UK construction blog

Archive

Archive for May, 2012

Brits ‘should feel confident with DIY’

May 30th, 2012 1 comment

Brits should consider performing home improvement tasks themselves rather than calling in tradesmen, an expert has said.

Interior designer and television presenter Julia Kendell stated there could be a “fear factor” preventing people from undertaking these DIY operations, especially those that require working outside.

While many people are becoming involved in home decoration, they are not doing the “less-glamorous jobs”, such as fixing dodgy paving slabs or filling in potholes, she stated.

The expert suggested individuals who do not feel comfortable with DIY should build up their self-confidence by doing “fairly straightforward” projects, before moving on to more difficult tasks.

Furthermore, they ought to conduct some research before they begin working, Ms Kendell advised.

“Go to a good website with videos on using specific products,” she declared.

A recent poll by Tarmac Building Products found one-fifth of people say they find DIY too complicated, while more than one-third are concerned about making mistakes.

Link To This Page
1. Click inside the codebox
2. Right-Click then Copy
3. Paste the HTML code into your webpage
codebox
powered by Linkubaitor
Tags:

The growth of Green Building Councils

May 28th, 2012 1 comment

The growth in the number of Green Building Councils (GBCs) and the impact this is having on the construction industry cannot be overlooked. As the UK Green Building Council celebrates its 5th birthday, Paul King talks to Skanska about the reason behind this growth and explains why the green agenda is here to stay.

“Green Building Councils (GBCs) have experienced exponential growth all over the globe with the number on the ground rising from just 26 to 90 councils in just five years” says King. “But what is perhaps most interesting about this is that growth has not been driven by government intervention. All GBCs have grown through grass-root private sector organisations led by the people who see the trend towards green buildings increasing and recognise the growing evidence of policy, regulation and customer demand for low carbon buildings.”

King believes that it is in fact the industry that is driving itself, moving at a speed that is one step ahead of government expectation.

Link To This Page
1. Click inside the codebox
2. Right-Click then Copy
3. Paste the HTML code into your webpage
codebox
powered by Linkubaitor
Tags:

Place Hacked – London’s Shard Security Breach

May 24th, 2012 2 comments

Last week urban explorers shared London’s latest and greatest aerial view, from atop of The Shard in London Bridge. Pictures of the explorers scaling the unfinished 310-metre skyscraper emerged in the press after being posted on the Place Hacking Urban Exploration blog. It raised serious questions about the security of the site, which is supposed to be one of the most secure construction sites in the UK after the Olympic Park.

When The Shard is finished in June it will be Europe’s tallest building, and the forty-fifth tallest in the world. The Place Hacking blog is run by American PHD student Bradley L Garrett, who claims he and two friends slipped past a lone security guard at the Shard site, climbing 76 floors to the top of the tower to take some breath-taking photographs.

The photos have led to criticisms regarding the security of the site. Sellar Property Group, responsible for developing The Shard, and main contractor Mace refuse to accept the latest breaches, claiming that the site is more secure than ever thanks to 14 night-time security guards on-duty at all times, 25 CCTV cameras and a ground-floor-level laser alarm system. They allege that the photos were actually taken over a year ago before security measures were stepped-up.

Bradley Garrett, the leader of the explorers, who runs the Place Hacking blog claims that he and his friends have climbed the tower several times, and have confidence about being able to do so again in the future. He explained that security guards still need breaks, walks and changeovers and this presents enough of an opportunity for explorers to get inside a site. He claims the group do not intend to break, vandalise or alter any of the sites or buildings that they enter.

Garret gave a detailed account of how he and his group managed to gain entry to the site; by waiting for a security guard to enter a hunt, waiting around, jumping over scaffolding pipes and swinging from a bridge. He was even quoted as saying that one security guard was inside a hut watching television instead of CCTV monitors.

It is a requirement of construction sites that steps are taken by site managers to exclude unauthorised members of the public from entering a construction site, through clearly-defined boundaries and security enforcement.

