UK construction blog

Archive

Archive for March, 2015

Sheffield launches £480m city centre plan

March 30th, 2015 Comments off

Sheffield city council has unveiled plans for a £480m retail quarter to transform the city centre.

The ambitious plan designed by Leonard Design Architects comprises 900,000 sq ft of mixed-use accommodation.

This will predominantly by retail and leisure led, but also includes over 200,000 sq ft of residential and office space.

Sheffield City Council has been assessing the best way forward for the retail quarter since ending a partnership with developer Hammerson in 2013.

It plans to part fund the scheme from the New Deal with Government to use tax incremental financing.

sheffieldNRQAerialSimon Green, Sheffield City Council’s Executive Director – Place said: “This is the right time for Sheffield.

“We sit at the heart of the devolution debate; we have an ambitious plan for growth; and we are delivering a series of enhancements to our city and public spaces through partnerships with universities, commercial real estate, homes and our hospitals.

“In the coming months we will launch the world leading Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District. All routes lead to the need for an improved and vibrant city centre with retail and leisure at its heart.”

Martin McKervey, partner at Nabarro and Sheffield City Region LEP board member added: “This new and exciting opportunity is a further endorsement of the confidence we must all have in the city following the interesting developments in progress such as the £65m Chinese inward investment plan for New Era Square, the new Olympic Legacy Park in the Don Valley and the University of Sheffield’s Factory 2050, which will build a £43m centre of excellence for advanced manufacturing.

“Sheffield is indeed an attractive investment opportunity and we have a platform to build on this.”

Sheffield City Council is now talking to potential strategic development partners to help deliver the new scheme by 2019 and expects to announce a partner this Autumn.

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:

Go-ahead for £27m Royal Opera House revamp

March 27th, 2015 Comments off

Westminster City Council has approved a £27m scheme to ‘open up’ the Royal Opera House in London.

Construction manager Rise will oversee the project which has been designed by architect Stanton Williams in collaboration with Arup.

The plans make the entrances and street-level public spaces of the Royal Opera House more open and inviting to the public.

Existing spaces, such as the Linbury Studio Theatre and Foyer will be transformed, a new terrace off the Paul Hamlyn Hall will be created and other spaces developed to make the creative, technical and education work of the Royal Opera House more visible.

Work expected to start by the end of this year and take two years to complete.

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:

Flashing hi-vis vests to improve site safety

March 25th, 2015 Comments off

Flashing hi-ves vests are being developed to warn workers of potential dangers on sites.

SmartVest-med-190x127The SmartVest contains strips of LED lights which flash different colours to warn workers of particular hazards.

The vests have been developed by software specialist 3Squared and link-up to its site management system.

Workers will be alerted with flashing lights to dangers like oncoming trains on rail sites.

Lights will also warn operatives when they enter a dangerous site zone as mapped out on the 3Squared ‘SmartSafe’ virtual zone management platform.

Tim Jones, Managing Director of 3Squared, said: “The SmartVest concept innovatively and creatively takes an established product with existing safety benefits into the 21st Century.

“We are very excited about what this could mean for construction and infrastructure workers in terms of enhancing their safety on site.”

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:

Necessity of Rock Salt in the winter and Profitable Handling Practices

March 24th, 2015 Comments off

Each winter the demand for de-icing products spikes significantly as winter is harsher each year.

Two of the most common de-icing products are brown and white gritting rock salt. Both products are effective in managing the buildup of ice on roads and pavements and both can be easily spread. In fact, in a short amount of time these rock salts can cover quite a large area. Also, both are cost efficient and effective.

Salt works by lowering the melting point of ice. When salt mixes with any moisture or water, a saline solution is created (salty water). This saline solution will freeze at a lower point than fresh water, making it more difficult for ice to form.

Brown Rock Gritting Salt

Brown rock salt is just as effective as white rock salt in preventing formation of ice on surfaces. It is preferred by many as it provides better traction. It is very useful for gritting driveways, paths, car parks and roads in the winter time. As the brown salt thaws the ice its large particles provide traction under foot, this helps ensure pathways are safe to walk on. One advantage of brown rock salt is that you can clearly see which surfaces are safe to walk on, therefore preventing a serious injury from occurring as a result of wintery weather. Some will say that brown rock salt has its disadvantages. It does have the potential to leave stains on some surfaces and has a visible residue once melted. Some look at this left over gritty residue as an advantage.

