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Archive for December, 2016

Eight Features All Successful Construction Companies Have in Common

December 21st, 2016 Comments off

Eight Features All Successful Construction Companies Have in Common

There are countless construction and civil engineering companies out there, but not all are equal and if you’re thinking about a career in construction (and the economy needs you!), then here’s what you should look for in a prospective employer.

A company with a vision

Everyone needs a vision, a plan, an aim and a focus so if the company you’re looking at wants to develop an award-winning set of environmental practices, for example, it could be the right one for you. The Lagan Construction Group from Northern Ireland recently won an environmental award, so awards and plaudits are definite things to look for.

A company with a clear leadership plan

Leadership isn’t just about dishing out orders – it’s also about creating an ethos and about finding a niche. Look for a company with a definite ethos, be it considerate construction, ongoing training, diversity or eco-friendly practices.

A company that invests in its people

Investing in people means taking time and spending money to train staff and employees so that they are always growing and developing. Instead of sending everyone home for the day because it’s raining, a good leadership team will spend a few hours teaching new safety techniques, for example.

A company that promotes skills

If a company’s workers all have different strings to their bows, then that’s a strong, flexible workforce. If each worker can operate two or three machines, as well as lay bricks and build fences, then there’s less downtime due to sickness. This makes for an efficient, profitable team.

A company that laughs

The most successful contractors are the ones that people are happy to work for and with, as well as engage. Make sure that staff members feel they can take a few minutes out to have a laugh with (that’s with, not at…) the foreman, the client, the client’s children. Laughter and kindness makes the day go by faster and gets you great reviews from clients big and small.

A company that’s driven…

…but in a good way. If every job is an emergency, workers get exhausted and stressed. However, a sense of purpose and urgency is a good thing – you’re aiming to beat a deadline with ease, not squeak by it all out of breath.

A company that rewards good work and good ideas

Everyone wants to earn more money and by providing a generous (but sensible) incentive scheme, a construction company will get the best out of its staff. The scheme could be a bonus payment for early completion of a project, or it could be one-off rewards for employees who find new clients. It could also be help towards extra training for promising newbies. As long as the criteria are easy to understand and the payouts are honoured, the job’s a good’un.

A company that encourages input and suggestions

This shows that a company has a good, forward-thinking culture. If the workforce is educated and well-trained, then it’d be foolish to ignore their ideas and suggestions. If the culture encourages wider reading, or visits to expos, then the natural result is some good ideas and suggestions and these shouldn’t be ignored.


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Bidding to start for £150m Luton Airport rail link

December 21st, 2016 Comments off

Prequalification of firms will start in February for £150m worth of construction work for the planned light railway system for Luton Airport

Luton airport rail link plan

Arup will design and procure the 2.2km light rail scheme

The 2.2 km long guided mass rapid transit passenger system will run between two purpose-built stations, heading out from Stirling Place, close to Luton Airport Parkway station, to the airport terminal.

It will be broken down into two main packages Civils work worth up to £115m will include viaducts, embankments, cut and cover works and station platforms.

Some of the works will be within the airside sections of the airport.

The track, rolling stock and associated systems package will be subject to a separate contract worth up to £35m to be awarded concurrently.

The scheme forms part of an ambitious £1.5bn inward investment programme revealed by the council, which outlines a 20-year plan for major transformation of the town.

Planning permission will be sought from Luton Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council possibly by the end of January  for work to start later in 2017 with the system ready for operation 2021.

The link to be funded by the council, which owns the airport, would reduce journey time to London to just 30 minutes.

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Jaguar Land Rover submits plan for mega-warehouse

December 20th, 2016 Comments off

Car maker Jaguar Land Rover has submitted plans to develop a vast logistics hub on a green field site next to its Solihull plant.

JLR Solihull

The near 1m sq ft logistics operations centre will be used to receive and store parts for its Solihull production plant, which assembles Range Rover and Land Rover models.

The scheme also includes 40,000 sq ft of offices space and a triple deck car park with 1,150 spaces.

JLR Solihull

The site located on green belt consists of eight fields located near Solihull Football Club on Damson Parkway and is bounded to the north by Birmingham International Airport.

JLR Solihull

Plans drawn up by architect Ridge & Partners provide for a 17m high main building, spanned by a series of pitched roofs covered in photovoltaics. It will offer 78 HGV docks.

