Skip Sizes

You’re about to embark on a refurbishment project and have quickly realised that loading up the boot of your car and driving to your local recycling plant is going to become a little impractical after the fifteenth trip. Clearly, you need to hire a skip, and yet your online search for “skip hire companies near me” has revealed a rather disturbing truth:

Not all skips are created equal, and what’s more, neither are all skip hire companies.

Skip Sizes Explained

Within no time at all, you’re faced with checking out licenses, permits, rental periods and a heap of other jargon, all of which does nothing more than add to your confusion over what you thought was just hiring an oversized dustbin.

To be clear, that is not to trivialise the important work that professional skip hire companies do. Responsible waste management is becoming an ever increasing problem. Those companies performing their duties correctly have more than a legal responsibility, but also an ecological one, and we must never underestimate the importance of that.

But before we replace everything in our homes with their eco-friendly equivalent, we first need to hire that all important skip, and in this article, we’re going to take a look at the different sizes that are available to help you decide which one is right for you.

This article won’t be overly concerned with the cost of UK skip hire. Depending on where you are in the country, those costs can vary greatly, and for more detailed information, we invite you to take a look at our Ultimate Skip Hire Price Guide here.

Mini, Midi, Builder and Maxi

Skips available for hire throughout the UK fall neatly into one of four categories – Mini, Midi, Builder and Maxi. Now it’s true that there are other categories available these fall under the umbrella of Roll On, Roll Off Skips. These skips are for the disposal of a high volume of waste – typically multi storey clearances or demolition and construction.

Roll on, Roll off skips, or RORO for short are better suited to the commercial  and industrial sector. Whist it is not unheard of for a domestic client to require a RORO skip, it is certainly a lot less common. Suffice to say that if your builder feels you need one, then please feel free to stop reading right now – let your project manager do his or her job, safe in the knowledge that the appropriate sized skip has already been factored into the equation for you.

How long can I have the skip for?

Skips are typically hired in windows of 2 weeks, and when looking for skip hire prices on line, the prices quoted will usually be for that period of time. You may well only need the skip for a week, in which case the skip hire company will be more than happy to collect it early, but they won’t refund any unused days.

Naturally, there are many projects will could take a lot longer than two weeks, and your builder will have provided an estimate for the time needed to complete the works. Simply tell the skip hire company how long you’re going to need it, and they will work out a price for you.

They’re also acutely aware that building projects do not always run to time, so they are used to extending hire periods with very little notice, so just ask.

Mini Skip Hire

As one would expect, the smallest size of skip available for hire is suited to the simplest of projects. There are two sizes available that are defined as mini skips and they are 2 yard and 3 yard. One important point here is that the size does not refer to either length or width of the skip, but of cubic capacity.

To make things easier, many UK skip hire companies refer to the number of bin bags that could realistically fit inside their skips. So, if you’re looking at a 2 yard skip, you’ll be able to dispose of 25 black bin bags. If you opt for the 3 yard option, then this figure increases to 35 black bin bags.

At first glance, that might not seem like a lot, but let’s go back to that idea of disposing of this rubbish yourself at your local waste depot. The boot of an average hatchback will hold around 5 large bin bags’ worth of waste – possibly less if those bags are filled to bursting.

That’s 5-7 trips in the car alone, but that’s not the only consideration here. Your local waste processing centre will expect your rubbish to be separated into its appropriate category – one cannot simply arrive with a collection of black bin liners and throw them away.

So already we have mileage and labour to factor into the equation, and that’s before we even consider that there are many people who would prefer not to load up their car with bags full of rubbish that could potentially split and make a terrible mess of the car.

Take all of this into account and, all of a sudden, that skip becomes so much more than an oversized dustbin. It’s a device that will save you time, hassle, labour and petrol, all rolled into one.

A mini skip is perfect for simple waste clearance of the home. They’re commonly used for small DIY projects and these typically include small bathroom or kitchen refits as well as garden clearances for gardens of around 40ft or less.

One of the main advantages of mini skips is that there is usually enough space on the property itself for them to be situated, with a minimum amount of work required for their installation. This is important as your local authority will require a permit, should you need to position your skip on a public road. Your skip hire company will take care of this permit for you, but it does come with an additional expense.

Mini skips are not exclusively for small domestic projects. On many construction sites, builders are responsible for not mixing various different materials when it comes to waste management. For example, in the disposal of plaster board which cannot be mixed with any other type of waste. As a consequence, a commercial building site may well hire a 2 or 3 yard skip exclusively for its plasterboard waste.

