Bricklayers build and maintain a range of structures
including internal and external walls on new houses and
commercial projects, chimney stacks, tunnel linings and
decorative work such as archways and garden walls.
They also deal with the repair and refurbishment of
existing brickwork or masonry.
For bricklaying they use a variety of hand and power tools and various materials such as bricks, blocks, lintels, stone and mortar. A typical new-build housing job will include the following tasks:
As the building goes up, bricklayers or scaffolders will raise platforms to reach the higher storeys; joiners usually follow closely behind fitting frames for doors and windows as designated by the design blueprints.
Depending on the size of the project, gangs of bricklayers may work on different sections at the same time. Some bricklayers may also specialise in stonemasonry work. See the profile for Stonemason.
The usual working week is 39 hours, Monday to Friday,
although overtime at weekends and evenings is common
to meet deadlines.
Bricklayers work outside in most weather conditions, and spend much of the time standing, kneeling and carrying heavy loads. The environment can be noisy, dirty and wet, and can involve working from scaffolding.
Personal protective equipment such as safety helmets and boots is worn and, depending on the job, sometimes gloves, goggles or ear defenders. Bricklayers travel from site to site and it is often necessary to work away from home for periods of time. A driving licence is useful.
To be a bricklayer you should:
Bricklayers work for building contractors and local
authorities, but many are self-employed and work on a
sub-contract basis for contractors as 'labour only' with
materials supplied by the building contractor.
Opportunities for qualified bricklayers are excellent, due to the expansion of urban regeneration programmes and construction projects around the country. There may also be opportunities to work abroad on contracts with larger firms.
With experience, it is possible for bricklayers to progress to supervisory roles or related areas, such as estimating and site management.
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