The LOC would be clad in corrugated steel at the west, south and east facades. The northern elevation would feature timber-style panelling and glazing.

Client team

Ridge and Partners: Architect

AME Construction: Project Managers

Hoare Lea: M&E consultancy

Rodgers Leask: Structural & Civil Engineers

Mace: Quantity Surveying

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Motorists drive through smart motorway site

December 14th, 2016 Comments off

Highways England has released video footage of construction workers chasing a motorist through a closed motorway site.

The shocking CCTV pictures come as Highways England revealed that four drivers a month are entering closed sections of road in the Manchester smart motorway scheme to either overtake traffic on the motorway or avoid using diversion routes.

The footage shows a driver ignoring an overnight slip road closure at junction 11 of the M60 at Eccles, where he is seen being chased through the construction area by angry road workers.

Drivers are now being warned that they could be prosecuted if they ignore road closures, and electronic signs at the side of the motorway are also being used to display the message ‘Don’t ignore road closures. CCTV in operation.’

Earlier this year, a drunk driver received a 12-month prison sentence and was disqualified from driving for 15 months after ignoring an overnight slip road closure at junction 23 of the M60 near Ashton-under-Lyne.

Stephen Hill, Project Manager for the Manchester smart motorway scheme at Highways England, said: It’s shocking that four drivers a month are putting the lives of our workers at risk by deliberately ignoring road closures, just to try and save a few minutes on their journeys.

“The work to upgrade the M60 and M62 to a smart motorway is one of the biggest construction projects currently underway in the North West, and sometimes we need to close parts of the motorway to ensure the safety of our workers.

“We only ever close slip roads and motorway carriageways overnight when traffic levels are lower, and make sure there are clearly-signed diversion routes in place.

“We are urging drivers to follow the diversions for their own and our workers’ safety, and warning that we will pass on the details to the police of any drivers who deliberately ignore road closures.”

Over 400 people are currently working on the £208m project to create a smart motorway between junction 8 of the M60 near Sale and junction 20 of the M62 at Rochdale.

The hard shoulder is being converted to an extra lane on a five mile stretch of the M62, and variable speed limits will be introduced on new overhead electronic signs along the entire 17-mile route to tackle congestion and keep traffic moving.

A total of 95 drivers deliberately travelled into construction areas on the Manchester smart motorway scheme over the past 22 months to try and cut their journey times.

The majority of the incidents happened overnight, between 10pm and 6am, when carriageway and slip road closures are in place as traffic levels are lower

The Manchester smart motorway scheme is due to be completed in autumn 2017.

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Public tip-off sees site stopped for safety shambles

December 12th, 2016 Comments off

A construction company and its managing director have been prosecuted for operating an unsafe site during the conversion of a building in Bollington.

hseManchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court heard how the conditions on the site, where a former pub was being changed into two houses, were so poor it prompted a a member of public to complain to the local authority.

The HSE inspected the site and had to stop all the work on the building as the conditions were so dangerous and putting workers lives at immediate risk.

In total HSE inspectors served three prohibition notices and two improvements notices for safety failings including work at height issues, missing floorings with no protection and health failings including the provision of welfare facilities with running water.

Inspectors also found an extremely unsafe wall on the property that had not been sufficiently supported to prevent it from collapsing.

The HSE investigation found that both the company and its director did not put in place effective health and safety management at the start of the conversion.

They failed to notify HSE of the project, appoint a competent principal contractor or ensure they had suitable and sufficient measures to reduce risks to workers and members of the public.

Bluefig Development Ltd, of Dale Street, Manchester pleaded guilty to CDM breaches and was fined £42,900 with £3,781.24 costs.

Company Director Faris Mousa pleaded guilty to two safety charges and was fined £40,000 with £3,658.24 costs.

HSE inspector Deborah Walker said after the hearing: “Bluefig Development Ltd and Mr Faris Mousa completely failed in their duties to protect the workers or members of the public from harm.

“This was an extremely dangerous site and it is only luck that nobody was injured or even killed.

“Anyone involved in construction, no matter what size of site or project has to take the health, safety and welfare of their workers seriously.

“If the unstable wall had collapsed we could now be talking about the tragic death of a worker and its impact on their family rather than how lucky they are no-one was injured.”

