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Archive for October, 2011

Video: Green Deal Connection Roadshow

October 31st, 2011 Comments off

The new CITB-ConstructionSkills video: Green Deal Connection Roadshow video is now live on the ConstructionSkills website.

The footage, taken at the Peterborough roadshow on Wednesday 19 October 2011, features representatives from DECC, CITB-ConstructionSkills, Asset Skills and SummitSkills discussing the skills and training SMEs and installers will need in order to be ready for when the Green Deal launches in October 2012. It also contains comments and input from installers and independent energy assessors who were in attendance.

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Minister calls for 25-year self build mortgages

October 28th, 2011 Comments off

Lenders ought to provide people planning self-build projects fixed rate mortgages of as long as 25 years.

This is according to housing minister Grant Shapps, who told the Building Societies Association in London that deals like this are common in countries such as Scandinavia and Germany.

“It would be a canny lender who decided to test the market,” he stated, pointing out that there are a large group of Brits who require this finance and are disappointed with the products on offer.

The minister noted figures from BuildStore reveal 15,000 construction projects of this type were initiated over the last 12 months, but only 46 of these were repossessed.

Mr Shapps stated the industry is worth £3.6 billion in the UK, even though it is one “many think of as small”.

“I’m working with the National Association of Self Builders to bring about a self-build revolution,” the MP asserted.

He recently hailed the progress made in the releasing of public land, which could be the site of up to 100,000 new builds.

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Call for Green Deal qualifications improvement

October 27th, 2011 2 comments
IMPROVEMENTS to the Green Deal installer qualifications specification could make it easier and cheaper for construction firms to take part in the Green Deal.
That was the call of CITB-ConstructionSkills, the Sector Skills Council and Industry Training Board, and the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), in response to the consultation on the draft Green Deal installer skills and qualifications specification – PAS (Publicly Available Specification) 2030.
Both organisations thought the PAS 2030 specification could be improved if it was aligned to the Competent Person Schemes (CPS), which allows firms to self-certify that their work complies with the Building Regulations as an alternative to submitting a building notice. This change would reduce the cost for installers to take advantage of the Green Deal work.
Mark Farrar, Chief Executive of CITB-ConstructionSkills said:
“We are encouraged that the draft PAS 2030 reflects the input from CITB-ConstructionSkills, The FMB, The National Specialist Contractors’ Council (NSCC), The Insulated Render and Cladding Association (INCA) and The National Insulation Association (NIA). One way in which we believe the PAS could be improved would be to align them to the Competent Person Schemes which would reduce the costs for Green Deal installers and would make it easier for them to participate in the work the Green Deal will offer.”
“The Green Deal may create an estimated 100,000 jobs by 2020 – and by this point the Government aims to have retrofitted 14m homes with energy saving equipment, so it is vital construction firms can take full advantage of this scheme.”
The PAS 2030 specification proposed for the first time the specific skills, qualifications and other requirements that construction firms and installers will need to take advantage of the opportunities that will emerge when the Green Deal is rolled out in October 2012. The specification was put out to a consultation which ended on 24 October.
It was formulated by a working group including CITB-ConstructionSkills, The FMB, trade associations from the building, energy, construction and manufacturing sectors, business and consumers.

IMPROVEMENTS to the Green Deal installer qualifications specification could make it easier and cheaper for construction firms to take part in the Green Deal.

That was the call of CITB-ConstructionSkills, the Sector Skills Council and Industry Training Board, and the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), in response to the consultation on the draft Green Deal installer skills and qualifications specification – PAS (Publicly Available Specification) 2030.

Both organisations thought the PAS 2030 specification could be improved if it was aligned to the Competent Person Schemes (CPS), which allows firms to self-certify that their work complies with the Building Regulations as an alternative to submitting a building notice. This change would reduce the cost for installers to take advantage of the Green Deal work.

Mark Farrar, Chief Executive of CITB-ConstructionSkills said:

“We are encouraged that the draft PAS 2030 reflects the input from CITB-ConstructionSkills, The FMB, The National Specialist Contractors’ Council (NSCC), The Insulated Render and Cladding Association (INCA) and The National Insulation Association (NIA). One way in which we believe the PAS could be improved would be to align them to the Competent Person Schemes which would reduce the costs for Green Deal installers and would make it easier for them to participate in the work the Green Deal will offer.”

“The Green Deal may create an estimated 100,000 jobs by 2020 – and by this point the Government aims to have retrofitted 14m homes with energy saving equipment, so it is vital construction firms can take full advantage of this scheme.”