White Rock Salt

White rock salt is known to have higher concentrations of sodium bicarbonate than brown rock salt, which allows it to dissolve snow in a shorter period of time. Once the snow dissolves it lowers the waters freezing point which makes it difficult for ice to form. It also becomes almost invisible to the naked eye once it melts, therefore it does not affect the aesthetics of a surface or leave a gritty residue behind.

Proven to be Effective and Cost-Efficient

Many wonder if they purchase rock salt for concrete or for melting ice or for other uses as well and have an amount left over at the end of the season if it can be used for the next season. The answer is yes, which makes it even more cost-efficient. Rock salt has been forming in the ground for hundreds of millions of years, therefore it is sustainable. However, it does need to be stored in a dry area and in a closed bag/container if possible. This is to prevent the salt from dissolving. The salts also contain an anti-caking agent which is added and works by preventing it from clumping together even if it should become exposed to some moisture.

The wintery roads, walkways, car parks, and paths are best maintained by either brown rock salt grit or white rock salt. They are proven to be effective and can be stored for later use giving the added benefit of being cost-effective.

Author Biography:
As the winters become harsher, Kim McPherson researches way to maintain safety while outdoors. She enjoys sharing this information with her readers in hopes of keeping them safe as well.

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:

Fresh wave of invoice fraud hits contractor

March 23rd, 2015 Comments off

Main contractor Speller Metcalfe has been hit by a fresh wave of con-artists attempting to trick clients into sending payments to fraudster bank accounts.

In the last week swindlers have written to two housing association clients telling them to amend the firm’s bank details for payments.

The builder has issued a warning so that other firms do not fall foul of the latest out-break of attacks.

The industry was hit by a major case of what is known as mandate fraud several years ago when the Olympic Delivery Authority was conned out of £2.3m.

A spokesman for Speller Metcalfe warned that the latest attempts are becoming more sophisticated, using company logos and project names to make them seem convincing.

Speller Metcalfe and another external partner firm were victims of a similar attack last summer.

The spokesman said: “The first letter sent to a client in Cheltenham contained a few errors but was passable insofar as our client had changed the bank details to those of the fraudulent request and was about to pay out.

“It was only when Speller Metcalfe chased payment and the client confirmed they would send payment to the new bank details that the fraud was identified.”

He said that the second attack proved more sophisticated. A letter was received by a Birmingham-based client attached to an email, which would have read almost perfectly to someone external to Speller Metcalfe.

It came with a fake letterhead, professional approach and tone and forged signature.

Follow-up phone calls were even made to make sure they had received the letter and to confirm the change of account details.

Luckily for Speller Metcalfe, a sharp-minded purchase ledger clerk working for the client flagged up an error in the address on the letter with the finance director – just before the exchange of a significant sum.

The director then called Speller Metcalfe’s accounts team and confirmed existing account details. No money was lost and the incident was investigated by the police.

Andrew James, Partner & Head of Construction and Engineering at Harrison Clark Rickerbys solicitors, said: “Unfortunately this type of fraud and also more sophisticated cybercrime is on the increase, and clients and contractors need to be vigilant.

“For the paying party this can be a real issue because it can still remain liable to pay the original debt, and effectively it could have to pay twice in the knowledge that it will face a difficult claim against the fraudsters.

“In practice, companies do not often change bank accounts, and therefore if you receive such a notification, however genuine it may appear, always get specific confirmation from a current director of  the receiving party – preferably both by telephone and in writing – that you are authorised to pay into the new account.”

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 Housing Crisis, a Potential Answer and the Complex World of Drains

March 20th, 2015 Comments off

It seems that hardly a day goes by without the news featuring a significant proportion of column space to the ongoing housing crises within the UK. Such a crisis in then only emphasised when we consider a few facts and figures. According statistics referenced by the BBC and CBI only 15,698 affordable homes where built between 2011 and 2012 and with the shortfall of homes expected to be around one million, the crisis doesn’t look set for resolution anytime soon. This is then emphasised by there being a growing social housing waiting list with ever more bloated rental prices, with 1.69 million households upon the list to date and a significant jump in affordable housing rent of 7% to £78.78 per week (Gov.uk 2013).