Boundaries should be defined with fencing which should be appropriate for the site and well-maintained. In populated areas the Health and Safety Executive recommend two-metre mesh fencing or hoarding, and stipulate that the principal contractor must take “reasonable steps” to prevent unauthorised people from entering the site.

Whether the construction company will face any punishment from the Health and Safety Executive remains to be seen.

Alan Cairns writes on a number of subjects including cherry picker hire on behalf of Universal Platforms

Link To This Page
1. Click inside the codebox
2. Right-Click then Copy
3. Paste the HTML code into your webpage
codebox
powered by Linkubaitor
Tags:

How Asbestos Has Affected the Construction Industry in the UK

May 22nd, 2012 Comments off

According to the Health and Safety Executive, asbestos “is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK.”

Because asbestos was used in a number of building materials, the construction industry was one of the hardest hit when the number of asbestos-related illnesses grew. These serious illnesses include asbestosis (scarring of the lungs), mesothelioma (cancer that affects the lining of internal organs) and lung cancer.

An estimated 4,000 people are diagnosed with an asbestos-related cancer every year in the UK.

In addition to a number of health concerns, the construction industry was also affected by new health regulations. The Health and Safety Executive launched an aggressive campaign aimed at preventing the prevalence of asbestos-related disease. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 introduced several regulations and procedures for handling asbestos. Then these regulations were updated in the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

Because many buildings built prior to 2000 may still contain asbestos, any type of construction work – whether it is maintenance or renovation – must follow these regulatory guidelines.

Overview of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012

One of the highlights of the asbestos regulations is the “duty to manage.” This requires owners or managers of properties to maintain records of all asbestos-containing materials present. It also requires them to notify contractors who will be working with or near these materials of their location and condition.

Owners of construction companies whose employees may be working with asbestos also have a duty to protect the health and safety of their employees. This includes performing an asbestos exposure risk assessment and detailed work plan before any work is done.

Detailed health records and medical surveillance of exposed employees must also be kept. At least once every two years, each employee must submit to a medical examination that includes a specific examination of the chest. To prevent exposure, employers must provide employees with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

All employees must also be properly trained and licensed to work with asbestos and all work to be conducted must be reported to the appropriate authorities in writing at least fourteen days prior to beginning any work.

These regulations also specify details for the disposal of asbestos waste. All containers with asbestos must be sealed and clearly marked as asbestos waste.

Many of these asbestos-related changes have made construction in the UK more costly and time-consuming. Health experts argue that if you see the end result of asbestos exposure on a human body, the tradeoff is worth it.

Bio: Michelle Y. Llamas is a writer for the Mesothelioma Center. She is committed to generating awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure and providing information regarding breakthroughs in mesothelioma treatment.

Link To This Page
1. Click inside the codebox
2. Right-Click then Copy
3. Paste the HTML code into your webpage
codebox
powered by Linkubaitor
Tags:

Construction Company Learns Cherry Picker Safety the Hard Way

May 21st, 2012 Comments off

Galliford Try Construction pays the price for poor planning and lack of supervision

A construction company has been prosecuted after a cherry picker operator was catapulted 4m into the path of a moving bus on London’s Euston Road.

Two workers from Galliford Try Construction Limited were working on an apartment near St Pancras Renaissance Hotels and Chambers on the 4th of March 2011. As the cherry picket was being reversed onto Euston Road, a double-decker had just turned the corner and struck the operator platform, catapulted the driver from the platform onto the tarmac in front of the moving bus. Amazingly he was pushed along by the bus, found under the front nearside with serious head, arm, pelvis and leg injuries, but returned to work earlier this year, despite the severe injuries.

The construction company, of Uxbridge, Middlesex, were fined £12, 000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of over £16, 000 after pleading guilty to two serious breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The Health and Safety Executive’s investigation concluded that the incident could have been avoided if the firm had fulfilled their duties to properly plan and supervise safe work. The hearing took place on the 11th of April and HSE Inspector Paul Hems said:

“This worker narrowly escaped death after a series of events which almost seem unbelievable but in fact could have proved fatal.

