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6 questions to ask before you hire an emergency tradie

You need to call in a tradie – quick! But before you get on the phone, there are a few questions you should consider asking to make sure you’ll get the best outcome.

But before you even start calling – check your insurance policy: do you have an emergency home assist service? If so, many of these questions may already be sorted. If not, here are some tips to getting the right results.

1. Do you provide a written quote before you start work?

Knowing up front what you’ll be paying for an emergency service is essential so don’t be afraid to ask.

Make sure there’s no ‘unexpected but essential’ charges added at the last minute. Get a detailed quote in writing before the work starts (where possible on company letterhead), and ask questions to clarify any details that are unclear. If the job isn’t to start immediately, check how long the quote will remain valid.

2. Do you have additional charges for weekends & after hours?

Emergencies can occur anytime – weekends, holidays or in the middle of the night – so you need to understand what it will cost you to call a tradie out of hours. If you’re insurance policy doesn’t cover you for call outs it might be worth subscribing to an independent emergency handyman scheme for those unforeseen occurrences, as they usually guarantee a rapid response 24/7.

3. Are you licensed?

Some trades (such as garage door installers in NSW) are not required to have a licence. However, if someone working on your property should be licensed and isn’t, you might not be covered by insurance for work done or damage incurred. Check with the relevant building authority or fair-trading body in your state to find out what sort of work requires a licence, as it can vary.

Most trades do require registration for the specific work being contracted, so if you’re talking to a handyman about replacing the wiring in your home, make sure he has a valid licence for the job. Ask to see it – don’t take his word for it. Any decent tradie will not only have certification but be happy to show it, including affiliation with an industry association such as Master Builders Australia or HIA.

4. Are you insured?

You don’t want to be liable for accidental damage to the tradesperson or your home, so make sure anyone carrying out work on your property has adequate insurance cover. Ask for a copy of the policy and ensure it is current. It should cover at least public liability and damages and if they plan to use subcontractors, those need to be covered as well, either by the tradie’s policy or their own.

5. Is your work guaranteed?

Electricians and plumbers are required by law to provide a compliance certificate for work they do so you’ll be issued paperwork when the job’s complete. General tradies aren’t obliged to give you a guarantee, but a good one will want to maintain a relationship for future work and recommendations, so will often give you a guarantee of their work, including warranties on repairs or new appliances. They will probably also tell you how to look after the appliance so it works better and lasts longer.

A good tradie is pure gold, so make sure you ask the right questions to ensure you find the right one for your job.

6. When will you get here?

Stereotypes dictate your tradie will be later than promised, but this isn’t the case with all, especially in an emergency call out situation. Still, it’s wise to ask how long they’ll be and if there’s anything you can do while you’re waiting to minimise the problem.


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