How to find a quality tradesman for the best price
Finding quality tradesmen for your project can be extremely daunting. There are a variety of reasons why people worry about contacting tradesmen to have them provide a quote for their job.
Reasons vary from person to person. Shy, introverted people may find it hard just to pick up the phone and ask questions to someone they have never met & don’t know.
Some people, men in particular. Find approaching tradesmen daunting because they feel stupid, slightly insecure and embarrassed about being judged for not knowing the practical things that society sometimes tells us we should know?
Others are extra cautious and worrying about getting ripped off by cowboy tradesmen that have no qualifications or knowledge. Potentially ending up costing them thousands to fix.
Luckily, nowadays there are several ways to help avoid such disasters from ever occurring.
In this post, I’m going to show you how to find the best tradesmen in your area.
Finding those tradesmen for the right price and how to avoid unlicensed and under qualified tradesmen from ever stepping foot on your building site.
By the end of this post you will know the best ways too:
- Find qualified & professional tradesmen in your area.
- How to check they are reliable, qualified and trustworthy.
- How to approach & contact them for quotes.
- How to communicate effectively and get what you need.
Tradesmen – Where art thou?
Finding a good tradesman is very important. If you are relying on them to carry out the majority of the works you need to know that they are skilled, reliable and have the necessary experience and exposure to what you are requesting them to do.
Nowadays it’s easier than its ever been to find and hire a good tradesman. There are a variety of ways in which you can find tradesmen willing to work on your project.
The Internet is the main source of information available to us today. It is widely used in both searching and advertising for construction work.
First of all, you can perform a simple google search to find which trade you are after. This is the most obvious and easiest way to find local tradesmen. Sometimes, however, this doesn’t necessarily mean you will find the best tradesmen.
A better way to search for different tradesmen is to use a dedicated website which is designed to help you find exactly what you are looking for. My personal favourite for Australian renovators is Hi pages.
Hi pages, which stands for home improvement pages. Provides you with immediate access to over thousands of tradesmen. All of whom are thoroughly vetted, interviewed including checks on reviews, ABN’s, solvency information and licenses. They also have a customer support team which can offer advice right away.
With that peace of mind, the website also makes it easy to contact the tradesmen for quotes. All you have to do is type in which trade you are searching for, answer a few questions about the job and Hi pages does the rest by sending out these requests and putting you in contact with the best matches.
Trustmark is a government endorsed scheme which provides businesses with an accreditation after they have been thoroughly vetted. This helps the customer (you) avoid the possibility of hiring cowboy tradesmen. Their vetting system is measured across three areas: Good trading practices, good customer service, and technical competency.
Contacting your tradesmen through these services provides you with peace of mind. Knowing a professional practice has done the correct checks for you already is great. It also shows you something about the type of tradesmen these services can attract. To me, it suggests they have a high commitment to quality and they too want to find the right customer to work for.
Besides the using the internet for your search. You can always ask at local suppliers and builders yards. If you are in need of a plumber, you can always pop into your local plumbing supplies store and ask whom they recommend. Most suppliers will have a good comprehensive list of recommended tradesmen.
You can always find tradesmen at local building developments near you. If you see a building site, politely contact the owner or builder and request to meet them. You can ask which kinds of trades they have working and who has done a good job. This is also a good way to see the quality of their workmanship at the same time.
Another great way of finding the best tradesmen is through old-fashioned “word of mouth”. This can happen in a variety of ways mainly through friends and family who have had work done in the past. But also, tradesmen can recommend other tradesmen which they have worked with in the past or working with now and know they provide a great service.
How to know a tradesman will be trustworthy?
There are certain characteristics you want to find when looking for a tradesman. Equally, there are some traits that should sound alarm bells with you. When finding the following characteristics you should proceed with caution. If there are a few of the below traits evident, its best to avoid them all together.
Characteristics to avoid in tradesmen
- Unqualified – If they do not hold any government recognised training & certification then this is a huge problem. For Australia, the main training provider is Tafe. Certificate III is the minimum qualification needed in most trades. In the U.K there are a few training providers which help the tradesman to gain nationally recognised qualifications such as City & Guilds, ACS & NVQ. Which level 3 or 4 depending on the trade is a minimum standard.
- Unlicensed – Depending on your state and/or country laws. A tradesman must carry and hold a current and up to date licence which describes the works he is advertising to carry out. For NSW you can search for a tradesman’s licence on their NSW government website. Trades such as plumbing and electrical need specific licences and cannot be completed by just anyone. If your plumber is required to work with gas he will need additional licences and qualifications to do so.
- No Insurance – Depending on your country or state. Insurances which are deemed compulsory can vary. At a minimum, I recommend the tradesman you’re employing to have public liability insurance. To understand public liability insurance click here. I’d recommend contacting your local authority and finding out exactly which insurances you will need for the works being carried out.
