Preparing a Schedule of Material Costs

If you are thinking of building a new home why don’t you have a go at organising the works yourself? With some pre-planning and thought it can be done. Many people have successfully built their own home.

It’s a great way to save on the construction costs!

At Contour Architectural in Belfast we have helped many of our clients to achieve their goal of building their own home. You do not need to have a construction background, just a bit of hard work, planning, organisation and common sense will do it.

One of the major benefits is cost saving. By organising the delivery of all the various materials and labour at the correct time you are essentially taking on the role of a main contractor. The costs that a main contractor will normally charge for their role and expertise you can keep yourself.

Don’t be thinking that it will be easy, especially if you have not done this before, as there are so many things that can go wrong. It’s all about being organised. It’s about having the right materials and the right labour on site at the right time and in the right order. So much money is lost on building sites, even by experienced builders, by having materials delivered to early. This means they are left on site and can potentially become damaged or be stolen. Having the materials arrive too late is just as bad, with labour not being able to get on with the works due to lack of materials. So be organised!

Schedule of Material Costs

A major part of organising is cost setting. You want to set your material costs at an early stage and use these fixed costs throughout the build process. Get together a list of all the materials you need to build the shell of the structure. This list, or “schedule of material costs”, consists of the recurring materials that you will need e.g. brick, sand, cement, timber products, plasterboards, fixings etc. Try and make the list as comprehensive as possible, it’s worth taking the time. The advantage of having pre determined costs for each material component is that during the build period, which could be 6–8 months, you will continually be ordering the same, or similar, materials all the time. You do not want to waste time renegotiating the costs at each reorder.

The schedule or table can be quite simple. Consider a table of columns with the following headings:

·   Component

·   Quantity 

·   Unit .

·   Supplier Name Number 1

·   Supplier Name Number 2 Etc.

Explanation of each column heading is as follows: 


This is the materials description e.g. Drainage sewer pipe 6m long


This is how many of each component – usually 1 of for the schedule of costs


This is the measure of each component. It could be one number abbreviated to “No” of each product e.g. 1 No – drainage sewer pipe 6m long. Another could be square meter i.e. M2 - Insulation board. This material could be sold on a square meter basis

Supplier Name

The name of each supplier invited to price the schedule and will enter the unit cost for each component in this column

Remember you are trying to establish fixed costs for each component of material. Of course during construction you will need many numbers of each component so it’s a matter of multiplying the unit cost by the quantity used.

Try to break your schedule into categories rather than have a long list of items. There may be different departments within the suppliers that will price the schedule. Some examples of categories are as follows:

Category (followed by some examples of material descriptions)

Rough Sawn Timbers

50 x 25 mm softwood battens100 x 50 mm raftersAll the various sizes of timbers needs should be listed

Planed All Round Timbers

19 x 12 mm square edge32 x 12 mm square edge44 x 12 mm square edge

Drainage Pipes And Fittings

Drainage sewer pipe 6m long

Cement Products

Bag of OP cementBag of bonding


Exterior grade plywood – 19 mm thick

Damp Proofing Materials

100mm wide DPC150 mm wide DPC


Box 75 mm galvanised wire nails


…….etc. etc.

When you have the list complete, send it to 3 or 4 suppliers for pricing. It’s probably a good idea to also provide some drawings of the house to give the supplier the size of the property you are building. If the supplier thinks you are only buying one of each product his price may be a lot different than if they thinks you will be buying 200 number of a specific product.

Price Comparison

When the prices come back then you are in a position to compare the costs of each item between suppliers. It is preferably to buy as much of the list as possible from the one supplier. This may guarantee a betters. Always approach the supplier and negotiate for better prices. Don’t worry about this they are general used to it.

If you need any help with preparing this schedule we at Contour are only too glad to help you out. We also can obtain all the necessary statutory approvals such as planning and building control approval on your behalf.

Also refer to Self Build Guide on construction pre-planning.

For a FREE consultation please call 02890 692 444 for assistance with scheduling