The PAS 2030 specification proposed for the first time the specific skills, qualifications and other requirements that construction firms and installers will need to take advantage of the opportunities that will emerge when the Green Deal is rolled out in October 2012. The specification was put out to a consultation which ended on 24 October.

It was formulated by a working group including CITB-ConstructionSkills, The FMB, trade associations from the building, energy, construction and manufacturing sectors, business and consumers.

Brian Berry, Director of External Affairs at the Federation of Master Builders said:

“The FMB is very keen to ensure that there is transparency and openness in the development of qualifications that installers have to comply with for Green Deal work. The installer requirements for Green Deal work need to relate back to the National Occupational Standards (NOS) which is why the PAS 2030 needs to be amended accordingly to ensure that this common approach is adopted across all sectors in the construction industry. We are therefore pleased to be working with ConstructionSkills to achieve this aim which we believe will make it easier, cheaper and fairer for Green Deal installers.”

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Universities take off after procurement pilot

October 26th, 2011 2 comments

Three major UK universities will be the first in the country to implement a new system that allows single-click access between the UK’s largest register of pre-qualified construction businesses and a major e-procurement provider.

The London School of Economics (LSE), University of Greenwich and King’s College London will now be able to view contractors’ Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) data from Government-backed supplier register Constructionline through their existing purchasing software, In-Tend.

An initial pilot in 2010, completed by LSE and King’s, has lead to the scheme being adopted at the three London-based universities and will be rolled out across the procurement departments of any British universities that use In-Tend.

All three institutions can now view qualified suppliers registered to each system through one browser – reducing the time spent selecting suitable candidates.

Matt Kearsley, project manager at Constructionline, said: “Completing pre-qualification questionnaires is a costly, but essential, process for many of Britain’s universities to ensure they can reach quality suppliers.

“By enabling these establishments to integrate both the In-Tend and Constructionline systems, we can help dramatically reduce the time each spends creating tender lists, helping slash administrative costs.”

Pete Crowe, purchasing advisor at LSE, said: “Using both procurement systems in tandem has freed up a large amount of resource that can now be focused on the more complex phases of our procurement process such as health and safety management.”

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Statement from CITB-ConstructionSkills on the Energy Act and the Green Deal

October 24th, 2011 Comments off

CITB-ConstructionSkills has welcomed the announcement from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) that the Energy Act has become law, setting in stone the legal framework for the Green Deal. But the Sector Skills Council and Construction Industry Training Board called on industry to act now to prepare for Green Deal business opportunities.

Mark Farrar, Chief Executive of CITB-ConstructionSkills said:

“DECC’s announcement that the Energy Act has become law is a critical milestone in the journey to the Green Deal. As the Act recognises, prioritising consumer protection is crucial – consumers must be able to have confidence in Green Deal work in order for the programme to be a success. This is a key driver behind our work as part of the Green Deal Skills Alliance (GDSA) to develop a training and qualification framework for trainers, providers and installers.

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New factory to include recreation area for families

October 21st, 2011 Comments off

A company has promised that it will create a recreation area for families alongside a new factory and homes for the facility’s workers.

Architects and consultants hired by Wilkin & Sons revealed the plans for the £15 million development in Tiptree, which includes 250 homes and community facilities.

Local newspaper the Daily Gazette reports that an open play area, a car park, allotments and an exercise trail are to be included in the proposals, along with a football field and a cricket pitch.

Farms director Chris Newenham admitted that the company might face problems persuading the council to allow it to use the land to build on.

He said: “Even with overwhelming public support, talks with Colchester Council suggest the process may be a long, complex and costly one.”

This comes shortly after a deal was signed to build almost 1,600 domiciles across the south of England as a result of a £20.5 million agreement involving Wayfarer.

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Pylon Design Winner Revealed