- Poor communication – Are they hard to contact? Or painfully slow at getting back to you? Whether it’s responding to calls or emails this can be a big indication of what it would be like to work with them. If you are struggling to get hold of them and they cancel to come and price your work. Odds are that they are either too busy to take on the work or just unorganised. Either way, the signs don’t look good.
- Bad reviews – Have you heard bad things about this tradesman or company? Do they have a bad reputation? A Google rating online if they are searchable can be a good indicator as to their reputation. Alternatively, a good way would be to ask for references and contact information of previous jobs they have worked on. If they struggle with finding good referees then this again can be a warning sign for you to recognise.
- Don’t speak the local language – If you’re struggling to understand what each other is saying, then don’t expect the job to be carried out how you wish. Sometimes the person you will meet to price your job will be the most fluent in English. However, if his workforce is not very fluent in speaking English this could be a problem when working alongside others on site.
Characteristics you want in tradesmen
- Qualified – They hold the government recognised training & certification. They have all of their specialised qualifications in their trades field. Such as gas licences if they are a plumber.
- Licensed – All relevant and up to date for the works they are advertising to carry out.
- Insured – Depending what your laws are as I mentioned above ensure the tradesman you are employing has his works covered and any potential accidents to workers, or the public if necessary.
- Experienced – They can demonstrate a solid portfolio of work which is similar to your job. I’d recommend a minimum of 5 years post qualification, whether they have previously been employed by another company or not. Do remember though, being older is not always better. There are some really good young and highly motivated workers out there!
- Reliable & trustworthy – They attend when they say they will attend. They come across well in conversation and you feel comfortable with what they are saying.
- Reputable & recommended – If you have requested or know of references that have all come back positive, that’s a great sign. If the Tradesman is well presented, whether they are in company uniform or drives around in a company vehicle, has good advertising, whether a website or social media and the company has been around for a long time. These are all good signs that will help your decision later.
- Fairly priced – They provide you with a formal written quotation. That is not too expensive or too cheap. Both can be alarming. If they are too expensive they could be trying to rip you off, or they may just not want the work. If they’re too cheap, they may have missed something.
- Great at communicating – Speaks good English, keeps you updated on what’s happening and asks good intelligent questions about the job. They are easy to contact and responsive when they need to be.
How to approach a Tradesman & get what you need
Once you have narrowed your search down to some potential a tradesmen that you would like to quote your work. YBYW recommends you seek a minimum of 3 different quotes per trade. 3 is a good range especially if the work involved is fairly detailed.
It also gives you a better chance of spotting mistakes in pricing. If one contractor is a lot lower than the other two. You know more often than not they have missed or excluded something the others haven’t.
Now is the time to contact them and ask to set up a meeting and visit your job to understand the scope of works.
Firstly, a call to introduce yourself and your project is the best way to start. Right from the off, you will be able to see if they are interested in looking and quoting the work. Start casual, give a brief overview of what job you have going and say where it’s located. Then ask if they are interested in coming to have a look.
You will need to arrange a time & day to meet on site. I recommend that before this happens. You exchange email addresses and send them over the drawings and schedules with the scope of works before they attend site.
This way they can review the documents beforehand and are also prepared to ask any questions which can’t be answered by the documents. They also will be able to bring printed copies with them to do any markups that they may need.
Before you send out tender requests you need to ensure you have a fairly comprehensive scope of works. Of which, you understand, what needs to happen and what you are asking to be included within the quote you’re requesting.
It’s important to give all three tenderers the same brief and instructions. That way they all will be able to quote the same works more effectively. This will inevitably make your job easier when it comes to comparing the quotes.
If your understanding of the works isn’t that comprehensive. Don’t worry. You will at least know the basics of what you need. The whole point of bringing the tradesmen to site to tender is so they can see what needs to happen and make sure your drawings and schedules reflect whats actually needed.
With the above-outlined characteristics for tradesmen to look for. You will have narrowed your search down to trustworthy, reliable tradesman that will help you to develop a scope.
What you must request, however, is when they submit the price, ensure they list everything that is included and excluded within their price. This will then give you a solid base for comparisons between quotes and you will soon understand the full extent of the works required on site.
It’s important that all decisions and requests are submitted in writing. Preferably email. This way everything is easily recorded and can be filed away. Just in case something is missed or innocently forgotten.
The easiest way to communicate is over the phone, the more you talk and build a relationship with the tradesmen, the easier and more enjoyable the process of building becomes. Your knowledge of your own job will inevitably get better as well.
The phone is very convenient if you cannot be present on site all the time. If there are issues or questions that need answering, even if it’s an update on progress. It’s worth the call and worth building the relationship.
Remember, when approaching these tradesmen for quotes don’t feel like you’re being judged or inadequate. It’s their job to know more and to know how to do their specific skill. It’s just that. A skill they perform to get paid. If you think your questions could cause you embarrassment, they have probably heard worse before.
You go to the doctors for advice on health? and you take your car to the mechanic so it can get fixed? so why not call a tradesman when you need one?
If you have had any experience with rogue tradesmen or have found it difficult to find the right ones, let me know and leave a comment.