“A 14-metres long slow-moving machine, not suitable for use on a public highway, was moved against the flow of traffic on to a three-lane road. Both workers were without high visibility clothing and there were no visible warning lights on the cherry-picker despite it being early morning and still dark which made it, and the men, effectively invisible to the bus driver.”

Despite the risks of using cherry pickets being well-known, the company failed to ensure safe movement of the vehicle between different compounds, and also failed to provide adequate levels of instruction and information to their employees.

Mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs), cherry pickets, scissor lifts and vehicle-mounted booms provide a safe way of working at height, allowing workers to reach high tasks quickly and easily. They have guard rails round the edge of the platform to prevent workers from falling off the platform, and can be used indoors and out.

When using MEWPs construction companies are advised to check ground conditions to ensure there is no risk of the device becoming unstable or overturning. Operators should be fully trained and competent, and should check to ensure that the MEWP cannot be caught on any protruding overhead hazards including scaffolding, trees and power lines. They should also assess the risk of passing traffic and take measures to prevent the risk of collisions.

Alan Cairns writes on a number of subjects including cherry picker hire and health and safety

Link To This Page
1. Click inside the codebox
2. Right-Click then Copy
3. Paste the HTML code into your webpage
codebox
powered by Linkubaitor
Tags:

A £30m fund for self builders has been announced

May 18th, 2012 Comments off

A £30m fund for self builders has been announced by housing minister Grant Shapps

At the same time Kevin McCloud, presenter of Channel 4’s Grand Designs and an architecture specialist, has been appointed by the self-build industry to support the national surge of interest in people looking to design and build their own home.

Shapps said the £30 million fund will provide short-term finance to help unlock projects where groups of self-build homes are built at the same time.

According to Shapps the self-build industry is “riding the crest of a wave” as the number of self-build mortgages is set to rise by 141 per cent, and over 100,000 people are looking for self-build plots across the country.

Yet despite this interest, Britain still lags behind the rest of the world, with just one in ten of all homes each year built by self-builders – so the government has pledged to double the size of the industry.

Dutch example

To mark the start of his new role, McCloud accompanied the housing minister as he leads a UK trade delegation to the Netherlands, to see what lessons can be learnt from the highly successful Dutch self-build industry.

They visited Almere near Amsterdam, the largest low-cost self-build experiment in Europe, which has grown rapidly in recent years.

These types of projects have been held back in the UK because of reluctance by lenders to provide finance. Self-build groups will now be able to bid for a slice of the cash to part fund land acquisition and early development costs with money being repaid on completion of the project.

Encouraging lenders to lend

Shapps is also writing to key players in the mortgage market, highlighting the strong business case for lending to self-builders.

Citing recent surveys by the Building Societies Association, Shapps said that 53 per cent of those asked would be interested in building their own home – while almost two thirds of those said they would like to begin building within the next two years.

In his letters to lenders, Shapps also highlighted a new ‘toolkit’ prepared by the BSA which will provide information and advice to lenders looking to expand into the growing self-build market.

Housing minister’s comment

Shapps said: “The self-build industry is riding the crest of a wave, with more people than ever wanting control over the design and build of their home.

“But despite this self-build surge, we continue to lag behind the rest of the world. I am determined to change this so anyone who wants to embark on a self-build project has the opportunity to do so.”

Self-build champion’s comment

McCloud commented: “In the past we have built some of the poorest performing, most expensive and smallest homes in Europe. That’s not something to celebrate.

“But there is another way. What if we became a nation of self builders like the Dutch? What if each household in the UK had the option to build their own place? What if large-scale developers provided finished-slab, fully-serviced sites for homebuilders?

“We’d see more customised homes that reflect where they are, to higher space standards and to a better quality. We’d see people sharing skills and saving money.

“We’d see neighbours working together on community self build schemes and local construction economies thriving. And we’d certainly see more energy efficient buildings and a wider embracing of green technologies.

“Self build is seen as a long, difficult and self-sacrificing process. But with the right planning, help and support it can be enjoyable and – on collective schemes – empowering.”

