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Insulation ‘to benefit 14 million homes’

June 29th, 2010 Comments off

The benefits of home insulation will be experienced by up to 14 million people thanks to a new government initiative, an expert has said.

Energy secretary Chris Huhne noted the Green Deal will be an ambitious approach to improving the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock.

Under the policy, energy companies and high street stores will pay for the work to be carried out upfront.

Once cavity wall and loft insulation has been installed, homeowners will then repay them using the savings they make on energy use.

Mr Huhne remarked: “The Green Deal – by tying energy saving to the people who pay the energy bills – will be a breakthrough not just for owners but for tenants as well.”

He observed the scheme will not only help the green sector, but it will also provide a boost for the whole economy.

It comes after Reigate and Banstead Council in Surrey said funding will be made available for cut-price insulation in the area.

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Mixed Scottish business reaction to Budget

June 28th, 2010 Comments off

Scottish business leaders have given a mixed reaction to the UK Budget unveiled by the chancellor.

Popular measures from George Osborne have included cutting levels of corporation tax, particularly for small businesses next year.

But the business community has reacted unfavourably to news of a VAT rise from 17.5% to 20% from 4 January 2010.

And there was little cheer for the video gaming industry as the chancellor reversed planned tax breaks.

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce said the rise in VAT would “undoubtedly cause concerns” in Scotland’s retail and tourism sectors as it would serve to dampen consumer demand in the economy next year”.

However, chief executive Liz Cameron welcomed plans to reduce headline levels of corporation tax and cut the rate of corporation tax for small companies to 20%.

She continued: “Of serious concern, though, is the lack of support the UK government has shown to the Scottish video games industry.

“With home-grown developers such as Dundee’s Realtime Worlds and Ruffian Games about to launch major new products across the world over the coming weeks, the government have made a bad decision in reversing the planned tax breaks for one of our key industries of the future.”

The Scottish Building Federation took a negative view of the Budget, in particular the rise in VAT early next year.

Chief executive Michael Levack said: “I can find nothing that would help ease the availability of affordable credit to building firms or to expanding businesses and home buyers that should be driving future construction demand.

“For the construction sector in particular, increasing VAT to 20% is a retrograde step which plays into the hands of cash-in-hand cowboys by increasing their competitive advantage over legitimate building firms.

“The new higher rate of VAT will be a further setback to sustainable recovery in the construction industry.”

VAT worries

Meanwhile, Russell Hills, head of tax at KPMG in Scotland, said retailers would be relieved that the widely trailed VAT increase would not come in until after the Christmas and New Year sales period.

He added: “But 2011 could be a hard year on the high street as prices go up to accommodate the new rate.”

The Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland (FSB) said it welcomed many of the measures in the Budget, but expressed concern that rises in Employer National Insurance Contributions were not completely reversed.

It also said it was worried about the possible impact of a VAT increase.

Andy Willox, FSB Scottish policy convener, said the increase in VAT would pose problems to many small firms who might find it difficult to absorb the financial and administrative costs associated with the move.

He added: “We welcome moves to give a national insurance holiday to Scottish business start-up firms, but believe there may be an opportunity to expand the scheme and boost employment in firms already trading.

“Further, we need to see a full reversal of the employers’ national insurance contributions increases to ensure that we boost employment amongst the small business community.”

The Insitute of Directors (IoD) took a positive view of the Budget.

David Watt, executive director of the IoD in Scotland, said Mr Osborne had “faced up to the challenge”.

“The economy needed faster and deeper deficit reduction and that’s exactly what the chancellor has delivered,” he said.

“Equally important to the scale of deficit reduction is the way it is done. Here again the Chancellor has chosen the right route, by concentrating overwhelmingly on closing the fiscal gap by lower spending instead of higher taxation,” added Mr Watt.

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Viliv X70 EX battery

June 23rd, 2010 Comments off

x70-battery-largeViliv X70 EX battery

Spare 5.5hour battery for the Viliv X70 EX tablets now available

Mobile CAD Surveying Ltd have no added the popular Viliv X70 EX tablet to their range of mobile solutions for their award winning software, Sitemaster Building. The Viliv X70 EX is now availble as standard in their mobile surveying solution kit, their very popular Sitemaster Hardware and Software Bundle.

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Carbon Calculation

June 21st, 2010 Comments off

Carbon Calculation is becoming a hot topic in all areas of business. With the advent of the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme by the British Government and the EUETS, reporting on carbon emissions is fast become a legal requirement within the UK, Europe and beyond.

