Renos, DIYs and tricky tradies: Q&A with Laorence Nohra

Renos, DIYs and tricky tradies: Q&A with Laorence Nohra
Jessie RichardsonDecember 7, 2020

Laorence Nohra is the chief executive of the Tradebusters Group, which includes Tradebusters Tradesman Concierge Services, Tradebusters Connect and Tradebusters Academy.

The Tradebusters companies connect homeowners with a network of trusted tradespeople for a variety of projects. Property Observer spoke to Nohra about how renovators can avoid dodgy tradies and when it's time to tackle something on your own. 

When choosing a tradesperson for a renovation, what are the key things to consider?

  • Does the tradesperson have the right experience for the job? Each tradesperson is different so you want to make sure he or she has the right skill sets for your particular type of project.
  • Does he or she have the correct licences for the jobs they are undertaking? Licence requirements vary state by state and may be different depending on the size and value of the job
  • Are they covered by the right insurances?
  • Who will be doing the work - are they employees or sub-contractors?
  • Will they meet your timelines? Will this tradesperson be 100% focused on your project or do they have several running at the same time which runs the risk of your job dragging out. 

How can renovators prevent issues with their tradesperson?

First and foremost, get the selection of your tradesperson right so that you don’t have any major or “unmanageable” issues. Unfortunately, issues become costly and stressful when the wrong tradesperson is selected, or, worse still, they have disappeared from the scene.

You'll also need to establish the track record of the tradesperson. Especially for major renovations - meet their recent customers and see the quality of the work. Find out what the customer experience was like with that tradesperson: did they meet deadlines, stick to budget and most importantly, how did they deal with issues that presented themselves along the way?

Find out if the tradesperson has clients that he or she does regular on-going work for, like local real estate agents or architects. How long have they know them and what can they say about the tradesperson's history and track record?

The thing with renovations is, sometimes thing do go wrong or expectations may not be completely met– but that can all be solved by selecting the right tradesperson upfront, and ones that care about their reputation and take pride in their work, as they are the guys that won’t leave until you are totally satisfied.

How can a person act when their tradeperson causes delays or doesn't complete a job as expected?

Always try and communicate your expectations around timelines and quality upfront.

In terms of how to “act”, don’t overreact and don’t be afraid to give feedback!  I have meet some homeowners that feel almost “afraid” to give a tradesperson feedback, but what they may not realise is that sometimes, unless you tell a tradesmen that there is an issue is, they may genuinely not be aware of it.

It’s always important to be as constructive as possible with the feedback and share the positives as well. Any reputable tradesperson will appreciate the feedback and work with you towards a positive outcome.

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How can a person decide whether to DIY a renovation job or hire a team?

  • Do you have the time to DIY? Will it mean taking time off work and can you afford that?
  • Know your objective for doing it yourself. If it’s to save money, have you calculated the cost of your time off work and lost annual leave (something many people forget). It may take you far longer to do it on your own, which means it could be cheaper to hire a professional.
  • If it is a property you are planning to sell or rent, and going DIY means taking an extra four, eight or 12 weeks to get it to market or to get rental income, then does it work financially? It could actually be more costly to go DIY.
  • Are you experienced enough to do a DIY renovation? It is important to know your capabilities so that you are not left disappointed with the results, or, more importantly, risk your safety and health. Also, it is a lot more costly to bring a professional to fix up a DIY job gone-wrong than just to have a professional do the job in the first place.

"I'm noticing a lot more women taking charge of renovation projects and doing it extremely well"





What are some of your top tips for DIY renovations?

  • Know your limitations and when to call in the professionals.
  • Absolutely leave anything that requires a licence or that is structural in nature to the professionals.
  • Don’t take shortcuts in areas where quality is highly visible, like tiling or cabinetry.
  • Take all precautions and don’t do anything that could risk your safety or those around you
  • Think twice about a DIY renovation for a property that you plan to sell post-renovation. As a potential seller, you have a huge opportunity to maximise the potential sales value of your property and reap the profits through a well done renovation. Quality plays a big part in that. Bad DIY jobs do not go unnoticed by potential buyers and can destroy potential profits.

What are some of the key trends in renovation that you're noticing at the moment?

I'm noticing a lot more women taking charge of renovation projects and doing it extremely well.

There's also a big trend in doing all the joinery of a home in a more consistent and sophisticated style from kitchen, to laundry to living and bathrooms, and all at the same time. Kitchen renovations continue to be popular, especially as they can add considerable value to the property, and homes are getting more lifestyle focused, with extensions of living areas “outdoors”, with covered decks, and mini outdoor kitchens.

For more information on what to do when your renovation goes wrong, see Lessons from The Block: What to do if your tradie disappoints

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