The True Cost of Owning Your Own Trade Business

Working in the trades industry gives you options. You can build your career from apprenticeship to full-time employee for many thriving and established businesses. If you want more independence, you can also build your own aspirations and start your own trades business. 

Starting a new business can be extremely challenging and daunting, with unexpected costs jumping out at any minute and few established “how-to” guides. 

To help many new entrepreneurs with their journey, we have delved into the numbers from start to finish, creating an estimate on the true cost of starting your own trades business.

We’ve broken the data down according to your field of expertise, making each section as specific and tailored as possible, as well as including some words of wisdom from other business owners. 

Plunging into the Plumbing Industry:

When looking to start your own plumbing business - or really any trades business -  the first step is to have a reliable mode of transport. Most people in the trades opt for a van, which is where most of your initial expenses would fall. Overall, including van insurance and fuel, a reliable mode of transport would cost around £31,502.75. 

Another important element will be tools and safety equipment, from working trousers (av. £35.23) and safety boots (av. £52.67), to tools such as hacksaws (av. £13.88)  and pipe wrenches (av. £39.24). All of these starting expenses would total around £936.66. 

Once you’ve acquired all the important equipment and tools, insurance is a must-have for any business owner. From Public Liability Insurance to tool insurance, you’re looking at around £407.01 towards insurance. 

Cost of owning a plumbing business in the UK

TOTAL TRUE COST: £32,846.42 


Industry Insights From Plumbing Professionals

A spokesperson from S.N.L. Home Repairs has said that the biggest change in the industry over the past 2-5 years is “the quality of materials on the market and online sales of products. Customers are able to purchase materials at the same (and sometimes cheaper) costs than merchants.” 

The second biggest change would be payment: “It’s become acceptable to pay later rather than on completion.” The best advice to give to any new business starter would be that “building a business takes time, and is not an overnight thing. Don’t expect to go out with a full worksheet in the beginning of starting your business.”

The owner of Dr Plumb, a plumbing and heating engineer business, has said that “the standard of work has increased over the years”, meaning that “technology and efficiency has changed with the progressions of the trade.” 

One of the struggles of starting a business is “getting the initial work, finding it either through word of mouth or advertising - it all takes money or time.” The best advice would be to “make sure that you’re in the best place money and skill wise before diving in.”

Sparking Your Own Electrician Company:

Whether you’re looking to start fresh or starting your own electrician business straight out of your training, making sure you have enough starting capital is key!

Protective gear and tools have slightly higher costs than a plumbing business, due to including various detecting devices such as socket tests (av. £24.42) and voltage tester pens (av. £16.82). Protective clothing is also extremely important, including items such as insulated gloves (av. £6.83), safety glasses (av. £8.17) and work jackets (av. £52.44). The total cost for essential safety gear and tools is around £1,402.56. 

Cost of owning an electrician business in the UK

TOTAL TRUE COST: £33,312.32 

Electrician working

Industry Insights From Professional Electricians

A spokesperson from All Sparks Electrical Services, who supply electrical installation and testing, said that the biggest challenge as a trades business owner was “getting the work in and subcontracting for a while until the customer base grew.” However, the success from this was the “satisfaction and pride of building a business from nothing. Being highly skillset has allowed customers to consider you as a friend, rather than a tradesman.”

Moraitis from Greg Moraitis domestic appliances repairs has said that for the first year he had to cover the costs of running his own business; however, come time, it finally starts to pay back. One element of success which has come with the role is “having 5 star reviews from customers and seeing how this has brought more clients with their recommendations.” 

Starting as a sole trader in a place without a social circle is a difficult task, so being recommended is great. If you are starting out in the industry you may need another job to be able to support yourself, he says. However, “if you dream high, aim high and never give up you can believe in yourself and what you are able to do.”

Establishing a Solid Foundation for Your Construction Career:

Unlike plumbing and electrical companies, construction businesses require quite a few items of heavy machinery and equipment, which increases their starting essential costs. With items such as step ladders (av. £109.80), cordless nail guns (av. £414.05) and drywall sanders (av. £581.51), the essential equipment costs for starting a business estimate around £2,311.47. 

Cost of owning a construction business in the UK

TOTAL TRUE COST: £34,221.13 

Construction worker

Industry Insights From Construction Professionals

A spokesperson from T H Electrical Services has said that over the past 2-5 years there has been more paperwork to handle. “A struggle in the industry is juggling doing the physical work with the admin alongside”; for example “doing estimates and keeping track of bookkeeping” comes with the job. For anyone looking to start their own trades business, the best advice to give would be to thoroughly prepare a business plan.

A spokesperson from MPB Building, a construction/home improvement company, said that the biggest success for their business is “moving with the times and showing customers that they have been able to keep up to date as well as keeping things traditional.” The biggest advice for anyone starting a business in the trades would be to “give it all you have as if you don’t try you will never know.”

Starting Your Carpentry Business from Scratch:

Anyone who has started their own carpentry business would know that electrical tools and equipment are extremely important when it comes to essential items. 

These would include tools such as cordless circular saws (av. £239.43)  and drills (av. £186.99), and, with electricals involved, essential equipment costs skyrocket to £2,804. 

Cost of owning a carpentry business in the UK

TOTAL TRUE COST: £34,714.05

Carpenter working

Industry Insights From Carpentry Professionals

The owner of All Around The Wood hasn’t noticed much change in the carpentry industry over the past 2-5 years. “This for me is a side project that’s turned into a living, and I’m just embracing the journey I’m on!”

Whilst one of the hardest parts of running a carpentry business is “sourcing good local materials, there is satisfaction in seeing my customer’s orders done and delivered, to then seeing how happy they were with my work.”

The owner of Tom Sebborn Joinery covers most aspects of joinery from timber frame buildings to kitchen fittings. He has noticed an increase in the number of developers using timber frames in a short amount of time. He’s seen a lot more people building their own 'grand design' and believes it may be the direction a lot of builds will go in the future. “It's not without its flaws but speed is a massive bonus” he says. 

The advice he would give is to “keep your overheads as low as possible and to not grow beyond your abilities.”

Creating an Evergreen Business Plan For Your Landscaping Company:

When thinking about laying the groundwork for your landscaping business, you not only have the same requirements as previous trades industries but weather also needs to be factored into your equipment and uniform needs. 

Along with large electrical equipment such as lawn mowers (av.£300.92) and chainsaws (av.£221.39) ,clothing such as waterproof overalls (av. £95.00) and jackets (av. £60.50) can also add to the overall essential costs. 

Cost of owning a landscape business in the UK

TOTAL TRUE COST: £34,782.79

Landscaper working

Industry Insights From Professional Landscapers

The owner of Laurence Miles Interior and Exterior Landscape has said that the best advice for others looking to start their own business is to “do what you know you can do well, make sure that you communicate with your clients properly, and to always leave the site safe, clean and tidy every day before you leave.”

A spokesperson from Llŷn Landscaping, who are Landscape Gardening specialists, says that one of the biggest successes as a trades business owner is “doing a good job with the right tools and for the right task.” Coming prepared with the equipment required has allowed them to provide the best services and ability to maintain the highest quality output.

Overall, whether you’re looking to start your trades empire now or you’re not quite sure where to begin, it’s always important to make sure you’ve calculated the essential costs correctly to ensure nothing is missed, avoid last-minute expenses and keep your business sustainable!