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Canberra landscapers' prices plummet

Date

Matthew Raggatt

Troy Sanderson, of Chisholm, who operates landscaping business Man Van Mower, pictured on the job.

Troy Sanderson, of Chisholm, who operates landscaping business Man Van Mower, pictured on the job. Photo: Graham Tidy

Need to get a tradie in to do some work? It might cost less than you think. Canberra tradespeople have had to drop their prices to attract work, with hourly rates at their lowest levels since March last year, new national data has found. 

The quarterly data from online services marketplace ServiceSeeking.com.au showed hourly rates across seven of the eight surveyed trade occupations fell compared with the June quarter last year. 

Plumbers were the only category to buck the trend, with a 3.9 per cent rise, as the figures suggested the average ACT trade job - still more expensive than any other jurisdiction - cost nearly $5 per hour less than it did at the end of March. 

ServiceSeeking chief executive Jeremy Levitt said a move by many consumers to online quotes may have contributed to the overall 7 per cent fall, although the ACT and NSW were the only jurisdictions where the trade prices declined.

"There's a great percentage of trade companies that are using online services like ServiceSeeking," he said. "There's more power to the consumer, greater choice, and if tradies want to win their work, they've got to sharpen their prices."

The figures, based on 363 accepted jobs across the trades, showed Canberra landscapers had the largest quarterly drop compared with the same time last year, down by 65 per cent. However, the category also includes gardeners - viewed as being an easier business to start up - and the figure was skewed by small volumes.

Electricians and plasterers were offering the next-best discounts, as they charged on average $10 per hour less than in 2013, a 14 per cent and 20 per cent saving for customers respectively.    

Troy Sanderson, of Chisholm, said like several mates he had changed jobs to work for himself as a landscaper and gardener. "There's more and more gardeners out there that can do the work ... and people are just trying to save money," he said.

Fyshwick-based painter Guy Glendening said while he refused to drop his price of $75 an hour, there had been a big dip in the number of commercial and residential quotes he had offered between mid-January and June. 

A painter in Canberra for 22 years, Mr Glendening said tradespeople from Sydney had been the biggest source of downwards price pressure in the past four years, although the harbour city's booming property market had now made them less noticeable.

ServiceSeeking, founded in 2007, has more than 99,000 businesses registered nationally. 

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