The construction industry has been hard hit by the recession. With fewer construction projects taking place, winning new business is becoming more and more difficult and finding ways to stand out from the crowd is key to business growth.

Construction companies are re-assessing all areas of their business to make themselves more appealing to work with, and the area of sustainability and the environment is quickly becoming a key area on the agenda.

Growth in this area has lead to a market need for Carbon Calculation tools for the construction industry.

Carbon Calculated (http://www.carboncalculated.com) provide a huge database of carbon emission factors sourced from approved data providers all aggregated into a platform on top of which they build Carbon Calculation toolsets. One of these tools is their Construction Carbon Calculator http://www.carboncalculated.com/products/construction_cc which enables the calculation of the embodied emissions for all types of construction and civils projects.

The system breaks the usage down into 4 key areas:

Materials + Deliveries (bricks, windows, aggregates, flooring etc… and their associated delivery to the site via train, plane, ferry, HGV, etc…) Waste Management (landfill, recycling etc…) Energy Consumption (electricity, generators on-site etc…) Commuting (travel to and from the site via any mode of transport)

All of the data can be outputted as a PDF for use in presentations and pitches, as well as ability to export the information into excel or other formats.

The basic system is completely free to use, and you can sign up here: http://www.carboncalculated.com/products/construction_cc/plans

Enterprise solutions are also available, and include branding the system to match a companies corporate identity.

Construction companies are using this tool to help add weight to their sustainability policies, but also on showcase projects to help win pitches and tenders.

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A New Opportunity for Construction Tradesmen!

June 17th, 2010 Comments off

d8_with_tablet_pcFOR ALL BUILDERS & CONSTRUCTION WORKERS OUT THERE! WHY NOT DIVERSIFY?

Steve was like a lot of people working a trade in the Construction Industry, due to the economic climate he was out of work more than in it. One day he saw an advertisement for Sitemaster Software, this piqued his interest as it was something allied to building that he knew and as he already carried out his own surveys for estimating purposes he thought that the added bonus of being able to draw up accurate floor plans
would give him another opportunity to earn a living doing something he already had an interest in and which could help in his normal job when things picked up. Sort of kills two birds with one stone!

So what did he have to loose, he sent off for more information and agreed to a FREE NO obligation demonstration. What Steve witnessed was professionally-finished building floor plans, area estimates and inspection drawings using a Bluetooth handheld laser talking directly to the software held on a UPMC (Ultra Mobile PC) tablet, he saw that there was no longer any need to take measurements using tape
measures, no need to write any notes or draw pencil sketches anymore, the dimensions are instantly inserted into the drawing programme and it draws the lines in real time – On Site!

Steve stated at the time “I have experienced first-hand the immediate gains that Sitemaster Building software can provide to construction and building information mangers in terms of accuracy, speed and cost-savings”

He was told of how this software had been instrumental in saving time and costs on many projects around the world, “On a recent service project, I was contracted to verify a commercial lessee’s office square metreage and was able to determine irrefutably that they were being overcharged by more than 25 square meters on their contract”. Quite a rental saving over a period of a few years. It is obvious that
where commercial office space commands a premium, the cost-savings to the lessee will be significant over time and positively impact their cash flow each month” Just one of the ways this software can be used effectively.

Building Talk recently commented “Sitemaster Building is an amazing application, and is generating a lot of interest in the marketplace”.

Steve was so impressed by what he was shown, that he decided to buy there and then and take up the optional offer of a days training. This was carried out in due course and Steve immediately put this software/ kit to good practice. In fact he was in touch with some old clients who gave him work from time to time, construction work, but they had none available just now, so he offered his services as a surveyor
and offered to draw up floor plans of some of their property portfolio, he knew through the grapevine that they needed this due to recent changes in legislation, the two negotiated a price and off Steve went to start his first proper floor plan survey. The first building he worked on took him some time, he was after all learning as he went along, but by the time he started the second project he had ironed out all the queries
and problems he was having and with the help of the training he had received and the telephone support from the company, he was well on his way.

He was now starting to produce finished floor plans much quicker and 700 – 800 square meters per day were not uncommon. He knew through experience that most surveyors/architects will hand sketch and measure maybe 500 – 700 square meters per day, and then spend at least another day back at the office drawing the floor plans up. Yet Steve on only his second project was walking off site at the end of the
day with circa 700 square meters surveyed, measured and drawn and of course FINISHED!  samsungandd8-300x300

It quickly dawned on him that there was a real opportunity here to offer this as a full time service and make some good money along
the way. What started off as an attempt to try and earn a bit more money due to lack of construction work, had now turned into a
possible future gold mine offering his services of providing finished, accurate floor plans quickly and efficiently both for his own clients and for others. He had now in effect gone from a pretty ordinary builder to a much sought after professional member of the construction
industry, more or less overnight, he now charges his clients on a per square metre basis for most projects as he has now got to a point where he can produce nearly 1000 sq metres per day on a large project.

