Tradies - your stories and experiences

Hi everyone,

Have you ever hired the tradie from hell? Want to vent? Or do you like bragging about how awesome you are at managing home renovation projects?

I want to hear from you!

Please tell me allllllll your stories, but especially ones about:

  • How you found the tradie
  • How many quotes you got
  • Whether or not you did checks before you hired them
  • Whether you took any steps to cover yourself
  • What you did if things went pear-shaped
  • Anything you wish you’d known before you hired a tradie

Help me to help other consumers learn from your mistakes.

Thanks in advance for your help!


We have used local tradies whom we trust and have used before. They tend to be smaller operators - one or two employees. We got them all through recommendations and used all our own tradies for a new kitchen and it all went very well and there were no problems. One said he will not work for builders anymore because they don’t pay or they offer shares in the building development so he prefers to work local for people he knows. Clearly he gets enough work. For our other major work an en-suite, we used the builder and tradies who worked with the architect who designed the en-suite. Again this worked very well, she had tradies of a very high standard. We generally do not get quotes, our tradies give us a guide and our philosophy is if there are problems and the costs are higher they will discuss this with us and confirm we are okay with that


Thanks @JulieFL, we appreciate you taking the time to share this info.


I have had a shocking experience with shonky tradies and then again by NCAT or at least its predecessor. I will try to keep this short.

Since I did not know anyone who had recently had work done, I found the tradie via one of the tradie sites. I posted the job - renovation of a two bedroom unit including complete gut of kitchen and bathroom. Several tradies answered the ad, I interviewed them and then did site visits with three of them and got quotes. Then I checked with Dept Fair Trading to ensure the one I preferred was qualified and licensed for the job including whether they could even write a contract.

I finally decided on one tradie for all the painting and bathroom renovation. Then various other trades for kitchen and flooring. Well it did not go well. The main tradie did not attend when he should have done, was so slow he delayed other people such as the flooring and the kitchen installers.His work quality was poor. He over ran the original time frame such that I was actually homeless because he had not completed work before I had to leave my previous rental unit.

After three weeks being homeless, I was rushed into hospital for emergency surgery. The tradie even came to visit and assured me he would get the job finished before I was released from hospital. He never showed up at the unit again. Work remained unfinished, the bathroom tiling was appalling, the vanity was installed so close to the toilet that your knees were jammed up against it (if you were taller than me you would not be able to use the toilet at all!). The paint job in the entire unit was so poor that the old paint work showed through and that did not even account for all the drips and thickness of the paint on all the woodwork. I got an independent paint report that concluded it was the worst paint job he had seen in 15 years of doing reports for court.
After failing to rectify and complete the job I eventually took my case to NCAT. This was an horrific experience. I soon discovered that the entire system is geared to support the rogue tradie and not the homeowner victim, I was abused and threatened by the tradie, he failed to show up at hearings, failed to lodge any paperwork, demanded to have a solicitor represent him at the tribunal (this bit was denied) sent late medical notes and placed counter suits. He lost at the tribunal then demanded a retrial. He said he had not received a fair hearing! He went to the Administrative tribunal too. He got his retrial and lost again. That is when I discovered that NCAT cannot enforce its own rulings. You have to sue through the courts. He failed to show up in Downing Centre Court, The Supreme Court (I had to sue the ACCC because they de-registered his business for non submission of required paperwork) Lithgow Court - three times. I got a court order to get funds from his bank account but the Court gave him warning and he removed funds from his bank account meaning there was nothing for me to take. The Sherriff was sent three times to his home and he simply refused to acknowledge them.

All through the sorry saga, I won every fight against him but he simply ignored all court ordrs with impunity. No one acted on him. Right at the beginning I made my complaint against the tradie himself because he did the work, and his company because that was who I had the contract with. I discovered at the first hearing at NCAT that I was not allowed to sue the tradie himself only the company. This is absurd!

At the end of the day, there is still a valid court order for compensation that remains outstanding and I have had to pay again to have the bathroom stripped (which showed up even worse issues with the plumbing than I originally knew) and re-installed which meant buying all new tiles and some new fittings, plus having the whole unit repainted.

Once this was all done I discovered he had been before the courts three times in the past. The public is not allowed to know this and there was only one reported on. The fact that this shonk was licensed for all the work he messed up just proves that being registered and being licensed does not denote any level of competency. I went to my local MP, I even had a meeting with the then Minister for Fair Trading but nothing was done then and nothing has changed since. The victim is victimised again by the system and left high and dry. Meanwhile the shonk gets to keep on working with total impunity thumbing their nose at the law and the courts. I even contacted Choice at the time who just said ‘yes we know the system is awful but we are not interested’. Seven years on little has changed.

I even posted here three years ago:


Hi Karen. This is what I am always concerned about when I search for tradies. I know their license and ABN have nothing to do with their competencies. I search the Consumer Affairs Victoria website for guidance and types of contracts if I need a big job done. Fortunately no need yet. For small jobs I use sites such as Service Seeking -they have a badge system and a ‘pro’ list. Had used Hire a Hubby and Hire Pages in the past with not much luck as when I receive a quote from these two, their own contract at the back of the tradie’s quote is very legal. I even asked about a particular clause when both agents did not respond. So far, Sevice Seeking has been good to deal with.


