Undertaking renovations on or around your home can be one of the most exciting times in your life! Often you have saved (or borrowed) a wad of cash, spent hours meticulously planning every detail, had sleepless nights anxiously thinking about little design elements and agonised over suppliers, products and tradespeople. All in the anticipation of a dream result and creating the perfect home and lifestyle.

When you make the decision to hand over a project to the professionals, there is sometimes a little bit of doubt or uncertainty of your choice in tradesperson and the job they will produce. So what should you do before undertaking such a project? Well read on for 6 tips to make sure you get the best result for you and your family!

1. Have a plan…

This may seem like an obvious piece of advice, but a professionally drawn plan will go a long way to ensuring you get the absolute best result possible from your project from quoting to completion.

A professional drafted design will allow the trades to accurately quote on the job ensuring there are no hidden costs to budgeted. You may already know what you want with regards to a design but need to get it on paper. Remember, most renovations that change structure will require certification which in turn requires drafted plans.

The other great benefit of engaging professionals such The Outside Perspective for your design and drafting requirements is just that, an outside perspective on your design. Design elements you may not of thought of or missed, a professional can advise on to really maximise your project.

2. Know their limits

In the construction industry which includes builders, plumbers, electricians, handymen and landscapers, there is a governing body that oversee’s and controls licensing for the tradespeople.

In Queensland, the QBCC is the regulatory body overseeing this work and a professional builder must hold a suitable licence for the work they are carrying out. Of course there are a number of qualifications that may be present, but it is scaled against the work they are carrying out.

A QBCC licence indicates that a contractor has met certain minimum requirements. For most domestic building work, where a QBCC-licensed contractor is used, QBCC’s Statutory Insurance Scheme provides protection against non-completion, defective work and subsidence.

Check the contractor’s applicable licenses and cross reference it with their governing body. They should be able to provide you with their QBCC licence number and you can conduct a search to see their history including any disciplinary orders and offences.

3. Get three quotes

It’s always best to get at least three competitive quotes no matter how big or small the project.  Three quotes allows you to identify times where a tradesperson may be taking advantage of the situation and it keeps them honest. Most reputable tradespeople understand that you will be speaking with other professionals and quote their prices accordingly. Remember, the cheapest may not always be the best! Pay attention to the materials specified, any exclusions and ask for your quotes in writing, so you can refer to them later.

In cases where all quotes a very similar, you can make an informed decision based on other factors like references, building style or even gut feeling and first impressions.

4. Ask for references

Don’t be shy, ask your preferred tradesperson for some references. Before you make a final decision or pay any money, ask your preferred contractor for details of past work and previous clients in your area.

Contact those people and ask about things like customer service, organisation, communication, documentation, workmanship and value for money. There’s nothing better than word of mouth references and who knows, you may even be able to visit the project and see it for yourself. Most people are very receptive to contact around this topic. After all, it’s human nature to brag and show off something you’re proud of!

5. Keep it contractual

The quality of a tradespersons work can often be reflected in the professionalism of their business conduct. Insist on a contract be used for all projects of work costing more than $3,300. A contract is something all reputable and professional tradespeople will produce.

There are a number of contract templates available to the trades including Master Builders, and QBCC which have been specifically drawn up to suit the building industry. There are a number of variations depending on what level of work is being undertaken, but make sure you ask your builder for the homeowner information booklet that should accompany all contracts.

Other things to remember are:

  • Ensure the contractor provides you with copies of all supporting documentation (where required this should include plans and specifications, soil tests and contour surveys).
  • Monitor the work and advise the contractor, verbally and in writing, of any problems as they come up.
  • Be careful when making payments. Never pay the full price up front. Don’t pay too much deposit and never prepay or over- pay the agreed progress payments set out in the contract.
  • For projects with works over $20,000, 5% of the total contract price should be the deposit value and 10% for work costing more than $3,300 but less than $20,000.

6. Talk, talk, talk…

Throughout the construction process, make sure you are available and on-site regularly to chat with your tradesperson about their scheduled work. The relationship between a client and a tradesperson can often become tense, and communication is the key to keeping it healthy. Talk through the expected project tasks daily with your tradesperson to ensure you keep a realistic expectation of progress.

Plus, if you’re on-site daily, stepping though the works, issues, mistakes or design changes will be flagged early ensuring the job keeps on track without too much fuss or financial penalty. Remember, changes from the contractually agreed work may incur variance costs.