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STRONG, RELIABLE CONCRETE REPAIR…SIKA’S GOT IT CRACKED

November 21st, 2017 No comments

With winter almost upon us, the anticipated damp and sub-zero temperatures will provide a severe test of the quality of the concrete used to build structures old and new. Over time, frost and ice will do its best to debilitate a building by finding its way into cracks caused by any one of a number of issues. Excess water in the concrete mix; improper strength of concrete poured on-site; conditions too cold for effective application…these are just some of the reasons fissures, which are susceptible to the freeze/thaw process, resulting in crack-widening and the structural integrity of the concrete being tested.

Fortunately, Sika has a proven, high-performance solution for crack repair in newly-poured and refurbished concrete. Sikadur®-52, an injection or poured epoxy resin, provides a reliable seal for a wide range of structural or non-structural applications and uses such as joint and hole filling; crack and void sealing. Easy to mix and apply, Sikadur®-52 is ideal for dry and damp concrete surfaces in horizontal and vertical locations.

Crack repair using Sikadur®-52 couldn’t be simpler. The crack itself doesn’t need to be cut out or the area widened before filling. Sikadur®-52, with its low viscosity, permeates into the smallest of cracks to provide a permanent seal. Impermeable to liquids and water vapour, the system hardens without shrinkage – a vital property when repairing cracks.

As well as offering superb abrasion resistance and mechanical strength, Sikadur®-52 provides excellent adhesion to most construction materials including natural stone, ceramics, fibre cement, mortar, bricks, masonry steel, iron and wood. It is the ideal concrete crack-repair solution for a wide range of infrastructure projects. Slabs, beams and columns found in buildings, bridges and the like are among surfaces ideal for the application of Sikadur®-52.

The upkeep of our infrastructure is not only vital to maintaining elements such as nationwide road and rail routes; neglecting to treat cracks in concrete structures sooner rather than later can lead to greater damage and costly, time-consuming repairs. This could result in cash-strapped local authorities passing the financial burden of such work onto the community in the form of increased council tax bills.

Prevention is better than cure, as the well-known saying goes, and so it is better to repair concrete when the damage is minimal with a reliable, robust solution such as Sikadur®-52, before greater problems take ahold.

To ensure areas that have been repaired are protected from future environment conditions, such as freeze thaw, concrete facades, column, soffits etc. are coated with anti-carbonation coatings. Sika offers a range of coating solutions, which include water based crack bridging systems, resin coatings and hydrophobic impregnations. In buildings and infrastructure projects these protective systems are applied as part of the future repair and maintenance strategy.

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CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY MUST OVERCOME THE LATE PAYMENTS PROBLEM

November 20th, 2017 No comments

The UK construction industry as a whole tends to cling on to outmoded and inefficient payment practices even when presented with more effective ways of working – a point that is particularly valid when it comes to working capital management and payment processing, writes John Vasili, Director of Business Development at Invapay.

The construction industry has a long-standing problem when it comes to B2B payments. The NSCC & FMB Payment Survey revealed that 40 per cent of businesses are not paid within contracted terms, a third of payments due are late – representing 4.4 per cent of turnover on average – and that subcontractors write off £200 million in late payments and retentions.

Clearly, there’s a need for a more efficient way of processing and making payments – one that will benefit businesses of all shapes and sizes and at all stages in the construction lifecycle, from major contractors right down to specialist subcontractors and general suppliers.

Through our partnership with Open ECX and their WebContractor offer we have developed a combined full-service payment solution, providing construction businesses with a quick and effortless way to manage their payment processes and maximise working capital benefits. The direct and indirect benefits to businesses and their suppliers are multiple.

We find that one of the biggest barriers to the adoption of ePayment processing solutions for many businesses is supplier acceptance – with businesses concerned that the implementation of a revised payment processing approach will have a negative knock-on effect for their suppliers. In our experience, this fear is misguided. Our customers tell us they want to maximise their working capital and to get best use of available credit lines but are concerned about the impact on suppliers.

We solve this issue by simply making payments to the suppliers standard bank account– the supplier doesn’t need to know they are being settled via your working capital or available credit lines; all the while operating in the FCA regulated environment and the assurance that brings.

