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The term practitioner generally means a builder, plumber, building surveyor, architect, electrician, consultant, designer or other tradesperson or professional that does building or building-related work.

Finding a practitioner

Tips for when you're searching

  • Check reviews on multiple platforms. For example, building forums, general forums, website reviews, product and service review sites, blogs, social media, renovation forums, or member lists on building industry association websites.
  • Don't just look for good reviews. See how a practitioner responds to bad reviews as this can give you an idea of how they resolve problems and communicate with customers.
  • Find reviews that have photos of their work.
  • When searching for recommendations online, try to have at least 3 independent sources/people recommend a practitioner before selecting them.
  • If a practitioner has been recommended by a friend or family member, you should still do the proper research on them.

See Roles and responsibilities to understand the different types of practitioners and what they do.

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Check their credentials before you hire them

  • Most work worth $10,000 or more requires the practitioner to be registered or licensed with the VBA. See My practitioner is unregistered to learn more.
  • Some work will always need a registered practitioner, regardless of the cost. Check whether the work requires a licensed or registered practitioner at Home improvements costing $10,000 or less – checklist.
  • If a registration or licence is required, search for the practitioner on the VBA website to see if their registration is current. You should also search the VBA’s disciplinary register to see whether they have a disciplinary history.
  • Confirm that they are registered for the work you want them to do. For example, some gas appliances must be installed by a plumber who is a licensed gasfitter and some domestic builders are limited to specific types of work, e.g., bricklaying.
  • For electrical and plumbing work, check that subcontractors have the right registration or licence and can issue a certificate of compliance or certificate of electrical safety when needed.
  • For projects over $16,000, domestic building insurance is required. Check whether they are eligible for insurance through the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority.

Practitioners such as architects, engineers and electricians are registered through other government agencies. See Roles and responsibilities to learn where and how to search for them.

If you are unsure about registrations, licences or types of building practitioners, you can contact Consumer Affairs Victoria’s (CAV) Building Information Line at 1300 55 75 59 for advice. CAV cannot recommend any practitioners to you.

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Getting quotes

Tips for getting quotes

  • Get at least three quotes for the same job
  • Ask for an itemised quote so you know exactly what is covered and can spot hidden costs
  • When comparing quotes, keep in mind:
    • Brand names, quality, quantity and specifications for the materials
    • Labour costs, callout fees or other flat fees
    • Inclusions and exclusions
    • Waste collection/skips
    • Warranties
    • Compliance certificates
    • If any permits are needed
    • How long the quote is valid for
    • Whether they charge by the hour or for the job to be completed
    • Whether the price is fixed or variable (based on the cost of materials or labour)
  • Be wary of those who are:
    • Too cheap
    • Promising too much, especially for the price
    • Too pushy, or try to pressure you into accepting
    • Not specific or not providing enough detail

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Choose the right builder for you

Things to consider when choosing a practitioner:

  • See if you have compatible communication styles. Speak with them on the phone or visit their office to discuss the project before you decide to hire them.
  • Understand the trade-offs between cost, quality and time.
  • Understand that custom work will increase the cost of work.
  • Ask for examples of previous work of a similar type. Have they done this kind of work before?
  • How much experience they have, how long they've been operating and how many projects they've done
  • What is their reputation? Builders in high demand will charge more
  • Transparency about quality, costs and timing
  • How flexible they are

Katie's bathroom renovation

Katie’s friend helped her find someone to renovate her bathroom. At first, she was relieved that she didn’t need to go through the process of finding a tradie because of how busy people were after COVID and how tough it was to know who to trust.

The agreement was very casual and didn’t have a contract. Katie soon felt like it was really difficult to get her builder to respond and spent a lot of energy chasing updates.

Eventually, Katie found out the project was a lot bigger than anything he’d done in the past as he couldn't find nor afford the materials for the job. He walked off the job after taking down some walls.

What could she do next time?

Tools and links

Page last updated: 27/09/22