141 – Getting Your Reno Trades Team: Done Right, On Time, On Budget

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141 – Getting Your Reno Trades Team: Done Right, On Time, On Budget

Your Reno Trades Team will take care of everything from the demolition to the final touches. It’s a daunting task to find reliable trades in renovation.

Podcast: Download (Duration 28:09 — 25.7MB)

Getting Your Reno Trades Team: Done Right, On Time, On Budget


  • [01:46] She Renovates Online Conference
  • [04:51] Bernadette Janson’s life update
  • [07:18] Covid19 Generalisations: Impact on the building industry
  • [08:09] What to consider in finding reno trades team for your renovation project
  • [09:05] Reno trades team company structures
  • [12:12] Which reno trades team company structure is better?
  • [13:04] How reno trades team manage their risk when doing a quote
  • [14:26] Things you can do to reduce your risk of variations and of blowouts
  • [15:33] Managing the price for your reno trades team
  • [17:31] How to ask trades to step out of their normal tasks
  • [18:51] Choosing between an older experienced trade and a young keen trade
  • [21:25] Why you should never sign a blank check for a reno trades team
  • [22:11] Ask Bernadette: What’s your reno question?
reno trades team

Your trades team is an essential part of your projects. If you’ve got a belief system that has a negative impact, that’s not going to be good for your outcome. So having the presence of mind to get some coaching if you need will make a massive difference.”

~ Bernadette Janson

Importance Of Having A Great Reno Trades Team

If you have a good process for working with trades, you can put together your team quite quickly. Here is what we did in our current Class Project in Newcastle: 

  1. We hired the recommended tradesmen from within our community
  2. We have done reference checks for those tradesmen who are new 

You do need to value your team because your trade team is what’s going to make you the money.

What To Consider To Find Your Reno Trades Team 

    1. Check your limiting beliefs. We often hear some generalisations that anyone who’s any good will be booked up. Now, with COVID19 having such an impact on the building industry, these limiting beliefs can grow, because there is evidence around that you may not be able to get trades. Of course, this is not necessarily true!
    2. Be aware of your trades company structures. This will impact how they work and what they cost. There isn’t a right or wrong here, but you just want to understand the model of the business you’re engaging with. 

Your trade team is an essential part of your projects. If you’ve got a belief system that is having a negative impact, that’s not going to be good for your outcome.”  ~ Bernadette Janson

Reno Trades Team Business Structures

Here are usually two types of business structure for trades:

  • Lone Ranger Tradesmen – This is someone who operates on his own and only does one job at a time. You’re probably going to find that their prices are lower than the other models. However, you’re also going to find that they’re going to have limited capacity because they will only do one job at a time. 
  • Management Structure – A trade who basically runs his business but he’s not on the tools. He has teams of tradesmen who work for him. He will go around and quote the job and direct the teams to do the work. Understandably, you’ll pay more for this model but often not a lot more.

Which Reno Trades Team Business Structure Is Better?

It depends on the types of renos you’re doing. Consider thinking through the best application for you and also taking into account the impact on your budget.

A good thing about the lone ranger is if you have something like leaks after he’s done the job, he will come straight back and sort it out. It’s not getting tossed around the company to find someone to blame. He just comes straight back and does it. 

With a management structure, it’s so much more leveraged. The trade can run more than one job at a time and let’s say your electrician has a couple of tradesmen that work under him, he’ll have one on each job. One of the problems with this structure is that one team might be really good and the other one may not be so good. You can’t really rely on getting good quality consistently. 

Generally, we have found that we have had good results from both, and it just depends a lot on your project.

How Reno Trades Team Manage Their Risk When Doing A Quote

The Soft Quote

  • As tradies start the work, they will find unexpected things and they then have a dilemma. We should expect that they’ll ask for an extra charge for it but you have to stand your ground that you’re not willing to pay for it. Someone that charges at the drop of a hat is often a bit painful and we try to avoid that. There should be given and take but often you will come across a trade who will say, “oh, I’ll give you an estimate.” Beware!

The Hard Quote 

  • If you’re going to go for a hard quote with them, they will have to build in padding. That’s a decision you need to make based on whether the trade has worked before or you’ve worked with that person previously and you have an understanding of how they operate and how honest they are or not. There is a little risk if you decide not to go for the fixed quote but It’s a balancing act to manage it.

