1 Marking out
Mark out the drive with pegs leaving an extra 75mm (3in) on each side for the formwork. Excavate the ground, level it and add a 125mm (5in) level layer of hardcore. Rake and shovel concrete on top, then tamp down with a stout plank on edge. When the concrete has dried, add a 75mm (3in) layer of sharp sand.
2 Layout blocks
Lay an area of bricks or blocks, tapping them gently into the sand with a mallet handle. Keep the sand bed dry: if it rains before you finish, let the sand dry out or add new sand on top. Start by laying whole bricks or blocks only – leave any gaps at the edges for cut bricks or blocks after you have laid about 2m sq. (2sq.yds) of blocks.
3 Kneeling board
Work from one end of the site and never stand on the bed of sand or on the brick or block paving or you will set them too deep or raise them out of level. Use a long board spread over the drive so that your weight is distributed evenly. Continue to lay bricks or blocks in your chosen pattern.
4 Using a brick cutter
If you are paving a drive, you will need to cut a number of bricks to fit and fill the edges. It’s worth hiring a hydraulic brick cutter to speed up the job and cut down on wastage. Follow the operating and safety instructions at all times.
5 Tamping down with a plate vibrator
Fill the surface joints with a dry mortar mix, then sweep it into the cracks. You can tamp down with a club hammer and a piece of stout timber, but it’s better to hire a plate vibrator and pass it two or three times over the new paved area.
Useful Tip – Hiring Tools
Many jobs involving larger scale building work outside your home will need specialized equipment. Tool-hire shops will be able to supply many of the necessary tools such as electric cement mixers, hydraulic brick cutters, and plate vibrators. Spring and summer will be the most popular times to undertake exterior work, so you may need to pre-book at these times. Check whether the hirer will deliver and collect – otherwise you’ll need a suitable vehicle to do this yourself. Ask for a demonstration to see how the equipment works and make sure any safety wear is included, as well as an operating manual. You may be able to hire eqipment and an operator for some equipment. This is a good option if you don’t have a lot of time or experience, or are worried about using new, and potentially dangerous, equipment.