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Construction payment charter is ‘dismal failure’

January 10th, 2018 Comments off

Just 35 firms have signed up to the Government’s payment charter nearly four years after it was launched to great fanfare as the solution to payment abuse in the supply chain.

The Construction Supply Chain Payment Charter initially committed firms to pay within 60 days on both private and public sector work.

From this month the payment pledge tightens up, shifting signatories to 30 days to meet the Government’s target of bringing construction into line with other industries.

But just three main contractors and two private clients have signed-up to date, with the last new firm committing to the payment pledge last August.

Now specialists subcontractors are writing the Charter off as a non-starter, despite it being pushed by the Construction Leadership Council and pan-industry trade body, Build UK.

Professor Rudi Klein, the CEO of the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ Group, said: “It’s a dismal failure and a distraction.

“I think the CLC and the Department of Business, Energy and Industry should make a statement about the failure of policy.”

He added: “The Charter has had no impact whatsoever. In fact while the Charter has been around payment periods have got worse stretching out to 50 days and 60 days.”

Main contractor supply chain finance initiatives have pushed official terms out even further. Carillion now has subcontractors on 120-day terms, with firms forced to pay for prompter payments.

Even Government departments on strict 30-day terms are failing to deliver with some cash-strapped NHS Trusts reported to be extending terms in the present climate.

One subcontractor told the Enquirer: “The Government came to power pledging to tackle payment abuse. Instead we got the Payment Charter which most of us thought was a cop out to avoid legislation.

“It’s time the Government looked at this again because a voluntary scheme just isn’t working.”

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Brexit uncertainty in construction: how to maintain your career

January 8th, 2018 Comments off

As we head into 2018, only one factor of the economy is certain – our uncertainty about the implications of Brexit is making a significant impact on the UK construction industry.

General optimism in the industry has been at its most subdued since mid-2013, while the latest estimates from the Office of National Statistics suggest that construction output contracted 0.5 per cent in third quarter of 2017, having shrunk by 0.3 per cent in the previous three months.

Duncan Brock of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply said, “It appears that the continued fall in commercial activity was testament to Brexit-related uncertainty on the horizon and the sector’s fear about the direction of the UK economy as clients still hesitated to spend on bigger projects.”

Howard Archer of the EY Item Club concurred, “Extended lacklustre economic activity and heightened economic, political and Brexit uncertainties are clearly hampering the construction sector. It looks like it is going to be another challenging year for the sector.”

With market uncertainty comes a lack of job security for many workers. That’s why we’ve come up with a few strategies to help you improve your skillset in an increasingly competitive market.

Track down networking events

While Brexit might be causing uncertainty in a variety of sectors, construction businesses are always searching for upcoming talent.

If you’re a member of a trade association, chances are that association you’re affiliated with will host a number of trade shows and conferences throughout the year.

Use these events to meet new contacts and make your face known. Similarly, joining your local Chamber of Commerce could help you find out about companies in your local area which are searching for a trade professional.

When networking, don’t forget to bring well-presented business cards with you, and always dress professionally.

Get online

In a similar vein to networking events, popular networking site LinkedIn could be the most effective way to meet new contacts.

Make sure your profile outlines your past work experience, your key skills and your personal development while working in a trade. Once your profile is looking great, you’ll be able to connect with anyone in your industry and see a broad range of job opportunities online.

Train yourself

Completing your apprenticeship should never be the end of your training. If you’re constantly moving from one job to the next, you’ll need to continuously accumulate new skills throughout your career.

Gaining a distance learning degree from a university like Anglia Ruskin could be the ticket. A degree in management, for instance, could allow you to progress into a leadership role in construction, commanding a greater salary and increased job security.

Brexit negotiations may be showing a downturn in the fortunes of many industries, but they can also provide great opportunities for the worker who’s willing to network and learn new skills.

Have you got any training tips for the construction industry? Then let us know in the comments below.