October 19th, 2011 Comments off

pylon

Bystrup’s innovative T-Pylon design has been unanimously agreed by the judging panel as the winner of the Pylon Design competition run by the Department of Energy & Climate Change, National Grid, and the Royal Institute of British Architects.
National Grid will now work with Bystrup to develop their T-Pylon design further. National Grid has also said that it wants to do further work with Ian Ritchie Associates on their Silhouette design, and New Town Studio’s Totem design. The winner will receive £5,000 prize money and the 5 other finalists will each receive £1,000.
Six finalists (see them here) from a field of 250 entries were featured at the London Design Festival and, according to the judges, generated huge public interest.
Energy secretary Chris Huhne said: “This is an innovative design which is simple, classical and practical. Its ingenious structure also means that it will be much shorter and smaller than existing pylons and therefore less intrusive.
“This competition has been a great success in bringing forward new and creative approaches to a pylon model which has not changed since the 1920s. We are going to need a lot more pylons over the next few years to connect new energy to our homes and businesses and it is important that we do this is in the most beautiful way possible.”
National Grid executive director Nick Winser said: “In the T-Pylon we have a design that has the potential to be a real improvement on the steel lattice tower.  It’s shorter, lighter and the simplicity of the design means it would fit into the landscape more easily.  In addition, the design of the electrical components is genuinely innovative and exciting.
However, the Totem and Silhouette designs are worthy of further consideration – both of them have strong visual appeal and characteristics that could work well in different landscapes. We are genuinely delighted at the prospect of working with all three companies to develop some real options for the future.”

Bystrup’s innovative T-Pylon design has been unanimously agreed by the judging panel as the winner of the Pylon Design competition run by the Department of Energy & Climate Change, National Grid, and the Royal Institute of British Architects.

National Grid will now work with Bystrup to develop their T-Pylon design further. National Grid has also said that it wants to do further work with Ian Ritchie Associates on their Silhouette design, and New Town Studio’s Totem design. The winner will receive £5,000 prize money and the 5 other finalists will each receive £1,000.

Six finalists  from a field of 250 entries were featured at the London Design Festival and, according to the judges, generated huge public interest.

Energy secretary Chris Huhne said: “This is an innovative design which is simple, classical and practical. Its ingenious structure also means that it will be much shorter and smaller than existing pylons and therefore less intrusive.

“This competition has been a great success in bringing forward new and creative approaches to a pylon model which has not changed since the 1920s. We are going to need a lot more pylons over the next few years to connect new energy to our homes and businesses and it is important that we do this is in the most beautiful way possible.”

National Grid executive director Nick Winser said: “In the T-Pylon we have a design that has the potential to be a real improvement on the steel lattice tower.  It’s shorter, lighter and the simplicity of the design means it would fit into the landscape more easily.  In addition, the design of the electrical components is genuinely innovative and exciting.

However, the Totem and Silhouette designs are worthy of further consideration – both of them have strong visual appeal and characteristics that could work well in different landscapes. We are genuinely delighted at the prospect of working with all three companies to develop some real options for the future.”

1318580070_lattice

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Builders Brokers Busted

October 18th, 2011 Comments off
Four linked companies that claimed to provide a consumer protection service to the public by offering a free database of trusted builders and tradesmen have been ordered into liquidation by the High Court following an investigation by Company Investigations of the Insolvency Service.
The Building Trades Database Ltd, Quality Build Services Ltd, Coast 2 Coast Building Services Ltd and MTB Sussex Ltd variously traded between October 2008 and February 2011 and each of the companies operated a website that purported to enable members of the public to secure the services of tradesmen. Effectively, the Brighton-based companies sought to act as brokers, recommending builders to domestic customers.
Members of the public could submit an enquiry to the websites detailing their work requirements to receive a recommendation for an approved builder or tradesman.
Tradesmen were persuaded by using cold calling techniques to register as members on the websites operated by the companies in return for the payment of a fee typically £200-£300 plus VAT to entitle them to receive enquiries for work. Tradesmen also paid commission on any work they got through the site.
However, each of the companies made false and misleading statements to tradesmen in order to recruit them. No or insufficient evidence was provided to the investigation that tradesmen received any referrals or any commercial benefit whatsoever as a result of their membership.
In all, nearly £1 million was raised by the companies from around 4,000 tradesmen and this appears to have all been applied in the payment of commission fees to the several sales staff employed to recruit them and payments to the companies’ directors.
Welcoming the court’s winding up judgement, Company Investigations supervisor Chris Mayhew said: “Our investigation uncovered that The Building Trades Database Ltd preyed on tradesmen to build up a database business built on seriously misleading and unfounded statements to persuade them to enrol for the purported service. The business effectively migrated from one company to another and the continuing deceit on tradesmen unfortunate enough to have been contacted by these companies is perhaps best illustrated by the discovery that the telephone numbers for the positive testimonials about one of the companies, Coast 2 Coast Building Services Ltd, purportedly from two tradesmen, matched those for two mobile telephones found at the company’s former trading address.”

Four linked companies that claimed to provide a consumer protection service to the public by offering a free database of trusted builders and tradesmen have been ordered into liquidation by the High Court following an investigation by Company Investigations of the Insolvency Service.

The Building Trades Database Ltd, Quality Build Services Ltd, Coast 2 Coast Building Services Ltd and MTB Sussex Ltd variously traded between October 2008 and February 2011 and each of the companies operated a website that purported to enable members of the public to secure the services of tradesmen. Effectively, the Brighton-based companies sought to act as brokers, recommending builders to domestic customers.

Members of the public could submit an enquiry to the websites detailing their work requirements to receive a recommendation for an approved builder or tradesman.

Tradesmen were persuaded by using cold calling techniques to register as members on the websites operated by the companies in return for the payment of a fee typically £200-£300 plus VAT to entitle them to receive enquiries for work. Tradesmen also paid commission on any work they got through the site.

However, each of the companies made false and misleading statements to tradesmen in order to recruit them. No or insufficient evidence was provided to the investigation that tradesmen received any referrals or any commercial benefit whatsoever as a result of their membership.

In all, nearly £1 million was raised by the companies from around 4,000 tradesmen and this appears to have all been applied in the payment of commission fees to the several sales staff employed to recruit them and payments to the companies’ directors.

Welcoming the court’s winding up judgement, Company Investigations supervisor Chris Mayhew said: “Our investigation uncovered that The Building Trades Database Ltd preyed on tradesmen to build up a database business built on seriously misleading and unfounded statements to persuade them to enrol for the purported service. The business effectively migrated from one company to another and the continuing deceit on tradesmen unfortunate enough to have been contacted by these companies is perhaps best illustrated by the discovery that the telephone numbers for the positive testimonials about one of the companies, Coast 2 Coast Building Services Ltd, purportedly from two tradesmen, matched those for two mobile telephones found at the company’s former trading address.”

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THE EVER EXPANDING WORLD OF EPS INSULATION

October 17th, 2011 Comments off

THE EVER EXPANDING WORLD OF EPS INSULATION

What’s the first material that comes to mind when considering insulation materials?  Rock wool?  Mineral wool? Polyurethane? How about expanded polystyrene? If you’re not aware of the latter, then the article that follows is perfect for you.

As part of the wider energy efficiency topic, insulation is a political hot potato at the moment.  With bank accounts dwindling, benefits being reigned in and energy prices rising, there’s never been a more important time to ensure a building is energy efficient. And one of the key elements of energy efficiency is of course insulation; whether that’s in a roof, floor or wall.

That’s not to say that insulating a building will immediately result in energy efficiency. Indeed, choosing the right material for your project can be a bit of headache even before the planning phase is complete. This brings us neatly back to the opening question and the subject of expanded polystyrene insulation.

Without going into too much scientific detail, EPS is a rigid cellular plastic based polystyrene material containing an expansion agent; simple as that.  Due to its many inherent qualities (not least strength), in addition to insulation, it is also used for large scale construction projects such as rail embankments, bridge foundations and clay heave protection.

But if it’s used to strengthen bridges and rail embankments, why should EPS be considered your insulation material of choice?

Well, firstly, as evidenced by strict thermal conductivity testing, EPS has well established insulation values meaning that it’s perfect for the aim of making a building energy efficient.   Perhaps just as important to many home owners in particular, EPS offers excellent value and is usually cheaper than other insulation materials.

In direct contrast to some other insulation materials, expanded polystyrene is friendly to the environment and offers excellent sustainability values; this fact amplified by its A+ rating in the BRE Green Guide.  In addition, EPS is easy to install in both small and large construction projects, it is rot and rodent proof, and has high water resistance qualities.

Of course, that’s not to say that other insulation materials don’t have a number of their own advantages and when placed in the wider context of energy efficiency, there are many… many shades of grey.

Nevertheless, when considering the price, performance and sustainability of EPS, it’s maybe easier than you think to avoid that headache.

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Architects are top performers

October 14th, 2011 Comments off

14_architect20hampshire02High-end architects led the top financial performers of 2011, as consultants’ staffing levels, salaries and fee incomes all edged up.

Architecture practice RTKL – a US-based subsidiary of Arcadis – was the top financial performer in Building’s top 200 consultants league tables this year, raking in £190,000 per UK employee.

High-end architects KPF and Foster + Partners rounded out the top three financial performers, making £175,000 and £161,000 per employee respectively.

The fastest growing firm in 2011 was Stanton Williams, the architect to overhaul Kings Cross public square – where fee income almost doubled from 2010 to 2011.

Forty percent of consultants said they were looking to increase staff over the next year.

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