What are the tips in choosing a carpenter?

Carpenters are an essential part of any self-build project. Before parting with your money, check out what they do, what methods they use and what materials they’ll need so you can avoid any costly mistakes during your build. 

Carpenters can knock over a variety of jobs around the home, including cabinet installations, building a wardrobe, shelving, and general repairs of your fixtures and fittings.

Although all highly-skilled, carpenters’ specialities are not all the same. It pays to understand these specialities before you hire a carpenter.

If you are looking to improve the look of your home and need to do some timber products and work, then it is important to contract the service of a professional. Yes at times it’s good to do it yourself – DIY, but at other times one needs an expert who will provide quality products. This is where one considers hiring a qualified carpenter to do the job. Such a professional has the expertise needed to provide quality timber and lumber work. If you need to hire a carpenter, here is how to select the best.

Choosing the right carpenter is not an easy task. There are so many options to choose from, but you can never be sure which option is the best. For many people, getting their woodwork done is nothing short of a risk; they spend thousands of rupees and hire services of popular carpenters, but end up wasting their money. Although the best option is always to hire good services by famous Architecture companies, however, if you cannot afford to do so, here are some tips for choosing the right carpenter for your woodwork.

Hitch Property Constructions offers carpentry services Melbourne for residential and commercial projects.

What do carpenters do?

Carpenters will be involved throughout your self-build project, working on both the first fix and second fix stages.

On a typical project, their first involvement will be to fix the ground floor joists. Once the building reaches first-floor height, they’ll fit first-floor joists.

At roof level, the bricklayer will usually bed in the wall plate on the internal leaf before the carpentry team erects and braces the trusses. The fascias, barge boards, soffits and gutters are fixed before roof tiling commences.

After tiling, the scaffolding can be removed, and the windows are fitted. External doors are then fixed.

Carpenters will then move on to tasks such as installing studwork positions (to create internal rooms) and fitting stairs.


Who supplies tools and materials?

Every good carpenter will have their own set of tools. You will need to supply the materials.

I recommend the self-builder sets up an account at their local builder’s merchants and then hands over the responsibility of ordering materials to the carpenter.

You’ll avoid mistakes, such as over-ordering or incorrect sizes and you won’t be held responsible if products don’t arrive on time.”

What’s more, the tradesperson won’t be able to over-charge you for the cost of your timber materials. The only extra you will be paying them for is the time they spend ordering and transporting the materials to the site.

What does it cost to hire a carpenter?

The cost comes down to the labour and time involved, and it depends on your project as to how long each stage will take. The average build schedule for the carpentry work on a three-bedroom house is two weeks for first fix and four weeks for the second fix.

For a smooth schedule, avoid gaps between the different stages of your project. Get a quote from a quantity surveyor or a cost consultant to assess what work needs to be done, which can then be priced by the prospective tradesman.

Ask the tradesmen how long it will take them to do their section, and then you can compile a schedule.

Draw up a written contract with your carpenter listing the work to be carried out and a full breakdown of the costs involved.

Don’t pay them on a daily rate if you won’t always be on-site to check they’re working or be able to inspect how time-efficient they are.

Getting carpentry and joinery quotes

The nature of your job will determine whether a trader can give you a quote on the telephone. In most cases, it’s likely the trader will want to visit your property to take measurements and discuss your options.

Get at least three quotes for any carpentry and joinery job, large or small. Try to get quotes that can be easily compared and make sure they include any ‘hidden’ costs such as waste disposal or car parking charges.

Check that your prospective carpenters have insurance that covers them for any damage inadvertently caused to your property.

If you’re working backwards from a fixed budget, be sure you understand any corners the carpenter will cut in order to meet your desired price as each carpenter might give you different suggestions. Do you understand the difference between a laminate and real wood floor, for example? How durable or attractive is a cheaper type of wood?

Hiring a carpenter

Be clear about the work that will be carried out before it starts. As a minimum, you should be comfortable with the cost of each part of the job, the likely completion time and how payment will be made.

Ask to see the carpenter’s insurance documents and don’t be afraid to discuss what happens if you’re not satisfied with the standard of any work. Good traders will always produce insurance documents and talk about complaints procedures – a carpenter who is reluctant to do so should be avoided.

