How Do You Deal with Tradies?

I hired a carpenter that I found online to build decking, pergola and some electrical work in my backyard. Contract was for about $12,000. The work was estimated for about 2 weeks. Payment broken down into 40%, 30% & 30%. Made a mistake, I didn't think signing up a contract was necessary. I have of course, the quote and the contract on email, along all communication.
Paid 40% right after the agreement, via online bank transfer. Then the guy disappeared, for 10 days. No pick up of phone calls or return calls. I thought, I'm done with my nearly $5000. Then the guy appeared with a friend. Worked for a few days and made some good progress. He would come once or twice a week and finish a bit of work. I was not really happy, and asked him to come regularly. He would say sure, I'll come tomorrow. And no show up. After lot of phone calls and messages, he would work half a day and disappeared. Or work a day and disappeared for weeks. Meanwhile I added a bit of work and paid the additional amount, about $650. He said decking is nearly done and asked for 30%. He was doing good job although irregurlarly. He promised that if I pay 30% then he will come regularly and finish the work in about a week. I paid 30%, and again he disappeared for more than a month straight. I got really pissed off and contacted the online service where I found him. They said, sure we'll talk to him. They were unable to contact him and delisted him from their service. I guess that ends their responsibility.

After trying on phone for hundreds of time he'd come and work for half a day or a day at max and disappear for weeks at a time. It's been 5 and a half months now and story continues. After requesting, begging & threatening for many many times, he will come and do a little bit of work. Looks like he doesn't want to finish it. He completed carpentry work on the decking and pergola. Roofing and electrical work is still remaining.

Met a tradie online. paid 70% of contract amount and he has finished about 60% - 70% of the work, imo. Doesn't look like he wants to complete. He is not asking for extra money. When I looked for another tradie, looks like I'm gonna be at a loss by about $2000 - $3000. Looks like they don't want to work on something started by somebody else.

How do I deal with this guy? What could be his intention? What options do I have? Fair Trading? I don't even have a signed contract. He has facebook page but hardly has any followers.


  • +1 vote

    Your tradie hasn’t read nor practiced Zero Excuses/The Lazy Bastard book.

    • -1 vote

      I don't have much experience with tradies. I was under impression that they are hardworking type of people. I was so wrong. Well, I still believe not all the tradies are lazy like this guy.

  • +9 votes

    I'm surprised despite all that, you still gave him 30%. Dunno man, writing was on the wall.

    • +1 vote

      Yes, my mistake. I can't believe how I fell for his words.

  • +2 votes

    paid 70% of contract amount and he has finished about 60% - 70% of the work, imo … When I looked for another tradie, looks like I'm gonna be at a loss by about $2000 - $3000. Looks like they don't want to work on something started by somebody else.

    Wear the 2-3k loss, get the work finished.

    Chase the other guy through Fair Trading in your local state.

    Next time, only pay for materials upfront, when they're delivered to your place. Pay for labour on completion of the job. Do 2-3 reference checks for any big-ish job, including seeing the finished product.

    • +1 vote

      Thank you for your suggestions. Next time, for sure, I'll take these things into consideration. This is one reason for this post.

  • +5 votes

    Unless you've got personal recommendations and the trade has a solid reputation (plenty of good reviews), not a chance I'd be paying them upfront. If they have cashflow issues, then you pay the supplier direct to deliver materials to you, pay the trade for labour after the work is completed (or progress payments for longer jobs).

    Obviously that doesn't help you now. I am guessing by the Fair Trading question you are in NSW then look at this:

    I'm going to hazard a guess your carpenter is not correctly licenced. It would be worth your while to talk to Fair Trading what your options are and if they can assist, especially regarding potential unlicenced work and lack of contract.

    As for hiring another trade, I'd be wary of doing that just yet. You probably would be best to serve a letter of demand on them, so that the trade can't try come back later and claim additional money. IANAL, but look at what NSW's small works contract is and use the process in that for rescinding a contract upon non-completion as a guide for what you do now.


      I, at least, checked the validity of his licence. Didn't know that you need separate licence for roofing and electrical works though.

      Yes, I'm concerned too that if I hire another tradie, he might come back to me claiming additional money. I'll do a bit or research on how can I terminate the "contract" I have.


    Was this through airtasker?


      No, it's similar but another service called serviceseeking.

  • +2 votes

    Name and shame please, so the community can avoid this tragic tradie.


    I have found over the last few years tradies are overpaid thieves that pick and choose only the big dollar jobs and if you have a smaller job you will more than pay through the nose for it and that totally relies on any of them turning up i have been chasing any electrician for a 2 to 3 thousand dollar work for 14 months and because i live 70 kilometres from the nearest city they wont even bother ringing back.


      I wouldn't call them thieves, but many of them are quite deceptive. I think they like pile up jobs, so that they are never out of jobs. Then they prioritize and work on them at their own will and comfort.They don't worry about keeping customers happy simply because there are plenty of them.