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Tradespeople shake off stereotypes by choosing work over World Cup

June 19th, 2018 No comments

For years, tradespeople have been tarnished with the reputation for prioritising football over work. Many members of the public see them as being a bit too eager to down tools and head to the nearest big screen.

However, recent research among tradespeople busts this myth.

The UK’s leading online trade supplier, IronmongeryDirect, has run a series of polls to find out more about tradespeople’s attitude to work during the World Cup. Many participants, including builders, carpenters and joiners, are currently planning when and where they will be watching their team – but outside of work.

According to a poll of more than 1,000 IronmongeryDirect customers, over 75% of tradespeople claimed they would never consider skipping work to watch their team.

However, if they were to ‘pull a sickie’ to watch an important match, tradespeople gave some of their best excuses, with the more elaborate ones including:

  • “I’ve been called up as a late replacement by Gareth Southgate”
  • “My boyfriend’s in labour.”
  • “I’ve got soap in my eyes and can’t find a towel.”
  • “I’ve been delayed at the airport on holiday…in Scarborough.”
  • “My Auntie’s Gerbil is about to give birth and I’m the nominated birthing partner.”

Some of the more convincing examples included:

  • “I have a dentist appointment.”
  • “The children are poorly.”
  • “I’ve got the flu.”

Employers are recognising that the World Cup is important to many of their staff. Many responded to the polls saying they would be more than happy to be flexible by offering them time off. One respondent stated: “As the boss, I always give my team the time off. It also saves them giving me the daft excuses!”.

The research also revealed ongoing optimism among tradespeople, with more than half believing England will make it to the Quarter Finals. Also, half of those polled (49%) said they would give up alcohol for good to see England win the tournament.

Andy Wood, football enthusiast and Marketing Director of IronmongeryDirect, said: “The World Cup is an exciting time for many of us – tradespeople are no exception. We wanted to find out how our customers were preparing for the year’s biggest sporting event. The research was carried out in the name of fun, but it was great to see results challenging the outdated stereotype of contractors and other trades professionals neglecting their jobs for football! Tradespeople in Britain work hard, and we hope they enjoy watching World Cup 2018.”


Aarsleff Ground Engineering commences piling for 220,000sq ft extension, in Hull

June 18th, 2018 No comments

Clugston Construction awarded Aarsleff Ground Engineering the piling contract for a £25m extension to the National Distribution Centre in Hull for workwear and safety equipment supplier, Arco. The 220,000sq ft extension will double Arco’s current warehousing and logistics capacity. The build is part of Arco’s £55m investment initiative to support its ambitious growth plans.

Aarsleff are installing over 3000 No. precast concrete pile, 250 and 350mm, up to 21m in length with their Junttan Pmx22 and Banut 700 rigs. Currently, Aarsleff are on site with 4 rigs and a 70t hydraulic crawler crane.

Aarsleff Ground Engineering commenced work on the 14th May, with a completion date expected mid-July.  The new facility is set for completion in summer 2019.

Syed Ali, Aarsleff’s project manager, said “We have benefitted from a thorough preliminary trial piling exercise carried out on site in early April ahead of the main works to provide the information required by Clugston Constructions consulting engineers (HBPW LLP) to design the overall pile layout.

We are on target to deliver another successful project for Clugston Construction with whom we share a good longstanding working relationship”

Aarsleff Ground Engineering have worked closely with Clugston Construction and HBPW LLP on identifying the most safe and efficient way to execute piling works on a site. So far, Aarsleff’s site team are doing a great job of bettering their anticipated rig output on site with the cooperation of Clugston Construction site management who have prepared our working area to a high standard, enabling us to optimise our productivity and plan works ahead.

About Clugston Group:

Clugston Group was established in 1937 by the current Chairman’s father. The Group, which has offices and operations in Scunthorpe, Leeds, Stockton-on-Tees, Bromsgrove, Billingham, Driffield, Aberthaw, Ashbourne and Haydock, has built a reputation for safely delivering a wide variety of service and projects for customers in the public and private sectors. The company has featured in The Sunday Times Profit Track 100, The Sunday Times Top Track 250 and been celebrated in the London Stock Exchange’s 1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain report.