With such a political hot potato it’s then little wonder that this topic is being weighed up as seriously influential to voting decisions, and as political parties outline their position. We take a look at the effect one such answer to the problem might have on the economy, and upon tradesmen.

A General Election Promise

As political parties continue to go head to head in the run up to the election, one recent announcement by the Tories has added further bolster to their previous promise of 100,000 starter homes for those under 40 and that is their commitment to building a further 200,000 starter homes by 2020.

For the economy, this could specifically mean that the jobs market is boosted, as well as the housing market, as it continues its improvement from the successive dips in value that had been experienced over the previous 5 years. As a drain installation company, or indeed any trade that surrounds the serving or building of homes, such a massive project would indeed provide both work and affluence: always great news following the recent years of relative financial uncertainty.

London, A Mass Housing Development and Drains under pressure

Despite the overall positive effects of such a large housing project, such schemes are not without challenge in the eyes of the tradesmen. J Snow London Drainage, a repairs engineer for some of London borough councils highlighted on the starter home commitment, “this will require particular skill as well as meticulous investigations as city drains are struggling to cope with the growing influx.”

To appreciate this, let us provide a little background: London is known for having one of the older drainage and sewage systems in Europe, indeed, the “great city” was the first to install ‘modern’ sewage, as the region literally steamed ahead during the industrial revolution. These systems very often still stand today, with many parts dating back to installation in the late 19th Century. Needless to say the maintenance costs associated with such a system easily runs into its thousands, even when working within a relatively isolated part of the system.

When we connect new drains, the old ones will then need thorough investigation to establish just what condition the supporting system is in; following this we would either connect the system up, or update the old system so that it could cope with what are to be pretty significant demands.

This then means that any housing development within London would require significant investigations, however a project that will likely emerge if the 200,000 home promise goes ahead, would then prove to be an unprecedented, but welcome, challenge for our team of experts.

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:

Purchasing a building survey: what are you paying for?

March 19th, 2015 Comments off

Auction houses for cheap property is an attractive proposition for those who are looking to build their property portfolio. Transparency is integral and never more so than from your building survey. It seems that this element of purchasing property has long since suffered from a vague and often misunderstood purpose. So what does this then means for the conscientious property developer.  a-g

The modern property developer and their legal and financial challenges

According to the Home Owners Alliance, only 20% of buyers think they need to get a survey no matter what the condition of age of property they are buying, is this ignorance or experience? As a property developer, you success will be in the finances, but that doesn’t mean you need to purchase a building survey report, but depending on your research and legal pack from the auction, you shouldn’t scrimp, if it meant protecting you from letting out he property safely.

What you’re paying for: An almost complete property picture

There are 3 surveys, all of which are not necessary and should not be confused with a mortgage lending valuation.

The type of survey option you decide to choose can hugely depend on the age of the property. Specifically, the most comprehensive building survey includes the following considerations:
– Analysis of the structural elements and overall condition of the property,
– A complete list of potential defects and advice as to how these can be repaired,
– Assessment of hidden areas such as the attic and under the floorboards,
– An estimate as to how costly any repairs would be (this is very often an add on service however).

What you are not paying for: A search for a killer

Many understandably presume that building surveys would include an investigation as to the risk of asbestos, after all, this substance was used to make many materials because of its incredible molecular bond. According to the Guardian, properties have a 50% chance of harbouring hidden asbestos. Without prior knowledge about the substance, it could result in removing the asbestos illegally. Asbestos was banned between 1985 and 1999 and therefore was present in properties even as recent as 1980’s.

Buying property should always be investigated for safety. As for asbestos, the list of uses is endless and to find out where the substance could be hiding, Malrod asbestos surveyors have included an investigations checklist in the standard building survey for property buyers.

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:

Line marking – there is a right way!

March 18th, 2015 Comments off

While some reports say we are finally seeing the light in between the trees out of recession times, others would disagree and still see heavy public and private sector cuts, meaning the recession is still very much among us. When hiring contractors to provide a service, it is important to do your research. You may want to consider the following questions like do they have a good reputation for the work they deliver. Have the worked with similar clients in your industry. Whilst you may collect a number of quotes which may be priced differently, it is important to find out if the price reflects the quality and use BIL Castor Wheels

Line marking contractors KVR Coatings have over 30 years of lining and floor coating expertise and an extensive portfolio including Swansea Football, Marks and Spencers and Aldi. MD at KVR, Mark Loughton provides some examples of line marking installation that went badly wrong.

