In need of a good tradie for a home reno or DIY disaster? Here are the key traits to look for.
Ask anyone who’s been through a renovation, DIY disaster or plumbing emergency and no doubt they’ll also have a nightmare story of a tradie who’d been unreliable, overcharged or unprofessional. Unfortunately there will always be a handful of bad tradies that give the rest of the industry a bad name, but how do you know if you’ve snagged a fair dinkum’ tradesman?
As an accredited electrician and with more than 15 years’ experience working with global supplier of power tools, Hilti Australia, I have dealt with countless tradesmen and from this have put together some key traits of a good tradie.
1. They’re on-time – Tradesmen make appointments during the day, which means for most people, having a tradie, requires getting time off work to meet them. There’s nothing more frustrating than a tradesmen who runs late and never answers their phone; this is a sign that their lack of professionalism may spill over into the quality of their workmanship.
2. They look the part - I have two tradies in my street, one with a neat and tidy van, good quality tools and equipment and the other with a dirty ute, equipment thrown in the back and tools that look older than my grandmother – I know who’d I’d be more inclined to trust. Brand and image are incredibly important and a tradesmen who takes pride in his appearance, is more likely to take pride in his work.
3. They have good quality tools – The tools your tradie uses says a lot about who they are. Take a peek in their bag or truck and it should look more like the something out of builder’s magazine, than a kid’s first tool kit. The industry standard is tools that are 240-volts and premium suppliers, like Hilti have added safety features that benefit both the tradie and the consumer, you can drill holes in the customer’s premises, completely dust free for example (no messy cleanup). With quality equipment, like laser technology for measuring and levelling, a tradie can halve the time it takes to complete a job and make a big difference to your final bill.
4. They’re happy for you to see their past work – If you’re hiring a tradie to do a renovation or large-scale repair, don’t be afraid to ask for some photos or an address of a previous client. Most tradesman will be chuffed to show-off some of their handiwork and will be more than happy to bring out the iPhone with photos or share the location of their latest landscaping or roofing job. If they get nervous or avoid providing a straight answer, it could be a sign that the standard of their work is not up to scratch.
5. They’re insured – Hiring a tradie who doesn’t have insurance may be cheaper, but it’s like playing with a very expensive fire, you’re going to get burnt eventually – and that cash you’ve saved initially is going to go up in smoke. Before your tradesmen start working, check their liability insurance details and make sure the paperwork is all above board by cross-checking the business name and contact details, that way, if an accident does happen, you’ll know that you’re protected.
6. They do a thorough quote – A good quality tradesman will always offer a written quote before they start the job, but there are a few other tell-tale signs you can look out for. For any large or complex job, the tradie should always physically visit your home before providing a quote, otherwise the likelihood of unexpected costs is huge (for example, sloping ground that needs to be levelled before putting up a veranda, or asbestos filled walls)! Don’t hesitate to ask for an itemised quote if you are unsure of the figure you’ve been given, as most tradesmen are happy to offer this. Finally, always ask for an estimated time frame for completion. There’s nothing worse than hiring a builder to put together a deck for your partner’s birthday and assume the tradesman will complete it in time. Having everything in writing from the outset avoids disappointment and miscommunication.
By Hilti Head of Sales NSW & ACT, Ian Shaw. For more info, go to www.hilti.com.au