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SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS – CONSTRUCTION CAREERS ARE WORTH CELEBRATING

January 8th, 2018 Comments off

SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS – CONSTRUCTION CAREERS ARE WORTH CELEBRATING

As an industry, we could be accused of focusing on the past rather than looking to the future – in fact, this is a condition that the country suffers from as a whole, and one that can stifle progress. Ultimately, positive, forward thinking, and innovation will attract fresh blood to our industry. But we must learn from our experiences and select important lessons for ourselves and the next generation, as my reality was very different.

I stumbled into this sector very much by accident, as many do. After leaving school, I found myself a summer job with a housebuilder as a joiner’s labourer. This helped me through my college years, and I then moved into the equipment hire industry, and construction products sales, where I first gained real perspective on how job sites operated – and how specifications had a big influence on the construction of a building. From there, I began an adventure into aluminium systems, fenestration and the building envelope.

The journey into roofing had a familiar feel, then managing a commercial specification team was exciting, and a real challenge as I again was able to influence construction in a tangible way. Joining Sika has really provided a wider opportunity, the company enabled me to move from a regional role, to a national role, and I’m now responsible for a business unit of over £60 million, three branded organisations – Sika Sarnafil, Sika Liquid Plastics and Sika-Trocal – and a team of over 70.

Today, the construction landscape looks very different. There’s a greater focus on Health & Safety, more challenging site restrictions, and a real focus on safe working. Specifications are ever more tested, but we continue to learn and improve. Sustainability, product innovation, logistics, and disposal of waste, have all developed massively. We have a lot to celebrate and share. Training has come on leaps and bounds, making a real contribution to strengthening the sector. We are more aware than ever of how we approach construction and what our roles and responsibilities are.

Now I realise that project success, business success and the success of the industry as a whole, is dependent on more than the physical bricks and mortar, it is the people that make the difference. Throughout the years I’ve been lucky to work with some great characters, who invested in my career, and me as an individual, provided great coaching and gave me opportunity to grow. It seems natural that we can now do the same for others.

A key focus for me is people development. We talk every day about our teams, where they are in their evolution, what projects are their focuses and how we can provide better support for our employees.

Recently, we had the opportunity to contribute at a college careers open day, where one of our team who had progressed in the last few years, told his story. This inspired a number of students, all of whom hadn’t necessarily considered the breadth of roles that the construction industry offers. We were overwhelmed at the interest, and quickly made the decision to move forward.

On the back of this, and stimulated by the Apprenticeship Levy, I am overjoyed that we will be welcoming two new apprentices to the Sika Roofing family this year.

These young people will join in a general business administration role, and work across all areas for the rest of this year. We will see where their strengths take them, with operations, sales and marketing, and technical services, all offering great opportunities for development. Working in construction really does allow you to ‘choose your own adventure’ and work to your skills and potential. There is even the chance of international roles, a very exciting opportunity.

Our apprentices will benefit from a sponsor, a coach, and a long term plan to integrate them into our business culture, and see what the industry is about. Sika’s group values provide a real spirit of entrepreneurship, opportunity and progression.

It’s clear that society and technology have changed younger people’s career choices. The perception of the construction industry and the long term opportunities are different than they were – sometimes negative and occasionally, non-existent. As a career choice from a young age, there is less focus on the traditional jobs, and the skills attached, which is one of the contributing factors to our skills shortage.

We’re not going to be able to rely on people ‘falling’ into the industry like we used to – the deficit is too large. Our focus must be to bring young people through our business – actively promoting and educating about the opportunities open to them.

If I could give our new apprentices one piece of advice, it is to be open. When I started out all those years ago, I wish I’d know how important it is to listen, to invest in yourself, and have a plan. Also, to take opportunity when it’s presented and forge relationships. I look forward to the new energy they will bring to the business, and call for more manufacturers to take action in telling the positive stories from our industry and developing the stars of tomorrow – we have so much to offer young people and they in turn to offer us.

