Searching for a tradesman? A recommendation is often your best guarantee.

(Our Manly Article – February 2010)

Finding the right tradesperson can often be a daunting process. Other than a recommendation from someone you know and trust, it is almost impossible to truly know or guarantee the professionalism, service and quality of workmanship you will receive just by looking at a website, an advertisement or from a brief phone call. But where do you start if you don’t have a recommendation from your family, a friend or colleague? How do you know the tradesperson you found in the local phone book or on a flyer in your letterbox are reliable, professional and will deliver what they promise?

The simple and unfortunate fact is that you don’t. That’s why it is essential you take the time to research your potential tradesperson and check their credentials are current and correct e.g. licences, insurances, experience, reputation, time in business, and if you can, their workmanship. Here are the key credentials you should check before employing a tradesperson.

Licences

By law, all tradespeople should have a current trade licence and/or company licence. Just because they say they are licenced, doesn’t guarantee that they actually are. To be sure, conduct a licence check at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au. This website provides details about the licensee such as the work they can conduct, if the licence/certificate is current or expired and if the licence holder has had any warnings, judgements or insurance claims issued against them.

Sometimes the business owner is not always the licence holder i.e. some companies may have a nominated qualified supervisor. This is entirely OK, but again, conduct a licence check to ensure they are actually the supervisor for that company.

Insurances

All tradespeople should hold a current Public Liability policy and depending on their business structure or services, they may also require a Workers Compensation, Professional Indemnity or Home Warranty Insurance policy. Home Warranty Insurance is required if the contract price is over $12,000.00 or the reasonable market cost of the labour and materials is over $12,000.00. Further information can be found at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au. Your tradesperson can provide you with a ‘Certificate of Currency’ to confirm their insurances are up to date.

Contracts/Terms and Conditions

The NSW Department of Fair Trading requires all works conducted over $1000.00 to have a written and signed contract between the tradesperson and the client. Clients should also receive Terms & Conditions from the tradesperson so both parties clearly understand their rights and obligations e.g. the cost of works, works being conducted, payment methods, timing schedules, dispute resolution, warranties etc. For further information go to www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au.

Occupational Health & Safety

All tradespeople should conduct works as required by NSW Work Cover and Australian Standards. Thorough Risk Assessments of the site should be conducted by the tradesperson prior to any works commencing to ensure a safe working environment. Further information can be found at www.workcover.nsw.gov.au.

Experience & Qualifications

Although a tradesperson might advertise a number of services, they may be more experienced or specialise in one particular area. It is a good idea to look for a company that specialises in what you need done. It may be more cost efficient to use a specialist as opposed to someone who does the work you require occasionally i.e. they may lack experience or not have the equipment required for an efficient cost effective job. Also, you should check that the tradesperson is qualified to conduct the works you require.

Ownership & Length in business

A business that has been established for a number of years and operated by the same licensee is often an indication of the experience you will receive and in a way, an assurance for peace of mind. You can generally check details online at www.asic.gov.au. Simply enter the organisations name or ABN/ACN and click on ‘search’.

Visit their work/speak to their clients

Ask a potential tradesperson if it is possible for you to visit one of their worksites to view their work. They may also have clients that are happy to give you a verbal testimonial and discuss their experience. Being able to see their workmanship or speak to a client first hand can be extremely valuable in your decision making process.

Local suppliers

Another option is to visit local trade suppliers such as Reece (for plumbing) or RSH (for electrical) and ask them for a recommendation. They deal with various businesses everyday and know who are professional, trustworthy and reliable. They’ll also be able to give you an indication of those businesses that have happy staff who speak highly of their employer.

Industry Awards

Industry awards are often a good indication of a tradesperson’s or company’s reputation within the community. Often the nomination process is based on votes by the tradespersons clients. Unless a client really thinks highly of a business, they generally won’t waste their time voting. Businesses that have won an award have usually gone through a rigorous questionnaire and ‘mystery shopper’ process before being judged by a panel of business and industry experts.

Corporate appearance

There are many quality and professional tradespeople that do not have signaged vehicles or uniforms, however, from both a business and personal point of view we believe it is extremely important. It demonstrates that a tradesperson takes pride in their appearance, their business and their reputation.

Other general considerations

Often your gut instinct is your best indication. Ask yourself, what was your very first impression when you spoke with them on the phone? Did they clearly outline their rates, payment terms and how they could assist you?

Don’t be drawn in by free gimmicks. Most companies might be legitimate, but from a business point of view, they have to cover the cost of the discount or ‘gift’ somehow, so their prices may be higher than others.

People generally won’t recommend a business or tradesperson unless they are confident in the product, service or workmanship that will be provided. After all, their recommendation is a reflection upon them.

When we have the opportunity to recommend a tradesperson, we only recommend those we have personally used ourselves at our own home or had the pleasure of working with professionally.

Personally, we always use tradespeople that have been recommended to us by friends, family or industry colleagues. We believe word of mouth is the closest you will come to a real guarantee – after all, you wouldn’t recommend a business, service or product that you weren’t entirely happy with would you? From a professional point of view, we have built our company (Wolfie’s Plumbing & Electrical Services) from the ground up based primarily on client recommendations and repeat business. Good old fashioned service and going that extra step to exceed our clients’ expectations are what have established us as a leader within our industry. We believe a recommendation of our services is the greatest compliment we can receive!

General Advice Disclaimer: Every home is different and this general advice may not be suitable to your specific circumstances. Please consider whether this general advice is suitable for you. In the case of any reasonable doubt we recommend that you seek our expert advice about your specific circumstances before acting on the general advice set out above.