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Once Derelict Liverpool Properties Become Eco-Homes

July 31st, 2013 Comments off

A £4m housing scheme on Liverpool’s Boot Estate has transformed 74 derelict properties earmarked for demolition a decade ago into quality eco-homes. Liverpool Mutual Homes (LMH) has overhauled the three-bedroom properties as part of the Ellergreen Development.

refurbished Liverpool ecohomes

The project was financed via resources from LMH, funds from the Community Energy Saving Programme – a subsidy from an energy company in return for carbon reduction savings – and a £750,000 contribution from Liverpool City Council.

The homes feature a range of green technologies that will reduce tenant’s fuel bills and cut carbon emissions by 3,000 tonnes making them more efficient than new build house regulations demand.

Solar panels have been fitted to some roofs to provide electricity and ‘A’ rated double-glazed windows and doors installed to retain heat.

Ventilation heat recovery systems and LED lights were fitted to a selection of properties.

New roofs were fitted and lofts insulated. Electrics were re-wired while dual-flush cisterns and efficient taps have been installed to reduce water consumption.

Top specification central heating systems add to the energy efficiency.

Properties were stripped out and remodelled to meet modern needs with open-plan living designs, utility rooms and downstairs toilets introduced.

Executive-standard Manhattan kitchens were fitted while bathrooms include eco-baths by Kaldewei, modern pottery and Grohe taps, showers and fittings.

Gardens at the front and rear have been landscaped with new fences and walls erected to create a homely feel along with newly constructed driveways and porches.

In 2000, the properties were consigned to meet the wrecking ball due to structural defects being identified only for the work to stall on several occasions.

When LMH took over the management of Liverpool City Council’s remaining 15,000 homes in 2008, it began a programme of bringing empty homes back into use.

Central to the work was the use of a special cladding to wrap the properties to make them structurally secure, improve their appearance, and provide thermal insulation.

Chief Executive at LMH, Steve Coffey, said: “Up until the 1980s, the Boot Estate was a desirable and much sought-after place to live, famous for its close-knit community spirit that so typifies good neighbourhoods in Liverpool.

“Having grown up on the estate when it was in its prime, I know what a great place it can be so I’m delighted to see it starting to be not only restored to its former glory but improved considerably.

“The homes have been completely modernised for the 21st century with open-plan living designs and a wide range of energy efficient products that will save people a significant amount of money in fuel bills.

“The specification of the finish is extremely high, meeting executive home standards. Visually, the difference to the community is incredible, transforming a blot on the landscape into an attractive, modern housing development. The work forms part of the wider Ellergreen Development and people can once again be proud to call the area ‘home’.”

Cabinet Member for Housing at Liverpool City Council, Councillor Ann O’Byrne, said: “Housing regeneration continues to gather pace in Norris Green, and the completion of this fantastic scheme is another important piece in the jigsaw.

“It’s wonderful to see these empty properties brought back into use as beautiful, modern, energy-efficient family homes – and it’s great news that all the houses are already fully let. We want to build strong, thriving and sustainable communities, and the success of this scheme is proof that by investing in our housing – and working in partnership to deliver the quality of homes people want – we can make great strides in attracting people back into our neighbourhoods.”

Norris Green councillor, Alan Walker, said: “LMH’s refurbishment in partnership with the city council is truly transformational and has lifted the whole community.”

The scheme contributed to LMH being named the ECHO Environment Awards’ Environmental Business of the Year.

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Groundworks contractor in administration

July 30th, 2013 Comments off
Midlands-based groundworks specialist PGC Contractors Ltd is in administration.

Insolvency specialist Ninos Koumettou of Alexander Lawson Jacobs was appointed administrator on 17 July.

PGC Contractors has been in operation for 18 years. According to its website, it was turning over £8-10m a year from 11 clients, including Vinci, Tolent, Kier, John Sisk and Thomas Vale.

It took on a wide range of groundworks projects, including retaining walls and flood defences, as well as reinforced concrete frames up to four storeys and bridge works.

Sister company Trafalgar Hire is believed to be unaffected.

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Crane crash causes delays

July 30th, 2013 Comments off

A mobile crane crashed in to a concrete barrier on London’s M25 in the UK over the weekend closing it down for a short period. The incident occurred on the orbital highway’s anti-clockwise direction between Junction eight and nine in Surrey.

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The crane a five axle Grove GMK250 is owned by Bronzeshield Crane Hire, fortunately no one was hurt in the incident.