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TSA’s latest reference documents provide clarity for clients on PAS 128 compliance

January 4th, 2018 Comments off

The Survey Association issues new guidance on specifying a utility survey

TSA’s latest reference documents provide clarity for clients on PAS 128 compliance

A new and definitive guide to specifying a PAS128 compliant utility survey, issued by The Survey Association (TSA), aims to demystify a complex technical area and improve communication between clients and practitioners.

The Essential Guide to PAS128 2014 Utility Detection, Verification and Location, and the companion Mini Guide, are the first documents of their kind to include practical advice for clients on using PAS 128 to prepare the appropriate tender documents for their project.

Written by TSA’s technical committee, with input from across the industry, the free-to-download guidance also provides clarity for professionals interpreting PAS 128 to deliver best practice utility surveys at the right price.

Technical content author and TSA Council member, Sam Roberts explains the scope of both the Essential and Mini Guides and who they are aimed at.

‘’The Essential Guide goes into depth on all the techniques used for utility detection, the detail of PAS128, as well as health and safety, traffic management and training issues.  It is a substantial reference document and a tool for clients to better understand what they are buying, and therefore to commission a survey company with confidence,’’ he said.

The accompanying Mini Guide is split into sections for ease of reference and focusses on the areas of difficulty raised by clients. The Mini Guide is designed to help engineers, architects and planners easily understand if a quotation is in line with the appropriate PAS128 level in the specification, and to be able to ask the right questions when comparing different proposals.

The Essential Guide to PAS128 2014 Utility Detection, Verification and Location, and the Mini Guide can be downloaded, free of charge at  www.tsa-uk.org.uk/downloads

Sam Roberts concluded, ‘’TSA’s new Utility Guidance documents seek to address the misinterpretation and misunderstanding of PAS 128.  It is important that clients and those commissioning utility surveys know what they are getting – and what they should be getting, if they specify a PAS128 utility survey.’’

TSA’s Client Guides and Guidance Notes are compiled in consultation with industry experts and are widely consulted by construction and geospatial professionals, nationally and internationally. They provide information on the principles, procedures and regulations affecting specific aspects of survey work.

When the British Standards Institution (BSI) started working on Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 128, titled, Specification for underground utility detection, verification and location, TSA fully supported its production, providing expertise on both the steering group and drafting panel.

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Young British Renters Prioritise Takeaway Coffees, Netflix & Gym Subscriptions Over Home Insurance Policies

January 3rd, 2018 Comments off

A brand new study conducted on behalf of a home insurance provider has revealed that the majority of young Britons would rather cancel their home contents insurance policies over less important financial outgoings, such as regular takeaway coffees, Netflix and gym subscriptions.

As many as two thirds of young renters in the UK without home contents insurance believe the policies are ‘pointless’ for those who don’t own a home; with the majority believing that they will never need home insurance as they deem their homes to be safe.

The team at www.CoverBuilder.co.uk polled 2,398 UK adults aged 18-30 as part of research into the perceptions and attitudes of young Britons towards protecting their valuables. All those taking part lived in a rented property, either by themselves or with a partner/housemates.

Respondents were initially asked if, since moving into their rented property, they’d invested in home contents insurance to protect the items within their home, with just 38% claiming to have done so. The remaining three fifths (62%) admitted to researchers that they didn’t have a contents insurance policy and when asked why, 12% said they hadn’t got round to it yet and 16% thought they couldn’t afford a policy. The overwhelming majority, 65%, said that they found the notion of buying contents insurance ‘pointless’; more than half (53%) of whom confessed that they didn’t feel they needed it because their home was safe and probably wouldn’t ever be burgled.

In order to further explore how important the protection of valuables is to those who do have contents insurance, compared to other financial outgoings, all relevant participants were given a list of 5 popular monthly outgoings that young Britons living in rented accommodation normally face. All were asked to reveal which they’d be the most likely to give up first, and how much they roughly spent per year on each outgoing.

