Unless you have all building work professionally project managed, at some point you will have to hire subcontractors. Find out what each trade is responsible for below — and how much you should expect to be paying them. 

Groundworker

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  • Create entry and clear site
  • Lay hardcore base for access, deliveries and storage
  • Strip topsoil and store for reuse
  • Set out house and set to profiles (this may however be done by a surveyor)
  • Mark out lines of dig on the ground
  • Excavate foundation trenches, load spoil into tipper lorries for off-site disposal or into dumpers for on-site storage and reuse
  • Clean and crumb out the trenches
  • Set level pegs for the top of the concrete
  • Pour and lay foundation concrete
  • Lay foundation blockwork to DPC (damp-proof course) level, put in cranked ventilators, all necessary drainage exit lintels and sleeving for services; this may also be undertaken by the bricklayers
  • Level out subsoil within the oversite
  • Backfill trenches outside the building
  • Fill cavities with lean-mix concrete
  • Position ground floor beams
  • Lay infill blocks and brush grout
  • Lay damp-proof membrane and/or gas membrane
  • Position and lay first floor beams and infill and brush grout, unless the bricklayers are doing it
  • Excavate service trenches
  • Excavate trenches for foul and surface water drainage
  • Lay drainage runs on pea shingle and bring upstands into oversite
  • Haunch over drains with pea shingle
  • Fit proprietary manholes, gullies, etc.
  • Connect the foul water drains to the on-site mains sewer run, septic tank or sewage treatment plant, or take sewer run to the boundary for road connection by Highways approved contractor
  • Construct soakaways and connect surface water drains
  • Backfill all drainage and service trenches
  • Carry out specified and agreed hard and soft landscaping, including driveways, pathways and patios

Pay

The typical day rate for a groundworker is approximately: £130; A general labourer: £90; Semi-skilled labourer: £100

Bricklayer

bricklaying and brickwork graphic
  • Lay blockwork to DPC level including installing ventilators, drainage exit lintels and sleeving, unless the groundworkers undertake this task
  • Lay ground floor beams, infill blocks and brush grout, unless the groundworkers undertake this task
  • Bed DPC, marrying this to any damp or gas membrane or cavity trays
  • Build superstructure in brickwork and blockwork
  • Install cavity insulation as work progresses
  • Install cavity closers
  • Fit timber windows or build in profiles
  • Build in meter boxes
  • Position and bed lintels, padstones and steel joists
  • Lay first floor beams, infill with blocks and brush grout, if the groundworkers don’t undertake this role
  • Install cavity trays where necessary
  • Bed wallplate
  • Build up gable ends
  • Build chimney through roof
  • Build internal brick features and fireplaces
  • Point up flashings and trays
  • Fill putlog holes
  • Build any feature walls or brickwork in garden as specified and agreed

Pay

The typical day rate for a bricklayer is: £160
(The typical day rate for a stonemason is: £185)

Carpenter

carpenter illustration

First fix

  • Making up and fixing templates for openings, where appropriate
  • Fitting door linings
  • Making up studwork partitioning, including to fitted cupboards, where necessary
  • Fix underfloor plasterboard battening using proprietary batten clips
  • Install insulation to studwork partitioning
  • Install insulation within ceiling and floor zones and to roof void
  • Fix window boards
  • Fix staircase flights
  • Make up and fix garage door frames
  • Nog out for plasterboard
  • Hang temporary external doors, where appropriate
  • Board out loft, where appropriate
  • Create and fix loft entrance and fit loft ladder

Roof

  • Erect and complete roof using prefabricated trusses and lumber, to include gable ladders, valleys, hips and construction of dormers, porches and bay window roofs
  • Fit rooflights where required
  • Lay sarking boarding where appropriate
  • Fix facias and soffits, including ventilators, where necessary
  • Fix bargeboards, where appropriate