Paying a carpenter

Most jobs are usually paid upon acceptance of the work. If the job demands lots of costly materials, then it wouldn’t be unreasonable for the carpentry company to ask for a deposit up-front or on commencement. Never pay the full amount in advance – you may want to withhold the final payment until any niggles or disputes are resolved.

Here’s a list of what to look for when hiring a carpenter

Rough carpentry

Rough carpenters are also referred to as framing carpenters or framers. Their speciality is constructing basic frameworks and structures for buildings and homes.

Framing carpenters ensure the framework is consistently level, square and plumb. They generally set the foundations for finished carpentry by building in necessary blocking for items like windows and cabinets as well.

Finish carpentry

These carpenters finish the nitty-gritty tasks as part of the building construction. They complete the job started by framers. Installation of decking, sliding doors, windows and roofing are all part of a finish carpenter’s job.

Cabinet makers

Cabinet making is another classification of carpentry. These highly-specialised tradies create and build furniture items, cabinets and robes.

Generally, these trades are involved with more of the projects for a finished home.

Selecting The Best Carpenter

Establish your need

It is important to determine what your need is. This is because though carpenters work with wood, not all of them can do the same thing. Different types of carpenters specialise in different things. We have those who do formwork, structural work and framing these are called rough carpenters. There are also finish carpenters who specialise in doing aesthetic jobs like trim and decking. There are those who are repair carpenters and do repair work. Knowing what type of work needs to be done will help you find the right carpenter.

All carpenters work with wood, but most specialise in certain things. A rough carpenter will handle structural jobs involving framing and formwork. A finish carpenter works on moulding and trim, and other aesthetics-focused jobs. A repair carpenter is one that works on repairing woodwork.

Where to search

Once you establish your need, then one can begin the search. Talk to people who have done a project like the one you plan to do. Ask them about the carpenter they used, if they were satisfied with them and whether they can recommend them. Secondly, one can do an internet search for companies and individuals that do and supply such a service within their local area. For instance, timber supplies Melbourne are one of the renown carpenters who provide exemplary service.

We have an extensive range of carpentry services at Hitch Property Constructions to meet your constructions and carpentry needs in Melbourne.

Check credentials

One needs to make sure that the carpenter has the appropriate credentials. They need to have the proper qualification like a license to provide the service. Ask for proof of this. Secondly, the carpenter needs to have the proper insurance that will protect them as the provider and the client against any accidents or injuries or damages that may occur.

Once you have decided what type of carpenter you will need, the next step is to obtain quotes. As you obtain quotes from different carpenters, you should come up with relevant questions to ask. Request references to find out if the previous customers were satisfied with the completed jobs. Ask family and friends if they can recommend someone.

Cost of service

The cost of the work matters. Ask the carpenter to give you written quotes about the job that you need to be done. Obtain quotes from different carpenters of the same thing. This will include the materials to be used, cost of material, labour and any extra costs that may be factored like transport.

Part of finding the right carpenter is to make sure that the person can do the work that you want and to your standard without going over budget. A quote from a carpenter should break down the costs involved. You will also want to make sure that the labour, cost of materials, and any other costs associated with the job are clearly outlined. This way, you will be sure of what you agree to when you sign a contract with the carpenter.


Ask your network for recommendations. Word of mouth is generally honest and can prove more reliable than a lot of online reviews. Skilled carpenters have a loyal base of followers who can vouch for their work. Ask about their communication skills as well as their job output.

Obtain quote comparisons

Get at least two or three quotes before you decide on your tradesperson. If you have a budget in mind, make that known to the carpenter who is quoting the job. If what you want can’t be achieved within budget, they can come up with a possible alternative for you. Don’t just settle for the first-in.

Materials and warranties

Materials vary in their quality and longevity. Ask what the carpenter intends to use for your project and do some research for yourself. Query their experience with the materials and why they choose to work specifically with those items. You can often uncover a lot about work ethic and skills through a simple question. Ask about the warranty for materials and workmanship.

Insurance and licenses

Work with a carpenter who is insured with the correct license to trade. In the case that anything goes wayward, you have the assurance that you are covered.

