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Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Engineering sector’s astonishing gender pay gap

November 28th, 2018 Comments off

Research conducted by one of the UK’s largest accountants has revealed that men in engineering earn up to 30% more than women in the same roles.

Hemel Hempstead-based SJD accountants has analysed salaries of both male and females in the sector revealing some astonishing figures.

According to the analysis females with job titles such as mechanical engineer or maintenance engineer earn almost a third less than males with the same occupation.

Derek Kelly, CEO of Optionis which owns SJD Accountancy said: “The gender pay gap has been a topic of increasing conversation, putting the difference in salary into real terms has been shocking.

“This information now highlights the genuine impact that this can have not only on employees but their families and long-term prospects.”

The gender pay gap has been an increasingly important and developing conversation for a number of years within the media and government.

Increasing pressure has been put on businesses to disclose their gender pay gaps and redress the balance to aim for more equal pay.

The survey by SJD Accountancy saw more than a 1,000 contractors questioned, and data gathered on their salaries to create a better picture of which sectors are closing the gap and which are still struggling to find parity.

To find out more details about your industry and the gender pay gaps SJD has launched an interactive tool, visit for more information.

Mr Kelly added: The tool helps to give workers, whether in permanent or temporary roles, more of an insight into the pay gap within their industry. This improves understanding of the pay issues within certain sectors.”


Timber championed with the launch of WoodFest

November 26th, 2018 Comments off

The North East will celebrate everything built with wood as the first WoodFest comes to Newcastle in December, with an exciting line-up of events organised by the UK timber industry’s campaign, Wood for Good.

WoodFest Newcastle will bring together architects, engineers, placemakers, planners, developers, contractors, politicians and local businesses specialising in timber to promote the innovative and striking ways that wood can be used in the built environment in the North East.

Christiane Lellig, Wood for Good campaign director, said:

“The first in a series of regional WoodFests, this as a fantastic opportunity to bring all those involved with the built environment to explore what industry and politics can achieve together.

“Each event is a chance to learn and share about the use of timber in architecture, particularly around health and wellbeing and offsite construction. It provides a platform to discover what’s happening in the region and to be inspired by timber design.”

The week begins with a behind-the-scenes tour of wood-based materials manufacturer, Egger’s site in Hexham on 10 December. In the evening, Dr Oliver G.F. Jones, architecture professor and expert in human-environment interaction at Northumbria University, will give the keynote speech at a seminar on wellbeing, residential design and healthy homes. Taking place at Ryder Architecture’s home in Cooper’s Studios, Westgate Road, Newcastle, Dr Jones will be joined by a panel of experts including local housing providers and design professionals to explore biophilic design, light, space and air quality among other issues.

Offsite construction steals the show on 12 December with an evening seminar debating whether modern methods of construction are the future for homes in the North East. Hosted by Ryder at Cooper’s Studios, an expert panel will explore Home England’s strategic plan incorporatin g offsite construction and will ask if it’s the silver bullet to deliver much-needed homes.

A site visit to the unique self-build home, Shawm House, takes place on 11 December. Designed by Newcastle-based MawsonKerr Architects, the timber home won four regional RIBA awards, a national RIBA award and was shortlisted for Grand Designs ‘House of the Year’ in 2017. This is a rare opportunity to hear the homeowner’s story and experience the house for yourself.

Taking place throughout the week is an exhibition at Cooper’s Studios, exploring healthy buildings and driving the design and construction quality agenda through the use of modern methods of construction.

The finale for WoodFest Newcastle is the Superwood Conference on Friday 14 December at Northumbria University, hosted by Confor. Looking at how forestry and timber can drive a low carbon economy, the conversation will explore the opportunities for increasing forestry in the North East and the lessons that can be learned from Scotland.

Speakers include Paul Brennan, MEP for the North East, Adam James from Ryder Architecture, Councillor Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland County Council, Dr Dan Ridley-Ellis from Edinburgh Napier University, Beccy Speight from the Woodland Trust, Neil Sutherland from Makar, Stuart Goodall from Confor, Simon Hart from Egger Forestry and Christiane Lellig from Wood for Good.

