Building Materials

Ownership of Building Materials

Q - Our extension is now completed and the contractor has taken away the materials that were left over. He claims that they are his property because he over ordered but I feel that they are ours and he should either return them to us or pay us their value. Who is right in this matter?

A - The materials belong to the builder. He was contracted to build you an extension and the fact that he over ordered is irrelevant. This situation is quite common and the surplus materials are usually taken back to the builder's yard for another job. A small exception sometimes occurs when a roofing contractor may leave a dozen or so tiles behind as replacements for any future gale damage


Q - We are going to use a use a labour-only gang for the brick and block laying work on our extension but we have to order the materials ourselves. We haven't done anything like this before and would welcome any advice on how to go about it. We also need some advice on how to go about ordering scaffolding.

A - You should rely on the bricklayers for advice on the ordering of the cement and sand for the mortar or you could purchase ready mixed mortar but your project is probably too small to do this.. Measure the area of the brick walling from the drawings and for 112mm thick walls (usually called half brick walls) allow 60 bricks per square metre as the following table shows.

Bricks per                          m2

Half brick wall                     60
One brick wall                    120
One and a half brick wall      180

For blockwork with a block size 415 x 215mm you should allow 10 blocks per m2. When you are choosing your brick from a supplier or merchant ask whether they offer a measuring service and they may do the calculation for you. Also ask for their policy on the return of unused bricks and blocks.

Q - We have been asked to choose a facing brick for the external leaf of our new timber framed house. The cost of laying the bricks is included in the quotation but there is a wide range of bricks on offer at different prices per thousand. How can we make an assessment of the likely costs involved.

A - Working on 60 bricks per square metre in a half brick wall (112.5mm wide) the cost of the materials per square metre is set out below.

  Cost of bricks  per 1,000                Cost per m2

       £250                                           £15
       £300                                           £18
       £350                                           £21
       £400                                           £24
       £450                                           £27
       £500                                           £30
       £600                                           £36



For scaffolding the best and simplest way is to use a scaffolding firm. Show them the drawings and take advice from the bricklayers on how long they will take for each stage before the scaffolding needs lifting. Pass this on to the scaffolding firm and ask them for a quotation based on this information. Scaffolding is a very competitive business so shop round for a decent price. It may be that the bricklaying gang will recommend a firm that they deal with regularly.

Building Material Cost Breakdown

Q - We are preparing material schedules for our self-build project and wonder what allowance we should make for waste in addition to the actual materials required.

The waste factor for materials varies and here are some typical figures.

Bricks 4.0%
Concrete (ready mixed) 7.5%
Copper fittings 2.5%
Copper piping 5.0%
Floor tiles 5.0%
Glass 7.5%
Paint 5.0%
Plaster 7.5%
Plasterboard 5.0%
Rainwater goods 2.5%
Roof tiles 5.0%
Timber 5.0%
Wall tiles 5.0%



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