In other instances, mini skips are bought onto construction sites close to completion of the project for the disposal of any rubbish that will have accumulated throughout the final stages, at which point the larger skips are most likely to have already been cleared from the site. Once again the advantage here is that there is no need for anyone working on site to concern themselves with the separation of rubbish on order for it to be recycled responsibly – that will be handled entirely by the skip hire company. If any construction firms are concerned about the ecological impact of their waste, then they can ask to check the Waste Management and Transfer License of their skip hire company, and satisfy themselves just as to how their waste will be disposed.

Naturally, this information is also available to the domestic skip hire, so don’t be afraid to ask for it from your chosen skip hire company.

One important point before we move on to the next size of skip, is the type of material that cannot be thrown into ANY skip, regardless of it’s size. Now, when using a mini skip, it’s unlikely that any of these are going to come up, as you’re more than likely going to be disposing of non toxic, domestic waste, or even some smaller building materials. However, as a guide line, avoid disposing of the following in your skip:

  • Asbestos
  • Chemicals
  • Electrical Items
  • Fluorescent Tubes
  • Gas Cylinders
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Tyres

Now that list is unlikely to have been a bother to most people. Quite frankly, if you’re having to deal with hazardous materials and asbestos whilst simply clearing out your loft, then we’d suggest that you have bigger problems and should be in touch with both your local environmental health office, as well as a qualified asbestos removals firm.

The one item there that might have surprised you is electrical items. The fact is that simply throwing away electrical items is against the WEEE Directive, which became law in the UK on the 14th February 2014. We won’t get bogged down in a lot of legal speak here, but suffice to say that if you want to dispose of your electrical items, you need to take them to your nearest recycling plant or waste depot and place them in the appropriate bins there.

Then again, if they still work and are simply no longer needed, consider selling them online or at a car boot sale and contribute just that little bit less to landfill.

Midi Skips

Midi skips are skips with either a 4 or 5 yard cubic capacity – that’s 45 or 55 black bin bags respectively. For a larger garden clearance or a range of DIY projects, these are ideal.

Much like their mini counterparts, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to keep your skip within your property’s borders, hence no need for any additional permits.

Smaller home renovation projects often attract midi skips – a shower room, WC or kitchenette refit will probably see all of its waste fitting into a 5 yard model. Once you look at bathrooms – ie, rooms with actual bath tubs, then these midi skips won’t prove sufficient, so look at Builder’s Skips for those.

Some construction sites will utilise a midi skip as a secondary skip, either for the collection of waste towards the end of the project, or as a skip dedicated to the disposal of plasterboard, which must not be mixed with other materials.

One interesting note for midi skips is that many skip hire companies seem to only offer the 4 yard model. This, on the surface, seems odd, as the 5 yard skip is only half a foot longer and half a foot taller. Given that it’s always best to over estimate when looking to hire a skip, would it not make more sense to offer the 5 yard model instead?

Whilst logic would say yes, it’s worth bearing in mind that the 6 and 8 yard Builder’s skips are considered the standard size within the UK. As a consequence, UK skip hire companies will hold many more of these in stock. If you’re in a position to keep one on your property, on the driveway, for example, then it can prove to be a smarter investment to go for the larger option. Indeed, the difference in price is not that large, and there is a hidden benefit too, so let’s talk about that.

The Hidden Benefit

Disposing of junk is a chore. Crawling around in lofts, basements and sheds can be a dirty and cumbersome business, not to mention what you have to do with all of the rubbish once you’ve found it.

One can’t just simply throw everything into a bin liner and hope for the best, nor is it a particularly good idea to start a bonfire in your back garden and sacrifice your unwanted treasures to the gods. On the one hand, many councils will have deemed that activity unlawful and, on the other, in smaller gardens that same activity can prove unbelievably dangerous.

If you want to enjoy a good bonfire, you’ll find at least one in your local area on or around the 5th of November every year – granted you won’t get rid of any rubbish there, but you might just have a nice time, yet I fear we digress.

The skip in your driveway instantly takes on an almost magnetic quality. All you need do now with your rubbish is simply sling it in there and let the nice people from your skip hire company take care of the rest.*

*Please pay attention to the section in this article on what you can and cannot throw away in your skip.

