Licenses and qualifications
Do tradies need to be registered/licensed?
Licence and registration requirements differ by trade and by state. “Some trades require licences and I would always recommend using a licensed tradie,” Andy advises. “Other trades are not licensed and therefore there’s no real governing body.”
If you’re planning any major home improvement work, always look for licensed builders, carpenters, plumbers and electricians. Depending on the value of the job, you may also be legally required to engage a registered builder. Check out the Victorian Building Authority website for more details.
What about membership bodies and industry associations?
Outside of relevant licences, one of the best places to start is with industry bodies – such as the Master Builders Association of Victoria, Master Plumbers Association, National Electrical and Communications Association and Housing Industry Association. This can give you a level of confidence that a trade will be reputable, but also some support should things go wrong.
“Membership to these bodies is voluntary and there are membership costs involved,” Aaron explains. “The general purpose of these bodies is to support and educate members to build a high-quality trade network. Trades who choose to associate with these bodies are generally motivated to provide a high-quality service and use their membership as a selling point.”
But associations do not provide certainty and Andy advises industry membership should be considered alongside other research.
What qualifications do they need?
While some trades don’t necessarily need to be licensed, you do want your tradie to be qualified. Andy says qualifications are different for each trade so do your research online. “If in doubt, call the relevant governing body, i.e. Master Plumbers Association, to find out what qualifications are required.”
Getting a quote
How many quotes should you get for a job? Is three still the gold standard?
When it comes to quoting, Andy says three is still – generally – the magic number. “For a small job, two quotes might be sufficient, but for larger jobs, where there’s more to lose, always get at least three.”
Even if you’ve had a tradie referred by friends or family, it doesn’t hurt to get a comparison.
What should be included in a quote?
The more detail in a quote, the more it can be trusted. “A single dollar value at the bottom of a page is nowhere near sufficient because it leaves room for a tradie to tell you post-job that some things weren’t included – such as waste removal,” Andy explains. “Insist the tradie breaks the job down, as far as inclusions go, as much as possible.”
This way you can refer back to the quote if any questions around the scope arise once the job is complete.
“Quotes should also be well formatted, clear and concise, and have a quote number,” Aaron adds.
How can you tell if a quote is fair?
“A reputable tradie will never try to hide costs,” Aaron says. “You’ll know if the pricing is fair and reasonable by comparing it to other quotes.”
What about allowing for cost variations?
Ideally variations should be avoided, and the smaller the job the easier they are to avoid. “Some trades may allow a certain percentage for sundries but, usually on domestic jobs, they will quote for a certain amount of work,” Andy advises. “If things change and more work is required, the quote will be revised to suit.”
This revised price should always be discussed and agreed to before proceeding with the works.