WoodFest Newcastle is organised in collaboration with regional partners Constructing Excellence, Egger, Mawson Kerr, RIBA North East, and Ryder Architecture.

Book your place for the WoodFest Newcastle events here:

More information will be released soon about other regional WoodFests taking place throughout the country in 2019.

If you would like to get involved in WoodFest please contact Wood for Good campaign director, Christiane Lellig, at



Work wellbeing — 5 office hygiene hotspots

November 23rd, 2018 Comments off

Despite a rise in remote working in recent years, many of us still trek to our trusty offices each day to make a living.

And while we’re earning a crust, we’re also crumbling because of work-related health issues like backache, eyestrain, stress, the cold and norovirus.

But there are a few simple office design and equipment adjustments progressive employers can make to mitigate risks.

If you’re concerned about work wellbeing, here’s how to optimise five office hygiene hotspots.

  1. Desk

Desk surfaces, keyboards and the nooks and crannies behind monitors host hordes of bacteria if they’re not regularly cleaned — so keep a stash of anti-bac wipes in your desk drawer to stop their spread.

But simply sitting in a sedentary position for hours on end impacts your health too — according to the NHS, it slows the metabolism, reduces your ability to burn fat and causes weaker bones and muscles.

So it’s worth enquiring if your employer might buy a sit-stand desk from a company like Posturite which may make you healthier and more productive.

  1. Toilets

We would all like to think that the toilet hygiene standards of adult office workers are impeccable — but sadly, anyone who’s worked in a corporate environment for an entire career can tell you this isn’t always the case.

And while no one can force people to wash their hands, providing adequate supplies of soap and strong hand dryers should provide encouragement and combat the spread of bacteria.

A dryer such as a Dyson airblade is simple to use and so swift that it only takes a few seconds to work.

  1. Kitchen

The office kitchen is a pleasant sanctuary where colleagues can catch up for a chat over a coffee and take a break form the hustle and bustle of a busy day.

But communal biscuit tins, teabags and mugs are often breeding grounds for all manner of bugs which spoil the tea party in no time at all.

So it’s wise to install soap dispensers from a firm like Deb in kitchens as well as in bathrooms — as well as reserving cups and cutlery for your exclusive use.

  1. Breakout area

Many modern offices feature a breakout area — a comfy, informal social space that’s perfect for casual catch-ups with colleagues and extracurricular activities like reading groups and bakery sales.

But beds might soon be slotted in alongside sofas and tables to optimise rest and ramp up performance.

Futuristic suppliers like MetroNaps are now installing sleep pods in offices that enable staff members to have 40 winks in complete comfort and recharge their batteries.

  1. Reception

A clean and tidy reception enables any firm to create a fabulous first impression for visitors, but it’s also the frontline against dirt and detritus dragged indoors from outside.

But the solution is simple and cost-effective — place a durable and well-designed doormat at the entrance.

Order floor mats from a specialist like Kleen-Tex to provide a warm welcome that also wipes out germs.

Get to grips with health and hygiene in these five office areas for a workforce that’s fit, healthy and focused.


4 Must-Know Strategies To Weatherproof Your Site This Winter

November 23rd, 2018 Comments off

With UK weather predictions forecasting the coldest winter the country has seen in 10 years, no industry is likely to face the harsh effects of the snowy season more so than the construction sector.

With adversity on the horizon, it’s time to start thinking about practical solutions to limit the impacts of this winter’s cold grip, by putting safety measures in place to help weatherproof both the construction site itself and all those working on it.

From minimising speed limits around the site to reduce the risk of accidents, to advocating the importance of staying warm to your staff, in today’s post, we’re exploring 4 must-know strategies for protecting your site come rain or ice.

Prioritise safety measures

When it comes to protecting your site from harsh weather conditions, planning is key to preventing a wide variety of potential disasters. Make keeping an eye on weather warnings a priority in order to take the necessary measures and eliminate as many dangers as early as possible.


