Everyone will have their own definition of what “Affordable Decking” means. Some will say that it depends on what budget is available at the time. In that case, it may mean that the only way to build the desired deck, would be to compromise on the quality of the materials or construction techniques. In which case, the deck may start to fall apart in a fairly short time, and need further work or replacing completely. The combined cost would almost certainly be higher than if the deck was built properly in the first place, and of course, this would exceed the original budget. So is it still affordable?
If you read my pages on “Quality” and “Craftsmanship”, you will know that I only use premium quality deck boards and materials. You will also know that, when building a deck, the construction techniques I use undoubtedly take a little longer. That doesn’t mean that it has to be expensive because savings can be made in other areas. Namely, the labour content.
Every business has overheads (fixed and variable) which have to be paid for, ultimately by the customers. These costs are built into their labour charges. Examples of this are the costs of premises (rent, rates, heating and so forth), support staff (accounts, personnel, sales etc), advertising, travel, vehicles, tools, accountancy, subscriptions – the list goes on. Then there are staff wages including holiday and sick pay (I wish!)
I am what is known as a Sole Trader. This means that the business is me. Full stop. My office is a spare room in my house so I have no business premises to pay for. I only work within a limited radius so travelling costs are minimised (and I use an old van that cost very little to buy). I have no receptionist, sales staff, accounts department or any other wages to pay. Every deck I build is an advertisement and much of my work comes from personal recommendations (and this web site) so my advertising costs are minimal. I do have a lot of power tools, which have to be paid for. However, they enable me to do the job in a fraction of the time that it would take to do by hand.
Importantly, I am not VAT registered. That is because, as a sole trader, my turnover is well below the (£77,000 as of January 2103) threshold where VAT registration is obligatory. What that means is that I buy materials and have to pay VAT on them. Of course, as I cannot claim the VAT back, I pass this on, but with no additional VAT on any profit I might make on the sale. The really good part, as far as my customers are concerned is that I do not charge VAT on my labour. At the time of writing, this is 20%.
Finally, I just want to make a living, not a fortune and I enjoy what I do. My labour rates are far less than you would pay for (say) a plumber, electrician or indeed most tradesmen.
So, with very very low business overheads and no VAT on my labour or any profit element, I believe that I am able to offer quality and craftsmanship at an affordable price, and I know that on a like for like basis, my quotations are very hard to beat.