An investigation into what happened is underway

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Guide to Starting up a Building Business

July 29th, 2013 Comments off

View interactive version – click on the image

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House building powers to be given to tenants

July 26th, 2013 Comments off

An increase in house building could be on the cards in certain areas, thanks to new legislation being brought into force by the government that will give social tenants the power to boost house building in their area.

Right to Transfer, which is coming into force in the autumn, will mean that tenants can take control over future investment into their communities by requesting new homes to be built.

The plans will work alongside the £19.5bn public and private investment to build 170,000 affordable homes by 2015, and plans in the Spending Review to invest £3.3bn to deliver 165,000 affordable homes over 3 years from 2015 – equivalent to the fastest annual rate of housebuilding for 20 years.

As part of the deal, housing associations will need to show plans in place that will lead to the building of new affordable homes and the improvement of existing stock.

Housing minister Mark Prisk said: “Combined with the multi-billion pound investment we’re making, these steps will help ensure we reach the fastest annual rate of housebuilding for two decades, delivering the affordable homes this country needs, and putting real power into the hands of local people who live in them.”

The new rights will also let social tenants who want to see their homes owned, managed and maintained by a housing association rather than a council, request for a change of ownership.

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Silverdale wound up with 26 jobs lost

July 24th, 2013 Comments off

Staffordshire-based bathroom products supplier Silverdale has been wound up with the loss of 26 jobs after administrators failed to find a buyer for the business.

Matt Ingram, who ,last month was appointed joint administrator of the Newcastle-under-Lyme business with fellow Duff & Phelps colleague John Whitfield, said he regretted having to close the business, but said new orders had dried up since the company had gone into administration.

He said: “The resulting loss of turnover meant that the business was incurring unsustainable losses, which left us with no option but to close the doors.”

He said it was still possible the bathroom manufacturing could return to the site, as the infrastructure remains in place.
“However, at present, we do not have anyone indicating such interest and consequently our agents are exploring all possible strategies to realise value for the company’s assets,” he said.

Before its demise, Silverdale manufactured and marketed bathroom products under three brands – BC Sanitan, Jacuzzi Ceramic and Silverdale.

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Three top tips for improving safety in warehouses

July 23rd, 2013 Comments off

Three top tips for improving safety in warehouses

Safety should never be an afterthought, or even worse completely ignored, in a warehouse. These large facilities are filled with people every single day, not to mention all the equipment that is used, the complex tasks that go on within their walls and the vehicles that are driven around to complete deliveries.

To ensure that everyone is kept out of danger and accidents are prevented wherever possible, make sure to bear these three important safety points in mind:

  1. 1.       Provide everyone with adequate safety equipment

There are so many tasks that go on inside a typical warehouse where safety equipment is essential.

Anyone who is working with loud machinery must protect their ears from permanent damage, while eyewear is appropriate for such tasks as sawing and drilling – there is always the chance a wood chip or a shard of metal will fly up towards the face without warning.

For those working around the exterior of a warehouse at night, wearing a high-visibility jacket will ensure they are seen by anyone operating vehicles or heavy machinery.

Provide any guests to a site with the same clothing – people who work at a facility may not realise that someone is viewing their work, so it’s best to make them aware in as many ways as possible.

  1. 2.       Never ignore safety hazards

Playing the ignorance game where safety is concerned is a very risky move. Failing to rectify an issue that one person has spotted may end up putting someone else in serious peril.

Act fast by filling in any cracks and pits that have appeared on a warehouse’s flooring, before they develop into a bigger problem or someone injures themselves by tripping on the hazards.

Speaking of flooring, leaving items lying around on the ground is something else that should definitely be avoided. The staff member who has left something lying on the floor will be aware it’s there, but it’s unlikely that the rest of the warehouse staff will realise, and they could easily trip over an object and injure themselves.

If there is not enough space around a workshop to store these extra items, invest in some industrial shelving units instead. A&B Industrial Services stock a diverse selection of shelves, ranging from general units for stationery and heavy-duty equipment to specific designs perfect for stacking files and small mechanical parts neatly and tidily.

  1. 3.       Point staff and guests in the right direction

One of the best ways to avoid an accident at work is to make sure everyone is aware of a potential hazard. Therefore, warehouse owners should never be afraid to put up labels and danger signs wherever it is appropriate or necessary – safety always comes before aesthetic appeal.

If dangerous materials are stored in a certain part of a warehouse, for instance, put a label on the door leading into this area that states a message along the lines of ‘Danger: Controlled Access Zone’.

Wet floor signs will alert people that the area they are about to walk across could be slippery, though if it is too much of a hazard it might be best to limit access with tape until the problem has been resolved.

