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Average British First Time Buyer Haggles Asking Price Of Property Down By £5,300

January 23rd, 2018 No comments

A brand new study looking into the home-buying processes of Britons during the past two years has uncovered that the majority of first-time buyers in the UK secure their home for under the initial asking price, with haggling tactics, issues uncovered during home surveys and mortgage lenders valuing a property at less than an asking price revealed as some of the reasons for price cuts.

New research has revealed that first-time buyers in the North East and Wales knock the biggest values from the asking price of their properties, whilst those in London and Scotland are more likely to have to pay the asking price or higher.

The team at polled 2,589 British homeowners aged 21 and over, all of whom had purchased their first property, either alone or as part of a couple, within the past 2 years. Participants were spread evenly across each of the twelve UK regions to see how the home-buying journey differs for first time purchasers in different areas of the UK.

All respondents taking part were initially asked to state if they bought their first home for more, less or the exact asking price originally set by the sellers. The vast majority (73%) had paid less than the property was originally on sale for, with a further 16% paying the asking price and 11% confessing they’d paid over the asking price to secure the sale.

Next, all those who’d paid less than the asking price were asked to reveal what they believed to be the biggest reason they secured a cheaper deal, with the most common answers as follows:

  1. The seller of my property required a quick sale – 18%
  2. The estate agent handling the sale encouraged me to offer under the asking price – 15%
  3. Issues found during home survey that prompted me to make a lower offer – 12%
  4. My mortgage lender valued the property at less than the asking price and wouldn’t lend me the full amount needed – 8%
  5. I was the ideal buyer for the property in terms of my finances/circumstances and haggled a lower price – 7%

When also asked to reveal the amount of money they’d shaved off the asking price through their negotiation processes with sellers, the average amount overall was revealed to be £5,304. The regional breakdown of these figures emerged as follows:

  • North East – £7,350 (average amount of money first-time buyer was able to cut off asking price of property) – (5.9% of the average cost of North East properties)
  • Wales – £7,150 (5.3% of the average cost of Wales properties)
  • East of England – £6,950 (4.1% of the average cost of East of England properties)
  • South West – £6,600 (3.3% of the average cost of South West properties)
  • Northern Ireland – £6,250 (5.3% of the average cost of Northern Ireland properties)
  • East Midlands – £5,550 (3.5% of the average cost of East Midlands properties)
  • North West – £5,300 (3.6% of the average cost of North West properties)
  • Yorkshire and Humberside – £5,100 (3.7% of the average cost of Yorkshire and Humberside properties)
  • West Midlands – £4,950 (3% of the average cost of West Midlands properties)
  • South East – £3,300 (1.2% of the average cost of South East properties)
  • Scotland- £3,100 (2.2% of the average cost of South East properties)
  • London – £2,100 (0.5% of the average cost of London properties)

Melissa Benedict, spokesperson for, said:

“Buying your very first home is a daunting time regardless of your situation, with everyone obviously wanting to ensure the buying process is as smooth and bump-free as possible. Traditionally, many people have been advised to offer 10% under the asking price of a property, but with small homes and flats in high demand, this isn’t always a feasible option in many parts of the country.

“The fact that the average first time buyer in the past two years has cut around £5,500 off the cost of their homes will no doubt help to ensure lower monthly mortgage repayments and a bigger nest egg of savings should any unexpected but necessary costs arise in the future.”


Aarsleff to use silent and vibration-free equipment to install sheet piled wall

January 22nd, 2018 No comments

Aarsleff Ground Engineering has been awarded a sheet piling project that will allow the company to utilise its new Giken ECO 700S machine, allowing for the silent and vibration-free driving of sheet piles at Grovehill Depot in Beverley.

On behalf of main contractor, North Midland Construction/Building Ltd, Aarsleff will be installing 155 No. steel sheet piles, 700mm width and 12.0m in length. The sheet piles will form a retaining wall approximately 108 l/m for maximum retained height.   A long reach excavator mounted with Movax unit will handle and pitch piles to the press unit.

Owing to the challenging site conditions, and wanting to deliver a safe and successful installation process, Aarsleff suggested a Movax unit mounted on a long reach excavator be employed. The limited working room, poor state of repair of the access, and the bank slippage demonstrated to Aarsleff that it is not practical for a mobile crane to traverse, nor provide a realistic radius for lifting. By utilising the long reach, Aarsleff hope to ensure increased manoeuvrability and lower bearing pressures, all at a safe distance from the embankment, allowing the site team to work from behind the press unit where previously installed piles have increased the stability of the embankment wall.

