Industry sector:

Driveways and patios: Your work rate


As part of your business planning, give some thought to the hours you expect to work and the amount of work that you can realistically hope to get done in a typical working day.

Working hours

Assuming that you get a fairly steady stream of work, the amount that you can earn depends partly on the number of days you work and the length of your working day.

You may decide to stick to normal business hours, for example 8.30 am until 5.30 pm Monday to Friday and perhaps Saturdays too. Or you may decide to work longer hours - perhaps an earlier start. Remember that bad weather can disrupt your work schedules. Perhaps you are prepared to work very long hours when the weather is fair and your services are in demand, taking some time off during quieter periods. Bear in mind though that many of the tools you will use, such as disk cutters and concrete breakers, are very noisy and you risk causing a disturbance if you start using these very early in the morning or carry on late into the evening.

Work rate

You should have a good idea of how long certain types of job will take you. It is very important when quoting for a job that you can make an accurate estimate of how long it will take. It's no good basing your quote on two days work if it ends up taking you four!

The speed at which you work depends on your own skills and experience and on the type and standard of the work that you do. Your charges should reflect all of these things.

Non-productive time

Unfortunately, not all of every working day will be spent earning money. Here are a few examples of reasons why you may sometimes find yourself working hard but earning nothing:

  • visiting sites to do surveys, cost new work and give quotes (if you make no charge for these services)
  • doing your own direct selling
  • finishing off jobs that take you longer than you had thought (possibly due to unforeseen problems)
  • re-doing faulty work
  • travelling to and from jobs, or to get tools or materials from a supplier
  • repairing tools or vehicles

Sometimes you may find that you are unable to work at all, because:

  • the weather is too bad to work outside
  • you are waiting for items to be delivered
  • a vital tool or piece of equipment is broken
  • another contractor has fallen behind with his or her part of a building or landscaping project
  • you are ill

Take all of these factors into account when you are estimating the maximum number of productive hours that you can work each month. Be realistic! Remember that they can apply to your employees as well as to you. When you plan your working schedules, try to minimise the amount of time that will be wasted. For example, you may be able to build a contingency into your work schedule so that you can move straight on to another job if for any reason you are unable to work at the original one.