By the way, I know not to pay them until job is done satisfactorily. If they insist on upfront payment, I insist on saying “goodbye”.


It was service seeking where I first found the shonk. After my experience I contacted them and sent them some of the court documents. To their credit they did remove him from the site, at least temporarily. I also found him on another site later on and did the same thing and he was removed from that one too.

The problem with NSW Fair Trading is that they too protect the tradie and do not show past infringements unless they have court orders that have not been acquitted. I discovered much later that the shonk had been before the tribunal three times (that I could eventually uncover) and had judgments go against him each time. Had this information been publicly available at the time of course I would not have hired him. But as I said, the entire system is geared to protecting the shonk not the consumer.


I also refused to make the final payment and the Commissioner promptly deducted that amount from my compensation which means in effect I still had to pay it even though I won all the hearings!


What a debacle! I feel heartbroken for you, Karen. I think CHOICE should investigate the system in all states and territories as soon as possible. Hope you are looking after yourself as best you can.


hi I used the website hipages to find a tradie to do concrete he came highly recommended all reviews verified by hipages.hi took money did nothing but make excuses .I reported him to hipages they said they would delist him but he assured them he would do the job so they did not. He did not do the job I reported him to consumer protection who said they cant help as he has applied for strike off, even tho hipages say they check weekly for strike off notices. Hi pages don’t help police are not interested so I am out $4000 from a scumbag who deliberately that was the last time I use hipages or edon concrete


hi Karen,
I know exactly what you are going through - NSW Fair Trading failed me also… a number of times…
and, NONE of the online sites care (AirTasker, HiPages, ServiceSeeking)- their ONLY thought is about their fees - AirTasker is the worst because they brag that you ‘get Insurance’ - BUT, this is NOT insurance for a shonky job…
Hiring a Tradie is an exhausting and painful experience-
. my most recent experience was to look for a “licensed plumber” - pls see my 3rd April.2019 post -
…… it became another horrid experience where the people that ‘turned up’ to quote -
(a) one was NOT licensed … and, became abusive …
(b) all wanted “cash” – I said NO
© one ‘almost cried’ because he has 3 Rental Properties and can’t afford the ‘tax on his Plumber’s Income’ - oh, my heart bleeds…
I gave up in frustration and the job still hasn’t been done.

a few years ago, NSW Fair Trading INCREASED the Registration requirements for ‘General trades’ from $1000 to $5,000 - it has increased the number of SHONKS out there… they SPLIT the Job down & say ‘they are not required to be registered bcoz < $5,000’ - note, this excludes Plumbers & Electricians, for example, which MUST be Registered for ALL Jobs.

NSW Fair Trading was initially set up to ‘protect the Consumer’ and to 'protect the “GOOD tradie” against the shonks by licensing the “Good ones” '-

  • it needs to stand it’s ground against the ‘shonky tradies’
  • it needs to have compulsory "photo-id license’ for ALL of them.
  • it needs them to sign an 'ANNUAL Declaration" that they have declared ALL Income to the Tax Office and that they have ‘Finished all jobs Contracted’, ‘List any Jobs WIP and the expected-Finish date’ and “List any disputed jobs”.
  • it needs to ‘follow up’ on the ‘WIP’ and ‘disputed jobs’ -this is NOT an erroneous job with Computers - it ONLY requires ‘Online Annual Reporting on their License Anniversary Date’ and ‘a simple computer program’;
  • IF a complaint is made by the Customer/ possible Customer that a "Tradie has asked for cash OR not provided a valid Invoice’ - then, OFT should Investigate & be conducting both “Income” and “Lifestyle Audits”.
  • a License is a PRIVILEGE that has been granted to them to conduct a Business with a Consumer - THEY should comply with a Code of Ethics that ensures that they are Honest, Include ALL Income to the Tax Office AND importantly, conduct their Business in the “best interest of the Customer”.

WE, as customers. should stand up to ALL Tradies -

  • they should present their “photo-id license”, ABN details when they turn up;
  • do NOT pay “deposits” until work has been started…;
  • a valid Invoice is promptly presented;
  • do not pay until work has been ‘completed satisfactorily’ AND do not pay cash- ONLY pay via ‘eft machine or bank account transfer’’;
    …… IF you pay Cash & do not get an Invoice, how do you prove that you have paid them -
  • most tradies ASK for payment 2 seconds after they have completed the task
  • do NOT fall for their 'save 10% ’ because YOU, the customer, is paying more Tax & giving the Tradie more CentreLink etc benefits…

CHOICE should be sending this message across Australia - you have an Australia wide voice which should be used to INCREASE Awareness that APATHY re “the Cash Black Economy” is NOT good for the Australian Economy -
- use your ‘card’ to pay for everything -

  • the “Cash Black Economy” is VERY LARGE - it could be the ‘local take away’, ‘restaurant, pub’ or ‘tradie’.
  • the “Cash Black Economy” INCREASES how much Tax YOU pay - because THEY don’t pay the Tax
  • the “Cash Black Economy” bleeds MONEY from Centrelink because THEY do not Include ALL of their Income to the Tax Office…
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Thanks for the comments all, you can check out @AliceRichard’s article here:


I agree whole heartely, ppa! INSIST