Block paving a driveway is one of the most rewarding DIY jobs you may ever undertake. Constructing a spectacular driveway or path will fill you with daily pride for years. Whilst a single path is quite a simple job it can become a much larger DIY venture if you decide to tackle a whole driveway.
So what is the cost of having my block paving done professionally?
Is it worth trying to make a saving by doing it myself?
These key questions are addressed in this extensive article, plus you will gain an excellent understanding of the process, associated costs and guidance on finding qualified professionals to help you.
Should You Attempt Block Paving Yourself?
These are the key factors to consider before undertaking this task:
- Confidence. Are you an experienced DIYer?
- Skill. Have you performed similar work before?
- Time. Can you spare the hours to complete this project?
- Resources. Do you have tools, machinery? Willing to rent them?
Block paving requires patience, a little hard work and it’s got to be done right the first time!
If you do not have experience it would be wise to start with a small area first or a simple path. That way you can familiarise yourself with the process, without getting in over your head.
The key to excellent block paving is thorough excavation, then prepping the surface to be solid and level. Only then can you begin to carefully lay the blocks into place.
Further DIY Considerations
Doing this job yourself leaves you with no warranties in place. Yet if you are willing and capable to complete it to a high standard, this should not deter you.
Whilst you can make a large saving in labour costs by doing it yourself, the true cost of block paving will be your own time. It’s simply not a job that can be rushed; it’s a precision job that requires ample preparation.
If the job is completed poorly, you may have dips where water collects at best or blocks working their way loose at worst!
Start With a Professional Quote
Whether or not you decide to undertake this job yourself, always contact a trusted local tradesman to survey the job and provide a quote. Try to get three separate quotes if possible, to ensure you’re getting a fair price. This also provides an opportunity to ask helpful questions that may later assist you, such as:
- How much is block paving?
- How long will it take to complete?
- Do you have any concerns/recommendations?
Armed with their advice (and a pinch of salt), you can now more accurately weigh up whether you want to undertake the job yourself.
If you have already decided to leave it to the professionals you can check out these great tips for choosing trustworthy contractors.
Will I Need Planning Permission?
According to the official UK regulations, you will not need planning permission to lay permeable concrete block paving in your front garden or driveway.
If using impermeable blocks, you must allow the water to run into a suitable drainage area, such as a lawn or border. Where there are no suitable drainage areas you will need planning permission for more than 5m²of paving.
What Paving Options Are Available?
The material used for block paving will either be Concrete or Clay. In most cases people opt for concrete blocks due to the reduced costs and ease of installation. Clay blocks are far more hardwearing and encouraged by the Brick Development Association (BDA).
Here is a quick run-down of each material’s characteristics for block paving:
- Cheaper to purchase
- Variety of shapes and textures
- Accurate sizing
- Variety of block depths available
- Colour fades through the years
- Aggregate can become exposed
- Expected life of 20+ years
- Tougher and more hardwearing
- Natural colour does not fade
- Patterned pavers available
- Prone to moss growth
- Not very accurate sizing
- Difficult to cut, harder to work with
- Higher price per block
Limited block depths
What Exactly Does the Job Involve?
See below for a basic 10-step procedure detailing basic principles of laying block paving. You can either follow this yourself or use it to access the amount of work involved in your project.
- Marking-out. Establish the exact area you will be paving using spray markers or string lines. For larger projects it’s highly beneficial to have a construction plan drafted up now.
- Excavation. You need to dig out the entire area, consider hiring machinery such as a digger or excavator for a large driveway. Existing concrete can be broken up using a breaking hammer machine. You will need to hire skips to dispose of all excess soil. Digging should allow for 200-250mm below the proposed paving level.
- Sub-Base. You will need to spread, level out and compact a sub-base using hardcore or scalping stone. A minimum of 100mm thickness should be used, filling any voids and matching the proposed profile for paving. Using a geo-membrane on top is highly recommended.
- Edging Stones. You will need a restraining edge for your block paving to keep the blocks in place. Use an existing kerb or lay your own edging stones. Ideally, they must be secured within 75mm of concrete.
- Laying Course. Spread and level course sand, then compact using a vibration plate. Screeding will create a solid base for your blocks, take it needs to be smooth and match the intended level of the paving. This should be 25-40mm thick.
- Laying the Blocks. Press each brick together closely as they bed into the sand. Spacing burs will form small joints between bricks as they are led square.
- Alignment and Cutting in. Check the alignment of the blocks with using a string line. Bricks should be laid with overlapping joints, cuts to fit the final blocks can be made using a disk cutter.
- Final touches. Fit any recess trays and gully covers as required.
- Jointing. Spread kiln dried jointing sand over the entire block paving with a brush. Brush the sand down into every joint. Without sweeping the excess sand, begin vibrating the entire area for 10 minutes. Cover the entire area without concentrating heavily in any particular areas.
Repeat. Spread more jointing sand over the joints and vibrate the blocks for a further 10 minutes. Repeat this cycle until every joint is competed filled with sand.
A Key Consideration: Ensure soft spots are fully excavated. These can then be backfilled with more sub-base material. It’s preferable to dig a little deeper than not deep enough.
How Long Does It Take To Complete?
Let’s consider you’re going to have a team of professionals undertake an average 55m² driveway. Experienced workers can have it block paved within 4-5 days total.
On the first day, they will use a small group of labourers to complete the initial groundwork. This is going to be quite a noisy day if they are using diggers and cement breaking machines.
The following days may only need 1-2 skilled workers to prepare the surface and lay the paving. To level and compact the surface they will use vibrating-plate machines that may be a little disruptive too.
You can use this as a ballpark to calculate how long it might take you to complete the block-paving project yourself.
How Much Does Block Paving Cost (Really)?
When hiring tradesmen, block paving prices will vary depending the area in the country and additional groundwork that may need to be performed.
So that you’re armed and ready to negotiate with the professionals, here’s the average block paving costs from around the UK (VAT included):
Up to 40m² £100 per m²
40-70m² £85 per m²
Over 100m² £75 per m²
Geographically, areas around London will be the most expensive. Areas outside will be quite similar to each other. Here is the average cost of block paving a 55m² driveway in different regions around the UK:
South, SW and Midlands £4000-£4500
Outer Region and North £3500-£3750
Finally, we have a rough breakdown of the estimated material cost:
Blocks, edgings £950
Sharp Sand £150
Kiln dried sand £75
3 x skips hires £450
Additional supplies £350
Total material costs – £2075 (£38 per m²)
The average cost of labour (outside of London) for block paving construction is £45 per m². This will also cover the company’s overheads and profits. If you’re attempting the project yourself this stands to be your largest potential saving.
Armed with these UK national averages you may now confidently weigh up the savings to be made of doing it yourself. Otherwise, you can quickly identify a fair deal from a professional at Quotatis and have them complete it for you.