UK construction blog


Archive for August, 2012

Measured Building Surveys- Fast Turnaround

August 31st, 2012 Comments off  is going from strength to strength with work carried out all over the UK and abroad in the last twelve months. Surveys carried out in places like Ukraine, Guernsey and the Isle of man and we even surveyed a small castle in the Midlands, plus, a very unique Convent with a number of Chapels and Churches in the last few months and a Monastary! it gets very interesting.

If you need a measured building survey or even several measured building surveys or a measured building surveyor, then you have come to the right place.  If time is of the essence, or clients time constraints are limited on site, we can accomodate you.

Whether your survey project is large or small, a single house plan of a few square metres up to thousands of square metres or several house plans. building plans or ‘As Built’ plans, anywhere in Europe then we can meet your requirements. We have vast experience of Measured Building Surveysfloor plans and elevational drawings, everything from private homes and domestic premises, apartment blocks, and flats, to churches, ecclesiastical buildings, , charity sites, supermarkets and shopping malls and have carried out measured survey programmes and topographical surveys encompassing hundreds of properties.  A schedule can be drawn up to suit you!

Why not give us a try, call 0871 789 2609 or email us or just as for an online quotation.


Comment is free The deadly scandal in the building trade

August 31st, 2012 Comments off

Construction workers are blacklisted if they say health and safety rules are being flouted, even though many of their colleagues could die or be maimed

Class is everything in Britain. It dictates how the British live and when they die, which children succeed and which fail. Above all else, class imposes silence. Counterfeit controversies obsess the media and politics. When presented with a genuine scandal that cries out for punishment and reform, the talking heads and the professional contrarians say nothing.

Readers would not guess from the “national conversation” that the construction industry is sitting on a story as grave in its implications as the phone-hacking affair – graver I will argue. You are unlikely to have heard mention of it for a simple and disreputable reason: the victims are working-class men rather than celebrities. The parallels between what happened in the news and building businesses are almost exact. As in the media, there was a corporate conspiracy. Sir Robert McAlpine, Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Amec, Skanska, Taylor Woodrow and 34 other construction companies behaved like a secret police force monitoring a subject population. The files of their “Consulting Association” – and what a soothingly bland name they chose – refer to construction companies by a code name.

Anonymous site managers supplied details, often false, of alleged troublemakers in the building trade. Some human resources departments then checked job applicants against the Consulting Association’s records, paying £2 per check for the service, and never told the men they rejected why they had banned them for work. In its pomp, the CA was a busy place. Records suggest McAlpine alone spent £28,000 on checks. By the time the Information Commissioner’s officials seized its database, 3,400 workers were on the blacklist.

As with News International, there are reasonable grounds for suspecting police collusion. The files contain accounts of building workers attending demonstrations against the BNP, which are highly unlikely to have come from construction industry managers. “They read like police reconnaissance reports,” said one investigator for the Information Commissioner, who is also a former police officer. As with News International, there is now a mass legal action. Daniel Boffey, our dogged policy editor, reports in today’s news pages that the first of what may be many claims by blacklisted workers has begun. Eighty-six men are suing Sir Robert McAlpine for £17m in lost earnings. By a neat serendipity, McAlpine not only funded the Tory party but also built the Olympic stadium, so the action doesn’t lack topical resonance. Its lawyers will claim blacklisters’ files contained details of the builders’ political views, attitudes towards health and safety, relationships and friendships, which would make a News of the World hack gasp with envious admiration.

At this point, comparison breaks down. Hacking hurt reputations but it did not threaten lives. Blacklisted workers, by contrast, have shared the anger and amazement of the citizens of dictatorships after a revolution. They have gone through files their employers never meant them to see and marvelled at how malicious minds twisted their past to put them on the dole. Like so many other blacklisted men, Dave Smith, a genuine working-class hero and leader of the campaign against the blacklist, wondered why he could never get work. He would turn up to a site with his friends. The foreman would take on his friends but not him. “By 2000, I couldn’t sleep. I was defaulting on the mortgage and the kids were on milk tokens.” On one occasion, Smith protested after an explosion of compressed air in a tunnel blasted a crater in a school playground. If children had been at school, they would have died. But in the files he found that the spy beside him on the job mentioned only his protests, not the threat to lives.

