Consumer watch: Know your rights when working with tradies on construction, renovation projects

Candice EvansGeraldton Guardian
A White Peak construction site.
Camera IconA White Peak construction site. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian

Finding reliable and trustworthy tradespeople is at the crux of any home project, no matter whether you’re building, renovating or needing a simple day job done.

While most tradies do the right thing, consumers often come to us about the unscrupulous operators who don’t.

Issues can arise when consumers accept tradespeople on face value and pay large amounts of money as a deposit — but the work is then not completed or is done to a poor standard.

Problems can also occur when consumers agree to pay an inflated price after falling for a high pressure sales pitch without getting other quotes.

Remember you have rights under the Australian Consumer Law if a salesperson comes to your home out of the blue or to provide a quote but enters into negotiations to supply. You have 10 business days to reconsider and potentially cancel the contract without penalty and during this time the trader must not supply any goods worth more than $500 or services which are not electricity or gas, nor accept any payment from you.

Get several quotes from tradies who are licensed or accredited by trusted industry bodies and do a general internet search for positive or negative reviews.

Verify claims by asking to see previous work and speaking to past clients.

Consumer law also requires services to be carried out with due care and skill and in a reasonable amount of time, so we recommend getting the cost of the job and timeframe for completion in writing. Only pay a minimal deposit of about 10 per cent or, for larger jobs, negotiate progress payments.

Ask if the business will take a credit card payment, because this could offer the possibility of getting a transaction reversal, known as a ‘chargeback’, if the work is not carried out. Also ensure the receipt or invoice includes the business’ details.

For licensed professions such as an electrician, builder or plumber, carry out a licence search on Building and Energy’s website at dmirs.wa.gov.au. For more information or assistance, call Consumer Protection on 1300 30 40 54 or email consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au.

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