When it comes to line marking, you would think that there would be only way to get the job done, and that one company is just as good as another.

That reasoning is not true for any industry, and it certainly isn’t true here either. For one thing, wherever there is human involvement, there will always be the temptation to cut corners. Some people don’t give those temptations a second thought, because perfection is second nature to them, others however just can’t help themselves.

The case of the napping tree…

This line marker is so considerate, he even left this fallen tree alone so that it could finish its nap in peace. Did he wait patiently for the tree to wake up and move off? No, but that would have been preferable to this.

white line

What really baffles the mind, is that if you look closely, you can clearly see a small wobble just before the tree… It looks as though the painter hesitated, thought “this might be a bad idea” and just carried on regardless!

Taking just one moment out of his day to move that tree, would have been far more preferable than this.

Can you walk in a straight line, sir?

Regardless of occupation, drinking on the job is never advisable… But when the consequences of your actions are going to be displayed for the whole world to see, and for years later on down the line, then maybe that ‘one for road’ the night before is not such a great idea.

white lines & hill

We’re not sure of the intention here, or even if there was one. Whatever happened, and whatever the cause, you can bet the local authority responsible for those roads wish they had hired somebody else!

Dictionary Corner

Once in a while, most people will spell a word wrong, and sometimes it may happen frequently. The difference is, though, that most people can edit and correct the text they have entered, but for line markers, it just isn’t that simple. If only there was a way.

school

Line painters need to be perfect with their spelling, though, and they can’t break out the correction fluid if they make a mistake. If you have road markings that have to be spelled correctly, make your hiring decision wisely.

Aside from the amusing mishaps, there is a serious lesson to be learned. Road markings were first introduced to the world in 1911, by a chap named Edward Hines. Mr Hines got the idea for a centre line after observing a leaky milk wagon leave a white trail behind it.

No doubt realising how it could make the road easier to navigate in low light, he wasted no time in putting his road marking plan into action.

Line markings have been helping to save the lives of road users ever since, and it is just as important now, as it was then that they are done properly. Getting the line straight, and in the right place just isn’t enough – it has to be bright and durable too.

There is no room for corner cutting when it comes to public safety, and every care should be taken to make sure that things are done properly, to spec and to the highest standard possible – whether it is road markings, or car park spacing.

If that means not always opting for the lowest bidder, then why not? Safety and professionalism can’t always be bought for budget prices.

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 UK’s first Eco-Town

March 17th, 2015 Comments off

Production has started into building the UK’s first Eco-Town which will be situated in North West Bicester, Oxfordshire. The project which will see up to 6,000 sustainable homes being built is part of a long term eco-friendly drive known as the “Exemplar”.

The initial construction involves the production of 33 homes in the area. Each one will be highly efficient and produce zero carbon making this the first true zero carbon community in the UK. In addition, the development will boast 40% green space which is well above the national average.

Mark Fielding MD at Cotaplan building systems highlighted on the project, “Like ourselves, A2dominiona have a vision to transform the way communities live and use accommodation in a sustainable way.  Cotaplan are glad to see other companies pushing the boundaries and the new eco town will save hundreds of CO2 emissions, provide exceptional quality of life for residents, without compromising the needs of our future generations.”

Whilst many developments have claimed to be eco-friendly and have made various commitments to lowering carbon emissions, the Exemplar is unique in a number of ways.

The Government have set policies and procedures which planning commissions must adhere to in order to consider themselves true “eco-towns”. The Exemplar is the first to follow this and earn themselves the title. This means that as well as being true zero carbon, the homes within the Exemplar will have triple glazing, will harvest rainwater and recycle all water. Every home will be fitted with PV solar panels at an average of 34m² per property. This will make the Exemplar the UK’s largest residential solar powered area. The heat and hot water for each property will come from a combined heat and power plant (CHP) whilst any excess power will be exported back to the National Grid.