Construction is a trade where men leave for work in the morning and come back in a coffin at night. Even in 2010-2011, in the middle of a recession and with the construction industry on its knees, 50 died in accidents that might have been preventable. There will be many more coffins when and if growth returns. The construction companies could not be clearer that men who try to enforce minimum safety standards are their enemies. The files included formal letters notifying a company that a worker was the official safety rep on a site as evidence against him.

Construction is a casual industry because companies do not want to employ craftsmen full time: 50% are self-employed and most of the rest are agency workers. Even the British law, so negligent about health and welfare of building workers in many respects, recognises the position of safety reps. The files show that the construction industry sees becoming a rep as grounds for banning workers for life. Even those they label as “not a militant” – and there are many – are on the blacklist because at some point they have spoken about dangers at work.

The blacklisting puts conservative protests about “‘elf and safety” and “political correctness gone mad” in their place. The trouble with political correctness in Britain is that it is not nearly mad enough about cowboy multinationals, which regard the lives of casual labourers as dispensable. Steve Murphy, the general secretary of the builders’ union UCATT, says that business’s influence in politics and the media is having an effect. The coalition has commissioned one Ragnar E Löfstedt, an American academic with a laissez-faire bent, to recommend that self-employed building workers, who pose no threat to others, should be exempt from health and safety rules.

The British Labour movement has inspired few novels. One undisputed classic is The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists. Robert Tressell’s despairing leftwing hero tries to persuade builders of Mugsborough, a fictionalised Hastings, to embrace socialism. The builders won’t listen. They respect their employers as their “betters”, listen to the advice of religious hypocrites and refuse to fight for their own interests. Tressell’s picture of builders welcoming exploitation is not true now and I am not sure if it was true of Edwardian Hastings. Building workers want and need men who will stand up to employers and protect their safety. Naturally, they do not wish to die.

For almost a decade, construction conglomerates blacklisted those who tried to speak on their behalf. In that same period, scores died and hundreds were maimed. It says much about Britain that the loud voices that boom across our media cannot talk about a scandal that is in front of their eyes.


Agnew House upgraded in £1.2m project

August 30th, 2012 Comments off

Kier has delivered a £1.2 million transformation of Agnew House in Gosport.

The Mill Lane building will now become a facility for homeless families and will be known as the Agnew Family Centre.

Local households will be provided with temporary accommodation while they wait for a new residence.

Kier converted 38 of the former flats for the elderly into 55 separate accommodation units, each of which contains its own bathroom and toilet facilities.

Furthermore, there are also 13 communal kitchens, as well as laundry rooms, lifts and CCTV systems.

The units have either one, two or three bedrooms and were designed by architectural firm the Martin Ralph Group to be flexible, so they can be connected to create larger facilities if needed.

“We have used the latest building materials and state-of-the-art equipment to deliver a family centre that is both environmentally friendly and a vital resource for local families,” Kier regional director James O’Donnell said.

Kier Construction has civil engineering, major building and mining capabilities throughout its nationwide network.


CIOB welcomes European Building Expert designation

August 28th, 2012 Comments off

The Chartered Institute of Building welcomes the new European Building Expert (EurBE) designation launched by the Association of European Building Surveyors and Construction Experts (AEEBC).

The new EurBE designation, which is open for CIOB members to apply for, is an opportunity for qualified professionals across Europe to achieve European recognition and accreditation alongside their qualifications.

Saleem Akram a director at the CIOB said, “The CIOB has worked hard to get greater transparency in how the recognition of professional qualifications is implemented, particularly in relation to the professions provided for under the EU Professional Qualifications Directive. These EurBE Professional Cards give construction professionals greater recognition across Europe leading to a fair and transparent mobility system.”

