SA homeowners warned to stay on alert for “rogue tradies”

Jarrod Brown
By Jarrod Brown
4 Min Read

South Australia’s consumer watchdog is warning residents to stay wary of dodgy tradies after receiving a “growing number” of complaints. 

According to the Consumer and Business Services (CBS), some businesses have been charging unsuspecting clients an excessive amount for recent projects, exaggerating the need for extra work and producing a shoddy, unfinished result.

As a result, the South Australian government has once again reminded residents of several key steps that can be taken to avoid being outwitted and swindled by what the state is describing as “rogue tradies”.

Get multiple quotes

First of all, the state watchdog advised homeowners to seek advice from at least three different tradespeople before committing to carrying out the work.

“For example, one tradie might insist on a total replacement for a hot water system, while another might suggest repairs for a fraction of the cost,” the consumer affairs authority said.

They also recommended seeking out fixed, itemised quotes from at least three tradies before signing a contract.

“Try to do this even if the situation seems urgent, as it can save you a lot of hassle and money in the long run.”

When seeking out quotes, CBS officials stressed the importance of looking up the provider’s CBS licence details to ensure that all three businesses are not simply one organisation trading under different names.

“It’s also a good idea to search online for independent reviews about a tradesperson, and also ask friends and family which tradies they have used in the past and if they would recommend them,” the watchdog advised.

Don’t overpay

When it comes to deposits, officials warned homeowners to know their rights around contract payments and to avoid paying too much in advance.

“If the business closes, you might lose the money you have already paid to them,” they warned.

“For smaller jobs, tradies usually only require payment at the end of the job. For bigger jobs, a maximum 10 per cent deposit is recommended.

“For larger domestic building projects the maximum deposit allowed by law is $1,000 for a contract valued between $12,000 up to $20,000.”

For contracts clocking in at over $20,000, homeowners can only be asked for a maximum deposit of five per cent. You can also be asked to cover third-party expenses, like planning approvals and building indemnity insurance, in advance.

The CBS warned homeowners should check the amount the tradie asks you to pay is the same as the amount on the quote or contract, and to make sure you receive a receipt for proof of purchase – which they are required by law to provide. 

Be wary of unsolicited sales

Finally, the consumer body warned customers to keep an eye out for unsolicited sales and to know their protections under Australian Consumer Law.

“If the contract is over $100, then there must be a written contract, and you have a 10-day cooling off period to cancel the contract,” they said.

Unsolicited sales include tactics like upselling, doorknocking and entering into a contract during an inspection for a quote.

“Make sure everyone who provides a quote is licensed and do independent research about the business,” the watchdog warned.

“There have been many reports over the years of itinerant traders taking money up front, doing a poor-quality job, and then being uncontactable when problems arise.”

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Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.