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Tradies are the hidden heroes of the housing crisis - why don't they get a fair go?

OPINION: Tradies are battling rising costs and a labour shortage so why should they have to fight so hard to get on the property ladder?

Australia is in the middle of a massive housing crisis. The finger-pointing game is well underway.

But as per usual, the truth comes down to basic economics. First - there’s demand.

Record-high immigration has pushed rents and house prices sky-high. This has left many young Australians and low-income families in the lurch.

The second factor is supply. Or in other words, our inability to build enough houses.

I’m sure you’ve read the headlines.

Every week, another construction company goes bust. Every month, there’s new stats showing that we’re not building anywhere near enough houses to keep up with demand.


But you can’t blame tradies.

Two tradesmen working on a construction site
Tradies are some of the most disadvantaged when it comes to getting on to the property ladder. (NCA Newswire/ Dan Peled)

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The cost of their core materials - concrete, steel, glass and timber - have gone up by about 40 per cent since the start of Covid.

This means tradies who took on fixed-price contracts a few years ago have been losing money by building new houses.

But - that’s just the beginning.

Rising interest rates have made it harder for tradies to make margins as indebted developers reign in costs at the subbie level.


Labour shortages mean some tradies can’t get enough workers on-site.

Don’t forget about the complex web of red tape that tradies have to navigate just to get a job off the ground.

But none of this is stopping them.

Every day, 1.9 million tradies still go to work.

They are building new houses; new roads; new electricity, sewage and drainage systems…you name it.

All while they take on more personal risk than your average salaried worker.

Why’s this?

Three tradesmen walking down the street with backpacks on.
Half of all tradies are self-employed which makes it more complicated to get finance for a home loan. (NCA Newswire/ Dan Peled)

Well - the building and construction industry has the largest share of independent contractors or self-employed workers in the country.

There are over 260,000 self-employed tradies, representing half of all the businesses in the industry.

The worst part is many of them are facing a massive issue when it comes to their own personal finances.

Get this.

Because so many tradies are self-employed, it's much more difficult for them to get a home loan.

How’s that for a fair go?

The people who are building the houses we need to fix the housing crisis are some of the most disadvantaged when it comes to conquering the housing crisis and getting on the property ladder.

Tradies deserve a fair go when it comes to getting their finances sorted.

From the plumbers and the bricklayers to the sparkies and every other warrior in the trades – take the fuss out of finance so they can get on with the job: building houses.

Mark Bouris is executive chairman of Yellow Brick Road, which is now offering tailored loan solutions for tradespeople through Tradie Loans.