How to find and hire the perfect tradie

tradesman with assortment of tools in a tool belt

RACV staff

Posted November 13, 2023

How do you know if a tradie's work is up to scratch? Here's everything you need to know about how to find and hire the perfect tradie for your job at home.

Many people have felt the frustration of trying to find a tradie - how do you know if their work is good, that they’re trustworthy and, above all, that they’re not going to take advantage of you?

Add the increased cost and delays on materials, as well as finding a tradie to complete a home project or fix a building, plumbing or electrical issue is becoming a headache for many. 

RACV Senior Manager Trades Delivery Aaron Borg says that like everything else, finding a tradie is all about doing your research.  

“Word of mouth is invaluable,” he says. “And things like communication and presentation are also indicators of a good operator.”

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A reputable tradie will want you to feel comfortable before proceeding with the job,” adds Borg.    

Questions to ask when searching for a tradie

Does the tradie have a website? 

The first stage in finding a tradie is to check out their website, says Borg. 

“A professional website with photos of their sign-written van(s), tidy uniforms and positive online reviews are all good signs.” 

How hard is it to contact the tradie?

The next step, and one of the most important, is to get them on the phone.  

“Their phone number should be easily obtained through things like their website,” says Borg. 

“Another thing to be mindful of is their professionalism on the phone. If you’re able to strike up a relationship of sorts with them before you hire them, it’s a good indication of how the job will run,” he adds. 

Have you got the right tradie for the job?

Borg says understanding which trade is required for any job is also important.  

“Some jobs are obvious,” he says. “A ceiling fan requires an electrician, and a new mixer tap needs a plumber. But who does the retaining wall for the backyard? A landscape gardener, carpenter, handyman?”

“However, some tradies may say they do everything to win the work and then either just have a go themselves or subcontract parts of the work out, which can add to the cost. Therefore, having the right trade for the job is extremely important,” he adds. 

Is the tradie trustworthy?

While online reviews are a great indication, Borg says word-of-mouth is even better.  

“If you know someone that has had a good experience with a tradie, then why wouldn’t you use them,” he says. 

“The tradie will also appreciate the reference and ensure that your experience is consistent. “ 

Can you trust tradies' online reviews?

To a certain extent, yes, Borg says. “The more online reviews they have, the better the odds of them being accurately positive or negative.”  

But he says to always take online reviews with a degree of caution. “Often tradies will have their friends post reviews online,” he says.

“A trustworthy tradie won’t shy away from contact,” Borg adds. “If the tradie has an online presence with contact details and existing reviews, they won’t want to jeopardise that.”   


tradie fixing broken pipe under sink

It's important to do your research when selecting a tradie. 

Tradies' 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,” says Borg. “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,” says Borg.

“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.”

What qualifications do tradies need?

While some trades don’t necessarily need to be licensed, you do want your tradie to be qualified. 

Borg says qualifications are different for each trade so do your research online. “If in doubt, call the relevant governing body, like the Master Plumbers Association, to find out what qualifications are required.”

Getting a quote from a tradie

How many quotes should you get for a job? Is three still the gold standard?

When it comes to quoting, Borg says while although there is no magic number, three is a pretty good rule of thumb. 

“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,” says Borg. 

“Insist the tradie breaks the job down, as far as inclusions go, as much as possible. This way you can refer to the quote if any questions around the scope arise once the job is complete,” he adds.

What about allowing for cost variations?

Ideally variations should be avoided, and the smaller the job the easier they are to avoid. 

“Usually on domestic jobs, tradies will quote for a certain amount of work,” says Borg. “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.

tradie replacing the light globe in a down light

If jobs aren't within your capabilities, like changing light globes in high ceilings, it's time to call the professionals.

What else should you ask?

How much detail do you need to give your tradie?

The more detail, the better. And if you have photos, magazine cut-outs or Pinterest boards that can help clearly illustrate what you want, show them. 

“Not only will it improve the chances of the trade providing what you want,” says Borg, “it will strengthen your argument if you’re not happy with the final outcome.”

That said, a good tradie will understand you’re not an expert and ask questions where details are lacking.

Will the tradie guarantee the work?

Borg says it’s paramount to “always ask about guarantees before agreeing to hire a tradie”. 

Products that are installed will be warranted by the supplier or manufacturer, though all claims should initially be channelled through the tradie. 

There are also expectations set by the Australian Consumer Law that will hold a service provider accountable for certain situations. Visit for details. 

Does the tradie have insurance?

Insurance is one of the most important elements of finding a tradie, says Davies.

“Public liability is a non-negotiable as that will cover any property damage that may be caused by the tradie,” he says.

If in doubt, ask to see evidence of insurances.

Do you need to sign a contract with a tradie even if it’s only a small job?

It is always advisable to get everything in writing advises Borg. 

“The acceptance of a documented quote should be the minimum,” he says. “This protects the consumer against any dispute around what was included in the scope of works.” 

Should you offer to pay cash to a tradie?

Cash may attract a cheaper price, though this introduces additional risk. 

“There is then no paper trail of the transaction so, should something go wrong, there is no avenue for recourse,” says Borg. 

RACV Trades can help get your home in order.
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