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Unless you’re a jack-of-all-trades, you’ll probably use a professional builder during your renovation.

But many investors wonder: “What do I do if Ive paid for subpar work?”

A week after an electrician rewired my laundry, all my appliances went on the fritz.

First, it was the drier, then the dishwasher, then the stove top. The fuse would trigger every other day. Something was off.

My standard electrician was away on holiday, so I hired an unknown tradesman. I’d got a recommendation from a friend, but I had a hunch the rewiring was shoddy.

In this article, you’ll learn the process I went through to address the fault.

That way, you can have a game plan if you are ever in a similar situation.

Step #1 – Get a second opinion

First things first. It’s always a good idea to get a second opinion before confronting any tradesman.

When my original sparky returned from holiday, I got him to inspect the site.

I won’t get into all the technical details, but my new electrician completely overloaded the electricity in the house; they put all the energy-zapping appliances on 1 circuit.

This was a 1930s bungalow, and it was just way too much. No wonder fuses were tripping every other day.

I asked my usual electrician to put his assessment in writing.

I could then use this when talking to the person who did the work.

Step #2 – Get your 2nd opinion to call your tradie

I have 15 years of renovation experience, but even with that experienced it would be tricky challenging an electrician.

It’s not my trade, nor my area of expertise.

So, when my original electrician offered to make the call for me, I said “yes”.

Because if I had called the “dodgy” tradie, I would be on the back foot. They could talk technical speak to me, and I wouldn’t know what to say.

I could potentially be hoodwinked into thinking the job isn’t as bad or that the tradie wasn’t in the wrong.

Maybe you're too nice. Maybe you second-guess yourself because you don’t know all the technical details. That’s why, if you’ve got a second opinion from another professional, get them to call.

That way, the two professionals can discuss the work in depth. They can get to the bottom of the issue, hopefully in a pleasant manner.

Step #3 – Get your money back

Understandably, you want your money back.

Especially if the work turned out to be substandard.

This can be a curly issue for renovations because most of the time you pay for the work long before defects appear.

That’s because, like my laundry, the defects aren’t always immediately clear.

You can’t just “not pay” a tradesmen for a few months to see if problems will occur.

But, there are ways you can minimise your risk. I always try to only pay for work once it’s done.

For example, electricians will often come to the site 3 times.

So, pay for the work once it’s done. All of it. Don’t pay for the whole job up front.

If you do, that puts you in the risky position of overpaying.

This is why cash jobs are a risk.

Without a contract, it’s difficult to hold someone accountable.

Step #4 – Use the laws that protect you

There are laws that protect renovators.

You've got:

1) The Construction Contract Act

2) The Consumer Guarantees Act

3) And the Fair Trading Act

This means you get some amount of implied warranty when it comes to construction work.

For any trade work– aka a sparky, tiler or builder – they have to fix any defects that appear after 12 months, and any structural work should last 10 years.

You also have the right to have another professional fix a job and charge the other tradesman in some cases.

How do I pick a good builder for my renovation project?

Don’t cheap out when renovating your properties. Sometimes the cheapest quote ends up being the most expensive over time.

Hiring a good quality tradesman is key.

It’s common for first-time renovators to search for builders online. Website like Builderscrack, and NoCowboys. But while this method is popular, it’s also risky.

The best way to find a builder is through word of mouth, but not everyone has access to this sort of insider intel.

And even experienced investors find themselves in sticky situations with bad tradies.

So, if you are in a similar situation, identify the problem and get a second opinion. You have the law on your side in most of these situations.

Opes Partners
Laine 3 001

Laine Moger

Journalist and Property Educator with six years of experience, holds a Bachelor of Communication (Honours) from Massey University.

Laine Moger, a seasoned Journalist and Property Educator with six years of experience, holds a Bachelor of Communications (Honours) from Massey University and a Diploma of Journalism from the London School of Journalism. She has been an integral part of the Opes team for two years, crafting content for our website, newsletter, and external columns, as well as contributing to Informed Investor and NZ Property Investor.

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