Whether you’re building your dream house from scratch, renovating or fixing the roof/plumbing/paintwork, it pays to have your tradies on side.
Because, let’s be honest, most of us don’t know what the heck electricians/chippies/plumbers actually do – we just know that after they leave, our toilet flushes again, the lights work and the roof isn’t falling in!
And that’s the way it should be.
Tradies are the pro’s, and we need to trust that they will do their job. But things don’t always go according to plan. Sometimes… people get ripped off, dodgy work is done, jobs are left incomplete or you pay a tradie for a job and discover they’ve sub-contracted it out to someone else. Or worse, the tradespeople are cowboys – that is, not registered tradespeople and uninsured.
“For the most part tradies are great blokes – some are just a bit rough around the edges,” laughs licensed builder Steve Burke, who has 40 years’ experience in the trade. “But, things do go wrong – I’ve heard a few horror stories in my time.”
This was the impetus for Steve to launch his award-winning company Amerex Renovations and Additions. “Homeowners were screaming out for a building company they could trust to do a good job and not rip them off,” says Steve. It was also the impetus for Steve’s new book, Nail Your Renovation without getting Screwed, co-authored with Suzanne Burke.
Here, Steve and Suzanne share some of their insider secrets to get the best out of your tradies…
1. Get a quote
Know what you want before you start. If you aren’t clear about what you want, how will the tradie know? Then get a written quote before the job starts so both parties are clear about what the job is, who is supplying the materials and what the tradesperson is responsible for. This will avoid any misunderstandings.
2. Have a chat
Similarly, it’s important to have a conversation with the tradespeople before they start – to ensure that when they arrive, they can do their job. Ask them if they need you to provide anything – materials, for example - to enable them to do the job. Or, they may require that another trade or job be complete before they can do their task.
3. Tidy up
Tradies hate turning up to jobs that are a mess - particularly if it’s a building site or there’s multiple trades coming and going. If it’s at your home, clear away bikes, toys, animals, dirty clothes on bathroom floors … and any other items in the workspace that could prevent the tradie from doing their job.
4. Be nice
Make a connection - manners cost nothing, and just because the tradies are hired help, doesn’t mean you can’t be polite. Ask them, ‘how has your day been? Would you like a glass of water or coffee?’ I have clients who make me a cup of tea or offer a cold glass of water on a hot day. That opportunity to pause and have a drink is greatly appreciated.
5. Give them a run down
Tell them where to park, what pets are around the house, where the toilet is... Tradies are human beings. They might appear a little rough around the edges, they most of them are very lovely!
6. Remember you’re a parent
If you have children on work sites, be vigilant and remember that they are your responsibility. It’s in children’s nature to want to look, play and explore, but if there’s power tools, glue, nails, sparks flying… it’s dangerous. Also, if you have small children, move their toys away from worksites.
7. Have a plan
If you have multiple tradespeople working, make sure you book the trades in the right order. If you book a concreter before the conveyancer, you’ll get the concreter offside quick smart – as they’ll have wasted hours travelling to your site, unable to work, and have to return at a later time.
8. Remember, tradies are human
Mistakes happen. Were all human. If you are calm when discussing mistakes with the tradie you will likely find a solution a lot easier. Yelling is not going to get a resolution. As my grandma once said, ‘You catch more flies with honey than vinegar’.
ABOUT: Steve Burke and Suzanne Burke are co-authors of Nail Your Renovation without getting Screwed $34.99 (Woodslane Press), and owners of award-winning renovation company Amerex Renovations and Additions.