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Letting agent fees ban could force rent increases

December 7th, 2016 Comments off

pinnacle-tower-londonIn the Autumn Statement the chancellor, Philip Hammond announced new government policies to tackle the housing challenges the UK faces.

One of the biggest changes for the buy-to-let sector was that letting agent fees will be scrapped.

The ban will help struggling renters, as the average cost of these fees is £340 per tenant.

As a result of the new ban,  stocks of Foxton’s and Countrywide fell sharply.

However, there has been concerns in the industry that the fees could be passed on to landlords, who are already facing the upcoming ‘tax attack’ in April 2017.

Experts fear landlords will be left to foot the bill, as estate agents will raise fees to make their money back. As a result landlords could be forced to raise rents to cope with more financial strain.

Others advise landlords to look elsewhere for new letting agents to cut costs. The emergence of online letting agents who can undercut high street agents could be where landlords turn next as a way of negating the need to increase rents.

Many believe that the ban could backfire as landlords are left with no choice but to raise rents, making rents even more unaffordable.

Additionally the government plans a comprehensive package of reform to increase housing supply and help first time buyers.

A new fund, the Housing Infrastructure Fund, will invest £2.3 billion into housing by 2021. The fund will be competed for between local governments in high demand areas and will help to build 100,000 new homes.

A further £1.4 billion will be provided in 2020-21 to start building an additional 40,000 affordable homes.

Funding will be made available for a large-scale regional pilot of the Right to Buy scheme too.

The scheme will be for housing association tenants, helping over 3,000 of them to buy their own home with under the new right to scheme discounts.

Will you look to pass on any additional costs, or do you plan to absorb them ?

Well, following the announcement last month that Chancellor Philip Hammond is to abolish letting agency fees for tenants, it is expected that many private landlords will increase rents to compensate. This is a further blow to buy-to-let landlords who are also facing higher borrowing costs and increased Stamp Duty fees, as the Government cracks down on the sector. Tenants’ fees add on average £340 to the cost of letting a home, so naturally the 4.3 million renters in the UK will be concerned of further rental increases when landlords have to pay the letting agency fee themselves.

Professional, corporate landlords such as Folio London offer a fresh alternative to private landlords. Renting with Folio London, tenants can be assured against these increases and any unpredictable changes in the market. Many lettings agencies charge for administrative work such as contracts and inventories. Folio does not charge admin fees, only a deposit of £350 to secure the property while references are checked, which is then deducted from the first months’ rent and deposit.

For further information on Folio London and the rental offering across the capital, please see attached press release and images.


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Construction Project Management Advice

December 6th, 2016 Comments off

Managing construction projects is no small feat. With 1000s of action items to handle, timelines to be met and projects to be delivered, the question many project managers face is, “is my team working as effectively as possible?”

In efforts to help you answer that question, we asked over 30 experienced project managers in the construction industry about how they spend their time on the job, their best advice for managing their team, and how they know when their team is performing to its full potential.

How do Project Managers Spend Their Time?

Many in the workforce agree that email occupies a significant amount of time spent during the workday. This article from Huffington Post found that workers spend 3.2 hours on average on work emails per day.

The construction project managers we interviewed fell in line with this finding.

Of the 17 project managers who responded to the question “How many hours per day do you spend on emails to and from your team?”, the average response was 3.02 hours. The median response was 3 hours flat. Talking numbers, this adds up to an average of 72 emails per day, with a median of 50.

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So, if you find yourself spending significantly more than three hours clearing out your inbox on a daily basis, you may want to explore methods to cut back on the number of emails you’re sending to your team.

Project managers also dedicate a significant amount of time to meetings, an average of just under 1.4 hours per day.

If emails and meetings count as “managing”, this adds up almost perfectly to an 8-hour workday, with about half of the hours spent on emails and meetings, and the rest spent working on other activities that move the metrics they care about most.

Impressively enough, when asked how they split their time between “managing” and “working” most common answer we received was an even 50/50 split. This not only means that these managers balance their time well, but that their perception of how they spend their time is accurate down to the hour.

Finally, the median number of construction projects the project managers we surveyed reported is between 3 and 4. While respondents told us that things change depending on the phase of projects, most of the project managers we talked to reported splitting their time 75:25 between the office and the field.