Professionals who are awarded EurBE qualification will be recognised as having met the AEEBC common European wide threshold standards required of a Building Expert. All individual members of the professional institutions and associations that make up the principal members of the AEEBC are eligible to apply. Assessment is based on academic qualifications, professional experience and commitment to comply with the AEEBC Code of Conduct and Ethics.

The professional designation “EurBE” is awarded to candidates who meet the experience and competence requirements of the AEEBC. Applicants are assessed firstly by an AEEBC National Committee in the country in which they operate and secondly by an AEEBC European Committee.

Approved EurBE’s also become EurBE members of the AEEBC. This gives access to information and networking opportunities across European construction and building sectors.


Concurrent Delay – Whose Responsibility?

August 24th, 2012 Comments off

It’s a common story: the project is in delay. Working as a construction solicitor in Manchester it is something I often see. The contractor blames the employer. The employer blames the contractor. There seems to be multiple causes of the delay. Who foots the bill? That’s a toughie but the Walter Lilly case has made things a little clearer.


This dispute had been knocking around since 2005 and the legal costs in the saga totalled £10m against an ultimate award of £2.3m. Giles McKay was a wealthy chap who, along with two other wealthy chaps, purchased a cracking building plot in the well-to-do Chelsea. The three of them set up a company to develop the plot and the idea was that they’d each build a house on the plot but would pool resources through the development company thereby achieving savings.

That didn’t quite work out and Mr McKay ended up engaging the main contractor, Walter Lilly & Company Limited, directly to build his house. There was the usual raft of professionals and consultants involved too.

The job went badly. It got underway in mid-2004 and reached practical completion on 7th July 2008.

The job was also held up by a staggering series of client-driven changes, late information and alleged defects; all the usual stuff. Unsurprisingly, the contractor claimed a full extension of time up to the practical completion date and his costs (“loss and expense”) to cover the extended contract period.

The matter came before the Courts and went all the way to trial. The contractor won; he got his extension of time and loss and expense. Mr McKay lost; he got a bill for £9million in legal costs. In the process, the Judge offered some wise and important words on the issue of “concurrent” delay.

Concurrent delay – what is it?

Let’s start with the basics: what does “concurrent delay” actually mean? Most would understand “concurrency” to mean a situation where two or more overlapping delaying events are both said to be responsible for a delay to the completion date.

To give an example, a construction contract might dictate that the risk of bad weather is the contractor’s risk but the planning risk stays with the employer. But what if a bad weather event and a planning delay happen at the same time such that both delaying events are equally responsible for the delay? Well, you have concurrent delay.

Why is it important?

No one wants to accept responsibility for the late delivery of a project.

From a contractor perspective, if he finishes late, he is exposed to liquidated damages and his own prolongation costs: a costly double blow.

If the employer has to accept responsibility for the delay, he will end up paying the contractor loss and expense and he may well have to compensate others for late delivery, for instance, an incoming tenant. Again, a double blow.

Why is concurrent delay a problem?

Construction contracts don’t expressly deal with a situation where there is concurrent delay, including the major forms like JCT and NEC3. Most simply have a procedure where the contractor is required to give notice and particulars when a delay event happens that is the risk of the employer. The employer (or typically a contract administrator/certifier) will then be under an obligation to assess what extension of time may be due to the contractor.

In making that assessment, the employer may be reluctant to grant the contractor an extension of time if he feels the contractor was in delay because they were under-performing anyway for the same period.

A debate then ensues as to whether the contractor is entitled to any extension of time if he was also in delay for the same period.

The case law

The position under English law has ebbed and flowed somewhat.

Before Walter Lilly, the most significant English case was Henry Boot Construction v Malmaison in 1999. The judge ruled that if there are two concurrent causes of delay, one of which is a Relevant Event, and the other is not, then the contractor is entitled to an extension of time for the period of delay caused by the Relevant Event notwithstanding the concurrent effect of the other event.

The ‘Malmaison’ approach was harsh on employers as it took no account of concurrent delays caused by the contractor. However, it was legally workable and certain and, if there is certainty, parties can price and manage risk accordingly.