Depending on the types of vehicles used on your site, speed limits often allow certain vehicles to move at speeds of up to 20 mph. So, when it comes to implementing strategies to minimise the potential risks, why not consider reducing the limit to 5 mph? While initially this hack may appear to reduce efficiency, this easy-to-implement procedure is just one of many temporary measures that can minimise on-site risks and will, therefore, benefit both your workers and the overall efficiency of the project in the long run.

Provide suitable storage spaces

In sub-zero temperatures, fragile equipment and the protection of your workers’ personal belongings become a priority. If exposed for too long, expensive and integral pieces of equipment run the risk of being hit by the harsh weather conditions and, in many cases, can face the effects of damage and erosion.

With this in mind, when it comes to maintaining the usability of both vital construction equipment and your workers’ personal belongings, having somewhere secure to store your property is crucial. Installing weatherproof lockers to shield your possessions from the rain and snow will not only help to future-proof your equipment, but also allow your colleagues to come to work safe in the knowledge that their belongings are protected from any spontaneous showers the day brings.

Protect your staff from the elements

We all deserve a much-needed break at work, and, when it comes to the unforgiving winter weather, short breaks away from the cold can be crucial to keeping your workers’ spirits high and their health strong.

By introducing sheltered areas filled with hot drinks, and having food supplies at the ready so that snacks are taken care of, your workers will be encouraged to keep warm – aiding both their physical health and their mental wellbeing. When it comes to prevention, education is key. Prop up informational posters around your break area to inform your staff on the symptoms of cold-induced illnesses and recommendations for how to prevent these from occurring.

Promote weather-appropriate attire

Additionally, when it comes to protecting your on-site workers, what they wear can make the difference between a runny nose and a sleepless night. With bitter, icy winds and freezing cold temperatures set to become the norm this season, dressing appropriately is vital to keeping fit and healthy on the construction site.

Encourage your team to not only protect their head, feet and hands from physical dangers with PPE equipment, but also to dress with extreme weather conditions in mind. Thick socks, sturdy boots, hard hats and warm gloves will keep some of the most heat-loss prone areas of your workers’ bodies regulated come the harsh winter months.

While preparing for the on-site effects of winter’s inevitably harsh weather conditions, it’s crucial to follow government advised restrictions and regulations, as well as using your own initiative. If the weather forecast predicts harsher conditions the night before than initially expected, make the executive decision to protect the safety of yourself and your staff by safeguarding your site however needed. Hang it there – it’ll be summer before you know it.


Author bio:
Simon Mitchell has run successful companies in Europe and the US that are focused on delivering exceptional value to clients – while Action Storage offers a diverse range of storage products, along with the technical expertise to help clients’ businesses operate more efficiently. In Simon’s words, that’s a rewarding place to be.


November 22nd, 2018 Comments off

On 13th November 2018, the National Buying Group (NBG) Awards evening saw TIMco win the coveted title of ‘Brand of the Year’ in recognition of their excellence in the following categories: brand, product & service. This is the second consecutive year that TIMco has won this prestigious award.

The award was voted for by the whole of the NBG membership and all brands and suppliers were considered. This win secured TIMco’s title as the overall winner of the year.

TIMco was also awarded the title of ‘Supplier of the year’ in the Decorating and Hardware, Category at this year’s awards ceremony. This is an unprecedented sixth consecutive year that TIMco has won the award and the seventh time since TIMco started supplying the buying group in 2011.

The national awards are designed to recognise excellence in the given category as well as the support and service the supplier offers to NBG’s members.  The awards were presented at a Gala Dinner held at the Cunard Building Liverpool at the close of the NBG’s Annual Conference for 2018.

Simon Midwood, Managing Director of TIMco comments: “We are delighted to have been once again named as NBG ‘Brand of the Year’ and also to have been awarded ‘Supplier of the Year’ for our category for the sixth consecutive year. This is a fantastic achievement for TIMco and a testament to the team’s efforts to deliver excellent products and services to NBG members.  We’re committed to our strategy of being the supplier that supports independent merchants and intend to continue to build on these relationships by further extending our product portfolio and the high levels of service we are proudly able to offer members. We are extremely grateful to NBG for this recognition and their continued support to TIMco.”


