Trade lingo isn’t always easy to wrap your head around, but know these terms and you’ll be the sharpest tool in the shed.
Trade lingo isn’t always easy to wrap your head around, but know these terms and you’ll be the sharpest tool in the shed.

Tradie terms you need to know to not get ripped off

Whether it's for a quick fix or a major renovation, finding the right tradie isn't always easy. And ensuring you don't get ripped off can be another challenge.

Understanding tradie lingo can help you navigate the process smoothly and there are a few steps to follow to ensure you've picked the right person for the job.

Here are the experts' top terms that will help you become the sharpest tool in the shed. 

 

Get your tradie lingo down pat to make home renovations or updates as straightforward as possible.
Get your tradie lingo down pat to make home renovations or updates as straightforward as possible.

Addition and alteration

If you secured a quoted price but decided to make changes once the tradie was on site and they started mentioning "addition and alteration", this meant the job turned into an hourly rate, Sanden Hot Water's managing director Mark Padwick said. If you wanted a job done at a quoted price, knowing exactly what you wanted was essential. "When you change your mind during the job, that's when it becomes expensive," he said.

 

Variation

Mr Padwick said if your tradie mentioned a "variation" on the original quote, watch out. "This could mean after putting together your quote they realised they've forgotten something, which will need to be accounted for as an additional cost to your quote," he warned.

 

Mates rates

If a tradie was giving you "mates rates" you were in luck, Mr Padwick said. It meant your tradie was performing a job or selling a product at a substantial discount, one they'd usually only reserve for friends.

 

Cashy

A term used to describe an odd job done in exchange for cash in hand. Mr Padwick said this was usually because the tradie was still building up their experience or was looking to avoid paying taxes, which is illegal.

 

Call-out fee

This was a set amount charged by a tradesperson to come to a job and often included the first hour of work, Matt Menichelli of Elevate Building Group said. He said it was usually more common with maintenance and repair work.

 

Prime cost

An item that either has not been selected or has an unknown price at the time the contract is entered into. Mr Menichelli said the tradesperson must make a reasonable allowance in the contract for cost of supply and delivery.

 

Provisional sum

"An estimate of the cost of carrying out particular work for which the builder, after making all reasonable inquiries, cannot give a definite amount at the time the contract is entered into," Mr Menichelli said.

 

Liquidated damages

This was a pre-agreed amount paid to compensate for delays, Mr Menichelli said. It could be payable to the owner by the tradesperson or vice versa, depending on who caused the hold up.

 

Progress claim

Mr Menichelli said this was a payment request or claim made by the tradesperson to the owner for each stage of the project set out in the works contract. 

19 Wells St, Surrey Hills recently sold for a $350,000 premium after a ripper reno.
19 Wells St, Surrey Hills recently sold for a $350,000 premium after a ripper reno.

 

… to modern luxury.
… to modern luxury.

HOW TO MINIMISE THE STRESS

HiPages tradie Matt Menichelli said money was often the biggest stress during a renovation or maintenance work.

"The best plan of attack is to seriously consider what your budget is," he said.

"From there, make contact with a builder or tradesperson and begin to obtain specific itemised quotes.

"To make the builder's task of quoting easier, be clear about what it is you're wanting to achieve and what spaces you want renovated (or fixed).

"Then, you can make an informed decision after weighing up advice and pricing for the desired jobs."

For home improvements or repairs that cost $10,000 or less, Consumer Affairs Victoria recommended ensuring four things.

Firstly, get at least three quotes on the same detailed description of the job or works required.

Secondly, check the registration or licensing, reputation and references of any handyman or tradesperson you were considering.

Thirdly, make sure you have a written contract for all work, even small jobs, which clearly specified the work to be done and the total cost. And put any agreed changes in writing.

And lastly, before the works got underway, check you were covered for the renovation under your home and contents insurance.

For work valued at more than $10,000, the consumer watchdog said the builder or tradesperson must be registered with the Victorian Building Authority.

It is advised you always check registration or licensing before hiring a tradesman.
It is advised you always check registration or licensing before hiring a tradesman.

HOW TO NOT GET RIPPED OFF

Mr Menichelli said getting the best price for the job came down to preparation.

"Do your research, always shop around and compare like-for-like quotes," he suggested.

"Always ensure the paperwork is itemised so you know what's included and excluded.

"A clear line of communication is always key."

Mr Menichelli said it was also important to know if the tradesperson was working on an hourly rate or for an overall quoted figure.

"Be sure that if working on an hourly rate, start and finish times are known, as well as any call-out fees," he said.

Consumer Affairs Victoria said payments should never be made upfront, with work costing less than $20,000 requiring no more than a 10 per cent deposit and no more than 5 per cent on work valued at more than $20,000.

The remaining payments should be made in stages.

"Do not make progress payments or final payment until you are satisfied all work required in your contract has been completed and is free of defects," it advised.

Matt said check if your tradie is working on an hourly rate or for an overall quoted figure.
Matt said check if your tradie is working on an hourly rate or for an overall quoted figure.

WHAT SHOULD YOU CHECK BEFORE ENLISTING A TRADIE?

Due diligence was a must when vetting your tradesperson, according to Mr Menichelli.

"Ensure the necessary licenses are held and they have qualified for the appropriate insurance relative to the scale of the job," he said. "It's also a wise move to request for previous clients or references to gauge the tradesperson's experience and reputation."

Consumer Affairs Victoria said it was important to ensure you had the right tradesperson with the correct licences.

"Demolition, restumping, re-blocking and structural work must be done by registered building practitioners," it said.

"Plumbers, gasfitters and drainers must be registered or licensed with the Victorian Building Authority to perform plumbing work.

"Electricians must be licensed with Energy Safe Victoria and issue you with Certificates of Electrical Safety.

"If you are doing any structural work to a building, then the builder or tradesperson must be registered, regardless of the cost of the work, and you will require a building permit."

The property went from dark and dingy …
The property went from dark and dingy …


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