No announcement yet.

Desperately need help and advice with UK build please!

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Desperately need help and advice with UK build please!

    I’ve been planning out my build essentially following the Forno Bravo “Pompeii Oven Plans” as closely as possible.
    Unfortunately the cost of everything in the UK seems to be astronomical compared to what the guide suggests…… I wonder if I’m missing something major in my planning and buying the wrong stuff? The price of concrete seems to be killing my project completely.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated, and advice on where to buy stuff at the cheapest possible would be amazing!

    Fortunately I already have a concrete slab as a foundation.

    As per the guide, I’m planning to stack up hollow concrete blocks to make my base and pour concrete down alternate cores.
    Hollow concrete block construction. 70x blocks @ £2.40 = £168
    Concrete 25kg readymix bags 15x bags @ £9.36 = £150
    The concrete seems outrageously expensive- I thought concrete was supposed to be cheap?

    Cooking Surface:
    A 9cm thick, steel reinforced, concrete slab with a further 9cm thick vermiculite concrete on top.
    Sand/cement to lay down underneath firebrick cooking floor.
    Concrete block 1.2m x 1.2m x 0.2m. 25kg readymix bags 30x bags @ £9.36 = £300
    Vermiculite for insulation in concrete top layer. 100litres= £18
    Firebricks x60 @ £1.60 = £96
    Rebar for concrete ½” x 9m = £51
    Sand 50kg = £5
    Portland Cement 50kg = £10
    Again the concrete is killing me here….£300!

    Firebricks x 120 @ £1.60 = £192
    Procast 1400 castable (25kg bags) x4 @ £18 = £72

    £30 steel stove chimney, with covered top, from eBay.

    Ceramic fibre "s" blanket 38mm 128kg x1 = £60.00
    Vermiculite 100lites = £18 (don’t know if this is enough?!)

    Rendering…. Not priced up yet but dreading it based on the above.
    External plaster/render
    Wire mesh + rebar

    So far the price of the above is £1088 which is significantly more than I was hoping.
    Does the above outline sound like everything I need, and what are your thoughts on the prices (especially the concrete?).

    Any help would be hugely appreciated,


  • #2
    I didn't check all the prices, but the bagged concrete is really expensive compared to US. Sackrete is $3.5-$4 per 80 lb bag. (this is cement and gravel mixed in the bag and you just add water.) The price you listed is similar to straight Portland which is about $10 a bag, but mixes with 5 times that amount of sand and gravel so it equals about 8-10 bags of preblended sackrete. The Block you listed is double what we pay for standard 8" block. Firebrick were about the same.
    Rebar is way high, but I buy it second hand... Generally the numbers you posted seemed a bit high, but if you have to buy everything new then I would put your total spending at $1500 (US) which isn't too far off what you have figured.

    A lot of builders scrounge for surplus material that might end up in the landfill otherwise. Usually you can have the stuff if you just haul it off right away. Concrete is rarely available as a discard, so you might need to do some shopping to find a better price?

    Good for you for at least itemizing your needs and putting a cost to it. Most guys get started and then can't stop even when the $300 budget is gone before the base is finished. Watch craigslist or whatever you have over there for odd items like firebrick to be available from time to time. Insulation and concrete will most likely have to be bought new. Perilite and Vermiculite are cheap at Nursery and Garden stores. Get the big 4 cu ft bags for about $30 and make your own insulation.

    Lots of ways to save money if you want to teach yourself some skills. Laying the block in mortar can eliminate the need for Rebar and grout, but it takes a fair bit of practice/patience to get nice results. (I know a bunch of you builders think I just committed a crime by eliminating the Rebar and grout, but Gravity has been pretty reliable over the centuries. If you live in a seismic area, then bar and grout are essential)
    The cost of living continues to skyrocket, and yet it remains a popular choice.


    • #3
      You're not miles off with your figures. Its not a cheap project if you buy new materials - I'm building a fairly large oven and material costs quickly passed the £1000 mark, at which point I decided it was best not to think about it - and definitely not figure out the cost of each pizza!