The Movax also allows us to safely and efficiently install and extract the necessary temporary reaction piles for the Giken press. Aarsleff’s head of sheet piling John Storry said: “The Giken enables us to provide cost effective installation programmes and solutions to our clients, even in the most environmentally sensitive conditions.”

Aarsleff Ground Engineering commence works on the 29th January.


Carillion collapse to cost Balfour Beatty £45m

January 18th, 2018 No comments

Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try have been left counting the cost of Carillion’s collapse with big hits on the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route project.

Carillion was in joint venture with the duo on the £550m contract, which they are obliged to complete.

The current estimate of the extra cash contribution outstanding from Carillion to complete the project is £60-80m, of which any shortfall will be funded equally between Balfour and Galliford.

Both firms said they were discussing the position urgently with the Official Receiver of Carillion and Transport Scotland, to minimise any impact on the project.

Balfour Balfour, which was also working with Carillion on the £1.4bn A14 in Cambridgeshire and the £200m M60 Junction 8 to M62 Junction 20 scheme, estimated its cash hit would be in the range of £35m-£45m in 2018.

This morning Balfour issued a statement saying it would continue to work with its customers and would meet its contractual commitments.

Balfour said the profit impact of Carillion’s compulsory liquidation would be recorded as an exceptional non-underlying charge in the income statement.

Both Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try added that they did not have any other material financial exposure to Carillion.


Supply chain owed £2bn by Carillion

January 17th, 2018 No comments

Suppliers and subcontractors are owed around £2bn by Carillion.

The figure in the firm’s last results statement for “trade and other payables” highlights how hard the supply chain could be hit by the company’s collapse.

Subcontractors should be offered some protection on most public jobs by the use of Project Bank Accounts.

PBAs ring-fence money from the client and protect suppliers’ cash if a main contractor goes under.

One industry source said: “This is the real acid test for PBAs now as a lot of Carillion’s contracts will have been using them.

“PBAs have certainly helped speed up payments to suppliers but they’ve never seen a test like a firm the size of Carillion going under.”

But millions held in retentions will still be lost despite the use of PBAs.

Hundreds of suppliers have also been using Carillion’s Early Payment Facility system which has processed invoices totaling more than £400m.

Subcontractors get paid earlier that the firm’s standard 120 day terms for a small fixed charge.

Payments are also made directly from Carillion’s bankers which should see firms using the system getting the cash they are owed.

During a House of Commons debate yesterday Labour MP Kevan Jones said: “Carillion is notorious in the subcontracting industry as a company that pays its bills very late—over 90 days in most cases.

“The Minister has talked about public sector contractors that will need to be paid, but what support will the Government give small businesses that are in non-Government contracts and are still waiting to be paid?”

Minister for the Cabinet Office David Lidington said: “Companies in non-Government contracts that are not involved in the provision of public services would become creditors of Carillion.”

Ian Anfield, managing director at Hudson Contract said: “To many of us who worked alongside or for Carillion, they were affectionately known as ‘Carry on Construction’ run by accountants rather than engineers and quantity surveyors. 

“Sites were hamstrung with so much red tape they could not function as they should.”

Piling specialist Van Elle is among firms owed money having carried out £1.6m of work in December and January for Carillion on Network Rail jobs which has not yet been paid for.

Van Elle said: “The Group will engage with Carillion and its advisers (including the Official Receiver) to determine the status of outstanding payments.”



January 16th, 2018 No comments

A proven waterproof solution is essential for safeguarding basements, car parks, tunnels and other belowground concrete structures against damp and water ingress. But which system is best suited to your building? A render-based product? A drainage system incorporating a membrane? Sika offers both solutions as part of its proven, wide-ranging concrete and waterproofing range, so let’s examine the benefits of each.

Sika®-1 Pre-Bagged waterproofing system comprises watertight renders and screeds produced using the Sika®-1 Waterproofing Liquid and Sika®-1 Pre-Batched Mortars. The mortars consist of a blend of special cement and kiln dried graded aggregates. Packaged in four grades, each is specifically designed for optimum application performance and durability.

Key considerations when specifying Sika®-1 Pre-Bagged:

  • Once applied, it requires absolutely no maintenance
  • It is more cost-effective when applied to areas of 300m2 or less
  • The render system takes up minimal space
  • Bonds directly to the substrate – follows the contours of any structure
  • Withstands high water pressure
  • Substrate preparation may be required


In terms of a water management solution, Sika® CD-Cavity Drain System uses a high density polyethylene internal drainage membrane to control water after it has penetrated a structure. The system is installed, loose-laid in flooring applications and attached to the wall with surface plugs in vertical installations. The system directs penetrating water into a drainage system and a collection sump before using a pump to discharge water from the building. A cavity drain provides protection from the ingress of water, vapour and gases.