Of course producing accurate floor plans is one thing, but the Sitemaster Software is so good it also works out area, volume and perimeter calculations of rooms, it also automatically and in the background builds up door and window schedules, lists of radiators, plug points, and in fact anything else you collect along the way, the data collection feature of this programme is ideal for Asset and Facilities Managers.

Along with the floor plans, Steve now finds he can charge for providing door and window schedules, that for most traditional surveyors/architects can take hours or even days to produce, takes Steve seconds with the push of a button. The programme does this all automatically for him, his earnings are now rising exponentially as he finds more ways and new markets to put this programme to work for him.

Steve has since shown this to some of his fellow workmates on the construction site and comments: “Once people see Sitemaster in action and witness the finished results, they can’t believe they have been using a tape measure and paper for so long”. “Architects, designers – anyone wanting to create as-built drawings can now complete the task in record time without leaving the clients site. Better yet, there is no need to send two people to a site and finished drawings can be generated up to 10 times faster than traditional measuring-tape and paper methods.”

Profiled in a recent Microsoft white paper, Sitemaster is claimed to be the first system of its kind to automate the creation of wireless, laser-generated as-built floor plans, area estimates and building inspections for architects, appraisers, contractors, engineers, estimators, facilities managers, floorplanners, estate agents and other professionals involved in the design, construction and management of
buildings.

Using a Leica Disto D3BTa handheld laser, Sitemaster facilitates instant on-site creation of detailed, AutoCADcompatible drawings on a Bluetooth wireless Pocket PC, Tablet PC or laptop computer running Microsoft’s Windows mobility operating systems.

“Sitemaster provides the missing link for thousands of potential clients”.

Now it is time for you Construction Tradesmen who are maybe looking for other ways of earning a living, to try this for yourselves, why not? What have you got to loose? It worked for Steve, why shouldn’t it work for you?

For more on the Sitemaster range of products, please visit:
www.mobilecadsurveying.co.uk

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O2 AXES ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT DATA PLAN

June 15th, 2010 Comments off

Mobile operator O2 is moving to axe “all-you-can-eat” data plans, which enable smartphone customers unlimited Web browsing for a fixed-fee, prompted by network overloads associated with the bandwidth-hungry phones. The Telefonica-owned (TEF.MC) operator said it expects only three percent of its 21.4 million customers to have to pay for breaching data usage caps, most of whom are expected to be iPhone users.

In a similar move, Vodafone (VOD.L) has also cancelled unlimited data plans but analysts say its arrangements were not as severe as O2’s. Ronan Dunne, head of O2, said data caps would enable the firm to increase investments in faster networks and denied there could be a backlash, saying investment in infrastructure “has to be a great thing for customers”.

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BIGGER BUILDERS SURVIVING BETTER

June 14th, 2010 Comments off

The current economic downturn is impacting smaller construction firms more than their larger rivals. A Financial Times analysis of the UK’s top 50 construction firms showed the top ten percent of firms saw their average contract size rise to 13.5 million pounds during the year to May, 20 percent up on the same period in 2008.

Contrastingly the five smallest builders saw the average size of their contracts almost halve to 670,000 pounds. Spending in the private sector, to which smaller builders are geared, fell 19.4 percent in 2009, while larger groups benefited from a 3.8 percent increase in government spending.

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UK construction sector expands further as mortgage approvals beat estimates

June 10th, 2010 Comments off

Today the attention is on the UK data which showed that the construction sector beat estimates which hinted the housing sector is improving further as mortgage approvals mark the highest in four months as the weather is heating up in Britain.

PMI construction, which represents nearly 6% of GDP in May climbed to 58.5 from 58.2, surpassing the projected 58.0. The construction sector resumed its expansion which hints that the housing sector is reviving.

It is not just the construction sector that has been showing enhancement, but the manufacturing sector yesterday we witnessed continue to expand while surpassing market expectations.

More news from today, mortgage approvals in April inclined to 49.9 thousand from the revised prior reading of 49.0 from 48.9 thousand which beat the estimated 49.5 thousand.