For further information about Clugston visit:


#5 Stand Out Buildings in the World of Eco-Construction

June 14th, 2018 No comments

Global ecological awareness is an increasing priority in construction – both for the construction companies, and the homeowners and businesses buying such properties.

Of course, eco-approaches, sustainability and the use of exciting and innovative recycled (and recyclable) materials can only be a good thing when it comes to building necessary homes, business and public service premises. Yet there’s another piece of good news: eco-construction is getting competitive.

There are now prestigious awards, such as the Global Good Awards UK’s Building Sustainably Award, which rewards and highlights those building projects which showcase innovation in eco-construction. Not only does winning such awards offer significant kudos for construction companies, earning them recognition and respect for their achievements and methods, but also the healthy competition generated inspires continued growth and innovation in this important area of construction.

This was certainly demonstrated in 2017, with distinguished RIBA award for sustainable design being awarded to:


#1 The Enterprise Centre, University of East Anglia

Since its completion in 2015, this highly eco straw-clad building has won many awards including several from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The building’s eco-credentials include a real focus on sustainable materials, which incorporate straw cladding to the exterior of the building.

The Enterprise Centre, UEA


#2 Blackburn Meadows Biomass Power Plant, Sheffield

Sought to replace recently demolished local landmarks, the Tinsley Towers, the construction of this new power plant needed not only to be robust in terms of its function and its eco-construction credentials, but also sustainable in terms of its heritage symbol’s contribution to the local landscape.


The new plant needed to: “Provide a striking new landmark in the place of the recently demolished Tinsley Cooling Towers, entering public consciousness as a marker for the city and a beacon of sustainable energy production.” (E.On)

Blackburn Meadows power station


And as well as these award-winners, there are plenty more buildings which have been going up as part of dedicated eco-construction …


#3 Bloomberg’s European HQ, London

This magnificent 10-storey high building in London is not only winning awards, but also setting new standards when it comes to sustainable construction and efficiency for office buildings.

File:Bloomberg European Headquarters, London.jpg


The building has earned a massive 98.5% BREEAM score (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), the highest score ever awarded and which relates directly to global sustainability standards. Eco-friendly methods for construction and efficiency include:

  • A roof designed to incorporate a full grey-water collection system;
  • Toilet facilities using vacuum drainage methods, to reduce water usage;
  • 4,000 integrated ceiling panels which incorporate thermal, lighting and acoustic functions;
  • LED lighting has been installed throughout, using 40% less energy than the fluorescent lighting commonly found in office buildings.


#4 Heelis, National Trust HQ, Swindon

You’d expect the National Trust to have something to say about buildings leaving a legacy of the positive kind, and their HQ in Swindon carries this idea right through its eco-friendly design and construction. The National Trust offices are recognised as being among the greenest in the UK, offering:

  • Carbon emissions at 65% less than similar sized buildings.
  • Significant levels of self-sufficiency by providing 30% of its own electricity via photovoltaic panels across the roof.
  • Recycled beer can ventilation snouts.
  • Wool carpeting and textiles made from Herdwick sheep fleece, from the Trust’s own flocks.


Heelis, HQ of the National Trust


#5 Earth-Sheltered social housing scheme, Honingham, Norfolk

It’s back to Norfolk again for this eco-scheme which has been up and running for approximately a decade now and was also, at the time of construction, considered for the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Sustainability Award. But even today, the development continues to draw attention from its focus on going ‘back to the roots’ of sustainability, particularly in the context of the current housing crisis.


The complex of four bungalows is constructed so that the majority of the accommodation lies under ground, effectively using the earth and layers of plants on top as insulation. In this way, the building is naturally protected from all extremes of weather and temperature, being both energy efficient and freeze proof, so much so that no conventional heating systems are required.


Since being built, the properties have also proved low maintenance and to ‘heal’ the signs of their own construction, now blending beautifully with the natural environment and providing welcome habitat for both human occupants and wildlife on the roof. Such developments are now moving back into the limelight as the latest generation of eco-builders (and possibly housing ministers) consider the debate between green space and much-needed housing: by providing shelter for living or working, with minimal impact, then these buildings can really stand out just by blending in.


