We’ve all heard horror stories about shonky tradies and so-called “cowboy builders” who leave a trail of budget blowouts and broken dreams in their wake. So it’s no surprise that homeowners often ask us to recommend builders when they approach us to draft their home design and renovation plans.

Sadly, there’s no magic list of ideal contractors for every eventuality when it comes to residential building and home improvement, which includes projects as diverse as a knockdown / rebuild, extension, attic conversiongranny flat, heritage restoration or internal renovation – all of them requiring different skill sets. But there are steps you can take to increase your chances of finding a reputable crew that specialises in a project like yours. Read on for Design Plus Drafting’s Top 5 Tips for finding the right trade professional for you…

1. As every business knows, word of mouth is by far the most valuable form of marketing. Approach friends, workmates, family members and neighbours whose opinion you respect and pick their brains about tradies they’ve used in the past. Even if the feedback they give is negative, that’s useful because at least you know which ones to avoid! If you don’t know anyone directly who has undertaken a project like the one you have in mind, it’s worth turning to social media communities like Facebook groups and posting a call-out for recommendations.

2. Still in the virtual world, even the most ardent technophobe has to admit that online resources like Google have given more power to consumers than ever before. Check out online forums and Google reviews for companies you’re researching – you can bet you’ll read colourfully worded sprays from disgruntled customers if they’ve stuffed up jobs in the last couple of years. (And in case you’re wondering, yes, all Design Plus Drafting’s Google reviews are glowing. Just sayin’.)

3. The builder’s own website can also be a good indication of their standard of work and how happy past clients have been. Firstly, check on the site to see whether that tradie is a member of a reputable professional organisation like Master Builders Australia, which has associations in every state. (Design Plus Drafting is a member of the NSW division.) A good builder should have a gallery of photos of recent projects you can browse, which satisfied customers have given permission to use for promo purposes. It’s also worth asking for the addresses of completed projects so you can do a drive by and see firsthand how well the work has gone.

4. Which brings us to location. If possible, try to use tradies based in your area – that way, if issues do arise they’re never far away. And pay attention to the banners and signs displayed on work sites in your suburb. If you keep seeing the same name, it means that crew is continually getting hired so must be doing something right!

5. Lastly, make sure you’re covered if everything does go pear-shaped. The NSW Government recently introduced an online tool called HBC Check which enables anyone to find out if building projects worth more than $20,000 are properly insured by the contractor. “NSW is experiencing a building boom, so it is critical that all relevant stakeholders are empowered to protect themselves against dodgy builders,” says Victor Dominello, minister for finance, services and property​. “HBC Check also protects licensed builders and tradespeople against unfair competition and weeds out unscrupulous operators.”

So there you have it. Want to work out who the good, the bad and the ugly of the tool-toting building world are? It’s all about research. Lots of research. Want to find an awesome Sydney draftsman, though? That’s easy: we’ve got an office full of ’em, ready to get your renovation plans underway.

Contact us or call into our Newtown corral to say howdy, partner.