A builders’ merchant sells and hires out materials and equipment to the building industry and the general public. They supply materials such as bricks, sand and cement, or timber, wallpaper and paint, electrical and plumbing fitments, hand and power tools, kitchen and bathroom units, garden equipment, and ironmongery.
You could be:
giving advice to customers about products
using databases to check prices and technical details of products
arranging goods and displays in the best way to attract customers
ordering stock from suppliers and keeping records of stock
handling and measuring out materials
loading, unloading and lifting heavy materials
dealing with cash, credit or debit card and account payments
keeping up to date with what materials are available and in demand
making up customer orders and arranging and possibly making deliveries.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of the company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Starting pay is often based on the National Minimum Wage (NMW) or the National Living Wage (NLW).
As of 1 April 2022 the National Minimum Wage is £4.81 an hour for workers aged 16 to 17, £6.83 an hour for workers aged 18 to 20 and £9.18 an hour for workers aged 21 to 22. The National Living Wage is £9.50 for workers aged 23 and over.
With experience this could rise up to around £9.50 an hour.
You might be based at a builder's yard or DIY store.
Alternatively, you may travel on a sales rep basis, visiting building firms.
You would work both indoors and outdoors.
You may have to lift heavy goods.
You might wear protective clothing and possibly a uniform.
You do not usually need formal qualifications but a good general education is useful.
Most employers prefer you to have a driving licence.
You need to be physically fit.
You may get in through a Modern Apprenticeship.
What Does it Take?
It helps if you are:
willing to build up a detailed knowledge of products
good at remembering different kinds of building materials
able to use computers
polite and helpful with customers
able to work out quantities and costs quickly
aware of safety matters
good at working with others and by yourself.
Training is usually on the job through an employer’s training scheme.
You might attend day or block release classes at college and work towards SVQs in Warehousing, Storage and Distribution at SCQF Level 5 or Retail Skills at SCQF Level 5, depending on the core aspect of your duties.
You might do training for driving fork lift trucks or large goods vehicles.
You could work towards the SVQ Warehousing and Storage at SCQF Level 6.
With experience you could move on to be a supervisor, buyer, manager or become self-employed.