Second fix

  • Box in pipework and vent pipes
  • Lay insulation and timber decking to floors, where appropriate and unless carried out by other specialist suppliers
  • Assemble and fit staircase newels, balustrading, aprons and handrails, etc.
  • Hang all internal doors including cupboard doors and fitted wardrobes
  • Fit slatted shelving to linen cupboards
  • Final fit of loft traps
  • Assemble and fix fitted units to kitchen, utility room, bedrooms and bathrooms, unless carried out by specialist manufacturers or suppliers

Pay

The typical day rate for a carpenter is: £160

Electrician

electrician graphic illustration
  • Fit temporary consumer unit to building supply
  • Install and connect domestic earth rod
  • Lay and fix all carcassing wiring
  • Fix backplates to outlets and controls
  • Fix proprietary sheathing to wiring
  • Fix and wire up faceplates, pendants, wall lights and controls
  • Fit and wire up external power points and lighting
  • Fix and wire up extractor fans and cooker hoods
  • Cross bond and earth all pipework and sanitaryware
  • Fit and wire up consumer unit
  • Wire up thermostats, controls and programmers
  • Attend plumber for firing up and testing boiler and central heating, if and when required
  • Test installation

Pay

The typical day rate for an electrician is approximately: £175

Roofer

  • Cover roof with underlay and rough batten
  • Fix GRP valleys or attend plumber for fixing lead valleys
  • Bed and fix undercloak to verges
  • Fix counter battens if necessary
  • Gauge and fix tiling/slating battens
  • Load out tiles or slates
  • Lay tiles or slates, nailing as required and appropriate
  • Lay valley tiles, if required
  • Fix verge slates/tiles
  • Interleave upstand and cover flashings and soakers
  • Attend plumber for vent pipe skirtings
  • Fix or bed ridge/hip tiles or ridge/hip system
  • Point up ridge/hip tiles and verges

Pay

The typical day rate for a roofer is approximately: £150

Plumber

plumbing graphic illustration
  • Install water standpipe for building supply
  • Lay first fix carcassing pipework
  • Run any gas pipework
  • Make up lead flashings, soakers and vent pipe skirts as appropriate
  • Fix vent pipes to drainage upstands and take to stub stacks or through roof
  • Fix skirts to vent pipes with roofer
  • Fix guttering and downpipes
  • Position hot water cylinder
  • Lay underfloor insulation, taping joints and cover with membrane
  • Lay underfloor central heating loops to manifold position
  • Connect underfloor heating loops to manifold and put on test, once screed is laid
  • Fit the boiler and connect to system
  • Attend to chimney flues and liners
  • Connect boiler to LPG, oil or mains gas supply
  • Fit sanitaryware and connect to domestic plumbing and wastes
  • Mastic seal around baths and washbasins
  • Plumb in washing machines, water softeners etc., as appropriate
  • Lag all exposed or vulnerable pipework
  • Fire up boiler and test system
  • Balance and commission system
  • Switch underfloor heating off ‘test’ and to ‘run’ once test period is over

Pay

Typical day rate for a plumber is approximately: £180

Plasterer

plasterer graphic illustration
  • Screed floors as soon as underfloor central heating loops are laid, unless left to specialist suppliers and installers using pumped self-levelling material
  • Tack ceilings with plasterboard
  • Fix all beadings and lathing
  • Float and set all masonry walls, or dryline walls with plasterboard
  • Fit mouldings and coving
  • Tape and joint all boards and skim coat with plaster finish
  • Render external walls, where appropriate

Pay

The typical day rate for a plasterer is approximately: £150

Decorator

decorator graphic illustration
  • Snag and make good all walls prior to decorating
  • Fill all holes and gaps
  • Apply mastic around all external joinery
  • Rub down and fill all joinery
  • Knot any timber to be painted
  • Prime and undercoat all internal and external joinery or timber to be painted
  • Gloss coat or stain internal joinery or timber
  • Paint all internal walls and ceilings with mist coat plus two coats of emulsion
  • Paint external render with two coats of proprietary finish

Pay

Typical day rate for a decorator is approximately: £130

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