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How Plasterers Formulate their Quotes

Benjamin Franklin first coined the term ‘time is money’ in ‘Advice to a Young Tradesman’ in the 1740s, but his advice is still valid today. Most tradespeople will make a charge per hour for their labour based on what they consider they need to cover their basic costs of living, the perceived value of their skill, demand for work, and their ability to complete the task to a high standard – in a nut shell, what money is their time worth.

When you consider these points it is easy to see why plasterers’ quotes can vary widely for the same job, and we haven’t even looked at costs of materials, what type of plastering you require, and so on.

So, how can you tell if the quote you have received for your planned plastering job is fair? And how did the plasterer arrive at the final figure?

Read on for our top tips to discovering how plasterers formulate their quotes…

1. Hourly Rate or Fixed Price Plastering?

The first thing to consider when assessing a quote from a plasterer is if they are charging for the work per hour, or if it is ‘price work’ (a cost for the whole job irrelevant of how long it takes).

Some plasterers may charge a day rate, (similar to an hourly rate) knowing roughly how much work they can complete within a set time frame, and working out how many days the job would take. If possible try to agree a price that is fixed – this way there are no unexpected surprises at the end of the job.

Always bear in mind that if a fixed price is agreed, and you’ve been told it will take roughly three days, but the plasterer completes the work in two and a half days, you are unlikely to get money off the final invoice, especially if their work is still of good quality, and the plasterers have been clean and tidy.

Day rates vary around the country from approximately £100 - £300, and specialist treatments will always come at a premium.

2. Plastering material costs

Another factor to consider within a quote is the cost of materials that the plasterer will use. These will sometimes be shown as a separate price within the quote, or may already be included in the total figure. Some plasterers show their costings, others don’t.

Material costs may include:

• Plasterboard

• Plaster

• PVA sealer

• Sand

• Cement

• Coving

• Anglebead & Arched corners

• Plastering tape & adhesives

As you can see the list is quite extensive, and can be costly when there are large areas that require plastering. Be sure to check each quote you receive to ensure that materials have been included in the price, and that the amounts are roughly comparable between quotes.

3. Plastering Tools & Equipment Although these are not directly linked costs for a specific customer’s job, they must be accounted for when considering the costs a plasterer has to encompass within their quotes.

These tools are not as perishable as materials, but they must be purchased initially, or replaced when they break, and therefore, the cost must be spread across all jobs undertaken by the plastering company.

The exception to this is if there is a specific tool, or piece of equipment, such as scaffolding, that may be required for your particular task.

Tools and equipment used by plasterers will include:

• Ladders

• Hop-ups

• Trowels

• Floats

• Knives

• Scarifiers

• Plasterer’s feather edges

• Mixing baths

• Scaffolding

• Mortar guns

• Spirit levels

There are many more that are dependent upon the type of work being undertaken, if it is external or internal, and if modern, or traditional methods are used.

Check with your plasterer to ensure costs of all equipment, such as scaffolding, is included within the quote as you don’t want to find ‘extras’ are at your expense, and additional to the quote.

4. Room Size/Job Size

Plastering work takes much preparation, and this is true whether you have one wall plastered, or a whole room. Bear in mind there is likely to be a premium on small jobs, that don’t quite take an entire day, as a plasterer cannot then start another job so late in the day.

If you are considering having work done in stages, it is worth trying to ensure that a whole day’s work can be achieved each time as this will save you money in the long run.

As an average, you can estimate that a small, 7ft square room, would take one day to plaster. This could be increased if the house is old, or a listed building, or if specialist treatments are required.

5. Unseen Costs

Most independent plasterers are self-employed. They won’t be paid sick pay, or holiday pay, will pay their own tax, national insurance, and VAT if necessary, and will have overheads such as a mobile phone, fuel, work’s vehicle, and so on, that must be accounted for within their day rate, or in a fixed price quote.

6. Type of Plastering

If you require the existing plaster to be removed before a new surface is applied, this will add to the overall costs. To keep costs lower you can remove surfaces yourself, but be aware that any damage done to substructures could be expensive to fix.

Likewise, if Artex needs removing there will be additional costs, as this is particularly cumbersome and difficult to remove.

There are also different types of plaster that can be used, and each type will reflect a different price structure:

• Dry lining – is usually the cheapest option, however, it does not necessarily give the best quality and finish. This method uses plasterboards, which are usually screwed in place (or fixed using dot and dab), taped, and then filled in the recess between boards, then rubbed down to give a smooth finish. This is not as long lasting as other forms of plastering, as tapes can loosen over time.

• Wet plaster – is generally either Gypsum (hardwall or bonding), or sand and cement, and comes as a powder form which is then mixed with water, and applied to the walls before it sets, or ‘goes off’. Wet plaster is considered more solid and robust than plasterboard, but is more expensive. A finish skim will need to be applied to wet plaster to give a smooth finish.

• Render – this is used on the exterior of properties to give a weatherproof finish. There are products such as, K-Rend, which use coloured renders, avoiding any need for painting.

7. Comparing Plastering Quotes

Always remember to get at least three different quotes for the work you plan to have completed. Check these against one another, making sure they are comparable price structures.

Ensure all costs have been included in the quote, and if you aren’t sure, ask your plasterer to explain what is included.

As with all home improvement trades, plastering quotes can vary widely from one plasterer to another, but remember that the cheapest may not always be the best option.

8. Checklist

There is a final check list you should complete before taking on a plasterer, and agreeing to their quote.

This includes:

• Public liability insurance – make sure your plasterer is covered as any damage caused to your home would be claimable under their policy

• Personal recommendation – can be more valuable than choosing a shot-in-the-dark, cheap option. If the plasterer got it right for someone you know, then chances are they’ll get it right for you too

• Deposit – some plasterers may ask for a deposit, especially if the job is large, however, this should never be more than 25% of the quote. Never pay fully in advance for work.

As you can see, there are many variables that a plasterer considers when formulating each quote. The difference between quotes is not always representative of skill, or ability, but can be based on other factors too.

If you are unsure of any part of a quote always ask your plasterer to explain - they should be more than happy to clarify their pricing, if they aren’t, perhaps they aren’t the plasterer for your job.

Check your plasterer’s reviews, and recommendations online, to ensure previous customers have been happy with their work. At VM Plastering we aim to keep our customers informed, and satisfied with our plastering – our customers seem to agree that this is a winning formula – you can check out our reviews to find out for yourself!

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