Getting quotes from tradespeople

Ask your family or friends to recommend an architect, builder or tradesperson they have recently used. Shop around and get recommendations. 

If you are using an architect, ask them to recommend two or three building practitioners who have worked for other clients, as a starting point. You should still check their references and follow the checklist below.

Contact professional associations and other industry organisations to find local building services.

Importantly, do your research on who you are dealing with and get your quote in writing.

Know what you want and who you are dealing with

  • Know exactly what you want
  • Compare at least three quotes for the same plans and specifications
  • Understand the consequences of signing the contract
  • Get the tradesperson’s details. Tradespeople who do not have a fixed address or legitimate registered business name are very hard to trace if you want to get your money back or a job completed, so ask for their:
    • physical address
    • landline telephone number
    • registered business name
    • licence details if their trade is licensed (visit Building Commission for builders, painters, plumbers and surveyors or Energy Safety for electricians and gas fitters).

Understanding a quote

Make sure you understand what the quote covers, and get it in writing. Document the quote and any conversations about the quality or cost of work.

Ask for a realistic estimate of how long the work will take and confirm whether the quote includes:

  • transport to and from the job
  • time and transport to obtain parts during the job
  • costs of parts
  • labour and apprentice costs, and how these are calculated
  • ‘call-out’ fees and any weekend or public holiday rates.

Ask how the tradesperson or contractor will handle:

  • any changes to the quote or the timeframe that arise during the job
  • any delays to the quoted completion time
  • late payments, and how any late payment fees will be calculated
  • any concerns you may have about the quality of the work or parts.

Comparing quotes

Compare at least three written quotes and analyse them thoroughly.

Make sure you know exactly what the quotes cover – the cheapest may not include some items, or give a base rate that does not cover the cost of the actual materials and finishes you want.

Consider which builder is most likely to:

  • deliver value for money
  • listen to your needs and wants
  • give you clear and regular updates on progress
  • communicate clearly, verbally and in writing
  • be trustworthy as a business person and skilled builder.

Paying deposits

The building contract usually includes a payment schedule. The schedule sets out how much building work must be completed before the next instalment or 'progress payment' is due.

The first payment under the contract is usually a deposit and should be limited to the builder’s initial costs. For building contracts valued between $7,500 and $500,000, the builder cannot ask for more than 6.5 per cent of the contract price as a deposit.

Insurance for contracts over $20,000

If residential building work valued over $20,000 is to be undertaken, the law requires that a builder take out home indemnity insurance in the name of the owner before accepting payment or commencing work.

Do not pay a deposit until the builder gives you a certificate of currency for domestic building insurance for your property. This insurance covers you if the builder dies, disappears or becomes insolvent.

Registered builders and more information

You can find out if a builder is registered by contacting the Building Commission on 1300 489 099.


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