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09 Mar 2017

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Calling in the trades for your self build isn’t as simple as whipping out the yellow pages, hiring Bob the Builder up the road and a bunch of his friends, thanks very much.



There are many different types of tradesmen (or women) to wrap your head around: ground-workers, bricklayers, roofers, plumbers, electricians, plasterers. Sure you’d get a pain in your noggin just thinking about it all.

But don’t panic! We’re here to help. Here’s everything you need to know about organising all the trades for your self build.

Do your research

All self builders want to find tradespeople who will treat their home with a bit of TLC and certified expertise. That’s why it’s always worth choosing someone certified by the National Guild of Master Craftsmen. The Guild keeps a database of registered tradespersons in every field and includes their contact details too. Handy.

The Register of Electrical Contractors of Ireland and the Electrical Contractors Safety and Standards Association list several thousand affiliated electricians. For extra clout, their electricians are updated on a daily basis. These electrical contractors are committed to providing a quality level of workmanship so you can sleep a bit easier.

Psst - you can also check out Pickapro.ie and OnlineTradesmen.ie.

Many tradespeople are also found by word of mouth recommendations, so don’t think twice about asking your parents and friends, or burning the ears off any other self builders you can find.

Shop around

It might be tough, as you just want to get things moving quickly. But don’t accept the first tradesperson you find or the cheapest quote. Check out other prices and don’t be afraid to haggle.

So what’s the magic number of quotes you should compare? We recommend getting at least three quotations, and to check references and customer feedback too.

It’s good to be aware that some tradesmen may not realise how much work is really involved, and may ask for more dough later.

Who does what, and when?

When building your home, it’s vital to know the responsibilities each tradesman will have, and at what stage they will be needed. This will ensure your project gets finished on time and on spec, without any major hiccups and hullabaloos.

To help you out, we’ve written this handy little guide about what each of the trades does.

You’re welcome!

Ground workers

What do they do? Ground workers are essentially labourers, digger drivers and other machine drivers. Their job will be to create an entrance into your site for storage, loading and unloading.

Their main tasks include: site clearance, excavating foundation trenches, laying foundation blockwork, laying damp-proof course, excavating trenches for foul drainage and connecting them to foul sewers, building manholes and excavating and connecting surface water drains. (Tough work!)

By the way, make sure you know who is responsible for soil disposal. You or them?

When do they do it? The ground workers are the first of the major trades on your site. Their work usually takes two weeks, but could take longer if your house is big or the design is more complicated.

Laying out the site can be done in a day. It will take up to three days to dig foundations and trenches, a day to pour foundations and up to a week to build and inspect/approve a damp-proof course and radon barrier.


What do they do? The bricklayers will undertake a long list of tasks – including the most important job, which is building the superstructure brickwork and blockwork that is to be your new home!

Their main tasks include:

  • Ensuring that all the walls are waterproof, weatherproof and secure.
  • Creating the window and door openings.
  • Making access holes in the walls to allow electricians, plumbers and other workers to bring water, electricity and commodities into the build.
  • Building the chimney and any internal brick features and fireplaces as well as garden walls if required.

When do they do it? If your ground workers won’t lay the bricks, a bricklayer will have to do this; in which case you’ll probably need him on site around the beginning of the second week. Once work on your build starts, it can take five to 10 weeks to get to roof level.

After this, the bricklayer will be involved during various other stages of your build for one or two days at a time, to liaise with other trades and complete internal and external brick features.


What do they do? A carpenter will be needed at the fix stage of your build. During this time, a carpenter will cut and lay all the floor joists, build the studwork partitioning and door casings, fix window boards, box pipework and secure the house with temporary external doors.

Then he will work on the roof. This will involve:

  • Making and erecting the trusses.
  • Fixing parts of the roof like ‘fascias’,‘soffits’ and porch or bay window roofs.

Second fix work usually includes:

  • Fitting the staircase and floors.
  • Hanging internal and external doors.
  • Fitting architraves, skirting and other timber mouldings.
  • Fitting loft openings, boxing and timber work in bathroom, and if required, making and fitting built-in wardrobes, shelving, etc.

When do they do it? A carpenter will be on site during the first and second fix stages, for the roofing and also for liaising with other trades such as plumbers, roofers, and plasterers during the build.


What do they do? Roofers have one of the toughest jobs of all the trades. Working up high in all sorts of weather isn’t everybody’s cup of tea!

Typically, your roofer will cover the whole roof first in underlay/felting before laying the chosen roof material – tiles, slate, copper, engineered wood. Other work will involve creating valleys for water run-off if necessary and flashings around the chimney, bay windows or protruding porches.

When do they do it? Roofers are usually on site once all relevant carpentry work is done, and will stay from two to three weeks depending on the size of the job. It’s a good idea to confirm a list of requirements with your roofer before you start.


What do they do? During the first fix, your plumber will install all piping and ducting for radiators, heated towel rails, and underfloor heating. They’ll also install hot and cold water supply. The second fix will involve fitting a bathroom, fitting radiators, and plumbing in white goods in the kitchen.

When do they do it? First and second fix plumbing usually takes two weeks each to complete. Plumbers usually work alongside electricians during these stages as their work can often overlap.


What do they do? Your electrician will fit all the necessary wiring, including wall sockets, switches, ceiling and wall lights. They’ll also wire up built-in appliances, cooker hooks, extractor fans and hobs in your kitchen as well as any outdoor lighting and security lighting.

When do they do it? An electrician’s work is usually carried out in first and second fix stages. Each stage will take up to two weeks. When all work is completed, you can get the electrician to commission a Certificate of Completion.


What do they do? A plasterer’s job is to make sure your walls and ceilings are smooth and ready for decoration.

This will involve fixing plasterboard and beading before skimming with plaster. In addition, plastering may involve the creation of architectural details – enhancing the overall look of the space. If your build requires external rendering, your plasterer will be able to do this too.

When do they do it? If the house needs to be rendered, this is usually the plasterer’s first job (before the removal of outside scaffolding) and can take around two weeks, depending on that Irish weather. Internal plastering may require trestles for high walls. Work should take roughly two weeks to complete.

And there you have it; a comprehensive guide that’ll get your self build off the ground. Literally and figuratively!

Are you thinking of building your own home?

Need even more info? Check out our handy ebook about building your home in Ireland complete with stories from EBS customers who have already built a home.

Find out how much you can afford to borrow with our mortgage calculator or book a mortgage meeting to suit you with one of our mortgage experts.

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The content of this blog is expressed in broad terms and is limited to general information purposes only. Readers should always seek professional advice to address issues arising in specific contexts and not seek to rely on the information in this blog which does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by EBS d.a.c.

EBS d.a.c. neither accepts nor assumes any responsibility in relation to the contents of this blog and excludes all warranties, undertakings and representations (either express or implied) to the fullest extent permitted under applicable law.

EBS d.a.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.


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