Finally, as with any construction site, eco-construction also requires barrier products for safety and security. Talk to SafeSite Facilities if you’re specifically looking for construction site products which are also designed with recycling and sustainability in mind.



Trussed rafter industry ready for the next generation

June 13th, 2018 No comments

New talent, new leadership, new structure and embracing new technology were just some of the highlights from the Trussed Rafter Association (TRA) Annual AGM, which took place last month.

One of the key speakers, Alison Watson, founder of Class of Your Own, inspired delegates when talking about the Design Engineer Construct! programme. She explained how easily the construction industry can collaborate with local schools to give a taste of what a career in the built environment is really like.

Celebrations were in order for two trussed rafter designers who achieved the highest scores in the TRA’s online training. Top scorers Frank Kyne of Wyckham Blackwell and Gabor Vince of Taylor Lane Timber Frame Ltd, will travel to Sweden courtesy of Vida Wood, to visit the forest and mill to experience the felling and logging process.

The AGM was the first official TRA event with Nick Boulton as chief executive and he took the opportunity to announce a new structure to help the TRA move with the fast pace of construction.

Regional chairs will become project champions for this year, heading up an array of projects that were also announced at the AGM. Projects include the spandrel panel guide that will also cover care homes and apartments; the development of a gable panel guide; updates to the installation guide; and a quality assurance scheme for clad panels designed to make checking the specification easier for building control.

Fire safety was another key issue and leading building inspector, Geoff Wilkinson, warned of how the repercussions of Grenfell Tower rippled across the whole construction industry, not just those whose products had been used on the tower.

Geoff gave a comprehensive history of building regulations starting with the Great Fire of London in 1666 and fast tracking to the 1980s. Since then many changes have been made to building regulations and Geoff spoke of how ambiguous they are. At the time of the AGM, the Hackitt Report had not been published but Geoff warned the members to be ready and vigilant to ensure that their products are not substituted and to check that certification can prove their products are genuine.

With Brexit looming, technical standards and the need to embrace technology for the future were discussed. The TRA is now a ‘Relevant Authority’ for BIM, as granted by the CPA for LEXiCON to ensure that all trussed rafters and metal web joists are consistently represented in BIM models. All members comply with BIM Level 2 protocols and earlier in the year committed to using Eurocode 5 for all new drawings and for all legacy drawings from 1 July 2018.

Delegates also received feedback on the success of the new TRA website and how it is helping housebuilders and roofing professionals to find information more easily and get answers to technical queries.

TRA chairman, Jonathan Fellingham, closed the AGM by highlighting the importance of inspiring the next generation to consider a career in the construction industry, and the need for members to find robust solutions to fire safety.


Vienna summer study programme shows what makes the city tick

June 11th, 2018 No comments

For nine years running, Vienna has been named the best city to live in – and two study programmes taking place this summer help capture the stand-out factors which help make the Austrian capital so desirable.


The Alternative Economic and Monetary Systems (AEMS) summer school and Green.Building.Solutions. (GBS) offer insight, fact-finding visits and the latest thinking from a city which has consistently taken the top slot in the Mercer Quality of Living City Rankings.


AEMS takes place this year between 25 July and 10 August, and GBS between 21 July to 12 August.


The OeAD-Housing Office – part of Austria’s national agency for international mobility and cooperation in education, science and research – operates both AEMS and GBS under a not-for-profit arrangement.


Included in the fee are all social and cultural activities, as well as accommodation in one of OeAD’s passive house student residences in Vienna.


The accommodation is also included as part of the fee for almost a week following each programme, enabling those participants to explore the city at leisure.


Günther Jedliczka, CEO of the OeAD-Housing Office, said: “Both AEMS and GBS attract exceptional lecturers and forward-thinking, astute students who are committed to a more sustainable future.


“AEMS draws in a global following among students of all ages and from all walks of life who are looking for a common solution to tackle financial uncertainty.