You can hire a carpenter for many projects around the home. Knowing who to select comes down to the questions you ask from the onset.

Ask About Guarantees

The final step before you select a carpenter to work with should be to check on guarantees. Does the service guarantee its work? What warranties are offered on the materials that will be used to complete the job? These are important questions that you should know the answers to so that if anything goes wrong, you will have coverage at a later date for repairs and replacements.

The Best Carpentry Tips and Advice

We asked carpentry pros who have spent years pounding thousands of nails to pass along some of the best of what they’ve learned on the job site.

Practice on test pieces for the perfect mitre

Fine-tuning a mitre for a perfect fit is often a trial-and-error process. Practice on smaller test pieces until you get your mitre saw set to exactly the right angle, then cut the actual parts.

Use the construction lumber as a template.

You see it in print and on TV everywhere—some stake and board contraption set up to hold strings to help position postholes, or layout footings or building footprints. But most of the time, there’s a much better way. Tack together the construction lumber to outline the structure, square it up and use it as a giant template to do all your marking. Set it aside to do your digging and replace it with setting the posts.

Use this formula to order framing materials.

You don’t need a math degree to estimate framing materials for walls. Here’s a formula that works every time, no matter how many doors, windows or corners your walls have:

One stud per linear foot of the wall.

Five linear feet of plate material (bottoms, tops and ties) per linear foot of the wall. It’ll look like too much lumber when it arrives, but you’ll need the extra stuff for corners, window and door frames, blocking and braces. Set aside the crooked stuff for short pieces.

Throw together a mitre saw bench.

Use materials on hand for this simple bench

Whether you’re working in your garage, out in the backyard building a shed or up at the in-laws’ cabin building a deck, take a few minutes and cobble together a mitre saw bench, With a little creativity, you can use just about any materials you have on hand. The only custom work you’ll need to do is to rip some spacer boards to make the outfeed support the same height as the saw table. It sure beats kneeling on the grass or perching the mitre saw on horses. And the bench does double duty as a super-convenient work surface too.

No more hand nailing

I haven’t hand-nailed a piece of interior trim in 25 years. Why? Because air-powered trim guns make the results so much faster, better and neater. No splits, no pre-drilling, no knocking the piece out of place as you hammer, and only itty-bitty holes to fill. The gun I paid $300 for back then can now be had for $125— and it’s better than the old one! If you’re going to buy just one size, the most versatile choice is one that shoots 5/8- to 2-inch 18-gauge brads.

Write measurements down

Stick masking tape to your tape measure for jotting down shapes and numbers. That way you won’t forget the length on the way to the saw.

Use the toenail trick to position lumber.

On my first job as a framing carpenter, I was beating on a stud to try to coax it into position. The stud just bounced back. A veteran framing carpenter walked over and drove a big nail at an angle through the edge of the stud. The last two hammer blows moved the stud into position, where it stayed. Now I use the toenail trick whenever I need to adjust stubborn lumber.

Use your pencil instead of your tape.

Early on in my carpentry career, I mismeasured and expensive baseboard and cut it too short. Instead of shouting, ‘You’re fired,’ my boss just said, ‘Don’t use your tape measure unless you have to.’ He was right. Holding trim in place and marking it is always more accurate than measuring, often faster and it eliminates mistakes. This is good advice for other types of carpentry work too, like siding, laying shingles and sometimes even framing.

Use nippers to pull nails.

Keep a pair of ‘nippers’ in your pouch whenever you’re doing trim carpentry. When you pull trim from the wall, use them for pulling the nails through the back of the trim.

Looking for high-end Melbourne carpentry services? Look no further! Hitch Property Constructions has you covered. 

Carry this multi-purpose hammer

Whether you’re doing rough construction or fine finish work, the best all-around hammer is a smooth-faced 20- ounce with a straight claw. I use the claw to drive it under walls for lifting, to embed it in framing and even to do extremely crude chiselling. But best of all, it’s a better shape for pulling nails than the curved claw style.

Carpenters aren’t tradespeople we frequently employ, which can make sorting the good from the bad tricky. Follow our top tips for hiring and working with the best local carpenters and joiners.

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