Summary: How much do bricks cost, factors to consider when buying bricks and costs to consider when buying bricks.
Bricks, like most things in life there's more to them than meets the eye. Bricks come in different makes, sizes and for a variety of purposes. But they are all made from clay as they have been for centuries. Clays used in brick manufacture are excavated from sites across the country and different clay beds give different hues. For example Suffolk bricks are a sandy red while London bricks can run to a rich shade of plum. Certain clays have come to characterise particular regions, such as the Staffordshire Blue brick, commonly found in the Home Counties. At the last count there were over a thousand types on the market at varying prices.
After it's dug up and mixed with water to give the right consistency, the clay has to be shaped. Bricks are either pressed or cut by a mechanical wire before being sent to the kiln. You can tell them apart as pressed bricks have recessions called frogs on either side while wire-cut bricks have three or four holes through them.
We can classify the finished product into three categories. Firstly there are 'above ground' bricks, also known as 'facing brickwork' as they are visible. 'Below ground' bricks differ from 'above ground' bricks in that they are suitable for damp proofing courses, as well as frost resistance. Increasingly popular are reclaimed bricks, in other words second-hand bricks from demolished buildings. These tend to be cheaper and have a traditional feel to them. Using reclaims can instantly age a new house to give character.
Are there any legal issues effecting brickwork? Yes, your property may be subject to planning laws. For example if your house is in a zoned conservation area you may have to match your brickwork to the rest of the street. Even if you live in an ordinary house on an ordinary street there are still legal considerations. This is where it can get complex. Take outbuildings for example. The laws states that they must be no higher than 4 metres with a ridged roof or 3 metres for a regular roof. They have to be situated 5 metres away from the main building otherwise they will be classified as an extension. They are not allowed to be nearer the road than the house itself. And of course you must have the owner's consent. If you have any concerns at all check with your local council whether you need planning permission. The governments own planning service website goes into these issues in great detail and is worth a visit.
On top of planning permission you may face building regulations. These regulations cover erecting a new building or extending an existing one. The regulations also apply to structural alterations like removing a chimney breast, or altering a load-bearing wall. Wall ties, levels and concrete foundations are all subject to building approval. Although some builds are exempt you ought to check the Building Regulations Act 2000, located on the government's web site, to be sure.
For a small backyard project you may wish to build yourself. However, bear in mind bricklaying is a skilled trade. A professional bricklayer can lay between 250-500 bricks a day. There might be public liability issues, for instance if you're building something that borders on a public road or footpath. A trained bricklayer should have an awareness of all current regulations and arrive on the doorstep complete with professional indemnity insurance.
A professional bricklayer can lay between 250-500 bricks a day.
Increasingly popular are reclaimed bricks, in other words second-hand bricks from demolished buildings.
Wire-cut bricks have three or more holes through them.
So where and how do we buy them? Bricks are traditionally purchased from specialist builder's merchants. In recent times companies selling a particular style of brick have become popular. Think 'designer brick'. Ibstock bricks are one of the well-known examples. These companies invariably have an online presence where you can check out their designs, or alternatively order a catalogue. It is advisable to buy bricks in large bulk to maximise on savings. Another advantage is that buying large amounts ensure they come from the same firing, which means they have a very similar colouring.
The most important question for anyone mulling over a brickwork project is the cost. As well as the bricks don't forget to budget for sand, cement, plasticizer and mixer. Wall ties, levels and concrete foundations are a further cost. In all probability you will need to hire mechanical equipment, a digger, a mixer etc, so add these to your financial projections. Applications for building regulation approval incur fees too. And, naturally, bricklayers and labourers need to be paid too.
Don't forget to budget for sand, cement, plasticizer and mixer.
Author: C J Mills Google+
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