Things You Can Do To Reduce Your Risk Of Variations And Blowouts

Let’s say you’ve got a reno trades team quoting and there’s some whiteant damage. You won’t know until the demolition has happened whether that is significant because it could be just one or two pieces of timber or it could be extensive. Once you take up the floor, you can find all the joists and bearers are eating out and they all need to be replaced.

  1. You can manage your risk by bringing in your demolition contractor first
  2. See the demolition and strip out so you’re aware of what the extent of the project is
  3. And then you can get a third quote on it rather than having an open-ended quote

Managing The Price For Your Reno Trades Team

The best thing you can do is to find trades that are efficient and who can do good quality work quickly. 

You may want a combination of someone that’s in and out quickly. This means their hourly rate is quite good. They’re getting a good return for their work and you’re getting a good price to work with personally.

If you’re asked to do the same job and get paid less, It’s not a great motivating factor and it’s not really how we like to work. Some trades’ set points are quite high and some are quite low. Some are in between. When a trade quotes a job, they’ll put risk money in there. You want to try and figure out how much padding is there.

Are You Getting The Best Price?

This is an easy thing to do to ask the trade, and most often you will find this will bear fruit.…

“Is that your best price?”, “You’re not the lowest, and I’d really love to work with you”. 

How To Ask Trades To Step Out Of Their Normal Tasks

Expand Your Awareness

If you ask a trade  to do something that they don’t normally do, you need to be aware that:

  • You may not get the quality of work that you want
  • It could take significantly longer

Beware Of Slapdash

Someone we were working with asked the plumber to silicon the kitchen and that’s typically not the plumber’s  role. When he had done it, we discovered that he had put clear silicon into the joint between the bench and the tile (instead of matching the white of  the tiles). That’s what we call slapdash. 

You want to be wary about asking them to step outside of their skillset because some are great and will have a go at everything and do the best that they can and others are not.

Find The Happy Medium

You’ve got to weigh those things up and try to get a happy medium. Trades usually have a rhythm that they work to. They might call in at the hardware on their way to work each day. 

If a trade needs materials during the day while they’re working, we tend to offer to be the runner because if you’ve got someone working on an hourly rate, a trip to Bunnings can be an hour and a half turnaround.

 Instead of sending the person who is doing the work and in control of the progress of your project, if you are able to do that and save them time then you can keep the project rolling on.

If they’re good at something, they can do it well. They can do it efficiently. If you are asking them to do something they’re not good at then, someone has to weigh the cost of that.”  ~ Bernadette Janson

Choosing Between An Older Experienced Tradie And A Young Keen Tradie

We have some trades that are old and experienced and we are really happy with their work. They do it in a time-efficient way. We also have some younger trades that are really great to get in and out efficiently.

On the other hand, we’ve also had older trades who were stuck in their way and wouldn’t work to a timeline. There are also younger trades who just don’t have the experience to do things well the first time. 

We had this young inexperienced builder and he was hanging quite big wheels for an external sliding door internally. It was a big 1.2-metre wide door and he just could not get it right. When you have a door that automatically closes or automatically falls open because it’s not level it is a nuisance. He came back about three times and just couldn’t do it. So it really depends on the trade’s capabilities.

Why You Should Never Sign A Blank Check For  A Reno Trades Team

By getting a quote, it lets the trade know that you are price-conscious and it helps you to maintain and control your budget. You don’t want to receive a bill that you are not anticipating.

Never have someone come and do work without getting a quote, or at least an estimate. It is like signing a blank cheque because you’ve got nowhere to go.” 

~ Bernadette Janson

She Renovates Facebook Group

If you’re sitting there thinking I wonder and have a question to ask head over to our free  She Renovates Facebook Group. You will find over a thousand crazy renovators who just love talking, renovating and would love to answer your question.

She Renovates Free Facebook Group

If you want to meet up with a group of savvy renovators. I would say come over and join She Renovates Facebook Group. It’s a completely FREE Facebook group and it is growing at the rate of knots. We hit over a thousand members just recently, and now it seems to have picked up momentum. They are all savvy renovating women and men working their little hearts out to live a better life through renovating.

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Bernadette Janson

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