The results were revealed as follows:

  1. Homes contents insurance – 48% (would give this outgoing up first) (£124) (average annual cost of outgoing)
  2. Morning takeaway coffees – 23% (£577.20)
  3. Music streaming subscription -16% (£119.88)
  4. Gym membership – 12% (£470)
  5. Netflix (or other film/TV) subscription – 1% (£71.88)

Rob Rushton, Head of www.CoverBuilder.co.uk, made the following comment on the findings of the study:

“It’s well documented that millennials have very much a ‘live for the moment’ mentality when it comes to their financial outgoings and spending, and don’t necessarily tend to worry as much about the future as previous generations might have done. As renters living under someone else’s roof, it can be tempting to think that paying rent and other vital bills each month is more than enough. Yet, should the worst happen and you find yourself suddenly left without a TV, mobile phone, computer or precious mementos, then there is no doubt you’d want to rely on contents insurance to claim back some of the value.

 

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Gilbert-Ash completes innovative swimming pool for Freemen’s School

January 2nd, 2018 Comments off

Award-winning UK construction, refurbishment and fit out contractor,
Gilbert-Ash, has recently completed the Freemen’s School project in Ashtead, Surrey, including an engineered timber swimming pool.

Replacing the school’s original pool building which was lost to fire in 2014, the project provides a purpose-built 25m, six lane competition pool with changing facilities and a multi-functional teaching and events space.

Working closely with architects Hawkins\Brown, the design and construction of the sustainable swimming pool sits gently within its natural woodland surroundings. Using
state-of-the-art timber construction, a zinc wrap and offsite fabrication methods, the material palette complements the external setting creating a special environment for swimming.

The construction of the pool includes a glue-laminated timber (glulam) portal frame, braced with cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels. The use of engineered timber provides a fast, efficient, carbon neutral method of construction and ensures the pool is resilient, a thermal insulator and corrosion resistant.

On site, the erection of the glulam portal frame, cross-laminated timber walls and roof took just over three weeks. This allowed the detailed design and full construction of the building to be delivered in one year.

To minimise its impact on the school’s Grade II listed landscape, the swimming pool’s lower ground floor is partially submerged. This sub-merges the structure into the surrounding scenery and preserves a large number of the existing trees. The highest point of the gently pitched zinc wrap roof marks the main entrance of the building.

Kevin Mallon, Project Manager at Gilbert-Ash commented: “We are delighted to have completed this unique project for the prestigious Freemen’s School within the agreed budget and with minimum impact on school operations. It has been very enjoyable working closely with the school staff and pupils at each stage of the construction, including escorted on-site tours, for both educational engagement and to ensure a smooth project and transition for the school body.

Roland Martin, Headmaster of Freemen’s School, commented, “The School is overwhelmed by the beauty and quality of the new swimming pool – it is a fantastic new asset for the School and the local community. We have been truly impressed by the swift construction of the pool, and how it fits in the woodland space and complements the school as a whole.”

Adam Cossey, Partner at Hawkins\Brown, said: “Freemen’s School’s new swimming pool is a welcoming retreat that engages with the mature woodland setting through the use of natural materials and colour schemes.

The deep columns of the all-timber construction and wrap around glazing, which afford direct views from the water into the woodland, give the sense of swimming amongst the trees.

The construction of the pool has afforded the opportunity to work closely with Gilbert Ash providing a positive collaborative experience.”

The swimming pool marks the second phase of a 4-stage masterplan by the City of London, School in Ashtead, Surrey, with a view to improve the quality of the school’s listed campus setting.

Highly detailed design, advanced logistical planning and development goes into every Gilbert-Ash project, with the team skilled in delivering the finest quality projects in the UK and globally.

For more information on Gilbert-Ash visit www.gilbert-ash.com

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