The internal carpenter and joiner may well be the same chap that did the first fix and roof, but not always. Indeed, the two skills are quite different in many ways, with the roof and first fix carpentry largely dealing with sawn lumber that doesn’t have to look that pretty, but does have to have structural integrity, whilst second fix carpentry, which also gets called joinery, deals with prepared timber — the finish of which is all important.

The division of the trade into first fix, roof and second fix is, however, not at all clear cut. Window boards, which were costed in ‘Part Three: The Superstructure’ are first fix items. They are often done just before the plastering, but not always, as it is possible to secretly fix them afterwards, thus avoiding damage. Door linings are first fix but are similarly left until just before plastering, or in some cases until afterwards in order to prevent damage. The vertical stud walls in the loft are costed here but could well have been included in the roof section, especially as their plastering and insulation has already been accounted for. Staircases that are to be carpeted are often fixed at the earlier stages of the build to facilitate access to the upper part, but those where the timber is to be exposed or decorative are left until the last possible moment. Balustrading and handrails are nearly always left until just before decoration.

Boxing in around soil and vent pipes is normally carried out by the carpenter using either plywood or plasterboard over a 50mm x 25mm sawn batten framework, and much of this has to be done before the plasterer comes in. However, not all can, and boxing around pipes and behind toilets etc. may have to wait until after the plumber has finished second fixing the sanitaryware. Normally there is no need to buy extra materials for this, as leftovers from other works can be used. The decorative effects on this are mitigated by the probability that these areas are often tiled.

The kitchen units may well be fixed by the carpenter and these costings have assumed that. However, specialist kitchen supply firms may have their own operatives. For ease, the associated works to the kitchen and utility room areas by the plumbers and electricians are also costed in this section. Timber or laminated worktops would normally be fitted by the carpenters or kitchen fitters, but granite worktops, as assumed here, are normally fitted by the suppliers with the cost of that fitting included in their price.

Although this is a high-specification house, these costings assume a default of standard redwood joinery, which can be stained or painted. They also assume standard internal doors at a cost per door of £25, whereas it’s possible to spend ten times that amount or more. The staircase, however, is costed as American white oak, as this can be considered an architectural item in its own right.

First Fix vs Second Fix

First fix comprises all the work required to take a building from foundation stage to plastering the internal walls. Second fix comprises all the work after the plastering to a finished house, meaning it requires a neater finish than first fix.

The Costs

Internal and Second Fix Joinery

There are two built-in wardrobes in the dressing area of the master bedroom and it is assumed that these will have the same doors as for the rest of the house. All other bedrooms are assumed to have freestanding wardrobes. As the attic is not a habitable space, there is no requirement for fire doors to habitable rooms. But if this situation changed, the door linings and the affected doors would double in cost.

162m 47mm x 100mm studding @ £1.08/m £174.96
VAT @ 20% £34.99
3 x 25kg boxes 100mm round wire nails @ £31.96 each £95.88
VAT @ 20% £19.18
87m redwood rebated internal door framing @ £3.76/m £327.12
VAT @ 20% £65.42
3 boxes 70mm x 5mm screws @ £4.85 each £14.55
VAT @ 20% £2.91
15 standard internal doors @ £25 each £375.00
VAT @ 20% £75.00
4 pairs standard internal double doors @ £60 each £240.00
VAT @ 20% £48.00
19 packs door furniture @ £10.14 each £192.66
VAT @ 20% £38.53
252m softwood moulded skirting @ £2.77/m £698.04
VAT @ 20% £139.61
5 x 2.5kg packs 65mm lost head nails @ £7.49 each £37.45
VAT @ 20% £7.49
205m softwood moulded architrave @ £1.66/m £340.30
VAT @ 20% £68.06
2 x 2.5kg packs 40mm oval nails @ £10.29 each £20.58
VAT @ 20% £4.12
Insulated GRP loft hatch £20.50
VAT @ 20% £4.10
Aluminium loft ladder £57.00
VAT @ 20% £11.40
American white oak staircase complete with balustrading, aprons, stringers, handrails etc. £3,197.00
VAT @ 20% £639.40
37m 50 ex 50mm x 25mm PAR (planed all round) for airing cupboard and wardrobe shelving @ 86p/m £31.82
VAT @ 20% £6.36
2 coat rails @ £10.27 each and 1 @ £5.14 £25.68
VAT @ 20% £5.14
Carpenter and joiner for 17 days @ £162 per day £2,754.00
Subtotal £9,772.25

Kitchen and Utility Room Units and Appliances

The kitchen units are white melamine, soft closing with satin-finish ‘D’ handles. White goods are also included but their VAT element needs to be identified as this is not recoverable. Many self-builders choose to save money by economising on the units and finishings that are to be hidden away in the utility room.

Kitchen units, ready assembled incl extractor hood, sinks and all decorative features @ say £11,120.00
VAT @ 20% £2,224.00
Appliances (oven, hob, dishwasher, washing machine, refrigerator, freezer) @ say £2,380.00
VAT @ 20% (not recoverable) £476.00
Granite worktops to kitchen and utility room (supply and fix — zero-rated for VAT) £4,386.00
Carpenter and labourer for 5 days @ £258 per day £1,290.00
Electrician for 1 day £174.00
Plumber for 1 day £176.00
Subtotal £22,226.00
Internal carpentry and joinery total £31,998.25
(of which recoverable VAT) £3,393.71

How to reduce these costs

  • The internal decorative joinery within this costing is, whilst not the cheapest, within the economy range. Some might argue that if fitted and decorated properly, this can have as much ‘wow’ factor as more expensive options. The choice of American white oak for the staircase is an expensive option; if one were to swap to a softwood equivalent there would be a saving of around £2,000.
  • Changing the granite worktops to laminate or melamine chipboard could save about £3,800 but that would have an effect on the ‘wow’ factor and possibly the value of the house. Local monumental masons are often cheaper than specialist kitchen suppliers for this sort of thing.

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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