“She handed me a plunger, but I’m a sparkie?!” – Tradies share hilarious miscommunication mishaps

Paul Eyers
By Paul Eyers
5 Min Read

It’s arguably the most essential tool used in any job… and you can’t even buy it from Bunnings. 

‘Communication’ may not require hands-on use, but it’s arguably the easiest way to make or break any project, with one slip of the tongue at risk of transforming a dream job into a total nightmare.

And while a good worker never blames his tools, tradies know first-hand the hilarious and sometimes dangerous situations that can arise as a result of miscommunication. 

From cleaning the carpets at the wrong house to handing a sparkie a plunger or being asked to install aircon in a dog kennel – a new survey of Aussie tradies has revealed exactly what happens when communication with clients goes horribly wrong. 

The data from online tradie marketplace, hipages, shows nearly 9-in-10 tradies have experienced miscommunication on the job.

Over half of tradies say they experienced misunderstandings with clients over measurements and materials, which can lead to mistakes, re-orders and re-dos. 

52 per cent say clients changing their mind on key project aspects had been a problem. At the same time, just under half had experienced customers reluctant to change a pre-planned project, assuming all changes would incur additional costs. 

Predominantly caused by change of minds, technical terminology and misunderstandings of common ‘tradie lingo’, the inability to correctly communicate expectations, plans and project particulars can lead to some hilarious situations.

Incorrect instructions troubling tradies

Nearly a third of tradies said homeowners had mistaken their field’s nickname with another type of trade, including one shocked client who handed an electrician a plunger after mistaking the word ‘sparky’ to mean plumber.

Meanwhile, one tradie went so far as to completely clean the carpets in the wrong house after the landlord gave the incorrect address. 

And another was left shocked and confused when hired to install an air conditioner into a dog kennel. 

But it isn’t all fun and laughter, with many miscommunications leading to increased safety hazards and dangerous situations. 

Electrical work was a key area of concern, including requests for powerpoints close to water sources and work too close to exterior power lines. 

Sydney-based builder Fouad Reaiche says his building firm, ETH Group, is no stranger to client miscommunication, telling Build-it that honest and open conversations are essential to achieving client satisfaction. 

“I’ve seen that clients often miscommunicate the quality standards in terms of project specifics that they want you to adhere to,”  Fouad told Build-it.  

“There’s that grey area of what they want versus what you’re building in your head.” 

“Opening lines of communication on expectations and what they want to get out of the project is worth focusing on.” 

Sydney based builder Fouad says tradies must have open and clear conversations with their clients to avoid any potential miscommunications.

Top tips for clear communication: 

  • Double-check all job details 
  • Take measurements in person when possible 
  • Show visuals/ images of materials to clients
  • Confirm project details in writing via email or text messages
  • Be open and honest about costs and budget constraints  

Commissioned by hipages in conjunction with Thrive Insights, the research was conducted earlier this year and asked 400 Australian trade business decision-makers about client miscommunication experiences. 

Hipages Customer Experience Advisor Donna Hole told Build-it the report was conducted to highlight the importance of accurate communication between tradies and their clients. 

“At hipages, we understand how important communication is between homeowners and the tradies on our platform,” she told Build-it.

“To help prevent miscommunication, big or small, and ensure that both tradies and homeowners are at ease, saving time and money, hipages is encouraging Aussie homeowners to always double-check the job details with their tradies.”

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Paul Eyers has worked as a journalist for a range of media publishers including News Corp and Network Ten. He has also worked outside of Australia, including time spent with ABS-CBN in the Philippines. Stepping away from the media, Paul spent five years sharpening his tools in construction - building his skill set and expertise within the trade industry. His diverse experiences and unique journey have equipped him with an insider view of Australia’s construction game to dig deep into the big stories.