      As suggested above, looking for second hand materials might help. I suspect you are over estimating concrete costs - you would probably do rather better by buying a bulk bag of all-in ballast (or separate gravel and sand) and bags of portland rather than ready mixed stuff.


      • #4
        Yes as the guys mention, buying aggregate and cement separately will save you a few quid but, if it is any consolation things are much more expensive where I live!
        For example .. one bag of refractory cement = £20 on eBay + £35 delivery to Guernsey....... 5 x bags £120 + £125 delivery!
        I have now built my base, I used quite a bit of shuttering & a lot of concrete, it has cost me just over £500 in materials & I have not even started the oven yet!


        • #5
          Well, you are started now, no turning back. It will be worth it regardless of cost.
          The cost of living continues to skyrocket, and yet it remains a popular choice.


          • #6
            I started out keeping receipts and tracking costs, but gave up when the building started. I got to where I just didn't care what it cost, and didn't want to spend the effort tracking it. Building an oven is a quality of life thing, and as long as you don't move you will (hopefully) never be sorry you started.
            My build thread


            • #7
              I kept close track of what I spent and was very close to my guess till I closed the dome and then the lack of perplanning showed that my bugget was insufficient. So I finished how I wanted and wound up at roughly double what I had planned or around $6000. It can surely be done for less, but it is what I wanted.



              • #8
                I've tried to keep pretty good tabs on my entire project...including my wood storage and dough prep room. Here's my total costs to from 2009 when I started to April 2017. (Sorry about the alignments, apparently copying from an Excel spreadsheet into a web page isn't as pretty as creating a pdf for posting .) My initial loaf of bread was pretty spendy when I added the overhead...but after 3,243 loaves I'm at $0.57 per average loaf ingredients and $3.33 overhead for each loaf (total cost per amortized loaf = $ 3.90)...and my neighbors are now all really good (and hungry) friends!

                I had a lot of used materials that I incorporated in the build but I had to buy a lot of power tools for the construction of the den. As JRPizza noted, this is a long term investment and in the long run you will be happy with the investment and as RandyJ can always do things for less...but do what you want because otherwise you'll always be thinking "I wish I would have..."

                Another positive thing is during power outages you won't go hungry for baked goods

                USD Pound (British-April 2017)
                Foundation Pad 1,529 1,192 1 usd (*1.28) = British pounds
                Oven 2,335 1,820
                Dragonfly Den 2,701 2,106
                Prep Room 1,010 788
                Woodshed 682 531
                Equipment/Tools 1,542 1,204
                Total to Date = $9,799 7,641
                Mike Stansbury - The Traveling Loafer
                Roseburg, Oregon

                FB Forum: The Dragonfly Den build thread
                Available only if you're logged in = FB Photo Albums-Select media tab on profile


                • #9
                  Wow, thanks everyone for the responses. This forum is awesome.
                  (Apologies also to the mods- due to some technical issues theres a possibiliy I may have initially duplicated the original post 4 or 5 times!)

                  I've taken your advice and looked at buying concrete in base components.... bulk sand, bulk aggregate and bags of cement. Works out MUCH cheaper, essentially half the price.

                  Thats means my project is back on track!

                  Ordering the first few bits today- I'll get a WIP thread going in the appropriate forum section.


                  • #10
                    Mine cost about the same, back in 2011. However, this was for a pre-cast which I built into a brick enclosure with tiled roof. (I figured there was already enough building involved, without having to do the dome itself.) I probably went OTT with materials and complexity of design, but I wanted to get it right at any cost. The manufacturer of my pre-cast says to bed the cooking floor straight onto the plinth (no insulation), and to build the enclosure straight onto the front of the dome! This is so clearly wrong, yet many do do it like this, then wonder why it won't heat up or why they get cracks in the facade. (I said this on their forum. And how many responded? Not one!)

                    What part of Essex are you in?


                    • #11
                      Jon Kerr hows the build going?

                      Out of interest Where did you order your bricks from in the end? I’ve just completed my hearth but the bricks I found had over a £150 deliver charge!