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A groundworker is a construction professional who prepares the ground before (and after) building.
This usually involves clearing the site, digging trenches for foundations, laying drainage pipes, and returning at the end to lay footpaths and driveways.
Groundworkers can be self-employed – many people in the construction industry work as subcontractors, which means they’re hired to do part of a job that’s been agreed in a separate contract.
If you’re thinking about being a groundworker, read on for more about the job and how to set up your own business.
As mentioned, a groundworker might take on a number of tasks on site, both before and after construction.
These include clearing the site, digging trenches for foundations, removing sewage and pipework systems, and getting the ground ready for construction.
In terms of day-to-day duties, a groundworker might:
So a groundworker needs these attributes to be successful:
As with many roles in the trades, if you want to be a groundworker but don’t have experience, you could start as an apprentice.
If a company takes you on as an apprentice, you’ll gain experience on the job while studying an accompanying course.
You could also join a company as a trainee, building experience as you go. Groundworkers with some experience already can choose to take an NVQ Level 2 Diploma in Groundworking.
This course requires you to be active in the construction industry, so it might be useful if a company has taken you on as a trainee and you want to develop your existing knowledge.
There are also City & Guilds courses available at local learning centres, including Construction Operations – General Construction (6709).
You’ll also need:
Groundworkers should also have references from previous jobs to start new ones, so it’s important that you’re reliable and diligent.
A groundworker salary depends on which career stage you’re at, as well as whether you’re employed or self-employed.
According to talent.com, the average groundworker salary is £31,200 a year, with entry level positions starting at £29,250 a year and experienced workers making £33,150 a year.
This is based on 19,663 salaries submitted to its site. Roles are advertised at between £14-£20 per hour, depending on experience.
As this is an average and only based on salaries submitted to one website, it might be best to do your own research. What do self-employed groundworkers in your area charge? Ask your contacts in construction to work out what self-employed groundworkers earn in your local town or city.
Keep in mind that if you’re self-employed, you won’t be on Pay As You Earn (PAYE), so you’ll have tax obligations – although some roles pay your Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) payments through an umbrella company (read more about the CIS below).
Are you an experienced groundworker who’s looking to go self-employed? Do you want to build your own groundworking business, or become a subcontractor? Either way, here are our top tips:
Everybody who’s going self-employed for the first time needs to think about their goals and ambitions. Your business plan helps you put these onto paper and work out what you need to do to get your groundworking business started.
It doesn’t have to be too long or formal – but answering questions about your business before you go self-employed (for example funding, financials, and what tools and equipment you need) should help you avoid any surprises along the way.
Self-employed people deal with their own taxes, rather than pay tax automatically through PAYE.
This means you should tick these off your checklist:
It’s important to manage your site safely, so be sure to keep up with the latest health and safety regulations.
If you’re experienced, you should know what you need already, but here’s a list of some essentials for groundworkers:
Tools and equipment for tradespeople are expensive, so a comprehensive business insurance policy can protect you if they get lost, stolen or damaged.
At Simply Business, you can build a policy that suits the specifics of your business. Your groundworkers insurance policy can include:
As you’re running your own business, it’s important you know your financial responsibilities.
Many self-employed people hire a professional adviser or accountant to help with their taxes and finances.
With the UK government committed to ‘levelling up’ infrastructure in cities and towns across the country, self-employed people in construction could soon be in high demand.
As mentioned earlier though, references are important in the construction industry – so existing contacts, as well as referrals from people you’ve worked with successfully in the past, should come in handy when you’re looking for work.
What’s your experience of becoming a self-employed groundworker? Let us know in the comments below.
Sam has more than 10 years of experience in writing for financial services. He specialises in illuminating complicated topics, from IR35 to ISAs, and identifying emerging trends that audiences want to know about. Sam spent five years at Simply Business, where he was Senior Copywriter.
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