There are many ways of selecting a tradesperson from sticking a pin in the Yellow Pages to undertaking the most detailed investigation of possible tenderers. However, whatever method is chosen, you should consider the following points:
- Does the tradesperson hold the relevant qualification for the job?
- Do they have a resume of past work and a detailed list of past work for you to see?
- Were they recommended to you by a previous customer?
- Will they provide the names of previous customers for you to contact to discuss working arrangements and satisfaction?
- Will they provide a firm quote?
Most tradespeople are proud of their trade certificate as a great deal of work and study went into getting it. They should not be reluctant to show a copy to you.
Most sub‑contractors have a Gold Licence (in NSW) or similar licence in other States. If they don't, by law they cannot be employed directly by the homeowner, i.e. they can only work for a builder or another sub-contractor who has a Gold Licence.
Check that the subcontractor has a valid Gold Licence before entering into any meaningful discussions about your job. If in doubt, check the licence number with the licensing authority. It is not uncommon for unscrupulous tradespeople to quote another tradesperson's licence number.
Choosing an unqualified or unlicensed tradesperson may seem to be an easy way to save money on your building costs, but you are much more likely to have problems with the work and you will have voided any legal or insurance assistance in the dispute.
Resume of Work
Many tradespeople carry a resume of their work and are happy to show you examples of their work when bidding for your job. Ideally the photographs should clearly show the tradesperson at work, not just standing in front of the finished jobs. However you should check and confirm for yourself that the work shown was actually done by the tradesperson.
Where possible view the completed projects yourself. The right lighting or camera angle can make a poor job look much better in the photograph.
Was the tradesperson recommended to you by a friend or neighbour who has recently had some work done? This is a very good way to find a reliable sub‑contractor. During the conversation the friend or neighbour can tell you why they were happy with the progress and the finished job.
However, don't rely on personal recommendation alone, but carry out the other checks listed here. Your friend may have had the work done by an unqualified tradesperson who was lucky to get the job right. Or the tradesperson may be good for small handyman jobs, but not for your project such as a house extension.
Past customers are a gold mine of information, often bringing up points relating to work and material that perhaps you had not thought of.
Remember, when you visit a past customer you are looking for two things:
- Comments on the quality or finish of the work, as well as:
- Comments or opinions, favourable or otherwise, about the tradesperson who is tendering for your work.