Measure twice, cut once: How to check if your tradie is qualified

There are more than 600,000 tradies in Australia – carpenters, plumbers, electricians and bricklayers who do everything from minor repairs to major construction work. You’ll find thousands of them listed and reviewed online – but how can you really tell if they’re any good?

Reliable tradespeople for rentals

Rental property managers need to stand out in a competitive market. Being able to quickly provide good tradespeople for property repairs is one way to build your reputation. Ask any property manager and they’ll tell you how difficult it is to find reliable tradespeople who are licensed and qualified.

If a tradie is genuine, they will have the proper licence. They will also understand why you want to do a pre-employment check. Each state has different licensing requirements, so you may need to perform multiple checks, including a police check. There are online services that make this easy.

No licence, no go

Some specialised tradespeople such as electricians and gasfitters can be fined if they perform work without a valid licence. If they don’t have a licence, they may not know what they’re doing. Repairing someone’s dodgy work can be costly and time-consuming.

Steps you can take to verify that a tradesperson is qualified include:

  • Review their ad or website to see if they list their qualifications.
  • Check online to see if they are listed with the relevant government or licensing authority.
  • Ask to see their licence.
  • Before they start work, confirm whether they will provide a compliance certificate when the job is finished. If they won’t, or if they offer you a discount instead of a certificate, don’t use them.

Safety first

Using qualified tradies is the best way to keep everyone safe. When something goes wrong, especially with plumbing or wiring, the consequences can be serious. As part of the licensing process, tradies learn about Australian safety standards and they should adhere to them on every job.

Ultimately, you don’t want to be the person living with gas pipes laid above ground, or your bathroom sink draining into the toilet bowl. If you’re a property manager, you certainly don’t want to be searching for good tradies to fix another person’s poor workmanship – that’s simply a waste of time and money.

Consider their reputation

In spite of some less-than-glowing reports about tradies, very few people check their credentials. A NSW Fair Trading survey found that while eight in 10 consumers thought it was important for a tradesperson to be licensed, only one in 10 actually did a licence check through their site.

It’s good practice to do an employment background check before you hire anyone. Word-of-mouth is useful, but should only be considered in combination with a proper employment screening.

If you’ve had a good experience with a tradesperson, you could provide a testimonial or review on the tradie’s website. If you’ve had a bad experience, especially if the person was unlicensed, you should report them to the relevant authority. Each state and territory has their own reporting processes. South Australia even runs an official ‘Dob in a Tradie Day’ in March each year.

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