Help, I Hired A Dodgy Tradie!
Unless you’re a skilled jack-of-all-trades you have to rely on professionals for renovations. So what happens if you pay for sub-par work? Ilse Wolfe offers advice.
2 July 2023
A week after an electrician rewired Wolfe’s laundry, her appliances went on the fritz.
“First it was the drier, then the dishwasher, then the range hood,” she says. “The fuse would be triggered every other day. Something was going awry.”
Her standard electrician was away on holiday, so she’d hired an unknown tradesman through a recommendation. She had a hunch the rewiring was shoddy.
Here’s the process she went through to address the fault.
It’s always a good idea to get a second expert opinion before confronting any tradesman on “potentially shoddy” work, Wolfe says. In this instance, her original sparky had returned from holiday and came to inspect the site.
“Without going into all the technical details, the electrician had completely overloaded the electricity in the house by putting all the energy-zapping appliances onto one circuit,” Wolfe says. “For a 1930s bungalow, this was too much. No wonder fuses were tripping every other day.”
She asked her electrician to put his assessment in writing. It was now time to call the person who had done the work.
Telling The Tradie
Even with Wolfe’s 15 years worth of renovation experience, she would have a “tricky time” challenging an electrician on technical workmanship.
So when her electrician offered to make the call for her, she agreed.
“The imbalance of knowledge in this sort of conversation can put you on the back foot,” she says. For example, you can potentially be hoodwinked into thinking the job isn’t as bad as you thought, or that the tradesman wasn’t in the wrong.
“If you’ve got a second opinion, get them to call the offending tradesman. This is a good tip for others in a similar situation. They’ll be able to discuss the work in depth, and get to the bottom of the issue – hopefully in a pleasant manner.”
Getting Money Back
“Money is what everyone worries about,” Wolfe says. “Even more so if you’ve paid money for work that has turned out to be substandard.”
This can be a curly issue for renovations because defects aren’t always immediately apparent. You can’t just “not pay” a tradesmen for a few months to see if problems show up. But you can minimise your risk by only paying for work that has been completed.
“For example, electricians will often come to the site three times,” she says. “You should only pay for the work that has been done, not the total amount of work completed. If you do, that puts you in a risky position of overpaying.”
This is why cash jobs are always a risk. “Without a contract, and those Ts and Cs, it’s very difficult to hold someone accountable when you’re paying cash upfront.”
There are several laws to protect renovators, Wolfe says.
1) a construction contract act
2) consumer guarantees act
3) fair trading act.
From all these there is an amount of warranty implied when it comes to construction work.
“For any tradesmen work (sparky, tiler, builder etc) 12 months of defect remediation is required by law, and that work should last for 10 years,” Wolfe says.
You must first request they rectify any quality issues within a reasonable time or else you have the right, under law, to have another professional fix the job and charge the original tradesman.
Bottom line: don’t compromise on the quality of workmanship when it comes to your renovation projects. If you identify the problem and get a second opinion, the law will be on your side when confronting the offending tradesmen.