They will also maintain these high standards during construction including a guarantee that no waste will be transferred to landfill. Only the 2012 Olympic construction has so far been able to fulfil this guarantee.

The aim of providing the 40% green space is to encourage the community to follow outdoor lifestyles and as well as play areas, there will be community allotments and wildlife areas. Finally, residents will be encouraged to use more energy efficient modes of transportation. In addition to bus services, cycling and pedestrian pathways throughout the area, there will also be charging points for electric cars and an electric car club set up throughout the community.

Representatives for the developers have spoken of their hopes that the project will blend real community and family values with the need for progress as far as economical and environmental living was concerned. Steve Hornblow the Project Director commented “The Exemplar vision will be a vibrant and spirited community where people will be neighbours. We have though about how people interact in a community space, so have incorporated communal activities like barbecue areas, micro allotments and features to encourage children to play safely. We want believe the sustainable living approach should be realistically, by providing the tools to benefit from a real community environment and access to the latest green technologies that will reduce living costs long term.”

In addition to the recognition of the Exemplar by the UK Government, it has also received international applause and was recently awarded BioRegional, a One Planet Living Status. This makes it one of only seven developments worldwide to do so and is a testament to the progress in sustainability the developers are making.

The Exemplar will welcome its’ first residents in Spring 2015, and Cotaplan is delighted to see the popularity and plaudits the project is amassing.

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:

5 things to look out for when buying an older property

March 16th, 2015 Comments off

With the UK pushing ahead full force with housing developments up and down the country to meet the ever growing demand, it seems that architecture has become somewhat homogeneous. For many, such a landscape of properties serve only to blend into a pool of choices that are all depressingly the same, which leads them to search for older properties which boast character features from decades gone by.  Trevor Smith from Essex Drain Engineering Services speaks out about the five of the main considerations to bear in mind when old is not always as beautiful inside and out.

  1. The roof and chimney: Structures vital to both your bank balance as well as your safety

The roof of any home serves as one of the most important structures (as well as one of the most expensive if there’s something amiss with it) and so ensuring that it stands in good stead is vital. Whilst some problems may be apparent to the untrained eye (with common issues including missing tiles, drooping structures and pooling water) there are many more problems that can only be spotted by a professional. For homes that additionally boast a real fire, checking the outer, as well as the inner state of the chimney is also essential.

  1. Electrics: Wiring that may date back to the war

Electrical systems that can be found within the UK’s older properties  are far from following a set standard. In fact, it is estimated that anything up to 20,000 fires are started annually as a direct result of outdated or poorly installed wiring. Again, this is something that only professionals can assess in full, although if you can clearly see that sockets are of the two prong variety, re-wiring will quite obviously be a must.

  1. Drains and Sewages: Potentially storing up quite a mess

Drains and sewers can wreak untold havoc on your new home, ranging from inconvenient garden floods to all the more serious on-going issues that can even lead to subsidence. Problems within older homes very often tend to be caused by the older piping, which is made from clay, rather than plastic. Such pipes are then susceptible to disruption from tree roots and the then consequent blocking that can cause flooding.

  1. Plumbing: Perhaps an unexpected addition to the sounds of an older house

When purchasing an older home you may expect to hear more moans, creaks and groans than you would in a newer property. However one noise that you may not have bargained for may be that of the plumbing. Unexpected noises from your plumbing system are far from normal, and can point to serious issues. Other signs to take note of are taps that drip and sinks that either block up or drain slower than normal.

 

  1. Damp, Fungal Decay and Woodworm: Hidden problems that can become structural nightmares

Damp, fungal decay and woodworm: all serious threats to a property’s structure and each with their own challenges in spotting them.

Damp may account for the easiest to assess, as you may spot discolouration to walls (which can occur both inside and outside); however what complicates this is that previously damp areas that have been successfully treated may still appear to be problematic. In any instance to be completely sure the property is completely free from damp you’ll need a damp report (your surveyor will be able to provide further advice as to whether this is required or not).

In the cases of fungal decay, the same rules in relation to previously treated areas apply and wood that is now safe, may appear to still be problematic; again, professional advice should be sort. Woodworm however can fair slightly better as far as obvious issues go, as the tiny holes that they leave behind can be relatively easy to spot if you look closely enough.

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: