In the final part of our comprehensive series examining build costs, David Snell looks at the figures for decorating, flooring and landscaping with this detailed cost breakdown.

Focusing specifically on the finishing tasks, many self-builders choose to take on the role of decorator and landscaper themselves — and many make a pretty good job of it. But do be aware that making mistakes in the finishing touches can detract from the quality of the house — so make sure you know what you are doing.

The Costs

The Decoration

The decorator is one of the most important site trades, as it is their job to repair the mistakes, rough patches and holes left by other trades.

Decorators are presumed to supply their own tools such as scrapers and Stanley knives but it is usual for things like brushes, rollers and other ancillaries to be provided by their clients — i.e you

Prime 544 linear metres of internal woodwork prior to fixing – 2.5 days’ labour @ £135 per day £337.50
Prime 23 internal doors – 1.5 days’ labour @ £135 per day £202.50
6 x 5-litre cans primer @ £34.42 each £206.52
VAT @ 20% £41.30
Undercoat internal woodwork – 4 days’ labour @ £135 per day £540.00
Undercoat 23 internal doors – 1.5 days’ labour @ £135 per day £202.50
10 x 5-litre cans undercoat @ £20.11 each £201.10
VAT @ 20% £40.22
Gloss internal woodwork – 5.5 days’ labour @ £135 per day £742.50
Gloss internal doors – 1.5 days’ labour @ £135 per day £202.50
10 x 5-litre cans gloss paint @ £17.73 each £177.30
VAT @ 20% £35.46
Emulsion walls and ceilings (950m²) – 26 days’ labour @ £135 per day £3,510.00
13 x 15-litre tubs white emulsion @ £30 each £390.00
VAT @ 20% £78.00
37 tubes decorator’s caulk @ £1.81 each £66.97
VAT @ 20% £13.39
105m² external render paintwork (2 coats) – 3.5 days’ labour @ £135 per day £472.50
4 x 5-litre tins white external wall covering @ £19.70 each £78.80
VAT @ 20% £15.76
2 boxes internal filler @ £7.94 each £15.88
VAT @ 20% £3.18
1 bottle white spirit £2.56
VAT @ 20% £0.51
1 masonry paint brush £5.99
VAT @ 20% £1.20
3 x 2” brushes @ £5.40 each £16.20
VAT @ 20% £3.24
3 x 9” roller kits @ £5.96 each £17.88
VAT @ 20% £3.58
1 packet medium glass paper and 1 packet fine glass paper @ £1.46 each £2.92
VAT @ 20% £0.58
Subtotal £7,628.54

Ceramic Tiling

Sticking tiles on walls or laying them on floors may seem simple. But it can be extremely time-consuming for the amateur. There are also sequences and starting points that may not be apparent to those who have not done it before.

Always insist on a flexible adhesive for floor tiles laid over underfloor central heating. Use waterproof grout in most wetroom and kitchen environments.

6m² kitchen wall tiles @ say £30/m² £180.00
VAT @ 20% £36.00
70m² wall tiles @ say £10/m² £700.00
VAT @ 20% £140.00
8 x 15kg tubs waterproof wall tile adhesive @ £16.82 each £134.56
VAT @ 20% £26.91
3 x 3.5kg bags white waterproof grout @ £8.74 each £26.22
VAT @ 20% £5.24
3 packets 2.5mm spacers @ £2.40 each £7.20
VAT @ 20% £1.44
Labour @ £20/m² £1,520.00
50m2 ceramic floor tiles @ say £20/m² £1,000.00
VAT @ 20% £200.00
8 x 20kg bags flexible floor tile adhesive @ £43 each £344.00
VAT @ 20% £68.80
3 x 5kg bags grey grouting @ £9.41 each £28.23
VAT @ 20% £5.65
3 packets 5mm spacers @ £3.99 each £11.97
VAT @ 20% £2.39
Labour @ £25/m² £1,250.00
Subtotal £5,688.60

Timber Flooring and Carpets

Fitting click-lock flooring on a level base is relatively easy and may be a job for the self-builder. Many carpet suppliers throw the cost of the fitting in for free or at such a cheap rate that it doesn’t really make sense to fit your own.

92m² click-lock engineered timber flooring, single strip 15mm thick @ £30/m² £2,760.00
VAT @ 20% £552.00
6 rolls underlay @ £60 each £360.00
VAT @ 20% £72.00
Carpenter and labourer, 3 days @ £258 per day £774.00
150m2 carpet – supply and lay incl underlay, to include loft area, @ say £25m² £3,750.00
VAT (not recoverable) @ 20% £750.00
Subtotal £9,018.00

Landscaping

This assumes a 1,000m² plot. No flower beds or hard landscaping other than pathways, patios, driveway and fencing have been allowed for. Regulations stipulate that driveways, or areas of hard paving greater than 5m², to the front of a house must either be in permeable material or have drains to prevent surface water finding its way onto the carriageway. These costings allow for a covered drainage channel across the bellmouth leading to a simple soakaway within the front lawn area.

Hardcore driveway, patio and paths base – 50 tons @ £13 per ton £650.00
VAT @ 20% £130.00
Ganger plus 2 labourers @ £39.63 per hour, 4 days £1,268.16
Digger hire, 4 days @ £200 per day £800.00
VAT @ 20% (not recoverable £160.00
110m2 Bradstone Woburn Rumbled 50mm block paviors @ £20.99/m² £2,308.90
VAT @ 20% £461.78
50 x 25kg bags kiln-dried sand @ £3.48 each £174.00
VAT @ 20% £34.80
6 drainage channels and covers @ £11.50 each £69.00
VAT @ 20% £13.80
3 x 3m 110mm pipe @ £14.90 each £44.70
VAT @ 20% £8.94
2 drainage collars @ £4.88 each £9.76
VAT @ 20% £1.95
1m³ concrete £105.62
VAT @ 20% £21.12
Ganger plus 2 labourers @ £39.63 per hour, 5 days £1,585.20
705 riven paving slabs – 450mm x 450mm @ £1.30 each £916.50
VAT @ 20% £183.30
4 bags building sand @ £32 per bag 128.00
VAT @ 20% £25.60
40 bags ordinary Portland cement @ £2.90 each £116.00
VAT @ 20% £23.20
Ganger plus 1 labourer @ £27.63 per hour, 9 days £1,989.36
586m2 turf @ £2.40m² £1,406.40
Ganger plus 2 labourers @ £39.63 per hour, 4 days £1,268.16
Posts, rails and boards for close-boarded fence package, 120 metres @ £20/m £2,400.00
VAT @ 20% £480.00
2m3 concrete @ £105.62/m³ £211.24
VAT @ 20% £42.25
Ganger plus 1 labourer @ £27.63 per hour, 8 days £1,768.32
Subtotal £18,806.06
Finishing Trades Total £41,141.20
(of which recoverable VAT) £2,773.59

How to reduce these costs:

  • Taking on the role of decorator could save £6,000.
  • Carrying out the ceramic tiling, if you know what you’re doing, could save around £3,000.
  • Laying the click-lock timber floor could save £774. But other forms of timber flooring might be best left to professionals.
  • Laying your own turf could save around £1,200 but remember, it’s not just a question of laying — there’s a lot of initial preparation and raking.

Our Benchmark House

The floorplan for the house costed within this series measures up at 227m² — much larger than the average family home. Four bedrooms on the smaller first floor share three bathrooms. Downstairs, the living spaces flow easily onto one another, with an open plan family kitchen being the hub of home life.

All prices correct at time of writing, November 2011

Special thanks to Estimators Limited (estimators-online.com 0161 286 8601) and Design & Materials Limited (designandmaterials.uk.com 0845 404 0400) for their help in the preparation of this series of articles.

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