Although no one wants to think about it, fire can quickly jeopardize an entire warehouse. Be prepared for a worst case scenario by plainly marking the directions to all fire exits – these must be clear to access, it is against the law to block them – and have labels directing people to fire extinguishers and blankets.

Gov.uk has a comprehensive fire safety risk assessment guide that people responsible for safety in warehouses should take the time to read.

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Mass walkouts over excessive temperatures not feasible

July 23rd, 2013 Comments off

Specialist air conditioning hire firm, Andrews Sykes, has responded to MPs’ Early Day Motion to introduce a new law for maximum temperatures in the workplace.

According to Andrew Sykes, while Linda Riordan, MP for Calderdale, is right to raise the issue of workplace temperature, her approach in pushing for a law requiring bosses to send staff home if workplaces get hotter than 30°C puts unreasonable pressure on hard pressed businesses.

Stewart Owen, marketing manager at Andrews Sykes, said: “If MPs’ objective is to pressurise employers in to providing decent, appropriate and comfortable working environments in order to prevent mass walkouts, it certainly has merit. But a more workable solution is to initially provide a set of industry-specific guidelines, allowing employers the opportunity to put measures in place to make the workplace a more tolerable temperature.”

He continued: “Excessive heat is of course dangerous and every effort should be made to control the indoor climate during a heatwave, but we have reservations that this motion has not been adequately considered.

“In today’s economic climate, it is simply not feasible to even consider allowing workers to down tools and of course there are industries where that’s just not possible.

“This plan contains practical guidelines to ensure organisations remain operational even in extreme conditions. We have absolute sympathy for anyone working in unreasonable conditions but mass walkouts are surely not reasonable, practical or sustainable in the long term,” he concluded.

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Hire Jungle

July 22nd, 2013 Comments off

 Hire Jungle

 

Hire Map Final

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Rightmove Doubles Annual UK Home Price Growth Outlook

July 18th, 2013 Comments off

house-up-graphProperty website Rightmove has raised its forecast for annual British home price growth after housing witnessed a seventh consecutive month of price increases in July.

Rightmove expects 4% growth in house prices in 2013, up from the previous forecast for a 2% growth, as the sector experiences a broader-based recovery fuelled by the ‘aggregation of marginal gains’.

The website added that asking prices increased 0.3% on month in July to £253,658 ($383,024, €293,090). From the year-ago month, home asking prices increased by 4.8%, with all regions’ prices increasing for the first time in nearly three years.

“The market is currently benefitting from the ‘aggregation of marginal gains’ where incremental improvements across a range of market drivers help to slowly but surely build momentum,” Miles Shipside, Rightmove director said in a statement.

“Rightmove’s lead indicators show increasing enquiries to agents and developers, new sellers and marketing prices. An important signal for a broader-based and sustainable recovery is that all regions of the country now have higher prices than a year ago”.

Consumer confidence has also increased as the number of home-movers, anticipating average prices to be higher in next 12 months, has increased to 62% from 31% a year ago.

On the demand side, the number of transactions on Rightmove website increased by 5% in the year-to-date period. Meanwhile, email enquiries to agents and developers increased by 18% on 2012, as the surveyors are “struggling to cope” with demand.

The improvement also underlines HMRC’s recent data saying house transactions increased by 5% on 2012 and the Bank of England’s figures for mortgage approvals that are up 6% on last year.

Funding for Lending and Help to Buy

Rightmove added that the current borrowing environment is boosted by governmental measures, such as the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS) and the Help to Buy Scheme.

The FLS has eased mortgage rates and increased loan availability while the Help to Buy, currently available for new build only, is capturing prospective buyers’ interest.

Last year, the Bank of England launched the FLS that helped banks to provide loans at lower interest rates to businesses and individuals.

In addition, the government’s Help to Buy Scheme, launched earlier this year, has helped first-time buyers with eased mortgage rules. The number of loans given to first-time buyers increased by 41.8% year-on-year to 25,100 in May,the Council of Mortgage Lenders reported earlier.

“The ability to borrow is increasing as the Funding for Lending Scheme starts to really deliver, though it still favours those with better deposits. Lenders are squeezing their margins and, with the prospect of no base rate rise for three years, consumers are increasingly aware of moving options rather than debt burden,” Shipside added.

“The Help to Buy scheme, the centre-piece of the last Budget, has already created a marked upturn in the new-build market as recently reported in some developers’ trading updates.”

In addition, markets do not expect an increase in base rate until the latter half of 2016, said the property website.

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