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Tool Investment: Analysing the Spending Habits of Different Trades on Tools

Rhino Trade Insurance 11 March 2024

The tool industry in the UK is worth around £1.5bn. If you’re a tradesperson operating a sole trader or limited company trades business, then you have a slice of this pie sitting in your work van right now. 

Join Rhino as we look at how much different trades spend on tools and which tools are the priciest of them all. We’ll also look at the most important thing of all – how to protect your precious tool collection.

Spending Trends on Tools by Trade – The Top 5

The term ‘trades’ covers such a wide variety of different jobs and specialisms. From carpenters to chimney sweeps, gas engineers to gardeners – the actual tools of your trade will be unique to the work that you do.

But which trade spends the most on their tools? * Here are the top five:

1. Caretaker / Maintenance 

Storming in at number one is the caretaker/ maintenance professional who apparently spends a staggering £1,753 each year just on tools. 

It makes sense when you think about it. A full set of hand tools, equipment for basic electrical and plumbing tasks, cleaning materials as well as larger items such as stepladders, trolleys, grit spreaders and many more items are necessary to succeed at a role like this, where you need to be an ‘all-rounder’ and ready for anything. 

2. Electrician

It’s no secret that electrical tools tend to be expensive, and the average amount UK sparkies spend on tools annually tots up at £1,546. Whether that’s upgrading existing kit or splashing out on more advanced tools to make the job safer and easier, it’s a sizeable sum.

3. Plasterer

Maybe a surprise entry at number three, plasterers are the tradespeople who spend the third highest amount on their tools annually. You might think a plasterer’s tools are relatively low-cost, but it’s not all trowels and hawks – there’s plenty of other kit needed to polish off a professional plastering job, and it all costs to the tune of £1,502 each year on average.

4. Builder

Whether it’s an extension or a full-blown new house, those structures don’t go up without some serious tools and equipment. A builder’s kit will include everything from basic hand tools to bulky electronic equipment like air compressors. Builders spend a lot on their tools each year – an average of £1,318. 

5. Joiner

In at number five we have joiners, who spend £1,247 on tools every year. Those hammers and chisels don’t come cheap! t’s worth mentioning that these sums aren’t just spent on buying new tools, but also on tool repair. 

So, there you have it, the biggest-spending trades when it comes to tools. Honourable mentions go to bricklayers, who spend an average of £964 every year on tools, carpenters, who drop £804 per year and plumbers who part with £769 each year on tool purchase and repair. 

And Who Spends the Least?

By contrast, the lowest-spending trades when it comes to tools are scaffolders, who spend a comparatively small £367 on tools each year. Interestingly, scaffolders are also the most likely to repair their own kit when it breaks. 

Tools being damaged is a big problem for most trades, as they get used and abused throughout the working week then are often slung together in a toolbox every night. It’s not just amassing a collection of tools that is costly, tool repair can really burn a hole in the pocket, too. 

Are You Driving Around in a Moving Target?

When you climb into your van in the mornings, do you feel like you’re about to drive off in a pot of gold? Probably not, but research shows that your average tradesperson’s van holds thousands of pounds worth of tools.

Unfortunately, this is why trades vans are such an appealing target for thieves. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that tool theft is a big problem in the UK these days, with a tool nicked every 23 minutes. 

Let’s take a look at which tools are the most commonly stolen: **

  • Chainsaw

One of these bad boys will set you back £138 on average. Their price tag is precisely why they’re easy picking for thieves and rank as the most-stolen tool.

  • Drill

Drills are a tradesperson’s favourite and are indispensable in hundreds of trades from carpentry to electricals. They’re also a favourite with burglars and are the second-most stolen tool. 

  • Grinder

Grinders are a highly useful tradesperson accessory, with few jobs being possible without them. Their average value is £129, so they are commonly stolen for a quick re-sale from work vans and job sites up and down the UK.

  • Nail Gun

These handy power tools are a must for any construction-related trade, including joinery and carpentry. They’re also expensive, with their average cost an eye-watering £369. They also hold the dubious title of the fourth-most stolen tool in the UK. 

  • Spanner

This one made us shake our heads – who would steal a spanner? But apparently, spanners are stolen every year from hardworking tradespeople like you. It could be that they are always part of any toolkit, so if the whole kit goes, so do the spanners!

  • Pressure washer

These handy machines are big-ticket items for both honest tradespeople and unfortunately, thieves. They cost around £172 to buy new, so that’s a lot of money wasted if they’re stolen.

The Importance of Tools Insurance

Now we get to the really useful part. It’s all very well knowing that your tools cost an arm and a leg, and that they’re vulnerable to being stolen. But now we’re going to tell you how you can protect your investment and secure the value of your tools in a few clicks.

It’s time for you to meet Tools in Transit Insurance. This is a bestselling policy crafted by the trade insurance experts here at Rhino, and it will protect your valuable assets from theft, loss or damage for up to £7,500. 

Our tool cover is going to help you sleep at night, knowing that you won’t need to pay out a potentially huge sum to replace your tools should something happen to them. 

Our tool cover is so simple and effective, there’s a reason why it’s the policy of choice for thousands of UK tradespeople. You get your documents issued immediately, and you’re immediately covered for up to £7.5K for the repair or replacement of your tools. You can do the whole thing from your smartphone, and your policy will protect your vital kit from harm. 

And Don’t Forget Van Insurance

With the average tradesperson’s tool set being worth a hefty £4,300 ***, it’s safe to say the contents of your van are worth a pretty penny.

But what about your van itself? Protecting your work vehicle should be high on any tradesperson’s list, as not only does it double as your tool shed, but it’s also what gets you to and from jobs. You’d be stumped without it, so a Van Insurance policy designed for tradespeople is a must. 

Luckily, Rhino has you covered in this department, too. Our Van Insurance protects you financially if your trusty van is lost, stolen or vandalised and will cover the cost of its repair or replacement. With a quick and fuss-free claims process, Rhino’s Van Insurance will have you back on the job in no time.


*Research conducted by ElectricalDirect



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