Back Choosing a Tradie

When it comes to renovating, fixing or maintaining your home and you need some outside help, it’s time to forget the cowboys and hire a professional. According to Allen Cetinic - director of a rendering company in Australia - the trade industry as a whole is suffering because qualifications, reputation, skill set, knowledge and experience don’t seem to count for much when it comes to homeowners comparing quotes. His article on why you should choose professionals over cowboys makes for an interesting read,click here

But are things any better closer to home, here in NZ? “The building trade has a lot of unqualified and unskilled workers who continue to carry out sub-standard work and give genuine, qualified trades people a bad name,” says Neil Gillespie, Owner/Director of Auckland based Topline Trade Services. He goes on to say, “Time after time, homeowners are choosing the supplier with the cheapest quote over the worker who is actually the best qualified to undertake the project; consequently we continue to hear stories of shoddy workmanship which always costs the owner more money to put right.”

Investment in on-going training and qualifications

Neil holds a certified plumbing license and is licensed for metal roofing and wall cladding for which he holds LBP (Licensed Building Practitioner) status.  He is an advocate of qualifications and believes his employees should have the necessary training to do their jobs to the highest standards. 

He is passionate about encouraging young people to choose a career in the trades, having personally committed to the up-skilling and training of apprentices and trades people for over 28 years. An appointed trustee on the board of the Apprenticeship Training Trust, he and his business partner and wife Jennie are committed to ensuring the Topline team are properly trained and qualified. Jennie says, “We have a proud reputation for employing the best people in the industry. We work hard to attract and retain the best skills in the business and to that end, we are committed to the on-going development of staff, with a view to them being NZQA qualified and/or LBP certified.” 

Cowboy spotting

If you’re about to undertake a building project, and you’re talking to the trade, here are Neil and Jennie’s top tips for sorting out the cowboys from the professionals: Is your builder offering cheap quotes? They may not be experienced enough to cost the job properly, or will undercut other suppliers in order to guarantee they get the work. Jennie says, “It’s always best to shop around and get at least three quotes before making a decision on who you will get to do the work. If estimates are wildly different – either too cheap or too expensive – then something isn’t quite right. Make sure you are comparing apples with apples and remember, there is a lot more to consider than price alone.

Is your tradie unwilling to put a quote in writing?

Neil’s advice is to, “Always get a quote in writing before commissioning work. Also suggest that any additional work or supplies are costed upfront and signed off before going ahead. There shouldn’t be any unpleasant surprises when the final invoice is billed.” 

Does your builder or tradie have references or referees you can contact to check on previous work they have carried out?

Neil says, “If they cannot demonstrate a proven track record in the skill-set they are offering, it’s probably best to avoid using them.”

Is your tradie keen to start the job straight away?

Jennie comments, “In our experience cowboy tradies often do lots of work in one district before moving out of the area altogether. Often they leave very poor or unfinished work behind and cannot be tracked down. Ask for a business card, letterhead or website address to check they have an established business.” Neil concludes, ‘If your potential tradie asks for money upfront, doesn’t charge GST and only accepts cash, then I would be very wary. Professional trades people go by the book and don’t cut corners. Unfortunately, there’s plenty of mileage in the old adage, ‘if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.’”

If you need a qualified reliable tradesperson who works for an established business, then email us at 

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