What this means is that you are almost certainly going to part with more junk than for which you had originally planned. No loading up the car and driving to the dump – just open your front door and away it goes!

So naturally, even though you started with a project that would ordinarily require a 4 yard midi skip, you now need a 5 yard midi, or even a 6 yard standard. It’s important to keep an eye on things to avoid them getting out of control. There can also be the issue of fly tipping – a sadly, all too unavoidable problem. Some skips are available with secure lids to counteract this problem, but they are more expensive and many hirers consider them to be a little bit more work than they’re worth, and instead elect to take the risk of returning home to see their skip populated with rubbish which isn’t theirs.

Standard Skips

The next size up is the standard 6 or 8 yard skips. These are the most common in use throughout the UK today and are typically referred to as Builder’s Skips. At the point of needing one of these, your project may well have graduated from DIY to the point where you’ve had to hire professional builders to carry out the work.

Fortunately, they’ll know the best skip hire companies in your area and may well have preferential rates with one or two of them, helping you to save a little bit of money on the overall project.

A 6 yard skip will hold around 65 black bin bags of waste and an 8 yard skip will hold around 8 bags’ worth. Given that they start at being 10ft in length, it is often impractical, or indeed impossible to put the skip onto the property, hence it will need to be kept in the street, and this will mean applying for a permit.

The good news is that it is not you who needs to apply for it. The application for permits is restricted to skip hire operators who will need to show their waste management license, waste transfer license and public liability insurance to a value of at least £10million. That may seem like a tall order but the fact is that these are the minimum requirements to operate a reputable skip hire company in the UK. If you are able to secure a skip from someone without these credentials, we would seriously recommend trying elsewhere.

The price of an on road permit will vary from borough to borough, and by quite a spectrum too, although a budget of around £100 will usually cover it.

Builders’ Skips are perfect for large amounts of waste produced on building sites. At the basic level, the construction of an extension or loft conversion would usually require a skip of this size, although projects of a smaller scope could still use one. One example, as mentioned earlier, would be a bathroom refurbishment. A simple three piece bathroom suite is unlikely to fit into a midi skip, hence the 6 yard option would make the most sense.

As these skips are considered the most common, there is a massive variation in price throughout the UK, and this is usually determined by location. At the time of writing, a search for ‘6 yard skip hire uk prices’ returned one company offering a price of £234 and another at £273, so it’s in your best interests to shop around. Again, your builder will probably be more than happy to recommend someone, but you are by no means obligated to use their recommendation.

Maxi Skips 

Maxi Skips are the largest sizes of skips available before looking at the Roll On, Roll Off Skips mentioned at the beginning of this article, and as we said, as we’re focussing on domestic skip hire here, we’re going to stop at Maxi Skips.

Maxi Skips start at 10 yard cubic capacity, followed 12,14, 16 and 18 yards. Maxi Skips are incredibly commonplace on large construction sites throughout the UK. The vast majority of home renovation projects in the UK won’t use these, as they’re excessively large. However, that is not to say that one cannot find a Maxi skip outside of a home undergoing renovation.

Maxi skip hire at a domestic site usually means that the home is undergoing renovation and building work across multiple rooms on multiple floors. It’s certainly not unusual, under those circumstances, for there to not be enough space within the property lines for the skip in question, therefore they must be placed on the street with the necessary permits in place.

The good news is that councils do not grant permits at different rates for different sizes – it’s very much a ‘one size fits all’ scenario, and that means that the price of the permit will not affect which size of skip your builders feel that they need.

Once we start looking at 16 and 18 yard skips, then we really are in the realm of mainstream construction, with the 16 yard model proving very popular amongst commercial clients looking to dispose of huge amounts of waste, along with heavy or bulky items.

Whilst these skips are almost exclusively used commercially, the rules governing what can and cannot be thrown into them still applies. All waste, regardless of its volume, must be disposed of responsibly. Skip hire companies may well have separate licenses for the handling of, for example, gas cylinders, but the disposal of such items should be done using dedicated equipment, handled by licensed professionals. Placing them in a skip is a legal offence and will attract a heavy fine.

So which size skip is right for me?

We hope that we’ve provided you with enough information to form an education opinion on which sized skip you should hire. However, it’s always a good idea to seek the advice of professionals. For larger projects, your builders will know what you need, and for smaller, DIY or clearance projects, contact your local skip hire company, tell them about your project, and they’ll be more than happy to advise you accordingly.

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