As the weather is improving and ending the harshest weather since 1979 alongside the transaction cost taxes on houses ending for first-time buyers, helped increase demand on houses, which at the end supported the housing sector.

Hometrack Ltd. which are property researchers, said that the new plan by Prime Minister David Cameron to cut spending by 6.2 billion pounds will hurt household’s income and negatively affect housing activity.

For more news today, net consumer credit dor April fell 0.1 billion pounds from the revised previous 0.1 from 0.3 billion pounds while net lending secured on dwellings rose to 0.5 billion pounds from the revised prior of 0.2 from 0.3 billion pounds.

As the BoE continues to leave interest rates low at 0.50%, banks are holding back lending as a way to restructure their balance sheets after the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression had weighed on the strength of the nation heavily.

Officials are not worried about the housing sector as much as they are worried about the debt crisis in the nation, as they have the highest budget deficit since WWII, which is why officials are working around the clock to contain the debt before it threatens the economic recovery even further.

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U.K. Construction Expands at Fastest Pace Since September 2007

June 8th, 2010 Comments off

An index of U.K. construction expanded in May at the fastest pace since September 2007, led by gains in homebuilding.

A gauge of building activity, based on a survey of purchasing managers, increased to 58.5 from 58.2 in April, Markit Economics and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply said today in an e-mailed statement. Results over 50 indicate expansion.

The U.K. economy expanded 0.3 percent in the first quarter, more than initially estimated, after upward revisions to manufacturing and construction. Bank of England policy makers unanimously held their bond plan at 200 billion pounds ($294 billion) last month as they assessed risks to the recovery from the crisis in the euro area and government measures to tame the record budget deficit.

“Recovery in construction is creating a ripple effect across the economy as firms supplying the industry benefit from increased purchasing activity,” David Noble, chief executive at CIPS, said in an e-mailed statement. “However, the recovery is so fragile that it will be extremely vulnerable to the impending public-sector cuts and it is unclear whether the recovery is robust enough to cope with such knock backs.”

A measure of homebuilding rose to 60.5 from 60.3 the previous month, the biggest increase since August 2007. A measure of new orders for all construction grew at the fastest pace since October 2007, and a gauge of employment rose to 50.8, the first expansion in two years.

Barratt Developments Plc, the U.K.’s biggest homebuilder by volume, said May 12 it’s “on track” to deliver a profit in the six months through June after selling more expensive properties. Chief Executive Officer Mark Clare said that “while the market has seen a measure of recovery, we remain cautious given continuing economic uncertainty and constrained lending.”

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UK Government To Review Construction Industry, Deliver Low Carbon Future

June 7th, 2010 Comments off

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has announced that the new minister with responsibility for the construction industry is Chartered Surveyor Mark Prisk.

The Minister has already met the Steering Group of the Low Carbon Construction Review Innovation and Growth Team (IGT), an industry-led body set up to review the construction industry.

The aim of the body is to ensure the sector is ‘fit for purpose’ for delivering a low carbon future.

The Construction Minister said: “My portfolio offers me a fantastic opportunity to support an industry that provides a significant amount of the nation’s GDP.

“The Low Carbon Construction IGT will play a key part in the Prime Minister’s pledge to make this ‘the greenest government ever’ and I look forward to seeing it’s conclusions on tackling the challenges of a low carbon agenda.”

Chief Construction Adviser, Paul Morrell, said:

“I welcome the Minister’s wholehearted support for the Low Carbon Construction IGT and look forward to working with him on the many challenges and opportunities that the industry faces. It can only help that he has shadowed the role for some time, and already has a good understanding of the construction industry.”

The UK construction industry consists of over 300 000 firms employing over 3 million people in a multitude of roles. The sector is defined as one which embraces the construction materials and products; suppliers and producers; building services manufacturers, providers and installers; contractors, sub-contractors, professionals, advisors and construction clients and those organisations that are relevant to the design, build, operation and refurbishment of buildings.

In November 2009 it was announced that the UK construction sector contributed 8.8% of the nations GVA (Gross Value Added) in 2008. UK designers, civil engineers, contractors, component & product manufacturers have a worldwide reputation for working overseas, providing high-tech solutions to environmental, transport & building projects. (Statistics on the sector are available from the Construction Statistics and Economics pages.)

Paul Morrell OBE was appointed to the role of Government Chief Construction Adviser in December 2009.  Previously senior partner of construction consultants Davis Langdon, and also former deputy chair of CABE, Paul Morrell brings extensive experience across both the public and private sectors to this broad role.

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