‘How much does it cost to have a patio installed?’ is a question we get asked a lot.
Unfortunately, however, it is not a straightforward question to answer. We do not have a set price per square metre.
The reason for this is that there are far too many variables that can impact price.
Paving choice, existing levels, the size of the area, whether or not retaining walls are needed, and site access, just to name a few, all make a difference to the cost.
But of course, having a ballpark figure in mind is helpful for when it comes to budgeting for your new patio so that you know roughly how much you’ll need.
We will get to some ballpark figures later in this article, but first it’s important to understand some of the factors that can affect cost.
Let’s take a look at some of these variables.
The levels of your existing patio (if you have one), lawn and garden as a whole make a big difference to cost.
Installing a patio typically involves excavating and installing a sub-base, most often using MOT Type 1, levelled and compacted to a minimum depth of 100mm. Then you’ll typically have a 40mm mortar bed which the slabs are laid onto.
The typical excavation depth, assuming your chosen slab is 20mm thick, would be 160mm. This allows for 100mm Type 1, 40mm mortar, and a 20mm slab. Of course, some types of paving are thicker, so would require further excavation.
However, excavation is always measured below finished height.. More often than not, but certainly not always, the finished height is 150mm below the damp proof course on your property.
So, while in theory we need to excavate 160mm, you may in fact need to excavate and dispose of more than 160mm. For instance, your existing levels could only be 75mm (1 brick course) below DPC. To get down to a finished height of 150mm below DPC, you’d need to excavate 235mm.
Of course, this can work the other way, too. You may find that your existing level is much further than 150mm below DPC. Say you want to install a raised patio with a finished height of 150mm below DPC, this would reduce the amount of the excavation.
In a nutshell, the more that needs to be excavated, the more expensive your patio will be.
After excavating your existing patio, the next step in the installation process is to install your sub-base.
As we explained in the last section, the more that needs to be excavated from your existing patio, the more the job is likely to cost. So, surely, the lower the existing levels are against your building, the cheaper the patio installation cost will be? Well, unfortunately, that’s not quite the case.
Let’s look at an example.
Let’s say you’ve just had a new extension built that extends your Essex property further into the garden.
The new damp proof course is around 400mm higher than the lawn level and you decide that you want the finished height of your patio to be 150mm below the DPC to allow easier access to the house. Now, assuming the new patio slabs are 20mm deep, we need to be 160mm below finished height. Therefore, there is a shortfall of 90mm.
In this example, there will not be any excavation required (although there may be some ground prep involved and you would need to remove any existing grass); instead we have an additional 90mm to build up. This would mean additional sub-base material, in the form of Type 1, imported into the garden as backfill, providing a total sub-base of 190mm.
The additional Type 1 required often negates any saving on the excavation costs, and so the depth of sub-base has a significant impact on cost, too.
If, as in the above example, you’re looking to create a raised patio, you’ll need to install a retaining wall. Conversely, if you’re looking to build a sunken patio, again, you’ll need a wall to retain the ground around the patio paving.
Retaining walls are built using various materials, depending upon site conditions, aesthetic requirements and the strength required to retain the ground.
Sleepers are one of the most cost-effective forms of retaining wall and tend to work well for small walls. Another popular option is to use brick and/or concrete blocks. These types of wall can be finished with exposed brick or, as is very popular right now, clad with some form of stone.
Sometimes, additional reinforcement may be required, too.
The requirements for retaining walls, and the nature of the wall, can have a significant impact on price.
Next on the list is site access. In an ideal world, a mini excavator would be used for any digging required.
Not only does it make life easier, but the huge difference in time needed for a machine dig compared to a hand dig can result in very significant labour savings.
You may be wondering how on earth you would be able to get a mini digger into your garden. Well, it is possible if you have an opening no less than 750mm and no tight turns to manoeuvre the machine around in order to access your garden.
A typical garden gate is normally 900mm wide, so if you have a standard size gate with an alleyway no less than 750mm, getting a machine into your garden shouldn’t be a problem.
If that’s not possible, you still have the option of removing fence panels (most panels can easily be removed) and accessing your garden via your neighbour’s side or, if your fence backs onto a road or pathway, via that route.
However you attempt to get a digger into your garden, you will need a reasonably straight run with no tight turns as, while micro diggers are very narrow, they are comparatively long, and therefore difficult to turn in tight spaces.
