September 6th 2019
Are you looking to build a new home or extension and wondering how much to budget for your bricks?
Bricks are usually priced per thousand and can vary in cost ranging from cheap common bricks at £200/1000 through to high end handmade or glazed bricks at £3 each. Although, getting a single price is not always that simple. Brick prices fluctuate and are heavily dependent on external factors such as the supply / demand of bricks within the UK and the availability of raw materials.
While some things you simply can't control - there are many factors that you can, most of which have a large influence your overall cost. Read on to learn about what impacts the cost of bricks and how to accurately price your next masonry project.
While the type of brick you purchase has an impact on the price - more often than not, the cost of bricks will be heavily dictated by consumer supply and demand. For instance, the UK has been experiencing a brick shortage, with some companies waiting for more than 12 months for delivery. This not only slowed down property development but also increased the price of bricks due to the limited supply.
The origins of the brick shortage can be traced back to the 2008 recession, where a decline in the housing market resulted in many small brickworks closing permanently or becoming mothballed. While the industry has since recovered to reasonable levels, the Government's ambitious target of building 300,000 new homes by mid-2020 and implementation of the 'Help-to-Buy' scheme (used to address the UK housing shortage) placed a significant strain on local manufacturers and ultimately put a spotlight on UK brick production. If this has impacted you we may be able to help with our nationwide brick quotation service.
Another contributing factor to the cost is the way that bricks are manufactured. Today, bricks are mass-produced in factories using machines to automate most of the process, including mixing / forming the clay, drying the bricks, and firing / cooling in a kiln. These advances in technology have led to more efficient manufacturing techniques and substantially lowered the cost of bricks. Large manufacturers can produce tens of thousands of bricks each day, making them much more accessible and affordable for end customers. Machine-made bricks (also known as wire-cut) typically start at £400/1000.
However, there is a growing demand for handmade bricks. Handmade bricks are very labour-intensive, and therefore, substantially more expensive to make (they can easily cost up to 4 x times more than machine-made). Using traditional methods, handmade bricks require skilled craftsmen to prepare the clay manually, fill individual moulds, and stack the bricks into a kiln for firing. Handmades have a unique appearance and rich character. They are a good choice when matching bricks to a specific period or when standard-sized bricks can't be used (e.g. an existing structure with imperial sizes).
The type of brick you need will also impact your overall cost. Common bricks are generally the cheapest, ranging anywhere between £200/1000 to £400/1000. However, they're only suitable for internal structures and not designed for weight-bearing courses. Engineering bricks (Class A or Class B) have high compressive strength and offer protection against water / frost. These bricks are used for foundations and damp courses - not chosen for their looks - and you can expect to pay around from £400 per 1000 bricks.
Facing bricks are the type of brick most people are familiar with. They are used to improve the aesthetics of masonry buildings. There are many types of facing bricks on the market - offered in different colours, textures (e.g. smooth, rough), and materials (e.g. concrete vs. clay). As such, the pricing can vary significantly depending on the type of facing brick you're after. For instance, concrete facing bricks are generally cheaper than clay, and costs vary with the different manufacturing techniques required. Facing brick costs can be anywhere from £400/1000 to £1200/1000 depending on all these factors.
Another consideration is your special-shaped bricks (e.g. plinth or bullnose bricks, for instance). You could potentially have to pay up to £5 per brick for these, as they are specially made. Typically you won't need very many in your projects though.
The first step is to understand what type of brick you will need. Bricks have different technical properties, and, depending on the type of masonry project, certain types of brick are more suitable than others. While you can save money by using common clay bricks when building internal non-load-bearing walls or sourcing cheap bricks for garden walls, you will need to use engineering bricks for any load-bearing structures or if water / frost is a consideration. Facing bricks are what you need for any visible exterior wall.
Bricks are the main building material used within lots of homes. Therefore, you want to make sure the brick you select matches with the look and feel that you're trying to accomplish. If you're adding an extension, you won't have as much flexibility and will most likely need to match your bricks to the existing structure. For a new build, however, you will want to think about the size, colour, and texture of your bricks as it will heavily influence the aesthetics of your property.
Once you've determined the type of brick and any design considerations, you will then need to calculate the number of bricks you need. You don't want to order more than is necessary. You also don't want to come up short as this can result in project delays and lead to additional cost. When calculating the quantity, make sure you take into account the thickness of your wall and factor in wastage. For help, use our guide on calculating how many bricks you need.
Bricks generally have long lead times ranging anywhere from 4-12 weeks and even up to 1 year in some instances. Therefore, it's crucial to plan ahead and accurately determine the number of bricks from the outset to avoid any delays in your project. Bricks will arrive in batches, so proper planning is crucial to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Finally, don't forget to add in any labour costs! Individual bricklayers could charge between £500/1000 and £1 per brick depending on where you are in the country and the complexity of the job. So, for a typical 4-bedroom home that needs approximately 14,000 bricks, labour can be expensive! Make sure you get a quote for the cost of bricklaying and factor this into your budget.
There are a lot of factors to consider when assessing the cost of bricks. The best place to start, however, is by understanding what type of brick you need - whether that's engineering bricks for a damp-proof course or facing bricks for the exterior of your home.
If you need help selecting the right type of brick for your project, get in touch with one of our industry experts and try our free Brick Selection service.
If you want to browse yourself, use our Brick Library and get a quote on your favourite one. We will advise you on availability, cost and wait times for your choices.