Hiring tradespeople

Before engaging someone to do the work:

  • ask for a written quote
  • contact your local council to find out whether any permits are required
  • ask to see a certificate of currency for public liability insurance – this insurance will protect you or third parties against any damage the tradesperson may cause.

You have a contract with the tradesperson or contractor, whether your agreement was verbal or in writing.

Builders must be registered by the Building Commission to undertake building work worth $20 000 or more in:

  • Perth;
  • most of the South West Land Division, except for the shires of Mukinbudin, Mt Marshall and Narambeen; and
  • many town sites in the Eastern Goldfields, Esperance, Gascoyne, Pilbara and Kimberley regions.

There are many ways you can find a builder, including:

  • asking family and friends for names of builders they have used and could recommend;
  • looking through the Yellow Pages and newspapers;
  • surfing the internet; and
  • contacting building associations, such as the Master Builders' Association or the Housing Industry Association for the names of its members. Check your prospective building practitioners are registered with the Building Commission.

Tradespeople and builders must also keep their obligations under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). This means their work is bound by the consumer guarantees for their service and products they provide with the service.

Ask to see the most recent work of the building practitioners you are considering.

Ask their recent clients:

  • Did they start and finish on time?
  • Was the client able to communicate regularly and clearly with them about any changes suggested by either party, or about queries relating to quality?
  • Did the price increase? Was the reason for and the amount of the increase reasonable and agreed to?
  • Did the building practitioner put details and the price of changes in writing and get the client to sign off before making changes?
  • Did their sub-contractors arrive on time and do a good job?
  • Did they request any changes to the size of stage payments in the contract or ask for payments before a stage was complete? (This can be a sign of cash flow problems.)
  • Were the clients satisfied that the quality of the work matched the details in the contract?

Using an architect, designer or draftsperson

If employing an architect, building designer or a draftsperson, put in writing what you expect the work to achieve.

Ensure everything you want is clearly defined in your plans and specifications, and conveyed to the builder (for example, a three-bedroom house with a seven-star energy rating). This will help you get accurate quotes.

The Architects Board of Western Australia has resources for consumers as well as an architects register that you can search.

More information

When you have work done in your home or on your property it can cost a lot of money, so it’s important to protect yourself from unsatisfactory workmanship.

Eight steps to quality workmanship 

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