If you can fit a micro digger into your garden, then you can definitely get a wheelbarrow through.
However, for those struggling with tight access, being able to access your garden with a wheelbarrow is pretty much essential.
Luckily, it is very rare for this to be unachievable. Worst case scenario is to set up a wheelbarrow run through your property. As long as you take sufficient precautions to protect the flooring, and any doorways and corners that may get damaged if clipped by a wheelbarrow, although far from ideal, this is still possible.
If a wheelbarrow run is not a practical consideration, then your last option is to carry materials through the property in buckets. This will mean a high labour cost due to the time needed, so unless you have a very small patio, it may make a patio installation unfeasible. If that’s the case, you may be best off considering decking or artificial grass.
Most gardens do, especially new build properties, which often have several. These, of course, are nothing to be concerned about.
What we do here is install what is called a recessed manhole cover. This is simply a tray with handles that we can lay paving inside to seamlessly blend it in with the rest of the patio, whilst still allowing access.
While we are certainly not talking large sums of money, depending upon the size, a recessed manhole tray is likely to cost around £50. Then there is the additional labour to install the tray, and the additional cutting necessary.
Again, this doesn’t make a huge difference, but it’s a cost to consider nonetheless.
The type of paving that you choose has a bearing on the final cost.
You can purchase basic concrete utility paving for around £10 per square metre. Or you could source reclaimed Yorkstone at £150 plus per square metre.
So, on a 50m2 patio, the slab cost could vary between £500 and £7,500. That’s quite a difference!
But they are, of course, the extremes.
Porcelain has been extremely popular in recent years and this tends to vary in price between £25–£50 plus per square metre. The ever-popular Indian sandstone is typically around £18–£20 per square metre.
Concrete slabs are available in a wide range of colours and styles, and the average price bracket is anywhere between £10–£35 per square metre.
The paving type, of course, can have a big impact on cost.
A good patio installation always takes into consideration drainage. The last thing you want is for your patio to have standing water after rainfall.
Of course, every patio should have a slight fall to allow surface water runoff. Exactly where the water is to run off to really depends upon each individual site.
The best-case scenario here is to be able to fall the patio so that the rainfall runs to a lawn or flower bed.
This is the most cost-effective method, but this is not always possible.
You may need to install drainage in the form of a French drain or ACO drain, and/or potentially a soakaway, too.
Drainage depends upon site conditions and the requirements can only be determined on a case-by-case basis, but it’s important to know that drainage can have a significant impact on the cost to install your patio.
Often, sealing paving isn’t essential and, of course, it is always something that can be done further down the line (always wait at least six months to avoid sealing in any potential efflorescence). Alternatively, you may wish to seal the paving before it’s laid.
This is often a popular choice when installing Indian sandstone and some manufacturers do, in fact, recommend it.
Sealing paving involves manually applying the sealant with a masonry paint brush or roller. Good quality sealants can potentially add £20 per square metre to the cost, plus the additional labour time of applying the sealant.
As you can see, there are many factors that can affect how much it will cost to install a new patio in Essex.
However, knowing some ballpark figures is especially useful in knowing what you need to budget, so let’s look at some very rough, approximate costs.
These costs are for the patio paving only and do not include the cosy of drainage, retaining walls, steps, manhole covers, etc. They also assume a standard excavation and sub-base installation.
As the type of paving can have a huge impact on price, we’ve broken down the costs into the most common paving types:
Indian Sandstone – £140–£200* per square metre, including VAT.
Porcelain – £150–£250* per square metre, including VAT.
Concrete Paving Slabs – £120–£220* per square metre, including VAT.
*Based upon 2021 costs. Includes labour, waste disposal and materials.
Due to the number of factors that affect price these are very rough guide prices, but should be useful in giving you an idea as to whether or not your project is feasible.
Of course, every job is unique, and the list of variables explained in this article is by no means exhaustive. There are still further factors that can impact price.
The only way to know the cost to install a patio in Essex is to arrange a site visit and a quote.
If these ballpark figures are within your budget, then why not give us a call to discuss your patio project?
We operate throughout Essex, including Chelmsford, Brentwood, Rayleigh, Wickford, and Leigh-on-Sea.
We’re always on hand to help and love discussing all things landscaping, so give us a call on 01245 697 688 and we can answer any questions you may have and arrange a site visit if necessary.
You can also ask your questions in the comments section below.