Feeling the chill? How to perform an energy efficiency check on your home

November 20th, 2018 Comments off

Is your home energy efficient? That’s a question most people don’t know the answer to, yet keeping an eye on your energy efficiency is a useful – and surprisingly easy – thing to do during winter.

By taking our advice, you could save substantially on your winter bills – a chance that most people would jump at, especially since Christmas is fast approaching.  Read on and follow our tips to perform your own energy checks and hopefully find a few ways to keep your home warm and your bank account happy this winter.

Check insulation…

This one is a must for keeping your home hot and your bills…not.  Heat loss through your roof and through the walls could mount up significantly if your level of insulation is below the recommended amount for your property.

While insulation is indeed an expense, it is a worthwhile expense in the long run, as the savings build up in just a year or two. It could also be worth you looking into your roofing material while you’re checking the insulation.  A roofing company in Yorkshire can help with this.


On average, lighting accounts for about 10% of your energy bill. Given this figure, you should definitely consider looking at your light bulbs. To save energy, it’s worth thinking about replacing standard bulbs with more energy-efficient bulbs, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs), as they can drastically reduce your energy use.

Heating controls…

Inspect your heating and cooling equipment at least once a year to keep a sufficient check on your energy efficiency. You should think about replacing any equipment that is 15 years old or more.

Like with the insulation tip, a new unit would be an expense of sorts – but, given the money you’ll save in the time after the purchase due to the natural efficiency of a new boiler, it seems more appropriate to call the expense an investment.

Check your electricals…

This one is incredibly useful for energy efficiency.  Often easy to ignore thanks to the convenience of leaving appliances on standby, it really is worth switching things off and unplugging them when they are not in use.  Consider unplugging the item entirely, as this will prevent phantom loads, or change the settings on your device to allow for a more economical performance.

Call in a professional…

After you’ve completed your DIY auditing, think about calling in a professional. While the tips we’ve mentioned here will go a long way towards gaining you substantial improvement on your energy efficiency, it is also useful to call in someone who has a sharp eye for detail of this kind and could really save you money and energy.

Don’t let this discourage you from doing your own checks, though. Your DIY auditing can, in fact, help the professional give a more in-depth assessment of the efficiency of energy in your home.

For more information and tips on performing your own energy efficiency checks this winter, have a look at this useful page on the website of housing charity Shelter.


CIM announces the Construction Marketing Awards to celebrate industry’s finest

November 16th, 2018 Comments off

CIM announces the Construction Marketing Awards

to celebrate industry’s finest

  • Shortlist announced with 23 awards up for grabs
  • Previous winners include Armitage Shanks, Kier Group and Howarth Timber
  • Tickets available now for awards ceremony and gala dinner

Organised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s (CIM) Construction Group, the Construction Marketing Awards are the most sought-after accolade in the industry’s marketing calendar.

Celebrating creativity, innovation and effectiveness in marketing across the construction industry, the awards shine a spotlight on excellence at a business and individual level.

With a record number of entries for 2018, Mike Lomax, chair of the CIM construction group, said: “The construction sector is renowned for its innovation and creativity and when it comes to marketing, the awards confirm that the industry recognises and celebrates the insight, creativity and impact of marketers in construction. This year we’ve received the highest level of entries which reflect the very best in construction marketing talent and are a fantastic way to raise awareness of the originality across the industry.”

The year’s awards feature 23 award categories including best use of content marketing, best low, medium and high budget campaign and marketing team of the year. New for this year is the best distributor marketing campaign and small agency of the year.

A competition for the best promotional giveaway is also being held and marketers are encouraged to submit their branded products for the light-hearted contest, which last year was won by JCB. Items must be received by 26 November.

Mike added: “Judged by some of the leading figures from brands such as Tarmac Cement, BMI group, MRA marketing from across construction and marketing, the Construction Marketing Awards set the benchmark for marketing success in the construction sector.

“We look forward to celebrating with guests at the annual awards ceremony and honouring marketing excellence across the built environment.”

The Construction Marketing Awards Gala Dinner takes place on Thursday 29th November at Hilton London Bankside, 2-8 Great Suffolk Street, London. Tickets can be booked individually or in tables of 10 and 12.

