Why are tradies so expensive?

All of us have felt the crunch of rising prices lately - and unfortunately trades have also been affected. 

So you’re not alone in thinking - why are these tradies so expensive?

Hopefully this article will help you understand a little bit more about what you are paying for and why sometimes just searching for the cheapest option might not be the best bet for the long term…

Well, when you pay for any tradie, the bill is often covering far more aspects than you may initially think of. These include: 

1. Materials

Tradies have to cover the costs of the materials they use to complete your jobs. These could include piping for plumbers or cabling for electricians etc. The prices of all these materials have also increased significantly with inflation. 

Seems pretty straightforward, however, the materials a company chooses to use will affect the cost of the job overall. 

This is because some tradies will use higher quality materials that are going to last longer and, as such, offer longer warranty periods. 

For example, Clipsal switches are super cheap but only have a one year warranty, meaning if they are faulty after this period you are on your own in getting them fixed or replaced.

In comparison, Voltex switches (which we use here at 181 Electrical) offer a 25 year warranty. 

Of course, they are initially more expensive, however, they should last you a very long time, saving you the potential inconvenience of frequent breaks and needing to book tradies. 

Choosing materials that have a long warranty will also often mean that if the item breaks within the warranty period the electrician who installed it will come out to replace it free of charge.

Indeed, that is our policy here at 181 Electrical (subject to Terms & Conditions specified on the initial quote). 

Essentially, by investing a bit more in the job at the beginning, you can have peace of mind that the work is going to last and operate safely.  

2. Licenses and Insurance

This is one of the most important things to check when engaging the services of a tradesperson. Unfortunately, it is also something tradies can avoid getting to keep their costs down. 

It is very important that your chosen tradesperson has a CURRENT license in their field.

You can check whether the company or individual you have chosen has a current licence using these links: 

Electricians (ESV): https://portal-public.energysafe.vic.gov.au/prod/RECView.html

Builders (VBA): https://consumer.etoolbox.buildingcommission.com.au/Pages/Search.aspx

Plumbers (VBA): https://consumer.etoolbox.pic.vic.gov.au/_layouts/cc/pic_validatepp.aspx

Carpenters (VBA): https://consumer.etoolbox.buildingcommission.com.au/Pages/Search.aspx

Refrigeration (ARC): https://www.lookforthetick.com.au/licence-check/

It is also very important that they have public liability insurance against personal injury and/or damage to property. 

The minimum cover on this public liability insurance is $5 million. 

At 181 Electrical we have $20 million cover for public liability. You can ask your chosen tradesperson for information regarding their insurances that will protect you and your property.

You can also use this link to find out if a company has had any disciplinary action taken out against them:


3. Wages

The most obvious reason you will pay quite a bit for a tradie in Australia is because we have some of the highest wages in the world. This is great because it means there are more opportunities, people are paid well for their time and fewer people live on the poverty line. 

However, it can mean that prices for services such as plumbing, electrics and carpentry may seem a little high in Australia compared to other countries. 

Wages may have also recently been increased at certain companies to keep up with inflation. 

Furthermore, when you engage the services of a tradesperson, you are often not only paying the wages of the individual who completed the job, but may also be paying for the administration assistant or office manager that organises your appointments and assists in the general operation of the business. 

4. Experience and Expertise

A more expensive electrician often has more experience and expertise than a cheaper one. 

They may have received more extensive training and certifications, allowing them to provide higher quality work and ensure the safety of their clients. 

By choosing a more experienced and knowledgeable electrician, clients can avoid costly mistakes and potentially dangerous electrical issues.

5. Equipment/uniforms 

Vans filled with tools and equipment required to complete your job cost A LOT of money. These things need to be paid for, maintained, and replaced when necessary. 

The same thing goes for employee uniforms that need to be replaced when they are worn out or damaged (which will happen faster in trades than corporate or retail spaces).  

6. Marketing 

Unfortunately, in order for you to find a tradesperson they will most likely have had to pay for marketing in various forms. 

This may include Google Ads, social media ads, tactile materials such as fliers and sign writing on vehicles. 

7. Consistent training

Some trade companies will require their technicians to complete frequent training to ensure their skills are up to scratch and/or they are trained to use the latest technology. 

These companies may charge a little more as they have to cover the costs of this training to ensure the highest quality of work that complies with current Victorian Government regulations. 

What to look out for if you receive a surprisingly cheap quote from a tradesperson

Let’s say you have received a few quotes from different companies and one of them is markedly cheaper than the others - great you’ve found a bargain! Right?

Well maybe… 

There are a few reasons one company could be cheaper than others. For example, the company may have chosen the product you are after as a ‘loss leader’ (a product that is underpriced to get new customers engaged with the company). 

In this case you have hit the jackpot and are very lucky.

However, sometimes lower costs can mean the company is cutting corners. Here are a few questions to ask if you are presented with a very cheap quote:

  1. Do you offer warranty fixes? 
  2. Do you use materials that are covered by long term warranty?
  3. Do you have a current licence in your field (for example, you can ask an electrician to provide their REC licence or look them up yourself HERE
  4. Do you have public liability insurance? How much does that insurance cover?

In summary - unfortunately there is no standardisation when it comes to pricing in the trade industry. 

This means there are some extra enquiries you might need to make to ensure you are getting your money's worth and can trust the technicians you are hiring with your property. 

We hope this article helps you feel more in control when engaging a tradesperson in the future. 

If you have any questions or would like to book one of our technicians to provide a quote please get in touch using the button below or on 0403 734 299. 

Liam Dove181 Electrical TeamAlex Botto181 Electrical Team181 Electrical Team181 Electrical Team

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