“It looks at alternatives to the current boom and bust economic cycle and explores the economy of the future and how it can adapt to balance some of the turmoil, strains and challenges of modern life.


“GBS is another international programme, which brings together passive house and sustainable, smart city expertise from across the globe to identify ways to make buildings more sustainable.


“It receives applications from students and professionals alike in the field of architecture and professions relating to the built environment, who want to learn how to develop new skills to design and build sustainable cities in an environment that includes workshops, lectures, fact-finding visits and insight from world-leading academics.”


The course cost for AEMS is €1390, while GBS is priced at €2,490 for professionals and €2,000 for students.


More details about both AEMS and GBS – including testimonials from 2017’s participants – can be found at


Places are limited and the deadline for applications for both programmes is 30 June, 2018.



Almost six million claimed back in tax by construction workers

June 8th, 2018 No comments

UK construction workers have claimed back almost £6 million in overpaid tax this year, according to figures from tax recovery specialist Brian Alfred.

The leading tax recovery firm for workers using the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) or Pay As You Earn (PAYE) schemes, has reclaimed rebates of more than £5.7 million in the last 12 months.

Derek Kelly, CEO of Brian Alfred said: “It’s been another big year for rebates, with almost six million reclaimed for our clients, and to be honest that’s the tip of the iceberg. Around a third of workers on PAYE and CIS schemes are overpaying tax, but often don’t reclaim money which is rightfully theirs.” 

Since Brian Alfred started they’ve recovered more than £36 million in overpaid tax and Derek added: “Workers often forget to claim back expenses such as travel, uniforms and equipment they’ve had to purchase or even food bought during their working day. There’s a huge range of work expenses where you can claim back the VAT and end up with a nice windfall.

“On average, workers who come to us recover around £1,500 in tax rebates. This year though we saw some rebates as big as £10,000!”

Brian Alfred has broken down the average rebate claim by region over the last 12 months. Workers in Northern Ireland came out on top, receiving an average of £1,979 from the HMRC as a result of overpaid tax. However it was a worker in Gloucester who received the biggest windfall of £10,200 from the HMRC.

The breakdown on tax rebates by region is as follows:

Northern Ireland               £1,979.16

South West                       £1,727.93

Greater London                 £1,712.99

Wales                               £1,706.50

North West                       £1,683.09

South East                        £1,681.96

Scotland                           £1,678.07

East Midlands                   £1,635.61

North East                       £1,635.27

West Midlands                 £1,631.61

Workers who are either part of the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) or Pay As You Earn (PAYE) are all eligible to apply and rebates can be claimed for the last four tax years.

Derek added: “You can claim refunds for a range of things, but regulations are complicated, and it can take an expert to get the correct amount of rebate from the HMRC.” 

Brian Alfred is one of the UK’s leading CIS and PAYE tax rebate specialists and has helped thousands of people get their tax rebates, some in as little as 24 hours. 

To find out if you could qualify for a tax rebate visit their free online tax rebate calculator


Accurate estimation is the key to successful fit out projects

June 6th, 2018 No comments

Accurate estimation can be tough but it is one of the most important parts of construction to get right. It’s made tricky by the fact that each job is unique in its own right but generalisations also need to be factored in to make sure that estimates don’t take too long to complete. Price too high and you may scare the customer away, but price too low and you might end up regretting getting the job. There are a few key elements that need to be fully understood, and will lay the foundation for creating more accurate estimates in the future.

There are two ways that most estimations are undertaken: by job costing or process costing.


Job costing is the total sum of the labour and materials plus any overheads. Process costing is an average of the cost of each step in the construction process. Both have their pros and cons though process costing can be more accurate though longer to perform then job costing.

Job Costing

The key elements in job costing are materials, labour, and overheads; and obviously the more accurate you are with these, the more accurate your overall estimate will be. With labour costs, make sure to factor in the cost and availability of subcontractors as well as the duration and rate of the employees. Materials speak for themself but there can be a myriad of unforeseen requirements that need to be considered. Overheads are often added on as a percentage rather than itemising each specific overhead. The company accountant can be good to speak to in order help work this percentage out.


