Renovating or doing work on your home can be a big investment – yet most of us put more effort into choosing a pair of shoes or a new camera.

Repairs might not be as exciting as new clothes and gadgets but if you want a good result, value for money, and minimum hassle, the more you think about upfront the better.
The best advice is to get informed and make sure you communicate really well with everyone involved. Remember, with most services in New Zealand you have rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act – and for renovations or repairs, the Building Act as well.

Getting started

There’s a lot to decide on before you start hiring tradespeople. First you need to define the scope and budget. Know what you want to achieve and try to think through all the variables. Who’s supplying what? For example, a kitchen contractor may expect you to source your own fixtures and fittings. Sometimes – especially with old houses, the job can be more complex than you think. A seemingly simple job of installing a new powerpoint could mean a lot of rewiring to be safe. You should start getting a better idea of what’s involved when tradespeople come to look.

Estimates and quotes

An estimate is what the tradesperson thinks the work will cost based on experience. It’s not a firm offer to do the job at that price, but should be a realistic guess. Once you get some estimates and decide who’s getting the job, you should get a written quote. This is a legally binding offer to do the job at a certain price. If you accept a quote the tradesperson can’t charge you more unless you agree, and if a problem arises you have a record of your agreement.

A good rule of thumb is to get quotes from at least three suppliers. There can be big differences in the prices – make sure you ask why. It could be a particular contractor is more realistic about the time involved or will use better quality materials.

Awarding the job

Depending on the scope of your renovation or repairs, you may need to hire multiple contractors. On larger jobs, it may be a good idea to engage a project manager. They’ll hire the subcontractors and help you through the process.
Once you’ve decided on who you’re awarding the job to, you need to agree on designs, the building plan, timeframes, and you may need to get consent from your local council.

Once work is underway

If possible, keep an eye on the work being done and talk to your tradespeople and contractors. If it’s a big job and you have a project manager, make sure they keep you in the loop. If something doesn’t look right, there’s extra work required, or delays, it’s important you deal with the issue as soon as possible.

Advice and information

Before you start any home renovations or repairs, visit the Consumer Protection website. They have checklists, information, and tools to help you through the process. There’s also advice and what to do if you have issues or disputes. Visit