Then came City Inn v Shepherd in 2010, a Scottish case so it was not binding on English Courts but the decision certainly had an impact.  Again, this case was under a JCT form. The Scottish Courts decided that if there are concurrent causes of delay, the issue should be approached in a fair and reasonable way and responsibility for the delay should be apportioned as between the Relevant Event and the contractor risk event. In short, the parties share responsibility if there is concurrent delay. This has become known as the “apportionment” approach.


The problem with City Inns

The apportionment approach sounds sensible but it simply doesn’t follow the words of the JCT. The JCT states that when a Relevant Event occurs, the contractor gets his extension of time. There is no scope for apportionment and the words “concurrent delay” or “apportionment” don’t even feature.

Further, whilst an apportionment approach seems like a “common sense” approach, it creates a great deal of uncertainty. With the apportionment approach in play, if a job is delayed, surely the culpable party would inevitably try to identify some form of concurrent delay in an effort to get some of the delay apportioned between itself and its contracting partner. This will only lead to more disputes.

Walter Lilly

Unsurprisingly, Walter Lilly confirms that the English Courts have rejected the apportionment approach. English law favours certainty and upholds the strict words of the contract. The apportionment approach is inconsistent with these general principles.

With these principles in mind, in Walter Lilly the Court dismissed the apportionment approach and went back to Malmaison. If there is a Relevant Event, the contractor gets his extension of time regardless of any concurrent delay that might be his own fault.

In coming to this decision, the Court found that the JCT wording simply did not support the apportionment approach. The JCT forms are pretty clear and whilst the contract administrator is required to grant a “fair and reasonable” extension of time, that does not open the door on apportionment as the City Inns Judge had found. The reference to the contract administrator being required to grant a “fair and reasonable” extension of time simply refers to the fact that the contract administrator must assess the length of the extension of time objectively.

Final thoughts

Walter Lilly seems like a blow for employers who are stuck with under-performing contractors. In time, this is unlikely to prove to be the case as Walter Lilly provides all-important certainty as to responsibility for delay. Employers and contractors can build in the risk of delay more effectively if they know in what circumstances they will be responsible for delay. This is likely to decrease the risk of disputes in the long run. For these reasons, Walter Lilly is good news.

Crafty employers might be thinking that a few subtle tweaks to their chosen T&Cs or contracts could make a contractor responsible for delay in the event of concurrent delay. In other words, some might be thinking a provision could be written into a contract so that if there are concurrent delays, the contractor must share responsibility.

I would advise people not go there. It is unlikely to work because of the “prevention principle”. The prevention principle dictates that an employer cannot benefit from his own act of prevention. In other words, an employer cannot delay a contractor and still require the contractor to meet the original completion date. Many of the Relevant Events in JCT encompass acts of prevention. Any attempt to bypass responsibility for these is likely to result in your extension of time mechanism being struck out and with it go your right to liquidated damages.

Tom Holroyd, expert construction solicitor at Pannone LLP


Taylor Wimpey wins bid to develop Olympic Park neighbourhood

August 22nd, 2012 Comments off

When Taylor Wimpey, one of Britain’s biggest housebuilders, and socialhousing landlord London & Quadrant were picked recently to build the first of five Olympic neighbourhoods in east London, it was the starting gun for a £300m project to create 11,000 new homes over the next two decades.

More than a third will be affordable houses, and will sit alongside new schools, nurseries, playgrounds and health centres – as well as world class sports venues.

The Olympic site – which will be renamed Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – is expected to create 8,000 permanent and 2,500 temporary construction jobs.

Taylor Wimpey and L&Q will build 870 new homes on the 9.3 hectare Chobham Manor site. Nestled between the athletes’ village and the state of the art velodrome, it is occupied during the games by the temporary basketball arena. The two companies will lose no time and start work in October, with the first homes to be ready by 2014. Taylor Wimpey beat off rivals Barratt Homes and East Thames & Countryside Properties.