There is an array of challenges to be aware of when carrying out an estimate and we’ll take a look at some of the main ones here.

Time can be a huge restraint, with pressure from employers and customers to get estimates out as quickly as possible. This rush can easily lead to mistakes and overlooked costs. Fortunately there are a host of tools available to help improve the ease and speed of estimates. There is a lot of great software available now that can help streamline the job costing aspects for you and save time. Templates, improved workflow and working off of similar projects can all help.

Make sure that communication between all parties is clear and informed. A lot of time and resources can be wasted by poor communication between teams which can lead to overlaps, double ups and duplication’s which could have been better used. Likewise, systems need to be put in place to document and process bill of quantities (BOQ) documents. These are crucial to creating an estimate so the easier they are to access and review by all concerned parties the more accurate they will be.

Bidding for work is one of the most important elements for the success of a company. By standardising the process and having a structured approach to estimating, following the guidelines set above will lead to more accurate bids that will win more profitable jobs.

Lake Contracts are shop fit out experts in Birmingham, West Midlands who provide a tailor-made service for their clients so contract management, design planning and bespoke joinery is all under one roof. Find out more about the shop fitting services Lake Contracts offer.


CITB spends £16m on freelancers and consultants

June 5th, 2018 No comments

The Construction Industry Training Board has spent more than £16m over the last three years on external contractors and consultants.

The revelation is contained in a Freedom of Information request seen by the Enquirer.

And it comes as the CITB is in the middle of plans to outsource even more operations under  a services contract worth £300m to the winners.

The FoI request shows the skills body spent £10.3m with Capita and £6.2m with Fujitsu during the period.

The Capita cash consisted of £2m spent on consultancy with the rest paid to other contractors via the outsourcing giant who the Government make CITB use as a payment conduit.

The Fujitsu millions went on specialist technical, software and development support.

CITB currently employs 1,370 staff which will be reduced to fewer than 600 under its Vision 2020 outsourcing plan.

One CITB insider said: “The industry needs to know where its levy money is being spent.

“The current outsourcing plans are so big that only firms the size of Capita can really bid for them.

“Everyone saw the result of outsourcing with Carillion but the CITB is hell bent on taking that path.”

Adrian Beckingham, Change Director at CITB, said: “CITB is delivering a reform programme to provide greater value to construction employers across Great Britain.

“In order to do that, like many other government and public sector bodies, where we do not have in-house technical capacity we have called on the expertise of contractors.

“This includes anything from IT support to health and safety translation services.

“Cabinet Office rules require us to pay contractors through a government procurement programme run by Capita.

“This means that, while we have do use Capita to provide support, the majority of funds ultimately are paid to other companies.

“Using contractors is at times essential for us to meet the needs of industry and we will continue to do so where appropriate.”


Civils contractor Crummock collapses

June 4th, 2018 No comments

Civil engineering contractor Crummock has collapsed with the loss of nearly 300 jobs.

Matt Henderson and Donald McNaught at Johnston Carmichael have been appointed as joint receivers for a trio of companies that form the group.

They are now dealing with the receiverships of Crummock (Scotland) Ltd, Crummock Holdings Ltd and Crummock Ltd.

The privately-owned contractor ceased trading today and 287 employees of the business have been made redundant as a result.

Crummock, which operated out of Bonnyrigg just south east of Edinburgh city centre, offered a wide range of civil engineering and surfacing construction expertise including groundworks, infrastructure works, roadworks and road surfacing.

The firm has worked on a range of landmark developments including the Donaldson school residential development in Edinburgh, Fort Kinnaird Retail Park and Shawfair – a major drainage infrastructure project south east of the city.

Matt Henderson said: “Crummock is a long-established construction business which, like many in the industry, has suffered from reduced margins in recent times.

“In recent months it has also encountered cashflow difficulties due to high retention levels, the tight margins within the sector and business specific issues.”

“Unfortunately, the business was unable to raise the capital to enable it to overcome the current financial challenges it faces and we are now dealing with creditors’ claims.”