Key considerations when specifying Sika® CD-Cavity Drain System:

  • System requires ongoing maintenance and running costs
  • Requires more space to install
  • Acts as a vapour barrier
  • Limited surface preparation required
  • Can be used where the substrate does not have the strength to resist stresses caused by water pressure
  • Most cost-effective on areas larger than 300m2


Although varying in application and comprising different materials, the systems share common properties. For instance, Sika®-1 Pre-Bagged and Cavity Drain are suitable for new-build and refurbishment projects involving a range of belowground structures.

As well as being BBA-approved, both systems carry a Sika guarantee when installed by an approved contractor. Other common properties include the systems’ suitability for use to grades 1-3 according to BS 8102-2009, and high water table according to BS 8102-2009.

What then, must we conclude from this comparison? Well, by eliminating the need for ongoing maintenance, the Sika®-1 Pre-Bagged system is a more cost-effective solution over a lifespan of 60 years, particularly for structures 300m2 and below.

Not as simple to apply as the pre-bagged system, on account of its additional components, Sika® CD-Cavity Drain System is a more ideal waterproofing solution for areas larger than 300m2. Ongoing running costs are incurred, as the system requires regular maintenance.

Sika®-1 Pre-Bagged or Sika® CD-Cavity Drain system…whichever system you choose as your belowground solution, you are guaranteed the same quality: superb, long-term waterproof performance.

  • Sika operates a Registered Contractors scheme, designed to help facilitate the selection of suitable contractors to install Sika waterproofing systems including Sika®-1 and Cavity Drain. Choosing a Sika Registered Contractor provides total quality control – from product to service and installation – giving clients added reassurance that they will receive the highest standards of professionalism at every stage.

Gilbert-Ash Appointed to £2m British High Commission Fit Out Project in Sri Lanka

January 15th, 2018 No comments

Award-winning UK construction, refurbishment and fit out contractor, Gilbert-Ash, has been appointed for a £2m fit out project at the British High Commission in Colombo,
Sri Lanka.

Work on the 3,000 square metre building adds to the long list of international projects
Gilbert-Ash has completed with the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), with work undertaken in a total of 43 countries worldwide to date.

This is the second project Gilbert-Ash has completed on the British High Commission in Colombo, Sri Lanka having completed a £5m refurbishment project in May 2016.

Scheduled to take seven months to complete, the fit out project involves re-roofing the building and eradicating damage prevalent in the region due to its climate. The new roof is a
purpose-made steel roof specially commissioned by Gilbert-Ash in Birmingham to meet exacting British standard specification and will be shipped to Sri Lanka in the coming weeks.

With a population of 21 million, Sri Lanka’s economy has shown strong growth, reflecting a peace dividend and a determined policy goal of reconstruction and development. The UK accounts for about 10% of Sri Lanka’s total exports to the world and ranks as the second largest export market for Sri Lanka after the USA.

As well as shipping materials from the UK, Gilbert-Ash will also be working collaboratively with Sri Lankan construction companies to source local supplies, labour and expertise to support the fit out of the British High Commission.

Andrew Whitten, General Manager, Gilbert-Ash Fit Out commented: “We are delighted to return to Colombo for the High Commission project. Using our experience of carrying out work here previously and with the help of local Sri Lankan companies, we are looking forward to completing the project to the highest UK standards despite the harsh, humid climate.

“Through our international work with the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), we have built up a very skilled, rapid deployment team over the last two decades, to undertake these highly challenging projects. Every project is different and we have to know the unique business practices and cultural subtleties thoroughly in each market. This has enabled our staff to work successfully in over 43 countries which is testimony to their adaptability and can-do attitude.”

The British High Commission in Colombo is responsible for maintaining and developing relations between the UK and Sri Lanka and provides services to British nationals living in and visiting Sri Lanka.

Highly detailed design, advanced logistical planning and development goes into every

Gilbert-Ash fit out project, with the team skilled in delivering the finest quality projects on a global scale. To meet exacting specification standards befitting the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the company ships many of its fit out materials around the world.

The leading construction company has specialist fit out expertise in a range of sectors including workplace, retail, leisure and restoration.


For more information on Gilbert-Ash visit


Financial watchdog launches probe into Carillion

January 11th, 2018 No comments

The Financial Conduct Authority has launched an investigation into company announcements made by Carillion in the lead up to its recent profit warnings.

A brief Stock Exchange update this morning said: “The Financial Conduct Authority  has notified Carillion plc that it has commenced an investigation in connection with the timeliness and content of announcements made by Carillion between 7 December 2016 and 10 July 2017. 

