Brick and block work
How to find a good bricklayer
As with all trades, the best way of finding a good bricklayer is by recommendation, preferably from another local self-builder. Alternatively, you could ask other tradespeople for their recommendation; those who work alongside bricklayers such as groundworkers and carpenters are in a good position to judge.
You may find adverts for bricklayers in small local newspapers; if you do, you’ll still need to investigate before employing them.
How do I assess the quality of a bricklayer’s work?
Once you have a recommendation, you’ll need to decide if their work is of a high quality. If they are available immediately, ask yourself why. It may be that they are between jobs, but do talk to their previous clients. It’s also worth looking at their previous work:
- Do the vertical joints (the ‘perps’) line up?
- Are the horizontal joints (the ‘beds’) level and even?
NHBC tolerance for mortar bed deviation
± 8mm maximum deviation for walls 5m long (a pro rata tolerance is applicable for walls less than 5m long).
± 12mm maximum deviation for walls over 5m long.
(b) thickness of bed joints
The thickness of an individual bed joint should not vary from the average of any 8 successive joints by more than 5mm.
Bricks and other materials vary in size and therefore some variation in the thickness of bed joints is likely.
• Look at the shape of the wall and check for being vertical
NHBC Tolerance for wall being vertically plumb
Maximum 8mm out of plumb for walls up to 5m in height, limited to 8mm in a storey height (approx 2.5m).
Maximum 12mm out of plumb for walls over 5m in height, limited to 8mm in a storey height (approx 2.5m).
- Check the faces of the bricks to see they all sit flush and do not sit sit twisted or leaning on the mortar beds
- If the building is still in progress, check that the cavities are clean and the wall ties are correctly spaced and clean from ‘snots’ (lumps of cement left that can cause cold-bridging). Are all the cavity trays and damp-proof courses correctly and neatly installed? Look for smudged brickwork and for lines of splashed mortar where the scaffold boards haven’t been turned back in the evening and the rain has splashed it into the brickwork. With brickwork, check that the joints, especially the vertical ones, are properly filled, with no air gaps (this aids airtightness and insulation).
You can ask a bricklayer to produce a sample panel to check the quality of their work in a particular bond and to see how your chosen brick will look with your specified mortar.
What do they cost?
Around £150-£200 per day per bricklayer, plus £100-£130 for a labourer. Bricklayers often quote per 1,000 laid bricks — often around £400-£500per 1000 laid, or £12-£15/m² for face work.
You can expect to pay a little less for internal brick work which will be covered as there is a labour saving due to the time required to joint up the mortar beds which would in this instance be eliminated.
Blocks cover the area of 4 standard bricks which allows a bricklayer ( Brickie) to lay the same area in a 1/4 of the time. Blocks are available in the following sub categories.
- Solids ( Strength from 3.6N/mm2 to 40N/mm2)
- Celullar ( Strength from 3.6N/mm2 to 22.5N/mm2)
Aggregate concrete blocks are typically available in two standard face sizes (length x height) of 440 x 215mm and 390 x 190mm. Other face sizes are available to aid manual handling. Block dimensions should be specified in the order length x width x height.
Block work rates
These are typically priced per block or per m2. As rule of thumb a brick layer would typically charge around £ 1.50 to £2.30 per block for standard 100mm thick solid PCC block.
This would increase to around £ 2.50 to £3 for 150mm and 230mm wide hollow.
In both cases the price you ultimately pay will be defined by the size the walls being built, access, material being used to build the structure and the geographical location of the site.