Finding and Hiring Trades

by | Jun 12, 2020

Hiring the Right Trades

If the thought of finding and hiring trades has stopped your reno before it even started, you’re not alone.  Finding and hiring trades is daunting when you’re doing it first time around. Truth be told, it’s always a leap of faith no matter how many times you’ve done it.  But there are definitely ways you can make it easier for yourself.

Where to Find Them

The best way to find trades is by word of mouth.  Have any of your friends recently done renovations?  Did they like their trades?  Did they do a good job? Do you know anyone in the building industry that might know of some trades?  If none of your friends are fellow renovators or in the business, ask local suppliers.  Need a painter?  Ask your local paint shop.  Need a carpenter or a handyman?  Ask your local Bunnings store.  You get the idea.  Talking to people is key so limber up those lips and get started.

What Licenses Should They Have?

But before you call them, do yourself a favour and educate yourself on what licenses your trade should have.  This way, when you ask them about licensing, you know what the right answer is.  To do this, go to

Once you have a few names give them a call and have a chat. Be aware they may be on the tools when you call so it’s always good to ask if it’s a good time to talk or if you should call back at a better time. Once that’s established, here are some key questions to ask. I’ve put the answers I’d be looking for in bold.

What to Ask Them

1. Have you got the appropriate licenses? Yes, yes and yes. The only correct answer to this question is yes. In most cases, this will be a QBCC license (see above).  If they don’t have the licenses they need, don’t proceed.  It doesn’t matter how cheap they are or whose friend they are or who’s recommended them, don’t do it.  You have absolutely no recourse if things go wrong and your tradie isn’t licensed.

2. Do you have insurance? Same as above.

3. Would you be happy to give me some references from previous jobs? And again….yes.

4. What is your availability like? For bigger jobs a 10-14 day lead time would be expected. If it is a plumber or electrician coming in to do a disconnect, reconnect or test, I would hope they could get there within 2-3 days.

5. Do you have a crew working with you or are you on your own? We have great trades that work with a crew and great trades that work on their own.  The ones that work on their own can never blame “the new guy” but the ones with a crew can usually get a big job done faster.  Have a think about what your goal is.  If time is of the essence, then a bigger operator is going to work better for you.

6. What is your normal process for new customers.

  • Do you inspect and quote?  If it is a small job ie a plumber connecting a toilet, they should be able to give you a ballpark price over the phone.  If you’re looking at bigger works then yes, you want them to come and give you a quote.  (But before they can do that you need to make sure you know what you want them to do.) Can the quote change?  Yes, that’s a whole different topic for discussion but be aware that it’s difficult to see behind walls and if your trade comes across something they could not have foreseen, they can ask you for a variation. 
  • Do you provide customers with a contract or signed agreement? In QLD, if the value of works is over $3,300 you must have a contract with the contractor.  If the value of works is under $3,300 I would still recommend a contract but a signed agreement which includes a detailed scope of works would be next best.

Again, you need to feel comfortable with the trades you hire so if they don’t seem happy answering these basic questions then move onto the next name on the list.

Other Things to Look At

The other thing I always do when finding and hiring trades is look for a website or a Facebook page.  This isn’t the be all end all and I will say we have some amazing trades that don’t have websites or Facebook pages.  But if I’m cold calling a trade who hasn’t come from a recommendation (which I’ve definitely had to do), I will check to see if they at least have a website or Facebook page.  If they do, hopefully they’ll have some testimonials there.  It may also list services provided, awards they’ve won, accreditations, license numbers etc. Double check these things when you can as not everyone tells the truth on social media but I always think websites and Facebook pages add a level of professionalism and demonstrate processes and procedures are in place.

Do a License Search

Finally, logon to the QBCC website and do a license search (you can search by Name or License Number).  Once you’re in the record select “Licensee’s Full History” (annoyingly, this function doesn’t seem to work in Google Chrome…).  You’re looking to see if they’ve ever been issued a Direction to Rectify Defective Work.  This means the QBCC has had to come in and ask the trade to rectify works they deem defective, usually after a long drawn out argument with clients.  If anything comes up, ask the trade.  There may be a very good explanation so it’s always good to give them the benefit of the doubt.  If they’re unwilling to go there then you may want to give them a miss

Detailed Scope of Works

Just like you need a blueprint, you also need a detailed scope of works. Here are our top 3 reasons you shouldn’t start works without one.

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