Know your rights
When you hire a tradesperson, you are covered by the guarantees for services and materials under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA). Generally you can expect that:
- the work is done with reasonable care and skill
- any materials used are new, of acceptable quality and fit for purpose
- the work is completed in a timely way.
The exception is building practitioners’ work – materials are not covered by the CGA. Instead, you have similar guarantees under the Building Act (external link) .
You can get a refund and compensation under the Fair Trading Act if a tradesperson misleads you by claiming:
- work needs to be done when it is unnecessary
- they belong to a trade association or have some industry approval and this is untrue.
Before you hire a tradesperson, check their licence card to make sure they are licensed and qualified to do that type of work.
Written contracts and payments
Use a written contract when hiring a tradesperson as it gives you certain rights in addition to your rights under the CGA. The contract should describe:
- what work is included and any exclusions
- what materials will be supplied
- the payment schedule
- your rights to cancel.
For larger, more expensive jobs, get independent legal advice before you sign the contract as this can help you to avoid some problems. Building practitioners (including tradespeople and designers) must provide contracts and disclosure statements for work over $30,000 (including GST).
If you pay a deposit, this is usually non-refundable. Only pay up to 10% as a deposit. If you change your mind, the tradesperson does not have to return your deposit. Pay by credit card so that if the tradesperson goes out of business, you may be able to get a chargeback from your bank or credit card company.
Break the payments into stages and make payments as the work is completed to your satisfaction. You may have to pay upfront for materials. Keep your receipts.
Read Contracts, quotes and estimates to find out more.