You should only deal with a contractor who is currently licensed by NSW Fair Trading:
Ask the contractor for the addresses of previous houses they have renovated or built and ask the owners if they were satisfied with the results.
Some questions you can ask:
A contractor with a lot of work on may not be able to properly manage your job as well.
A contractor doing a large job may get a supervisor to manage the project.
Make sure the supervisor has:
It is important to check the contractor has all the necessary insurance cover to protect you and your home if something goes wrong.
Go to the Insurance page for an explanation of the different issues and types of insurance that may be required:
Under NSW home building law, the maximum deposit you can be asked to pay is 10%.
If the work is required to be covered by insurance under the Home Building Compensation Fund, it is illegal for the contractor to ask for a deposit or other payment under the contract unless the insurance has been taken out, and a certificate of the insurance is given to you.
Important. It is highly recommended that you check the validity of the insurance certificate given to you by accessing the register of insurance certificates on www.hbcf.nsw.gov.au.
If you want the work done by a specific date, make sure the time frame provided in the contract:
Make sure you and the contractor are clear on what they consider 'complete'.
If the cost of labour and materials is more than $5,000, the law requires a written contract to be used.
Contracts are not only legal requirements, they will protect you if anything goes wrong.
NSW Fair Trading has produced a series of plain English contracts covering all types of building and renovating work. You can download these for free from the Fair Trading contracts page.
Most building contracts have a fixed price and should provide for payments to be made for work done, not time on the job. Progress payments should be equal to the dollar value of work completed.
If you've borrowed to build or renovate, your bank or mortgage provider may want to inspect the work before each payment is made. You may want to have an architect or building consultant inspect the work at each stage to ensure it is being done properly and to contract specifications and drawings.
This question will help you get a sense of how the builder is likely to deal with any complaints you may have about the work. You should know in advance what your options are if a dispute arises.
Get this clear from the start so when work is completed, you are not left with a big mess, or a dangerous building site. Make sure an agreement about cleaning the site regularly is included in the contract.