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How we can help you find a reliable tradesman? - Property Unravelled

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How to find a reliable tradesman to help you when building or renovating your home is kind of like finding a good mechanic.

Home Building and Renovation Tips: How to find a reliable tradesman

Never do anything to make your reliable tradesman cross because he might not work for you again. And whatever you do, don’t give his name to many of your friends (especially the ones who pay really well) because he might be too busy working for them to work for you).

Just kidding – a good tradesman won’t stop working for you for small reasons, and they would love to be referred to your friends for more work.  There are many types of tradesman including handyman, electricians, plumbers, carpenters and more.  The types of jobs handyman are great for are small jobs under $5000 and include small home repairs, cleaning and more.  Again please check the Fair Trading website for all up to date information on licences and insurance and what a handyman can undertake.  Minor trade work means new, repair or replacement work.  Click here to find out if your works require a licence.  We have a list of awesome tradesman on our directory if you need help with small jobs around the home.

But they are rare as hen’s teeth, and should be treasured and treated with great respect.

Okay, when I find a reliable tradesman I will treat him wonderfully. But how do I find one to start with?


Step 1 – Word of Mouth

Word of mouth referrals are a method as old as the hills for finding the right professional for the job. Since the beginning of time humans have asked family, friends or neighbours for recommendations for everything from babysitters to dentists to wedding photographers to the guy who gets the possums out of the roof.

Because of the wonder that is social media, word of mouth has never been so sophisticated and so globally spread as it is now. You don’t have to hang over your back fence anymore to ask for recommendations, you can jump on Facebook.

But having the entire world of referral possibilities at your fingertips can make looking for the right reliable tradesmen more complicated than before, rather than easier.

Here’s a few reasons why

  • You can always ask people you know on social media, but what if you are new to a regional area and don’t know people yet to ask?
  • How do you get recommendations for local tradesmen and not those on the other side of the world?
  • Online reviews can (and often are) faked. How can you tell a real honest review from one the tradesman has just paid someone to write?

Property Unravelled has some resources to help with this, and narrowing down your online search to some honest, real and relevant reviews in our facebook groups.

Location based Facebook groups can be a fantastic way to get recommendations. Property Unravelled has established a range of location-based groups perfect for getting building and reno advice, and for seeking good quality local referrals.

Simply join the most relevant group to you (we have started on the Mid North Coast and Nationally  – but if you are from a different location and we don’t yet a group to suit you, just let us know – we might be able to get one started!) Use the groups to find reviews and to ask for recommendations.

Asking is easy, and everybody loves to answer, so don’t feel shy!

Location based groups like ours can be awesome sources of information. You could ask questions like:

  • For local trades recommendations such as builders, sparkies, plumbers and more
  • For specialists and creatives such as furniture makers and landscape gardeners
  • For local knowledge about dealing with the council, rates, hard rubbish collection etc.
  • For advice on native plants or strange bugs that have turned up in the yard, and how to deal with them

If you don’t have an appropriate Property Unravelled group close to home, you can join other Facebook groups based in your location or local council region; they are usually called a community noticeboard.


You need to ensure tradesman are appropriately licensed and insured.   They should hold Public Liability insurance and depending on the job (over $20,000)  there will need to have give an insurance certificate under the Home Building Compensation Scheme (formerly known as home warranty insurance).

If for example you are hiring a builder, kitchen or bathroom company then ask to check the licences of all the tradesman that will be subcontracting for them.  For eg. A cabinet maker is required in NSW to have a Joinery licence for any residential work supply and install over the value of $5000 to ensure home warranty is viable. If you use an unlicensed contractor your home warranty insurance is automatically void if you have a claim. However Stone Masons (as they are either contracted by the kitchen company or the kitchen company also offer stone to their customers or the public go direct to them MUST hold a stone masonry licence if the cost of there stone is also over $5000 Secondly regardless of above for warranty purposes the person who supplies and installs the stone MUST be a trade qualified Stone Mason for any company to warrant the installers work. Again please check the Fair Trading website for all up to date information on licences and insurance.