“Carillion is cooperating fully with the FCA.”

Carillion issued a positive trading update on December 7 2016 where it predicted a rise in operating profits.

On March 1 2017 it published positive results for 2016 as group revenue jumped 14% to £5.2bn producing group pre-tax profits of £147m.

Chairman Phillip Green said in the results: “Given the size and quality of our order book and pipeline of contract opportunities, our customer-focused culture and integrated business model, we have a good platform from which to develop the business in 2017.

On July 10 2017 the firm issued a profit warning after setting aside an £845m provision to cover problem contracts, which saw its share price dive.

Carillion’s share price fell further in early trading last Wednesday to 17p. On December 7 2016 it stood at 240p.

The latest setback for the indebted group comes as former Wates chief executive Andrew Davies prepares to take over at Carillion from January 22.

His appointment has been brought forward as Carillion continues its fight to repair its balance sheet.

Interim CEO Keith Cochrane will step down when Davies joins but will remain with Carillion in an advisory capacity for a transition period.

This week it also emerged that the opening of Carillion’s £335m Royal Liverpool University Hospital job has been delayed again following construction problems.

The setback means the replacement for the city centre hospital, which has been identified as one of Carillion’s three big UK legacy contracts, is at least one-year behind schedule.

A Carillion spokesperson said: “While we are disappointed that the handover of the new hospital will be delayed, we remain focused on ensuring that it is finished to the highest quality and standard.

“We continue to work closely with the trust to arrange a handover in line with their plans to move in during the summer.”


Construction payment charter is ‘dismal failure’

January 10th, 2018 No comments

Just 35 firms have signed up to the Government’s payment charter nearly four years after it was launched to great fanfare as the solution to payment abuse in the supply chain.

The Construction Supply Chain Payment Charter initially committed firms to pay within 60 days on both private and public sector work.

From this month the payment pledge tightens up, shifting signatories to 30 days to meet the Government’s target of bringing construction into line with other industries.

But just three main contractors and two private clients have signed-up to date, with the last new firm committing to the payment pledge last August.

Now specialists subcontractors are writing the Charter off as a non-starter, despite it being pushed by the Construction Leadership Council and pan-industry trade body, Build UK.

Professor Rudi Klein, the CEO of the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ Group, said: “It’s a dismal failure and a distraction.

“I think the CLC and the Department of Business, Energy and Industry should make a statement about the failure of policy.”

He added: “The Charter has had no impact whatsoever. In fact while the Charter has been around payment periods have got worse stretching out to 50 days and 60 days.”

Main contractor supply chain finance initiatives have pushed official terms out even further. Carillion now has subcontractors on 120-day terms, with firms forced to pay for prompter payments.

Even Government departments on strict 30-day terms are failing to deliver with some cash-strapped NHS Trusts reported to be extending terms in the present climate.

One subcontractor told the Enquirer: “The Government came to power pledging to tackle payment abuse. Instead we got the Payment Charter which most of us thought was a cop out to avoid legislation.

“It’s time the Government looked at this again because a voluntary scheme just isn’t working.”


Brexit uncertainty in construction: how to maintain your career

January 8th, 2018 No comments

As we head into 2018, only one factor of the economy is certain – our uncertainty about the implications of Brexit is making a significant impact on the UK construction industry.

General optimism in the industry has been at its most subdued since mid-2013, while the latest estimates from the Office of National Statistics suggest that construction output contracted 0.5 per cent in third quarter of 2017, having shrunk by 0.3 per cent in the previous three months.

Duncan Brock of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply said, “It appears that the continued fall in commercial activity was testament to Brexit-related uncertainty on the horizon and the sector’s fear about the direction of the UK economy as clients still hesitated to spend on bigger projects.”

Howard Archer of the EY Item Club concurred, “Extended lacklustre economic activity and heightened economic, political and Brexit uncertainties are clearly hampering the construction sector. It looks like it is going to be another challenging year for the sector.”

With market uncertainty comes a lack of job security for many workers. That’s why we’ve come up with a few strategies to help you improve your skillset in an increasingly competitive market.

Track down networking events

While Brexit might be causing uncertainty in a variety of sectors, construction businesses are always searching for upcoming talent.

If you’re a member of a trade association, chances are that association you’re affiliated with will host a number of trade shows and conferences throughout the year.

Use these events to meet new contacts and make your face known. Similarly, joining your local Chamber of Commerce could help you find out about companies in your local area which are searching for a trade professional.

When networking, don’t forget to bring well-presented business cards with you, and always dress professionally.

