proof and documentation you may need.
  • Communicate. Let the tradie know your concerns. Discuss the part of the contract you believe has not been met.
  • Put your concerns in writing to the tradie if your discussion hasn't fixed the problem.
  • Hand holding a miniature house

    When something goes wrong

    If you remain dissatisfied, use Handle My Complaint and we'll help you follow through with your complaint. We are here to help you handle it, just let us know the details of your complaint. Just say the magic words 'Help Me Handle It'.