At first it was just a meeting. By now, they’re in your home every day and you know how they prefer their coffee. But how well do you really get along with your tradie, and why does it matter?
A great relationship with a skilled tradesperson is worth its weight in gold. It gives you peace of mind that your renovation will be well done, and that your tradie will put your best interests first. It give you a reliable person to go back to for future work, rather than starting the whole process of finding someone over again.
And since you’re trusting them with your home, putting in a bit of effort to make sure there’s mutual respect is well worth it. Your tradie is a real person who has worked hard to develop his or her skills, after all.
Here are four tips for forming a relationship with your tradie that will last until death do you part.
1. Be clear about your expectations
Much of the time, good communication can set the tone for a solid working relationship. When you first consult with the tradie, be as clear as possible about what you want done, and what your expectations are. Ideally, you’ll have a written agreement that contains the timelines involved, benchmarks for each stage of the project and when payment is due.
If the work is to be done elsewhere from your dwelling – a new build, for example, or work on an investment property – take the time to meet them on site and walk around so that you’re all looking at the same thing.
2. Keep the timelines reasonable
It’s often impossible to estimate a job to the exact day, especially if there are several stages of the project to undertake. That said, if the work is sequenced correctly, your tradie should be able to give you a reasonable estimate.
To maintain good feeling, take them at their word when they tell you how long something takes, rather than insisting that it must be done earlier. They’re experienced at knowing the length of a project, and unrealistic expectations are a recipe for mutual frustration.
Of course, if the job does blow out beyond original expectations it’s perfectly reasonable to ask for an explanation. Sometimes things happen that are beyond the control of your tradie: other times it may be a warning sign that things are amiss. If you’ve agreed a reasonable timeline in the first place, it will be easier to sort out which is which.
3. Be a good host
No tradie expects afternoon tea and sparkling conversation as part of the deal, but being welcoming is important. Too often, people are wary of getting more mess inside their house and force their poor builders to walk to the park for the facilities or to eat a sandwich in their car.
Your tradie is there all day; giving them access to the facilities should be the very minimum offered. If they have somewhere to sit down and eat lunch, and access to cold water all day, that’s all the better. Expect some dusty footprints as part of the process, and extend some basic courtesies.
4. Pay on time
A lot of tradespeople work as sole contractors, or run very small businesses. That means that cash flow is an issue for them, and clients who delay payments can sour the relationship fast.
If payment is agreed in instalments, be prompt about paying each one when you get the invoice. The less time your tradie spends chasing payment, the more time they have to work on your job instead!
If you’re dissatisfied with the quality of work done, don’t just withhold payment. Raise the issue with your tradie and see if you can come to a compromise. Perhaps they’ll be willing to fix the problems at no extra cost, or offer a discount. There are legal avenues you can take if you’re seriously upset, but refusing to pay is rarely the way to go.
Hopefully, following these tips will see your relationship with your tradie flourish and grow. Once the job’s over, don’t let them languish: a sincere thanks will send them off with a smile, and increase the chance that they’ll be free the next time you need a hand.