Once you have drawn up plans for a project, begin compiling lists of the materials and hardware you will need. First consider the nature of the project. How much will it be used? Is it to be permanent or temporary? Will it he visible or hidden, utilitarian or decorative? Should it match or coordinate with existing materials? Is it going to be used indoors or outdoors? Will it be used by children or a disabled person? What is the maximum you are prepared to spend? With these factors in mind, choose the type and quality of materials you need and, if applicable, pick the finish (paint. stain or natural) you want. Don't forget that you may need to comply with building regulations and local council guidelines when selecting your design and materials.

When you have decided on the types of materials. you will need to estimate the quantities. For materials that are installed in straight lines. such as pipes. measure the length needed in metres. For materials that are to be used for frames or borders, measure the perimeter or circumference of the piece or area to be enclosed. For many other materials, you will need to calculate either the area to be covered or the volume to be filled. Use the formulas given here to make these estimates. Then determine the amounts of materials you will need. based on these calculations. When using any formula. remember to use the same units of measurement. For instance, you cannot multiply millimetres by

metres; either convert the millimetres into metres first. or else convert the metres into millimetres.

The best way to organise an estimate of the materials required for a job is to break it down into its individual steps. recording the type and quantity of the materials needed at each step. List every item required for building or installation. including hardware. fasteners, sealant and abrasives. Also list any tools that you may have to buy or hire.

A rule of thumb when estimating materials is to add 10 per cent to allow for miscalculations. errors. damage. waste and future repairs. Once you have determined the quantities, multiply the amount by the cost per unit to get the total cost of the materials.

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