DoUpDiary #19 : How to specify Reclaimed Bricks

Feels like massive progress as we see the MOT stone going down on top of the reduced depth earth oversite within the garage walls. I always find the building process endlessly fascinating and being part of it all unfolding at Moregeous HQ is ace! Missy Builder Cat clearly feels the same way, clamped to my legs all day.

IMG_4862The dense red engineered brickwork is currently up to damp level, ie the level where the brickies roll out a thin black damp proof membrane to stop any moisture rising up the walls and into the house / garage, before carrying on building up the walls.

MOT stone is getting bucketed into the garage area and levelled out.

Great piles of stone are then being barrowed in to go over the earth and the site looks a million times neater already following the summer mud bath.

MOT stone going down in new build garage
Mr M – this is the closest he’s ever been to getting stoned – here getting a rare sit down 😉

We’ve saved hundreds of the original bricks from the demolition. I’ve cleaned about 1400 of their old mortar and now they’re ready to be used again for the *new* extension. Added to this another 2000 reclaimed bricks sourced locally and another 600 from our decrepit garden wall and that should hopefully be enough! Using the original bricks is massively important to me as we strive for a new building which looks as though it might always have been here and also want to reduce our carbon footprint by using less bought in material.

Thinking of building using reclaimed bricks? Here are a few tips I’ve learned:

  1. If you’re adding bought in bricks to an amount you already have, make sure your measurements & dimensions are spot on or your brickie might be chasing you round the garden with a hammer. Get him or her to help ascertain exactly which ones you need.
  2. Modern bricks are roughly 215mm long x 100mm deep x 65mm high. Our reclaimed ones are 230mm x 110mm x 68mm, some are as high as 73mm. Also reclaimed bricks were often handmade with lumps & bumps so don’t expect lovely neat mortar joints!
  3. There’s an average of 60 modern manufactured bricks per square metre now, but approx 50-55 for reclaimed as they tend to be bigger. Bear this in mind when ordering quantities.
  4. If you’re the hands on, getting down and dirty type, simply tap ‘reclaimed brick’ or ‘reclamation yard’ into Google for your postcode area, load up your boot with some of the bricks you want and have a day out searching. This can be worthwhile for bargain hunters as you can often barter a good deal, but may not be so great if your bricks are part of a house which isn’t being demolished so you can’t just throw them in the car and take them out with you!
  5. Another issue with the going it alone route is that if you need an awful lot of bricks, it may be hard for a smaller distributor to fulfil your order and you really don’t want to run out of bricks half way through your build.
  6. In which case…… many large suppliers like Buildbase do a brick matching service where a rep will come to your house and use their experience and samples to find the perfect match for you. They found a cracking match for the West Wing for me. Or alternatively you can send for samples through the post (yes, seriously!) from a web-based company like Brick Hunter, who I’ve never used but come recommended.
  7. Price wise going down the reclaimed route is more expensive than modern bricks. There is wastage as some may crack or be damaged as they are weaker than modern made bricks and have by their very nature been bashed about a bit. Expect to pay £600 – £900 per thousand at the moment…. they seem to be in demand and the market is getting hotter by the month (this blog post is written in 2016).
  8. If you’re worried about the quality of reclaimed bricks then maybe consider going down the modern but handmade route, that way you know you get top quality, if not strictly speaking a true reclaimed feel and look.

This is also a very good document on using reclaimed bricks with lots of technical info and a few words of caution: HERE

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