A licence is required for residential building work valued at more than $5,000 (incl GST) in labour and materials. ALL specialist work regardless of its cost. Specialist work includes electrical wiring, plumbing, drainage and gasfitting work and air conditioning and refrigeration work (except plug-in appliances).

Quoted from https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/help-centre/online-tools/home-building-licence-check

For large jobs over $20,000 here is a good website to check what your contract must include. Here is a note about the contractor’s obligation to give an insurance certificate under the Home Building Compensation Scheme (formerly known as home warranty insurance) if the contract value is over $20,000. Quoted on this website.

Hope this is helpful. Make sure you check these websites as they are updated regularly.

Step 3 – Get a few quotes

Get a few quotes so you can compare the differences.  You don’t necessarily also need to choose the cheapest quote as sometimes this can raise alarm bells.   The important thing when getting quotes is to ensure that you have a detailed brief including the materials  otherwise it would be like comparing apples to oranges.  It is also great to provide them your timeframe and payment expectations.  For eg. you will provide a deposit and then the rest on the jobs completion.

If you have any issues with putting together a brief just post in our facebook group for some suggestions.

Step 4 – Everything in writing

Once you have selected the quote just make sure everything is in writing.  No verbal arrangements or decisions made ad hoc on the job site.   Ensure you have a detailed contract or proposals that provides you with information of timeframes, materials used, price and other necessary information.   I would even choose your finishes and materials and then ask the tradesman to include that in the contract.  This means hopefully you are not going to get to many nasty surprises.  Ensure you are clear with all your wishes and this is documented.

Step 5 – Communication

Keeping up to date with what is happening with your project in so important.  Ensuring that you have open communication regularly will ensure that if any issues do pop up that you will be able to effectively resolve them more quickly.   For example if you are getting your bathroom renovated and you notice a error then this should be communicated back to the project manage as quickly as possible to allow them to rectify.  Asking for a weekly updates and checking in regularly is important.  Changing your mind during a project is very expensive so ensure . you have planned appropriately.

Step 6 –  Online reviews: how to spot a fake

There are unfortunately always some fake reviews online, and it pays to be able to spot one that the tradesman popped in there himself or paid someone to write.

Here are some red flags for reviews, that might be a sign of a fakie:

  • Reviews that are overly glowing may not be real (although they often can be). Real reviews tend to be more moderate and realistic in their praise.
  • Fake reviews can use jargon, proper names for tools and equipment, and may also be overly grammatically correct. Real reviews tend to read a bit more like someone is speaking, and will often have spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Check dates and times when reviews went up; real ones will be all over the place, whereas if several fake ones have been put up they may all be dated the same time.

The best thing to do is use online reviews and recommendations as a starting point. For any considerably-sized job you should get several quotes from different tradies anyway – use the online reviews and recommendations as a place to start your contacts, then call a few to your home and have a chat. Hire the one you get the best feeling from; recommendations are a great way to narrow your searching time, but at the end of the day you should hire from your gut.

Builders License Check – by state

You should always check if your tradesman is licensed, registered and covered by insurance. Licensed builders and other tradies are governed by state law, so you can check if their registration is current and that they are licensed for the type of work you have hired them for.

Any building work over $5000 and any specialist work at all (such as electrics, plumbing, refrigeration etc) should be undertaken by a licensed professional.

If you search under Builders License Check you should be able to access your particular state’s home building licence check.  Here is the list below:

There is also another website called Licensed Trades which has over 1,500,000 trades listed on it.

If you are undertaking a building job or renovation, you probably have more than a few balls in the air. We love the app Rapid Reno Mate for organising all of your reno info including tracking your projects, budget, appointments, materials, paint colours, measurements and styling products. You can also use the app to shop directly for things like tiles and carpet.  Here are our Top 5 Home Renovation Tips if you are starting out.  If you are looking for a builder specifically check out our tips on choosing a builder.


A little heads up for you: certain products and links on our site are affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase through one of these links our site earns a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that we are 100% behind any products we recommend and only promote what we use and love ourselves.