Get online

In a similar vein to networking events, popular networking site LinkedIn could be the most effective way to meet new contacts.

Make sure your profile outlines your past work experience, your key skills and your personal development while working in a trade. Once your profile is looking great, you’ll be able to connect with anyone in your industry and see a broad range of job opportunities online.

Train yourself

Completing your apprenticeship should never be the end of your training. If you’re constantly moving from one job to the next, you’ll need to continuously accumulate new skills throughout your career.

Gaining a distance learning degree from a university like Anglia Ruskin could be the ticket. A degree in management, for instance, could allow you to progress into a leadership role in construction, commanding a greater salary and increased job security.

Brexit negotiations may be showing a downturn in the fortunes of many industries, but they can also provide great opportunities for the worker who’s willing to network and learn new skills.

Have you got any training tips for the construction industry? Then let us know in the comments below.



January 8th, 2018 No comments


As an industry, we could be accused of focusing on the past rather than looking to the future – in fact, this is a condition that the country suffers from as a whole, and one that can stifle progress. Ultimately, positive, forward thinking, and innovation will attract fresh blood to our industry. But we must learn from our experiences and select important lessons for ourselves and the next generation, as my reality was very different.

I stumbled into this sector very much by accident, as many do. After leaving school, I found myself a summer job with a housebuilder as a joiner’s labourer. This helped me through my college years, and I then moved into the equipment hire industry, and construction products sales, where I first gained real perspective on how job sites operated – and how specifications had a big influence on the construction of a building. From there, I began an adventure into aluminium systems, fenestration and the building envelope.

The journey into roofing had a familiar feel, then managing a commercial specification team was exciting, and a real challenge as I again was able to influence construction in a tangible way. Joining Sika has really provided a wider opportunity, the company enabled me to move from a regional role, to a national role, and I’m now responsible for a business unit of over £60 million, three branded organisations – Sika Sarnafil, Sika Liquid Plastics and Sika-Trocal – and a team of over 70.

Today, the construction landscape looks very different. There’s a greater focus on Health & Safety, more challenging site restrictions, and a real focus on safe working. Specifications are ever more tested, but we continue to learn and improve. Sustainability, product innovation, logistics, and disposal of waste, have all developed massively. We have a lot to celebrate and share. Training has come on leaps and bounds, making a real contribution to strengthening the sector. We are more aware than ever of how we approach construction and what our roles and responsibilities are.

Now I realise that project success, business success and the success of the industry as a whole, is dependent on more than the physical bricks and mortar, it is the people that make the difference. Throughout the years I’ve been lucky to work with some great characters, who invested in my career, and me as an individual, provided great coaching and gave me opportunity to grow. It seems natural that we can now do the same for others.

A key focus for me is people development. We talk every day about our teams, where they are in their evolution, what projects are their focuses and how we can provide better support for our employees.

Recently, we had the opportunity to contribute at a college careers open day, where one of our team who had progressed in the last few years, told his story. This inspired a number of students, all of whom hadn’t necessarily considered the breadth of roles that the construction industry offers. We were overwhelmed at the interest, and quickly made the decision to move forward.

On the back of this, and stimulated by the Apprenticeship Levy, I am overjoyed that we will be welcoming two new apprentices to the Sika Roofing family this year.

These young people will join in a general business administration role, and work across all areas for the rest of this year. We will see where their strengths take them, with operations, sales and marketing, and technical services, all offering great opportunities for development. Working in construction really does allow you to ‘choose your own adventure’ and work to your skills and potential. There is even the chance of international roles, a very exciting opportunity.

Our apprentices will benefit from a sponsor, a coach, and a long term plan to integrate them into our business culture, and see what the industry is about. Sika’s group values provide a real spirit of entrepreneurship, opportunity and progression.

It’s clear that society and technology have changed younger people’s career choices. The perception of the construction industry and the long term opportunities are different than they were – sometimes negative and occasionally, non-existent. As a career choice from a young age, there is less focus on the traditional jobs, and the skills attached, which is one of the contributing factors to our skills shortage.

We’re not going to be able to rely on people ‘falling’ into the industry like we used to – the deficit is too large. Our focus must be to bring young people through our business – actively promoting and educating about the opportunities open to them.

If I could give our new apprentices one piece of advice, it is to be open. When I started out all those years ago, I wish I’d know how important it is to listen, to invest in yourself, and have a plan. Also, to take opportunity when it’s presented and forge relationships. I look forward to the new energy they will bring to the business, and call for more manufacturers to take action in telling the positive stories from our industry and developing the stars of tomorrow – we have so much to offer young people and they in turn to offer us.