Making life easier when working with tradies

by reno on November 30, 2015

Renovating can be a very exciting time, but there will almost always be issues along the way.

One such issue is money between you and your tradies.

Budget Living Room Renovation

A common problem that I personally have run into is where the amount quoted does not match the final invoice.

What causes such problems?  Most of the time it comes down to poor communication between the parties, particularly at quote time.

Main issue

One of the major issues is where your understanding is different to the tradie’s understanding.

For example I had a paint & plaster business come out to quote on a range of works.  I specifically chose a business that did both plastering and painting as I wanted them to fix any little issues in the walls and ceilings before painting.

However when the tradies turned up to do the work, they had a totally different understanding of what the job was compared to what I thought the job was.

Personally I believe the issue here is that the tradie (who was also the business owner) who quoted the work did not take enough notice of what I actually wanted, or perhaps didn’t ask enough questions about the renovation work.

From my perspective, he is the expert, not me.  He should be asking in detail exactly what I want rather than just making assumptions.

Perhaps the issue is particularly prevalent with tradies who mostly deal with builders rather than the general public?  They may be used to builders explaining exactly what needs to be done, but when dealing with the general public they are not good enough at ‘discovering’ what the client actually wants.

Of course it’s the client’s job to tell the tradie what they want, but the tradie should still know the right discovery questions to ask to ensure the job is being quoted (and subsequently completed) as the client wanted.

And you know the crazy thing?  If the tradie did a better job of really understanding what I wanted, he would have been able to quote and charge higher, because I wanted a more comprehensive job done than what he simply assumed I wanted done…

Emails are good!

The second issue is where you tell the tradie exactly what you want done as part of your renovations, and for whatever reason he just doesn’t quote on it.

We also had this issue recently, but thankfully we confirmed via email before work started.

In this case we actually explained the additional work we wanted done, and the tradie seemed to understand it completely.

When the quote came through via email, it didn’t specifically mention this additional work.  I emailed back, and received a reply confirming that the extra work was included.

We accepted the quote, but when the tradie (not the same one who quoted us) turned up, he had no idea about the additional work and said it was not included in the quote.

Thank goodness we had the email, and it was agreed that the work should be completed as we had requested.

If we didn’t have that email, I bet we wouldn’t have had the same outcome!

So the big lesson here is that if you need to clarify anything in the quote, make sure it’s done in writing and not just a phone call with the tradesman.

The flip side

Of course tradies have a thousand stories from the other side, where the client has been at fault.

I have no doubt that plenty of clients do a poor job of explaining what they want, and end up with issues.

But if you explain everything as best you can, and the tradie doesn’t ask the right questions to clarify the job, then they have to take some responsibility.

My tips

  • Ask the tradie plenty of questions about what work they are going to undertake
  • Ask them exactly what they will be doing (and what they won’t be doing!)
  • Ask that the written quote is very clear on what is included
  • When seeking clarification on the quote, use email where possible

Getting the scope right for the work you want done is really the responsibility of both you and your builder/tradie, but in my opinion the more you can do yourself upfront, the more you’re going to save yourself down the track.

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