Latest results for Crummock (Scotland) Ltd show that for the year to March 31 2017 it made a pre-tax profit of £596,000 from a turnover of £23.8m.

Crummock managing director Derek Hogg is also chairman of trade body CECA Scotland but will now be stepping down from the roles.

CECA Scotland Chief Executive Grahame Barn said: “This is a sad day for the civil engineering sector in Scotland and comes at a time when there is little sign of optimism for future workload growth in the sector and SMEs in particular are facing significant challenges.

“Our thoughts are with all the directors, employees and creditors of that company at this very difficult time.

“CECA Scotland will be actively involved in supporting everyone impacted through this very challenging period.

“Regrettably, this announcement means that Derek Hogg will be stepping down as CECA Scotland Chairman and we have already taken steps to ensure a smooth transition to allow the activities of CECA Scotland to continue as normal.”


Does gender play a big part in the construction industry?

May 31st, 2018 No comments

According to research, one in five construction companies across Britain have no women in senior positions. With some industry professionals believing that ‘there is a definite prejudice against women’ in the construction industry, there appears to still be an inequality of opportunity for women.

Construction News reported that half of all construction companies have not had a woman lead the business, which is astonishing when gender equality is as at the forefront of our minds. What is even more striking is that, when asking the women who did work within the industry, 48% claimed they had experienced gender discrimination in the workplace, with the most common example of this (28%) being inappropriate comments or behaviour from male colleagues. These are figures that prove that the industry still needs to enforce more regulations to change attitudes towards women in the industry and encourage equality.

Not only that, but the gender pay gap is something that is presenting itself forward in the sector. Nearly half of construction companies (42%) do not monitor equal pay between gender in the business and 68% were not aware of any initiatives to support women transitioning into senior roles. Furthermore, according to Randstad, 79% of men believe they earn the same as their female colleagues in the same position. However, 41% of women disagree — highlighting the need for better pay transparency within the industry to dispel perceptions that men are earning more.

With a clear gender divide within the construction industry, Niftylift, work platform provider, explores how the industry can close the gender gap and improve diversity among construction roles. What does the future look like for women in construction?

The direction of the construction industry

Looking at the number of onsite workers, it was found that 99% of positions were accounted by men. Another figure that highlights the lack of gender diversity within the industry. Despite the figures, 93% of construction workers believe having a female boss would not affect their jobs, or would in fact have a positive effect by improving the working environment.

Randstad have said that by 2020, women will make up over 25% of the construction workforce here in the UK. If the industry intends on closing the skills gap, women could potentially hold the key. With the industry raising concerns that it is experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, 82% of people working in construction agree that there is a serious skills shortage. If demand is expected to require an additional million extra workers by 2020, women could account for a significant portion of that — especially in senior roles, which have previously been bias towards their male colleagues.

Although, there has been some progress in the last few years which have witnessed more women take senior leadership roles. Back in 2005, there were just 6% of women in senior roles within the UK’s construction industry. However, fast forward to 2015, and this number had risen to 16% and is expected to continue to rise as we approach 2020.

It’s been found that similar progression is visible when it comes to women and promotions. Back in 2005, an unfortunate 79% of women in the industry were dissatisfied with the progression of their careers. However, fast forward again to 2015, and this number more than halved to just 29%, with some of this progression likely to be attributed to the fact that almost half of women in the industry (49%) believe their employer to be very supportive of women in construction.

Although the figures above are promising, there is still a lot of work to do when it comes to achieving gender equality. Ranstad also reports that there remains a tendency within the industry to exclude women from male conversations or social events, with 46% of females experiencing being sidelined. A further 28% said they had been offered a less important role and 25% reported being passed over for promotion.

There is no denying that progress is being made to help aid gender inequality, with 76% of women saying that would recommend a job in the industry to their female friend, daughter or niece. There was also a 60% increase in the average annual salary for women in the industry in the past decade from £24,500 in 2005 to £39,200 in 2015 But we still have a long way to go. Hopefully, by 2020, we can report further progress in the industry, making roles more attractive to females, and improving the gender diversity which could consequently prove to be a solution to the lack of skilled workers for the industry right now.