Visit to book tickets, view the shortlist and for details of the promotional giveaway competition.

Roof Flashing 101: Everything You Need to Know

November 14th, 2018 Comments off

Are you having problems with water dripping from the ceiling after every rain shower? If you are, then there is something wrong with the roof. Well, not “something,” since it’s most likely that you are either missing the flashings or they are severely damaged so they do not perform their main function. In case you are wondering what flashings are exactly, they are a form of isolation that ensures your roof does not leak. It is mostly installed on its edges and more importantly, around any openings in the roof, such as the chimney, skylight or the ventilation pipe. Basically, flashings prevent the water from seeping through the smallest of holes that might exist in your roof structure. If you thought that you need not read on, you were wrong, as flashings are much more complex than this. They serve other purposes and can come in a number of shapes and functions.

Directing water to the gutter


Despite its primary role, flashings can have an additional function on roofs with two or more slopes. Since they are installed at the seams of the roof, they intersect to form a provisional drain that can direct water downwards into the gutter. This is really useful because it does away with the need of installing additional gutters for larger houses and the ones with zig-zag roofs and gables.

Chimney flashing

The oldest and the most common type of flashing is the chimney flashing. It is at the same time the most intricate kind of flashing in terms of the shape. It is flat at the place where the chimney protrudes from the roof structure. Then it is diagonal, or step flashing as it is called, along the steep edges of the chimney and the roof and finally there is saddle flashing at the very top. Because the angles are hard to cover, the flashing on the chimney is let into the mortar in order for it to stick better. This way, rainwater simply has nowhere else to go but down the roof and into the horizontal gutter.


For some reason, people who have slated roofs in their homes always opt to install skylight no matter the cost. The aesthetic appeal is undisputable, but they do not think that such a window set at an angle is at the mercy of the elements. Were it not for skylight flashing, the highest room in the house would turn into a pool. Most skylights come with integrated flashing, but their curves are flashed additionally just in order to be safe. The method of this particular flashing is similar to the one used for chimneys.

Lead flashing

The material used for flashing is mostly lead, but nowadays there is also flashing made from plastic, rubber, and zinc. However, there is a good reason why lead is the oldest in use material for flashing. It has a high density, but it can be easily worked with, as well as being durable and lasting for over a hundred years. This is especially important in places such as Australia, where roofs have to withstand the relentless pounding of the elements season after season. This is why any good quality lead flashings in Sydney must have environmental credentials to ensure the purity of the lead that is reusable. This way, it will be considered a green building material with a low carbon print.

Easy to install

Even lead flashings are surprisingly easy to install. They are malleable so putting them into place is not as hard as it seems, but it still requires an expert hand. Flashings are cut from pre-fabricated rolls of metal so there is no delay at the construction site waiting for them to be made.

Vent pipe flashing

Many houses today are being refitted with new exhaust hoods that need vents. These are often drilled straight through the roof construction and left like that by the handymen. They do put some water protection, but it is insufficient as only a flashing can permanently seal such holes off. Specially designed vent pipe flashings have a cone base which is set directly into the shingles. It is further strengthened with a second layer of counter flashing. In general, the smaller the hole, the harder it is to seal it off.

Protecting the drip edge

So far we have only discussed roof seams. Water actually quite often penetrates the roof at the very edge. This is called a drip edge as it directs the water down towards the gutters. Since it is mostly made of wood, poor construction gets this wood into contact with water and it slowly rots away. That is why a narrow layer of flashing is installed here, so as to prevent drip edges from deteriorating.

The next time you clean the gutters inspect the state of your flashings and if you notice a problem, tend to it immediately. Any failure to immediately react can result in irreversible water damage to the roof structure.



Liam Smith is a young and aspiring Australian blogger with a passion for everything related to home improvement, design and style. He has a B.Sc. in Interior design and is an avid reader.

Chinese contractor starts first Liverpool major project

November 9th, 2018 Comments off

Chinese builder Beijing Construction & Engineering Group International has started work on a 34-storey build-to-rent project for developer Moda on the Liverpool Waterfront.

The Princes Dock tower, designed by Falconer Chester Hall architects, has been called the Lexington because its echoes New York-style designs.