More than three quarters of the terraced and mews houses, set within tree-lined avenues alongside a new health centre and nurseries, will be family homes with three or more bedrooms. The homes will use infrastructure built for the London games such as the heating and telecoms networks and fibre optic broadband.

Last month the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) won outline planning approval to build 6,800 home across five new neighbourhoods over the next 20 years. They will be staggered so as not to flood the market with new homes at once. The next neighbourhood to benefit is likely to be East Wick.

The athletes’ village itself was sold last year to the Qatari ruling family’s property company and UK developer Delancey. Qatari Diar and Delancey have teamed up to convert the village into 2,818 homes, including 1,000 family homes with three or four bedrooms, as well as a school, shops, bars and parks. The bulk of the residences will be offered as private rental accommodation.

“The development of Chobham Manor is a major milestone and will help ensure a thriving community on the Park becomes a reality sooner rather than later,” said the mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

All but two of the eight permanent Olympic venues have been leased to new operators after the games. A shortlist of four bidders, including West Ham United and Formula One, has been drawn up for the stadium, which is slated to host the 2017 World Athletics Championships. West Ham remain favourites to move into the stadium after the games.

The Olympic Park is likely to attract 9 million visitors a year from 2016, which should offer opportunities for businesses and events, said the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC).

The media centre near Stratford is be transformed into a technology hub, extending east London’s ‘Silicon Roundabout’ from Shoreditch where thousands of technology startups have set up shop in recent years. iCity, which includes Delancey and data centre manager Infinity, has been chosen as the preferred bidder for the 1m square foot site and hopes to attract anything from “garage” start-ups to mature businesses. Half of the 8,000 new jobs are expected to be created here.

The handball arena will become a multisport venue; the Aquatics centre with its two 50m pools will be opened up to the community at normal leisure centre prices; the Orbit, spiralling red sculpture above the site, will remain as a visitor attraction; the Velo Park will remain for track and outdoor cycling and Eton Manor will become a tennis and hockey centre.

The LLDC was set up three years before the games and as a result, legacy plans are more advanced than at any previous Olympic host city, at this stage.


Top five DIY apps to help you spruce up your house

August 20th, 2012 Comments off

Are you looking to revamp your house? If so, why not download one of the many DIY apps available? Each one provides essential information and advice and will help you transform you abode.

Here are five of the best:

DIY Convertor – Blackberry, iPhone, Android

If you want to know how much paint you’ll need for your living room, or how much cement to buy for a conversion – DIY Calculator can help. This handy app works out the amount of materials you’ll need – based on the measurements you provide – and will lower costs, reduce wastage and will ensure you get the equipment you really need.

Woodwork – iPad

Are you into woodwork and design? If the answer’s yes, you’re sure to love the Woodwork app for iPad. It lets you create your next building project in 3D using the basic principles of CAD and is ideal for anyone with a vivid imagination and an enthusiasm for DIY. When you first download the app, you’ll see a blank canvas. You can then drag common lumber pieces into the structure you desire.

Home 3D – iPad

With Home 3D, you can create the house of your dreams in a matter of minutes by choosing rooms and developing your very own floor plan. You can then change the interior of the house by adding furniture or painting the walls – all by experimenting with the various features available. Believe it or not, you can even go into 3D dollhouse mode and virtually walk through the rooms of your new home.

Palettes – iPhone/ iPad

Are you wondering which colours go together? Perhaps you’re trying to find a colour match for your new carpet or suite? If so, the Palettes app for iPhone and iPad could be just what you need. It allows you to grab colours from pictures, magazines and websites and allows you to compare and contrast colours for both exterior and interior projects.


Whether you need to make appliance repairs or arrange a boiler service with a reputable company, 2Do can help. With this excellent application you can make virtual lists, prioritise jobs and set alarms with just a few clicks of a button. You can even attach images and colour-code your lists – making this a must-have app for DIY fans.

Make the most of technology and start making high-quality home improvements.



