The Best Way To Avoid Tradie Disputes.

We’ve all heard tradie disaster stories: the tiler who laid your expensive & beautiful marble tiles in completely the wrong pattern on your bathroom walls, the painter who got your bedroom room colours mixed up & the sparkie who positioned your power points metres away from where you actually needed them to be… You just want to kill them right there & then, don’t you? (PS: don’t!)

As frustrating as all these things are, what if I was to tell you they’re all perfectly avoidable scenarios. Worse still, would you hate me if I said to you “they’re possibly down to you & your communication failure!” What???!!

As much as we like to blame the occasional rogue tradie for our bank of reno horror stories, the reality may be just this – you may not have provided enough relevant detail when communicating your wishes. Think of it like inviting your friends around for a BBQ without specifying a time, then having a meltdown when they inconveniently show up when dessert is being served.

When it comes to your home reno project, you shouldn’t adopt the same philosophy. The number 1 way to make sure that what’s in your head, then correctly translates down into your tradies head & what you want them to exactly do (to minimise disputes), is a handy document called a “Scope of Works”.

“Scope of Works” – it sounds technical & complex, doesn’t it? But guess what, it’s actually not. Fancy words aside, it’s nothing more than a document that lists & describes all the tasks you want your tradie to perform for you around your home or any investment properties you own. In all reality, it’s just a glorified To Do List!

Let me paint a picture of what normally happens when someone needs a tradie…

You call a tradie up & say “can you come round to quote please”

The tradie turns up to your place…

The tradie & you look at the job & have a chit chat about what you want them to do…

The tradie goes away .. then gives you a price over the phone or sends a quote through…

You tell them “you’ve got the job”

Tradie starts & finishes your job…

You inspect their work & say “what about that, you haven’t finished that yet”

Tradie says “that wasn’t included in the price”

You say “what? I thought it was”

Tradie says “no it wasn’t. I can do it for you, no problems, but it will cost you extra!”

Sound familiar??

To prevent this sort of stuff happening, this is where the true power of your Scope of Works document actually kicks in. Think of it like your secret little ally to getting the upper hand on any tradie you deal with, moving forward. But in order for it to be effective, it’s got to have some level of “detail” in it.

For example, let’s say you want to get new power points installed in your bedroom. On your Scope of Works, you can’t say “install 2 power points in the master bedroom”. If the tradie can’t get hold of you when they’re installing them, they’ll put them in a position they think is best. And guess what? 9 out of 10 times, you didn’t actually want them in that position. So, your Scope of Works document needs to specify exactly what you want & where you want those power points to go. In this scenario, your scope of works should say “install 2 x double power points, centre of wall behind bedside tables”. This level of detail immediately reduces the chance of errors.

Ditto with those bathroom tiles. A grid or subway pattern are the most commonly laid formats when a tiler is laying tiles. They’re also the cheapest way to get tiles laid as these patterns are fastest for a tiler to do. But, if you want your precious marble tiles laid in a herringbone pattern, just like you saw them in that showroom display, you’ll need to document that in your Scope of Works so your tiler knows to factor in extra labour time. Knowing this, your tiler can then accurately quote the job before they start with no surprises during your project.

I’m sure by now you’re starting to see the benefits of a Scope of Works & whilst it will take you a little bit of time to type up, here’s the real benefits in doing one for each tradie you need to hire in any of your current or future reno’s:

  1. Doing them, makes it very clear in your own head exactly what you want, before you engage any tradie;
  2. Gives you the ability to clearly communicate your wants to your tradie, on paper;
  3. Ensures the tradie knows exactly what you want;
  4. Enables the tradie to submit a fixed price quote to you, based on the details you’ve documented on paper;
  5. Enables you to give the same document to all trades quoting so quotes come in, apples & apples, not apples & pears, so to speak.
  6. Minimises disputes between a homeowner & a tradie because it’s all clearly documented in black & white on paper what the job does & doesn’t include;
  7. Greatly reduces the chance of a tradie asking for extra money as inclusions & exclusions have been documented on paper;
  8. Acts as strong evidence if a dispute ever needs to go to court.

Now, I can hear you chanting “Hallelujah Cherie, a Scope of Works is exactly what I will do. But I haven’t got the foggiest idea on how to do one!”. Don’t worry – I’ve already created an editable template for you. For nothing more, than I simply care & don’t want you to experience the stress of a tradie dispute. Download your free Scope of Works template now. Simply save this file to your computer & you’ll have it for life.

Before I go, just a few last pointers on how to fill out your Scope of Works (so you don’t scare any tradies off):

  • 1 Scope of Works for each trade you need to employ;
  • List all tasks you need done;
  • Don’t write a thesis, list tasks as bullet points ie: keep it short & concise;
  • Any tasks you forget to list on your Scope of Works are likely to be considered a “cost variation”, which will incur an additional fee, above the quoted price. ­
  • Once a tradie receives your Scope of Works, they’ll often ask you further questions which will result in 2-way communication – yes, I know, miracles happen!

In summary, in the world of renovation, there’s an awful lot that can go wrong. There’s so many little things you can do to minimise issues along the way. Whilst a Scope of Works is another thing you have to do, it’s probably one of the most critical for making sure your renovation runs all the more stress free – no-one likes an angry chainsaw wielding tradie!

Much love,

Cherie x

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  1. Thank you Cherie. Such a generous and useful gesture. I’ve had bad experiences and it has put me off finishing our renos. This document takes out any guesswork for myself and the tradies.

  2. When I was younger I had an office to renovate. It was an old apartment built in 1930’s . There were too many doors while the space was very small. We wanted to keep the doors but paint them and change the hardware. I bought brand new handles and locks for 15 doors (they were very dear considering they were all made in Italy to suit the style). l asked the contractor to paint the doors and change the hardware with the new ones. At the end of the project, parts of the hardware have been painted and doors were not closing. I was told ” you said you wanted to change the handles but you did not specify that doors should close”. That was part of my learning curve. I relocated many times ( changed countries and continents) and learnt that everywhere you go, worldwide, you must be as specific as possible and keep a close eye on what tradesmen are doing.

    1. Hi Dana, oh wow that must have been quite a shock when you came to inspect the works that had been done. Communication is paramount, on both sides of the coin. Have a fabulous week & thank you for sharing your story with us. Cherie Crew x

  3. Hi Cherie, Thank you so much for this “Scope of Works Template, it will come in very handy. I actually have Landscape House here this week helping me out. Thank you so much.

    Regards, Cheryl

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