Construction Project Management Advice and Best Practices

So, how do these project managers keep everything running smoothly to make sure their teams deliver projects on time and within budget?

We asked the project management experts to tell us the most important thing they’ve learned in their role in the construction industry, and here’s what we heard in response.

Advice for Construction Project Managers

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  1. “Make sure that [you] are looking ahead and understand the risks involved in the project and are able to mitigate those risks prior to them becoming problems.” – Derick Hofstetter, South Bay Construction
  2. “You must keep up with technology and new construction practices and materials.” – Frank Narciso, South Bay Construction
  3. “Meetings are a necessary evil for large, complicated projects.” – Anonymous
  4. “Stay positive, do your best to catch every detail and make sure the cash flow river flows…” – Mark Vandersea, Ciarra Construction
  5. “Keep an open environment that fosters trust and communication. People should feel comfortable to ask questions all the time. Take the time to know about subordinates’ lives, even if the relationship is short.” – Anthony Garcia, Operation Nova
  6. “The importance of relationships.  If you can develop a friendly rapport with people you manage, you will always be able to work together to help solve problems (whether it be financial or something physical in the field)” – Haydon Osborne, Sevan Multi Site Construction
  7. “How to be successfully persuasive.” – Cloy Coats, DEB Construction
  8. “Patience” – Mitch Rhodes, Blach Construction
  9. “Never stop learning. If you aren’t learning new means, methods, practices, then you are stagnant and not growing. Teach others around you so they can learn.” – Curtis Stavinoha, Metropolitan Contracting Company, LLC
  10.  “No action is an action.” – Evan Butler, Bear Construction
  11. “Good relationships with the owners of projects is vital to success.” – Michael Candelaria, MGC Contractors
  12. “Communication is most important.  Whether it’s with the client or with subs, it needs to be constant.” – Zach Cannon, The Burt Group
  13. “Learning never ceases” – Jim Larsen, GSI, LLC
  14. “People skills are more valuable than technical construction skills.” – Gregory Cashen, Wood Partners
  15. “You are only as good as the people you work with.” – Michael Williams, T Morales Company
  16. “Communication is key, as well as accountability.” – Jeff Ewing, Byrne Construction
  17. “Deliver bad new as soon as its identified with multiple solutions” – James, Company Not Provided
  18. “Communication is one of the most important tools to have in this industry, and possibly one of the most challenging. I’d have to say outside of communication, bonding and rapport is very important in customer relationships.” – Rusty Reynolds, Contractors, Inc.
  19. “Be firm, but fair. Look ahead. Try not to get too far into the weeds.”- Josh Lowe, Streetlights Residential
  20. “Every day matters.” – Nathan Fellows, MAPP

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What Makes for a Great Team?

We also wanted to find out how construction PMs know their team is performing well.

Out of the 20 project managers who responded to the question, two answers swept the majority of the responses.

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The first, to be expected: deliver projects on time and under budget.

The second? Understanding the “big picture” or “intent” of the project, so the team can act proactively to keep things moving in the right direction.

This was described well by Anthony Garcia, of Operation Nova, who explained that when there is an issue, his team doesn’t just notify their superiors, but rather, they line up potential solutions, so that superiors can simply give approval. Garcia explained further used the example of an on-site issue. When a problem occurs, rather than raising the issue to the next level of command and asking for direction, his team explores the potential best solutions and presents them to a manager for approval.

In order for this to work, though, the team must have understanding of the general direction of the project. In order to achieve this, Garcia says he strives to keep lines of communication open, whether via text, emails, or updates on the Google Spreadsheets they share to manage operations. Project management tools can also help increase project visibility to ensure that your team knows where the project is headed.

Haydon Osborne from Sevan Multi Site explains how to implement this practice simply: “Look ahead, and go beyond the bare minimum.”

Finally, a number of project managers pointed out that when their team focuses on building strong relationships, communication flows more smoothly, which is reflected in more effective collaboration. As Tony Stock of Koontz Construction put it, “construction is a as much a function of creating and maintaining relationships with people, as it is actually building a building.”


At the end of the day, when the hard hats come off and the spreadsheets are put away, how do construction management teams celebrate project success? One anonymous respondent tells us, “100 beers”.

Best Construction Project Management software

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