August 17th, 2012 Comments off

Construction professionals are actively embracing mobile technology, according to construction industry analyst Glenigan, enabling them to reach swifter decisions, increase productivity and provide greater intelligence to their clients while out and about or on-site.

Glenigan has seen almost 2,000 people download its new Glenigan Mobile app since it was launched on 25 June 2012. The app gives subscribers access to Glenigan’s extensive construction market database, enabling users to access the details of on-site projects and those which are in the development pipeline. Details including a project’s value, sector, status, and the companies and contacts involved are also accessible. Glenigan Mobile utilises the latest smart-phone GPS technology to offer users crucial information based on their actual location in the field – potentially changing the very way they work and increasing their productivity.

Stuart Chamberlain, Product Manager at Glenigan, commented:

“The construction industry is traditionally seen as very ‘muddy boots and hard hats’ but this is a misnomer:  the industry has a very positive attitude towards new technology and embraces new tools when they become available, such as Building Information Modelling. Our aim with the app is to give people access to the data they require when and where they need it, whether they are surveyors, development directors, suppliers, contractors or designers.

“We’ve seen a rapid uptake in the use of the app since it was launched. Having essential market intelligence at your fingertips is essential. The app’s popularity shows how the B2B community, and the construction industry in particular, is waking up to the importance of mobile technology and how apps aren’t just a fun way to pass the time on a boring commute or to catch up on the headlines, but can really give you the edge over your competitors.”

The Glenigan app is available to download on iPhone, Android and BlackBerry and has the following key features:

  • Hot List: lists new and updated projects, favourites and nearby projects; offers access to ‘My Tags’ and ‘Company Tags’ functionality.
  • Search: Glenigan’s extensive project and company database can be searched by town, postcode, current location, company, sector, value or status; project search results can be displayed as a list or as a map.
  • Projects: the full details of projects can be accessed, including value, materials and the lead company; projects can be tagged or added to favourites with notes added if required.
  • Contacts/Companies: displays the companies and contacts working on each project; contacts can be called, emailed and added to contacts directly from the app.

A subscription is required to Glenigan’s services in order to access the app.  A video demonstrating functionality can be found at


Users have commented on the app’s ease of use when out and about, with the following comments received:

  • “Amazing useful tool, works everywhere thanks.”
  • “Very handy on the move”
  • “I like the nearby function – very handy.”

The app can be downloaded from the following links:




Budgeting ‘a vital part of self builds’

August 16th, 2012 Comments off

People planning to construct their own home ought to start by creating a budget.

Build It magazine editor Anna-Marie DeSouza argued this ought to be completed before the developer even begins looking for a plot.

She suggested using stage payment mortgages, as these provide access to finance throughout different stages of the project.

Self-builders should work out exactly how much money they will need, before adding 15 per cent of this as a “sizable contingency fund”, which they must not dip into unless unexpected costs arise.

The specialist claimed costings software or quantity surveyors can help people to estimate the cost of the project.

People should then stick to their budget and ensure cash is ready to be released at the time they need, the expert added.

“Nothing will bring work to a halt faster than not being able to pay sub-contractors or materials suppliers,” she declared.

Many building societies have begun to create mortgage products for self-builders, with housing minister Grant Shapps urging lenders to support this market.


HSE launches investigation into scaffolding

August 14th, 2012 Comments off

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is to examine scaffolds in construction sites throughout Warwickshire, Worcestershire and the West Midlands during the next three weeks.

This forms part of a safety drive the public body is launching in an attempt to reduce the number of people who die or are injured as a result of accidents in the workplace.

HSE inspectors will examine smaller refurbishment and construction sites that are using scaffolding and will target those deemed to be performing poorly.

Between 2006 and 2010, three people died and 250 were injured in Warwickshire, the West Midlands and Worcestershire as a result of incidents involving mobile or fixed scaffolds.

According to the HSE, scaffolds on building sites should be checked when they are first erected and then every week until they are taken down.

“Scaffolding still poses a significant risk to those involved in its construction and dismantling, as well as those who use it,” said HSE principal inspector Jo Anderson, who is leading the initiative.