National Self Build Association

Chairman of the National Self Build Association Ted Stevens said: “Kevin is a fantastic ambassador for the self build sector, and we’re delighted he has agreed to become our champion.

“He has a real enthusiasm to see new types of self build happen in the UK – and I know he shares our interest in the innovative developments that are taking place in Continental Europe – particularly in the Netherlands and Germany. There are many lessons to be learnt from here that could have a huge impact if we applied some of them in the UK.

“We’re also delighted that he’s agreed to record a short welcome video for the new self build portal that the industry has just launched. This should be up and running in the next few days.

“The portal explains – in a very independent way – all the different ways of undertaking a self build project and helps would-be self builders figure out the best way of tackling a project for the money they have available.”

Link To This Page
1. Click inside the codebox
2. Right-Click then Copy
3. Paste the HTML code into your webpage
codebox
powered by Linkubaitor
Tags:

McCloud recruited for self-build push

May 17th, 2012 1 comment

Government has pledged to double the size of the self-build industry and enlisted TV celebrity Kevin McCloud to promote Custom Build in the same week the Building Societies Association (BSA) publishes a toolkit offering advice on mortgage finance to sector newcomers.

The BSA reports that while one in 10 new homes in the UK are self built and the market generates £3bn annually for the UK economy, our European neighbours easily eclipse these figures. Of all French and German new builds approximately 60% are self-built and in Austria that rises to around 80%.

Nevertheless, describing the sector as “riding the crest of a wave”, housing minister Grant Shapps accompanied McCloud on a UK trade delegation to the Netherlands, to see Europe’s largest low-cost self-build experiment in Europe.

As he announced a £30m fund to provide short-term finance for self-builders, Shapps said: “More people than ever want control over the design and build of their home. But despite this surge, we continue to lag behind the rest of the world. I am determined to change this so anyone who wants to embark on a self-build project has the opportunity to do so.

“That’s why I am delighted Kevin McCloud has agreed to represent the industry, championing the cause of existing and aspiring self-builders across the country, and raising the issues and concerns that matter most to them.

“With the numbers of mortgages for self-build set to increase by a massive 141%, I will be watching with interest to see how further support from lending companies can help spur on this self-build revolution whose time has most definitely come.”

Shapps will write to “key players” in the mortgage market, highlighting the strong business case for lending to self-builders and helping to turn their housebuilding dreams into reality, after surveys showed said that 53% of those asked would be interested in building their own home. Almost two thirds of those said they would like to begin building within the next two years.

In these letters, he will highlight a new BSA toolkit providing information and advice to lenders looking to expand into this growing self-build market.

Kevin McCloud, presenter of Grand Designs (pictured) said: “In the past we have built some of the poorest performing, most expensive and smallest homes in Europe. That’s not something to celebrate.

“But there is another way. What if we became a nation of self builders like the Dutch? What if each household in the UK had the option to build their own place? What if large-scale developers provided finished-slab, fully-serviced sites for homebuilders?

“We’d see more customised homes that reflect where they are, to higher space standards and to a better quality. We’d see people sharing skills and saving money. We’d see neighbours working together on community self build schemes and local construction economies thriving. And we’d certainly see more energy efficient buildings and a wider embracing of green technologies.

“Self build is seen as a long, difficult and self- sacrificing process. But with the right planning, help and support it can be enjoyable and – on collective schemes – empowering.”

BSA head of mortgage policy, Paul Broadhead, added: “Many building societies began life by helping local people fund the building of their homes, so self-build fits well with the mutual lending model. We hope that the lender toolkit will help to promote this more innovative area of lending to more providers.

“The consumer demand is there and the need for additional housing is evident. On top of this the government has committed to maximise access for self-builders to land which is being released as part of its accelerated land-disposals programme and to require local authorities to take positive steps to facilitate this form of building. The barriers to self-build are steadily coming down.”

Self-build facts and figures:

  • 13,800 self-build homes were completed in 2010/11 (DCLG estimate).
  • 400,000 people searched Rightmove in September 2011 alone looking for a building plot.
  • 100,000 people subscribe to one of the main plot-finding websites.
  • 53% of respondents to a YouGov survey said they would be interested in building their own home.
Link To This Page
1. Click inside the codebox
2. Right-Click then Copy
3. Paste the HTML code into your webpage
codebox
powered by Linkubaitor
Tags:

Rics research reveals rise in construction activity levels

May 16th, 2012 Comments off

Activity levels among building firms have begun to improve, the most recent Construction Market Survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) has revealed.

Eight per cent more respondents to the research claimed their workloads rose rather than declined during the first quarter of 2012, which is a significant improvement when compared with the negative ratings for the previous three months.

However, the cost of raw materials continued to grow during the first quarter of the year, while staffing expenditures were reported to have remained static.

Contrasting these positive results, figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed the overall output volume of the construction sector dropped by 4.8 per cent during the first three months of the year when compared with the preceding quarter.

Rics chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said: “Workloads rose across the sector – albeit modestly – and this looks as though it could continue over the next twelve months.”

Link To This Page
1. Click inside the codebox
2. Right-Click then Copy
3. Paste the HTML code into your webpage
codebox
powered by Linkubaitor
Tags:

Efficiency ‘to become even more important’

May 15th, 2012 Comments off

Energy efficiency is likely to become more and more important in the construction of new houses in the immediate future, an expert has indicated.

Granada Secondary Glazing head of sales Ian Hall said it might take a few years before the general public realises what the government is trying to do with the Green Deal.

At the moment, it is more of a “buzz word thing”, he argued.

However, many organisations and people are thinking much more carefully about fuel conservation than they used to do, the specialist pointed out.

“We have all got fuel bills at home that are increasing,” Mr Hall continued.

In the future, energy conservation is likely to become a more important issue, he added.

Rising fuel bills could contribute to this shift, with British Gas parent company Centrica recently warning that power prices are likely to increase in the immediate future.

It suggested the typical household’s annual gas and electricity bill will heighten by £50 this year.

Link To This Page
1. Click inside the codebox
2. Right-Click then Copy
3. Paste the HTML code into your webpage
codebox
powered by Linkubaitor
Tags:

CIOB calls for smarter regulation

May 10th, 2012 1 comment

The Chartered Institute of Building has called for smarter regulation in response to the Government’s proposed changes to the Building Regulations.

Chris Blythe Chief Executive at the CIOB said, “Smarter regulation is not about diluting protection, but about making life easier for businesses who are stifled from over regulation.  Building Control plays an important role but that also needs to be resourced appropriately and we have to find ways to alleviate the pressure on them.”

As part of its call for smarter regulation, CIOB has backed the proposal for an agreed ‘service plan’ that allows better use of building control bodies’ time and resources, and that will also reduce costs and delays for construction companies.

In its response the CIOB supported the removal of fire protection provision in Local Acts, but has urged government to ensure key parts are harmonised nationally to maintain robust fire protection provisions. The Institute has also supported the removal of the Warranty Link Rule, which has proved ineffectual since its introduction in 2005.

The CIOB welcomes a greater emphasis for a ‘fabric first’ approach to Part L, though has highlighted the energy performance gap as an important issue to tackle, from both a Part L and Green Deal perspective. The Institute has strongly encouraged the use of regularly updated user guides for building occupants as a means of tackling this gap and to advise users on how best to operate low carbon technologies in buildings.

“It is vital that there is a joined-up approach across different government initiatives. Recently  the UK Contractors Group made the point that implementation of Part L should link with the work of the Green Construction Board on low carbon build and we would echo that,” continued Blythe.

He added, “It’s difficult to get a coherent direction on green policy and perhaps the government needs less cooks spoiling the broth. The recent decision to reduce solar feed-in tariffs for example impacted on contractors gearing up for an expansion of that market.”

Link To This Page
1. Click inside the codebox
2. Right-Click then Copy
3. Paste the HTML code into your webpage
codebox
powered by Linkubaitor
Tags: