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Is the renovation boom over? Data shows demand for tradies softening

Tradies have only seen a modest one per cent increase in hourly rates over the last quarter, suggesting demand for tradies is cooling. Coming off a renovation boom, tradies have experienced a four per cent hike in hourly rates over the last year, according to data from hire-a-tradie site ServiceSeeking.com.au.

Building approval data provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals a mixed bag for tradies. Year on year, private sector house approvals are up 4.4 per cent, whereas private sector dwellings excluding houses (for example apartments) are down 5.1 per cent year on year. Some up, some down – so what does this mean?

Of concern for tradies is the 0.4 per cent fall in value of building approvals for alterations and additions to residential buildings in September 2017, which has continued to fall for the last two months. There is less money up for grabs and tradies need to be sharper with their prices.

Recent data released by ServiceSeeking.com.au reported a less than impressive quarterly change across most states, with CEO Jeremy Levitt predicting a slowing down in renovation activity.

“Compared to the quarterly change in hourly rates at the same time last year we can see that demand for tradies is falling off. There is a cooling in renovation activity and a softening in tradies’ prices. Last year alone saw New South Wales experience a nine per cent hike in hourly rates, and a five per cent rise across Australia. This year shows a different story,” said Levitt.

So which trades are out in the cold over the last quarter?
  • Plasterers rates down by six per cent to $48.60/hour
  • Painters down by one per cent to $44.40/hour
  • Landscapers down by less than one per cent to $54.15/hour
  • Plumbers down by less than one per cent to $85.60/hour

Hourly rates are ‘gross’ rates and, as well as the cost of labour, also cover the cost of running the business, including insurance, tools, work vehicles and superannuation.

The prices were derived by comparing a sample of 52,000 quotes submitted during the FY18 Q1 through ServiceSeeking.com.au.

National Average
Hourly Rates
FY18Q1 FY17Q4 Quarterly
Change (%)
FY17Q1 Year-on-year
Change (%)
Builders $67.85 $63.50 7% $62.10 8%
Carpenters $61.30 $60.45 1% $55.10 11%
Electricians $77.60 $76.25 2% $75.55 3%
Landscapers $54.15 $54.35 <1% $62.30 -13%
Painters $44.40 $44.90 -1% $42.90 4%
Plasterers $48.60 $51.85 -6% $49.10 -1%
Plumbers $85.60 $85.95 <1% $82.55 4%
Tilers $55.85 $52.05 7% $46.30 21%
All Trades Average $61.90 $61.15 <1% $59.55 4%

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