News People Everything you know about tradies is true … except when it isn’t
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Everything you know about tradies is true … except when it isn’t

what do tradies charge
Tradies aren't what they used to be. Photo: Getty
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Is the builder’s bum crack truly dead as a cultural mainstay?

Probing further, is the brickie’s bowels a healthier domain – having abandoned the pie and Coke for morning tea and taken up with kale salads instead?

Hold my hammer while I check to see if the world is still turning.

Could it be true that the all-powerful tradesman of legend – that fellow who might arrive in two hours or two days, who gives a shrug instead of an apology after violating your carpet, and who never fails to bill for the accumulated four hours he spent whistling at women as they provocatively sauntered down the street – is a changed man, or woman?!

This is the news from ServiceSeeking.com.au, sort of an eBay for renovations and repairs, where tradies bid for jobs.

The website is using the tradie’s poor, unkempt image as a selling point – by conducting a survey of 1700 carpenters, plumbers and painters who tender for business on the site, to see how many of them own up to the bogan cowboy stereotype.

Amazingly, more than half of them (56 per cent) report never arriving late for a job.

The other 44 per cent can be congratulated for not lying. According to this in-house survey, the smoko is no more.

Three-quarters of tradesmen say they don’t smoke at all, while 16.6 per cent say they have one smoke a day, and 8.6 per cent own up to an industrial chimney-sized habit.

Some old habits die hard, though: talkback radio is the most popular ambient noise among tradies, and fair enough too – if we’re going to maintain these unkind prejudices against blue-collar sole traders and their helpers, then surely, their own prejudices deserve the vigorous support of the likes of Alan Jones and Jon Faine.

However, one in five listen to podcasts – which could mean true crime, New Age reprogramming of the soul or Alan Jones’ greatest hits.

I presume that whoever did the survey for ServiceSeeking.com.au was too scared to ask tradies the hard questions – about them smelling bad and ripping people off.

However, they were put to customers of the site. Some figures matched up: about 9 per cent of the customers complained about their tradesman “always” putting their tools down for a cigarette.

Only 3 per cent complained about them wolf-whistling women – less than the 3.7 per cent who complained of body odour. Good one!

However, 11 per cent said that tradies “are lazy and leave a mess”, and nearly a third (31.21 per cent) said that tradesmen “will rip you off given the chance”.

And here’s the one that probably hurts the most: only 5 per cent reckoned their tradie, tool belt and all, was good looking.

In my experience, they can be very sensitive, cultured people.

There’s a painter and plasterer I know who listens to the opera, cooks a marvellous pound cake, cuts his mother’s hair and has the flavoursome habit of flattening his homemade hamburger patties under his armpit before they go on the barbie.

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