The Block 2015: How much should you be paying for trades for your renovation?

When it comes to trade bills, how much is too much?

To give you a ballpark figure, we’ve compared the average cost of different trades in Australia to help you avoid a budget dilemma - as showcased by some of the renovation rookies on The Block.

Plumber After a request from the judges, the designer from each Block team was invited to a round table discussion with Darren Palmer and Neale Whittaker to iron out some major issues such as time management, styling and of course, the constant, uphill battle of budgeting.

With some contestants spending $20,000 just on trades each week, there’s no wonder that they’ve been issued "budget warnings" as their funds run dry. When planning for a home renovation, you need to be up to speed with the average cost of trades to ensure you’re paying the market value (and you’re not getting gypped).

Drawing on recent data from Service Seeking, we’ve compared the average hourly rate of different trade services in major Australian states, as well as the average price changes of services, to give you an idea of just how much cash you should dish out for your trades.

New South Wales (NSW)

The average cost of home renovations in NSW has increased by 3.5% from the final quarter of 2014 until the final quarter of 2015. Tiling and paving services witnessed the greatest price increase of 21.3%, while the most significant price decrease was for flooring services which was down 14.8% from last year.

Trade serviceAverage CostPrice change (Q4 2014 - Q4 2015)
Carpentry$54.47 per hour
  • +4.1% from $52.34 per hour
Concreting$92.47 per square metre
  • - 7.3% from $99.75 per square metre
Electricians$64.87 per hour
  • - 1.8% from $66.08 per hour
Plastering$49.06 per hour
  • + 9.2% from $44.94 per hour
Plumbing$77.61 per hour
  • - 1.1% from $78.48 per hour
Tiling and paving$47.23 per square metre
  • + 21.3% from $38.95 per square metre

Victoria (VIC)

In Victoria, the average cost for a home renovation is up by 6.5% in the year leading up until the final quarter of 2015. The largest price increase was for electrical services which saw a 11.7% jump, while the greatest price decrease was for flooring which was down 12.7%.

Trade serviceAverage CostPrice change (Q4 2014 - Q4 2015)
Carpentry$52.32 per hour
  • + 7.9% from $48.49 per hour
Concreting$55.31 per square metre
  • + 4.8% from $52.77 per hour
Electricians$68.77 per hour
  • + 11.7% from $61.54 per hour
Plastering$49.11 per hour
  • + 6.7% from $46.03 per hour
Plumbing$74.88 per hour
  • + 7.7% from $69.53 per hour
Tiling and paving$45.91 per square metre
  • + 8.9% from $42.16 per square metre

Queensland (QLD)

If you’re thinking of renovating a property in Queensland, take advantage of lower landscaping and plumbing service costs which have fallen 15.8% and 21% respectively in the past 12 months. However, expect to pay more for tiling and paving services compared to last year, with prices up 8.9%.

Trade serviceAverage CostPrice change (Q4 2014 - Q4 2015)
Carpentry$50.01 per hour
  • + 1%  from $49.51 per hour
Concreting$61.17 per square metre
  • + 3.1% from $59.33 per square metre
Electricians$73.11 per hour
  • + 1.2% from $72.27 per hour
Plastering$50.25 per hour
  • + 4.5% from $48.07 per hour
Plumbing$74.85 per hour
  • - 2.1% from $76.49 per hour
Tiling and paving$74.85 per square metres
  • + 8.9% from $76.49 per square metre

Western Australia (WA)

In the past 12 months, Western Australia witnessed an average price increase of 6.4% across major renovation services. The most significant price increase was for tiling and paving which was up 21.9% from last year, whereas the greatest bargain this year is for flooring services which fell by 18.7%.

Trade serviceAverage CostPrice change (Q4 2014 - Q4 2015)
Carpentry$54.98 per hour
  • + 2.7% from $53.56 per hour
Concreting$63.39 per square metre
  • - 2.9% from $65.29 per square metre
Electricians$84.57 per hour
  • + 2.7% from $82.37 per hour
Plastering$50.96 per square metre
  • + 4% from $48.99 per hour
Plumbing$83.97 per hour
  • - 2.6% from $86.23 per hour
Tiling and paving$42.06 per square metre
  • + 21.9% from $34.49 per square metre

The latest renovation tips from the judges


Tip 1: It’s a myth that you have to spend money to make impact

As Shay and Dean have spent $20,000 per week on trades so far, the judges warn that the pair really need to cut back if they want their budget to last.

Tip 2: Don’t play by the rules- add a twist or a visual surprise

Describing the penthouse master bedroom as "boring", the judges tell the contestants the take more risks with their design choices and steer away from chlichés.

Tip 3: Confidence is key, commit to your style

While Ebony’s design confidence has taken a few knocks the judges tell her to commit to her style (but maybe get rid of the deco feel).

Tip 4: Time management is everything

As reno rookies Andrew and Whitney were unable to finish their room last week, the judges emphasise the importance of time management and task prioritisation.

Tip 5: Decor items, not “knick knacks”

While the judges couldn’t fault Kingi and Caro’s design, they did pull Caro up for using the term “knick knacks”, rather than “decor”.

Tip 6: Judging criteria revealed

Darren revealed the judging criteria that he uses for his scoring- marketability, design, inclusions and finish. These are the elements that the contestants need to ace in order to get a perfect score from the judging panel.

The next episode of The Block: Blocktagon airs tonight, Tuesday, 29 September, on Nine.

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Belinda Punshon

Belinda is a journalist here at Specialising in the home loans and property sections, she is passionate about helping Australians improve their financial wellbeing.

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