Until now the Chinese state-owned builder has mainly worked in Manchester but is expanding in Liverpool.

Having entered the UK in 2013, BCEGI is an equity and construction partner on Manchester’s £1bn Airport City and preferred contractor on Middlewood Locks, the £1bn mixed-use development in Salford, which will provide 2,215 homes alongside 900,000 sq. ft. of commercial space and a new hotel.

Bachy Soletanche has started work on the historic waterfront site carrying out piling work.

Once completed in 2021, The Lexington will offer 325 flats for rent, with communal facilities including a 17th-floor residents’ lounge, gym, a roof, terrace, a garden and a cinema.

Tony Brooks, managing director at Moda, said: “With Angel Gardens in Manchester on track to complete next year, we’re delighted to have appointed BCEGI to deliver The Lexington.

“Our ambition is to create a true landmark that will add to the already world-famous Liverpool waterfront. BCEGI has a proven track record of successfully delivering some of the North West’s biggest schemes, and we’re delighted to have them on board.”

Yu Dongwen, lead director at BCEGI, said: “We are extremely proud to be appointed by MODA to deliver The Lexington. It is a flagship development that will significantly contribute to the huge transformation of  Liverpool Waters. We are looking forward to building our first project in Liverpool.”


Approaching Construction With An Environmental Mind

November 8th, 2018 Comments off

Approaching Construction With An Environmental Mind


Construction is a very environmentally intensive process, and when it’s done without the prerequisite oversight, it can lead to serious damage to the surrounding area. This post will explore the ways in which construction companies can improve their best practices to help the environment – ensuring that whatever development they’re building is in harmony with the surrounding environment.

Order the right materials

There’s substantial leeway when it comes to eco-friendly construction materials – you don’t necessarily have to opt for concrete or steel, as there are numerous eco-friendly options out there. Bamboo can be used to build eye-catching structures suitable for warmer climes while blending sawdust and concrete together can create ‘Timbercrete’ –  a much more sustainable option utilising a renewable resource.

Very few materials can match up to steel’s suitability for high-rise construction, so, if your project requires strong metal, you should opt for recycled steel – which is becoming increasingly prevalent in modern construction, especially in the form of used shipping containers.

Treat your surroundings with care

An environmental construction process requires special attention to be paid to the surrounding flora and fauna – especially if your project is situated in an area of natural beauty. Buildings in national parks, for example, have to adhere to a set of regulations to make sure they don’t detract from the beauty of the area.

You can reflect this in the construction process by minimising noise and traffic that might disturb the local wildlife, and by avoiding felling trees and vegetation clearance at all costs. This will lead to a finished product that looks like a natural addition to the area, rather than a scar on the landscape.

Incorporate natural elements

One of the major construction trends of this century involves the incorporation of natural flora into the architecture of the building. Major modern landmarks such as the Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh include grass roofs to help insulation in winter, as well as promote an eco-friendly ethos. Such a roof is very easy to fit and requires very little maintenance once put in place.

You can also use your building’s ‘transterior’ spaces – such as courtyards, indoor/outdoor foyers and outdoor seating areas to incorporate some plant life to help the project feel at least a little more eco-friendly. A leafy-bordered building will soften the edges, allowing for an accentuated feeling of environmental harmony.

Consider alternative methods

Last but by no means least, approaching construction with an environmental mind should also cover construction techniques themselves. An emerging option amongst new builds is modular construction, in which pre-built modules, assembled offsite, are transported to the site and added to the building.

This method drastically reduces water and electricity usage on site, as well as producing a noticeable reduction in traffic, as fewer truckloads of raw materials will be needed onsite. If you’re building in a quiet residential area or in a national park, this method should be considered to reduce the overall impact of your construction project.


A sensible blend of these environmental best practices will lead to your building project gaining a more harmonious relationship with its surrounds and the environment as a whole. As the world leans further towards more eco-friendly practices, it’s well worth putting some of these strategies into action.




Author bio:
Suhayl Laher works at Tiles Direct, one of the UK’s largest independent tile distributors and retailers – bringing design inspiration to homeowners, architects and developers.