Calculating Scaffolding Costs

Calculating the cost of scaffolding is one of the most complexed and confusion aspects of any construction project. Even the largest scaffolding companies in London struggle with estimating and pricing a scaffolding job correctly.

Below we outline the various components involved in calculating the costs of scaffolding projects.

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Scaffolding Material / Kit Costs

When estimating the cost of a scaffold, the first step to take is determine how much scaffold materials are needed.

The list of scaffolding material includes:

  • Tubes / Poles
  • Boards
  • Ladders
  • Beams
  • Gates / Hatches
  • Clamps, Ties and Couplers
  • Base Plates, Drop Forged, End Caps
  • Protectors and more.

Just to add to the confusion, scaffolding tubes and boards are sold by the foot, while scaffolding jobs are priced by the meter.

To calculate how many linear meters of scaffolding tube is needed for the job, you can use this calculation:

"Scaffold Width" x "Scaffold Height" x 4.1158 = Total Linear Meters

For example:

5 Meters Wide x 10 Meters High x 4.1158 = 206 Linear Meters

The Tubes alone are about 50% of the cost of materials. Boards and fitting make up the other 50% of materials cost.

As for June 2023, the cost per linear meter of aluminum scaffold tube at Scaffolding Direct is £5.10 a meter (including VAT). Scaffolding companies usually buy wholesale for under £4.00 a meter.

So in the above example; 206 linear meters would cost the scaffolding company about £824 for tubes, add another £824 for boards and fittings and the total cost comes to about £1648.

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Scaffolder Labour Costs

One of the popular ways of creating a cost estimates for scaffolds in London, is by calculating the cost of labour and marking up from there.

This method works for a scaffolding company, but it does not help a construction company or roofer estimate the cost of scaffolding.

Each company has their own multiplier they use, but amongst the crews on the street, the number is 2.5 times labour.

For example:

A scaffolding company looks at a scaffolding job, and estimates it will take 4 scaffolders, a full days work to erect. They will then add a half days work to strike, and start calculating.

2 scaffolders making £250 a day, plus 2 labourers making £125 a day, times 2.5, equals £1875.

Transportation Costs

A large component of the cost in a scaffold job has to do with location. As they say, location is everything!

It is important to know where the yard / warehouse of your scaffolding company is located. Some of the larger scaffolding companies in London have multiple locations throughout the city. Smaller scaffolding companies will only service jobs in their local market.

Travel time in London is brutal to say the least, and when you are getting a scaffolder from Heathrow to do a job in Enfield, you are paying for them to sit in traffic for half the day.

Scaffolding Hire Charges

The scaffolding industry standard hire period is at 4 weeks. It is still important to verify this with every scaffolding quote you receive.

On the quote should be the cost for extending the hire period. Costs for extended hire periods range any from 5% a month to as high as 15% a week.

Scaffolding is used from many types of home improvement and construction projects. As we mentioned earlier, the cost of the scaffolding materials in many cases, is the entire price for the job. A scaffolding company can only make money when their scaffolding is being used again and again.

A famous scaffolding project for the restoration of Big Ben ended up taking 5 years to complete. Soon afterwards, the company that did the work, went out of business.

When requesting a quote for a scaffolding project, it is important to discuss the timeframe. Some companies will give a discount for a 2 week job. Others will allow 8 weeks in the hire period.

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