Homeowner » Tips and Advice » Set yourself up for success

Set yourself up for success

5 June 2018

You’ve decided to hire a professional to revamp your kitchen/bathroom/entire house, but where do you start? It can seem daunting if you’ve never used a tradesperson before or have had a bad experience in the past.

Here are some tips to ensure you get the best tradesperson—and the best outcome—for your job.

Be clear and consistent

Understand what it is you want to achieve and, if relevant, write a brief scope of work. Giving each company you contact the same information will ensure everyone’s on the same page and the prices quoted should be for the same scope and type of work.


Ask around for recommendations, find out who did that fantastic local renovation or use our online search tool to find your local Master Plumber, Gasfitter or Drainlayer.


We recommend you approach two or three different businesses for written quotes. It’s best to get a written quote so there is no dispute about price later.

Check if the business is charging a fee to prepare a quote, as it will take time for them to do this properly – especially if it’s a big or complex job.  Time is money for a busy tradesperson!


Use the same process to request an estimate, but remember the actual price may be more or less. Under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA), the tradesperson should use their skill and experience when estimating the cost. The actual cost should not be too much more (within 10 to 15 percent) than the amount estimated.

Quotes are more exact than estimates and a written quote is a contract between you and the tradesperson. Both of you must do what you have agreed. That’s why it’s best to have it in writing with a detailed breakdown of the work and materials involved.

Agree in writing beforehand that the plumber will contact you if the final price is going to be higher than the estimate. That way you can choose to stop the work before it gets too expensive.


Sit down and study the quotes. You need to understand what is included—and what isn’t. Look at the total price – is it GST inclusive or exclusive? Check the hourly rate, quality and cost of materials, start and finish dates and how long the job will take.

  • Labour costs

Set price or charge up? If your work has unknowns involved (such as concealed pipework or maintenance and repair work) you may face employing a tradesperson on a charge up basis — meaning you pay for actual labour and material used. Pay attention to the labour cost. Be aware how many people will be used on the job. It may well include work done by an apprentice as well as someone experienced.

  • Expertise

You should also consider relevant experience in a particular field or specialisation of work. Sometimes a more expensive charge out rate can work out cheaper overall if the company has more experience or better equipment for the type of work being carried out.

  • Materials

Be guided by the plumber if taps and fixtures are needed for installation. They will be able to advise you on suitable products and can also purchase them for you from reputable merchants. Be open to spending a bit more on a quality item because it’s an investment that could save you from future expense. Be aware that if you pre-buy products and ask your plumber to install them, they may refuse to do it because they could be held liable for future problems or they may ask you to sign a waiver releasing them from liability.

  • Travel

All tradespeople charge for their travel and this should be in the quote. Be aware of this, so it doesn’t come as a surprise on the final invoice. Also be aware that plumbers need to recover not only their vehicle costs, but any costs involved with completing your job, such as traveling to a merchant to pick up material or parts.


The requirement to pay a deposit will vary between companies and is often asked for when specific product needs to be ordered in. Special ‘one-offs’ or offsite manufactured items may even need to be paid for up front. The quotation terms should spell out any details concerning deposits including that re-stocking fees may be charged if the product needs to be returned. Make yourself aware of these terms and discuss any concerns with your tradesperson.


Keep in regular communication with the plumber/gasfitter/drainlayer while the work is being done. If problems arise, or there is a need for an increase in the quote, make sure you get a newly negotiated quote. There should be no surprises on the final invoice.

Protect yourself

Keep all the paperwork – quotes, invoices, receipts.

You don’t have to pay more than the quoted amount, for the agreed scope of work, even if the tradesperson or professional asks for more. You can pay just the amount quoted, with a note to explain why.  

Master Plumbers Guarantee

Using a Master Plumber, Gasfitter or Drainlayer will give you peace of mind, because there is a Master Plumbers Guarantee to assist residential consumers in the event of poor workmanship. The guarantee is up to $15k and terms and conditions do apply.

Make a good call and find your local Master Plumber, Gasfitter or Drainlayer here: https://www.dontriskit.co.nz/

You can find more information about consumer rights on the Consumer Protection website: https://www.consumerprotection.govt.nz/

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