Once you've marked out your measurements, start digging out the footing in preparation for the slab. Make sure you check for any pipes or cables that may be running under the ground. Once you've finished digging the footing. Make sure you check the depth is going to be the right measurements for your slab.
Pour the concrete into a wheelbarrow and add some water. Using your spade, mix the concrete and water together. Add more water or concrete as you need to get a thick, toothpaste consistency. To create the slab, pour your concrete mix into the footing that you dug out earlier. Leave enough space at the top to fill in later. Now it's time to level off the concrete slab. Start by using your spirit level to even up the concrete mix. Once the level of your slab is even, take the trowel and use it to smooth over the concrete mix. Then leave it to set for 24 hours.
Lay down the rest of the bricks by adding more mortar to the slab and a layer of mortar on the end of each brick as you go. Remove any excess mortar and check the levels for each brick. Lay some bricks in the middle so that you don't end up with a hollow pier. You don't have to worry about levelling them.
Start adding mortar to each layer of bricks, and laying the rest of them down to build up the pier of the letterbox. Remember to stagger the bricks over the joins as you go. This means laying each brick over a previous join, rather than lining the bricks up end to end. Remember to check the levels of each brick and make adjustments if needed. It's also a good idea to check that the sides are straight. Place your spirit level vertically against the courses as you build them up to ensure they're in line with each other. You should also use your tradies square to make sure the corners are all square and make adjustments if needed.
Lay enough courses to the height you want for a newspaper holder. Measure the width of your brick letterbox and transfer these measurements to the PVC pipe. This will become the slot for your newspapers. Now, take your handsaw and cut the PVC pipe to length. Remember to wear your safety gear.
Add the metal openings to the end of your pipe and lay it over the brick pier so that it's centred and square. Then you're ready to start laying the rest of the brick courses around it. Remove the newspaper holder and add some mortar to the brick pier. Then lay down the first course of bricks that will go around the PVC pipe. Check the brick levels as you go. To build up around your newspaper holder, you will need to cut some bricks so that they fit. Measure the length you need on the pier and transfer this to the bricks as you go. Use your bolster and lump hammer to cut the brick.
Lay some mortar in the middle of the gap and place the PVC pipe over it. Fill in the gaps around the sides, make sure the bottoms of the end plates are in line with the top of the course of bricks below it. Start applying more mortar and laying the next course of bricks. You will also need to cut the corner bricks to size to fit around the newspaper holder.
Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.
When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.