Last Updated Sep 14, 2018 · Written by Rob Schneider
Brick is still one of Australia's most popular building materials. You see them on houses, walls and driveways. Remarkably, bricklayer's costs haven't risen as much as other trades in the past ten years. This may be due to the fact that brick is still expensive and housing prices are at historically high levels.
How much do bricklayers cost? It's not an easy question to answer. Every job is different and some jobs cost more than others. A bricklayer looks at each job individually and works out costs based on the complexity of the job. We look at reasons why brick is still a good building material and the costs involved in different types of projects.
Brick is a $2.8 billion dollar industry in Australia and employs over 30,000 people. Why is it still so popular when it can be more expensive than other building materials? A house can be built from:
A surprising number of custom homes are still built from double brick. This is because double brick (or cavity brick) has excellent thermal mass and can keep a home cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Single brick tends to absorb heat and release it into the home at night. Brick veneer is second to double brick for thermal insulation because a brick veneer home can be insulated.
Brick has other qualities that make it a popular. For one thing, brick withstands the test of time. Look around and you'll see many buildings built from brick that are well over 50 years old and still look good. It requires little maintenance, unlike some building materials that succumb to the weather. Brick (especially double brick) has excellent acoustic and thermal insulation, making it a good choice for areas where there is high traffic. It's also a good choice for fire-prone areas because brick is non-flammable.
Laying bricks is the first thing thing that comes to mind, but bricklayers have a variety of skills. Aside from laying bricks, they:
A good bricklayer can build a house, create a wall, lay bricks for pavers or a driveway and do almost any other type of bricklaying job. One thing most bricklayers don't do is render walls. Rendering is a special technique done by professionals. However, renderers need brick to apply render, so brickies are needed first.
A good bricklayer can work on any type of terrain and produce solid, long lasting results. This is because a bricklayer undergoes training at a TAFE college and a long apprenticeship. During their apprenticeship, they work on all kinds of projects and learn from their employer how to do any kind of job. When they have mastered the craft, they start their own business and hire apprentices to help them, passing their knowledge to a new generation of bricklayers.
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On average, bricklayers charge between $20 and $40 per hour. The cost will depend on the type of work involved in the project. A more challenging project will cost more per hour than a simpler project. Some examples of projects that might cost more include:
The complexity of a project will also cost more. Some projects are fairly straightforward, but when curves and other more complex designs are added to the equation, the cost per hour will be higher.
The cost per hour is not the best way to know how much a project will cost. While an experienced bricklayer will charge up to $40 per hour, they usually have an apprentice working with them. The cost of the apprentice will be added to the overall cost of the project.
As mentioned above, bricklayers rates have not gone up appreciably in recent years. Their prices are similar to the prices they charged 10 years ago. In some areas, their costs have fallen. In areas where there is higher demand, their costs may have risen, but on average, their rates have remained relatively stable. Costs for some projects might be (labour only):
The lowest cost for laying a single brick is around $1.00, but $1.50 or more is also common. Adding a second storey brings the single brick cost to $1.80 and render bricks cost more.
The total cost of laying 1000 bricks, including materials might be:
All of the above costs are approximate. They will depend on the area you live in and other factors. To find out the cost of your project, get quotes from bricklayers in your area.
Not all bricklayers are alike. When getting quotes from bricklayers, find out:
Trade licensing for bricklayers may not be necessary for smaller jobs in some states, but a licensed brickie will have more experience and probably take a more professional approach. To find out about regulations in your state, visit Licensed Trades/Bricklayers.
Our article, Trades that could change in 20 years mentions a robotic bricklaying machine. Fastbrick Robotics has created a machine that can lay 1000 bricks per hour, which is far more than a bricklayer and apprentice can lay in a day. While it seems futuristic, the robotic bricklayer is available today. It comes at a high price of $2 million, but the fact that it is on the market may make some bricklayers nervous.
Fastbrick Robotics is a Perth-based firm. Because it is based in Australia, we may be one of the first countries to see robotics replace bricklayers. According to Business Insider, the value of the stock has risen since it was listed on the Australian stock exchange.
Time will tell if bricklayers are replaced by robots. In the meantime, it's doubtful every suburb in Australia will have a robotic bricklayer available. For now, human bricklayers can build anything you like out of brick, stone or concrete blocks. If you need bricklaying done, a human bricklayer and an apprentice can do a superb job. Bricklaying rates are very reasonable considering the amount of manual labour and skill involved. Stick with human bricklayers. They know what they're doing and will get any job done for you.
*Costs and prices in this article are indicative and should only be used as a guide. They also vary locally and are subject to market forces.