Skip hire costs and top tips
You’ll need a skip for most significant home improvement and building projects. But before you contact your local skip hire company, follow these five key steps to make sure you get it right:
1) Assess how much waste you think you might have
2) Think about where the skip will be positioned – will it be on your own land or the public highway?
3) Work out how long you might need the skip for
4) Assess what type of waste you need to dispose of
5) Understand what a good price is to dispose of the waste you have – and how you might be able to save money
Use our skip hire costs calculator (see cost calculator section below), powered by data sourced from across Checkatrade’s network of suppliers, to get an accurate estimate for skip hire cost based on your criteria.
What are my options for skip hire?
While a skip might be your first thought for waste disposal, it isn’t always the best option.
Skip Bags: The main difference between skips and skip bags (such as Hippo) is that the bags are not delivered but rather bought – either online or from DIY retailers – and can be filled at your leisure. They are then collected when full in the same way as a traditional skip. Some of the bag suppliers will restrict you to household waste only (not allowing construction materials), so check beforehand. Skip bags are good options for those looking to dispose of small to modest amounts of waste but are less cost-effective for larger and more building-related loads.
Man and a Van: A good option for those less able to fill skips themselves, a man and a van can, in some cases work out more cost-effective than a skip, because you won’t need to pay for a skip hire permit if one were needed. However, the cost of the labour usually makes it more expensive than hiring a skip alone. Man and van services are particularly effective for removing bulky furniture items that take up a lot of space in a skip and can be quickly removed from the house.
Local Authority or Charity Collection: A good alternative is to use your local authority’s bulky item collection service – perfect for those looking to get rid of old furniture items. The fees vary, but typically you can get a handful of items (such as furniture, mattresses and domestic appliances) collected for between £20-50 in total. If your furniture is in good condition, some charities (such as the British Heart Foundation) will collect your items for free on the basis that it can be resold in their shops.
How do I find a good skip hire company?
Almost all skip hire companies offer a professional and good value service, but there are a few exceptions. The best ways to ensure you have a good experience is to check that:
– They have been in business for several years
– They accept credit or debit card payments
– They offer a wide range of skips at different sizes
– They will be registered with the local authority if a skip permit is required
– They will aim to recycle most (at least 70%) of the waste they collect
Using Checkatrade to source your skip hire company ensures that they have been subject to rigorous background checks – but you should always make your own enquiries.
Skips are designed for general, mixed and builder’s waste, but you cannot fill them with items classed as hazardous. They are:
• Fluorescent tubes
• Pressurised containers
• Computer monitors
• Plasterboard (in some cases – check with your supplier)
• Clinical waste
Don’t try to hide prohibited items in the bottom of the skip – the waste is sorted after the skip is removed.
Apart from the list above, you can use a skip for pretty much anything else. Most skip companies will allow you to dispose of garden waste such as turf, soil, trees and plants. Bin bags can also be included in skips as long as they don’t contain any of the restricted items listed above.
Skips come in lots of sizes. Ignore the names the skip company gives their range – concentrate on the capacity instead. One cubic yard (0.76m3) is roughly the same size as two local authority-issued wheelie bins. For most domestic building jobs, an 8 cubic yard skip is usually the best option.
Because so much of the cost of skip hire is in fixed overheads such as delivery, the marginal cost of additional cubic yard capacity reduces – so the larger the skip, the more cost-effective it is. If in doubt, always go larger – you’ll certainly find things to fill it with.
Where possible, place your skip on your own private land as it saves significant costs. If that’s not an option, then you’ll need to arrange for a licence to place a skip on the road. The skip hire company will need to be registered with the local authority in order to apply for the licence (which only they can do). You will need to give the local authority up to a week’s notice and the license, which typically costs between £30-90 depending on the local authority, is usually time-limited (to 7 or 14 days, or up to a month in some instances). If you are deemed to have sufficient land on which to place the skip then the application may be rejected (and you’ll still be charged).
If you’re in a built-up residential area with permit parking or a yellow line, you will also need to apply for a suspension of parking. Costs range from £30-100 per day depending on the local authority.
Most companies allow for skips to be kept on-site for up to a fortnight before extra costs are incurred.
Are there any access issues for skip lorries?
The skip lorry itself will be around 7m long x 3.5m high x 3m wide and are typically 7-10 tonnes in weight, too – so think about how it will deliver and collect your skip safely. In most cases your driveway should be able to handle the load but it is worth considering as driveways are constructed of different types of sub-base and covering.
Where does the waste in my skip go?
Because of the different disposal and recycling options for different types of waste, the contents of the skip will be sorted back at the depot and then usually sent to third parties or recycled on site if the company has its own recycling facility. These days most skip hire companies manage to recycle between 70-90% of the skip waste they collect. For instance, any wood waste is sent to a wood recycling facility and might be reused as fuel for biomass boilers, or metal waste might end up at a scrap metal yard. Other types of waste might be directly burned for energy; others reused in building materials.
The best way to ensure value is to compare skip hire prices by the cubic yard. (1 cubic yard = 0.76 cubic meters – most companies still quote in yards). The bigger the skip, the cheaper the cost per cubic yard.
For a smaller skip (often referred to as a mini skip) which has a capacity of around 4 cubic yards, prices in London and the South East are around £50-55/yd3 (£200-220), reducing to £35-40/yd3 (£140-160) in the rest of the UK.
For a larger skip (often known as a builder’s skip) with an 8 cubic yard capacity, London and South East prices drop to £30-40/yd3 (£240-320), with prices in the rest of the UK in the £25-35/yd3 (£200-280) region. All prices quoted include VAT, and it’s worth noting that there are of course local variations to these general price guides.
For the most part, skip hire prices compare favourably to the rates for hiring skip bags. A bag with a similar capacity to ‘mini’ skips (around 4 cubic yards) tends to cost around £50/cubic yard – making it competitive in the South East but less so elsewhere.
How to fill a skip effectively
The key to maximising value from a skip hire is to fill it effectively. As skips can only be filled to level loads, every bit of space unused below that line is wasted.
Firstly, with the angled walls of a skip in mind, be very careful with items such as doors that can span over the floor of the skip, rendering the space below unused. Break them up if needed and think about the order in which the skip is filled.
Secondly, prioritise the items you really can only get rid of in the skip. A lot of furniture items such as sofas and bedsteads (even mattresses) can be either resold or ‘freecycled’ online. It’s better to give bulky items away for free and have someone else collect them than use up valuable skip space.
When considering your options for skip hire it’s always worth taking advice from an expert. Our Checkatrade Expert Westley Collins of Away With It offers some insights to consider before you find your skip hire company.
- If you have item(s) to dispose of and have poor access or really difficult parking for a skip to be left, why not consider ordering a “waiting” service where the skip lorry arrives at a set time and you can load the skip while they wait.
- If you are placing really heavy items e.g. rocks and soil, place them first into the skip. You will most likely fit more into the skip in this manner.
- The average size of a skip is around 6-8 yards so explore other options if you think you have too much to dispose of, for example, you could hire a removal lorry that can hold 3 times the amount of a skip.
- There is an epidemic of fly-tipping around the country. Don’t forget it’s your responsibility as the owner of the clearance job to check that the person removing your items holds a relevant, up-to-date license with the Environmental Agency Rogue traders may approach you to offer to take away your items for a low price but actually dumping your items in the local area.
- Take care when leaving your skip overnight, neighbours and passersby may decide to use your skip for free. An easy way of preventing unwanted additions by using a lockable skip.