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eTradesman.com.au - Australia's Online Tradesman Directory

Tradesman NEWS - Shock In Trade

Your ''renovators' delight'' is about to get even more expensive to knock into shape. Nationwide, government, business and household spending on construction are all picking up at the same time, which means it's going to cost more for that professional lick of paint and electrical rewiring of the typical three-bedroom bungalow. According to Housing Industry Association economist Ben Phillips, an acute skills shortage means domestic electricians, plumbers, and other repairmen will be able to slap on another 6 to 7 per cent this year to their bills. ''Historically, trade wages have grown at around 3 per cent to 4 per cent per annum,'' said Mr Phillips. ''During the slowdown of the past 18 months, wages have gone nowhere. This will start to turn around as shortages re-appear.'' Extra costs for domestic ''tradies'' are the last thing many homeowners want to cop at a time when rising mortgage rates have already added about $150 to typical monthly repayment. Those purchasing houses at the end of 2009 were also shelling out about 12 per cent more than they might have a year earlier as Australia's median house prices continued their seemingly relentless climb. Indeed, those rising prices meant many buyers snapped up homes requiring significant renovation, fearing they'd cost more in the future. The haste was perhaps felt most by many first-home buyers anxious not to miss out on federal government assistance before it ran out last year. One New South Wales renter said she and her husband inspected a tiny three-bedroom brick home in Forestville "with a dire need for a new kitchen and bathroom and dank basement area that had obviously flooded multiple times."
<-center> It was advertised for $780,000 and attracted 200 people at the open house. "Even after the estate agent revealed the serious drainage problems with the property, it still sold for around $880,000." And the evidence of rising bills for tradesmen isn't just anecdotal. The New South Wales branch of the National Electrical and Communications Association, the peak body for domestic electricians in the state, recommended a 7.6 per cent hike in fees in its latest update for recommended charges. NECA recommends paying $92.43 an hour for construction or installation work in its November update, revising its schedule from its April 2008 guidelines. Value For Money<-b> Of course, that's not to say being a tradesman is easy or safe work, as the recent electrocution deaths of the four insulation installers working for government energy-saving plan demonstrates. Brisbane electrician Adam Stapleton says $100 an hour is easily justified by the nature and training required for the job. "The perception is that we get paid a lot more than we're worth but there's no truth to it,'' said Mr Stapleton, 31, an electrician with AJ Electrical Solutions. Almost 1700 kilometres to the south, Geelong plumber Kane Lewis also defends his profession, arguing that public perceptions of wealthy tradesmen are unfounded. ''I think we're fairly well-paid but I don't think we're making as much as a lot of people think,'' 40 year-old Mr Lewis said. ''You can make around $100,000 a year if you have a very good year,'' he said. ''If you are doing ongoing maintenance and jobs for little old ladies, there's not as much money in it,'' Mr Lewis added. Still, the widely held sense that tradies are doing relatively well - at least at the top end of those skilled - is backed up by the numbers. A report out this week examining past wage increases among tradesmen points to higher prices for mechanical technicians, electricians, and builders employed in both domestic and commercial jobs. The Centre for Labour Market Research at the University of Canberra found that the richest 20 per cent of tradesmen and women saw their incomes rise faster than the average from 2001 to 2006,
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