Our customers benefit considerably and are able to maximise the return on working Capital & to fully utilise any credit lines buyers may have available. They can also make accelerated payments to suppliers, whatever the size, thereby securitising the entire construction supply chain.

Our Open ECX colleagues have also faced concerns over supplier acceptance. Their e-invoicing solution automatically converts and validates PDF invoices received from suppliers, completely removing the need for time-consuming manual entry and eliminating human error.

For suppliers it provides them with the benefit of a reduction in payment delays often caused by traditional processes.

Open ECX has found that supplier adoption is often rapid. One builders’ merchant that stocks more than 13,000 product lines across 13 branches, saw the percentage of e-documents being processed rise from around 25-30 per cent to 60 per cent in a matter of months; this led to huge time and efficiency gains, allowing them to redeploy staff to focus on higher value tasks.

There is absolutely no reason for businesses to continue to operate an outmoded payment approach. There is a tried, tested and regulated alternative delivering major efficiency and cashflow benefits for both sides of the construction supply chain.

And unless we as an industry are willing to adapt, then we are resigned to not achieving the best payment practices, return on working capital and suppliers hindered by late and delayed payments for many years to come.

For more on Invapay’s partnership with Open ECX visit http://openecx.co.uk/maximising-payments-maximising-cash-flow/

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360 x 360: Autodesk BIM 360’s Data and Collaboration to become immersive through HoloBuilder

November 16th, 2017 Comments off

HoloBuilder announces partnership with Autodesk’s Connect & Construct Exchange, BIM 360 integration program

SAN FRANCISCO, California – November , 2017 – HoloBuilder Inc., the leading provider of digital construction sites for general contractors and owners, is proud to announce a new partnership with Autodesk, the leader in 3D design, engineering and construction software. The partnership allows customers to seamlessly move between Autodesk’s BIM 360 construction management platform and HoloBuilder’s Construction Solution. This closes the gap between the workflow for 360 reality capturing and virtual walkthroughs as well as document and issue management. The partnership is based on the commitment of both companies to serve professionals in the field and in the office to accelerate delivery, save money and reduce risk. The cross-platform integration is implemented utilizing Autodesk Forge technology. The announcement was made at Autodesk University, the company’s flagship user conference in Las Vegas, which welcomes more than 10,000 Autodesk customers annually.

The integration allows users to add issues to the BIM 360 platform from within their HoloBuilder project. The connection between immersive 360-degree construction documentation and issue management also allows users to virtually walk the construction site and create issues at the same time, without ever needing to leave their desks. Created issues are also linked to their position within HoloBuilder’s documentation so that users can easily find the affected area and understand the context.

HoloBuilder’s integration with BIM 360 eliminates data silos. Users can add documents, like sheets and floor plans, from BIM 360 to the HoloBuilder environment. This ensures that any documents used within HoloBuilder are always up to date. Further functionality which allows customers to link additional information between BIM 360 and HoloBuilder will be released shortly.

“I am excited for this partnership as it allows us to connect and streamline construction project workflows,” Mostafa Akbari, CEO of HoloBuilder. “We have built HoloBuilder from the ground up to save time for our construction customers around the world when capturing reality and sharing this with stakeholders. As we now provide access and a connection to the BIM 360 construction management platform, this eliminates duplicate work and interruptions in the overall workflow, resulting in further efficiency gains.”

“We are thrilled to have HoloBuilder, a leader in 360-degree reality capture, serve as an inaugural member of the Connect & Construct Exchange,” said Sarah Hodges, Director of Autodesk’s Construction Business Line. “HoloBuilder’s seamless integration with Autodesk’s BIM 360 construction management platform is another example of how partnerships like these will make construction safer, simpler, and smarter.”

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The Construction Industry’s Charity Contributions

November 14th, 2017 Comments off

Homer, the Greek poet, famously said, “The charity that is a trifle to us can be precious to others”. Statistics, as of 2005, estimated that at least 100 million people worldwide were homeless and in the 12 years since, the number has only risen, with over 300,000 homeless in The UK and 1.6 billion worldwide.

The global construction market is currently valued at £6.5 trillion, with an expected growth to £8 trillion in 2020. In the UK alone, over £136 million was spent on construction in 2016, 2.4% up on 2015.

Considering what we just told you about homelessness and the construction industry, it is indeed a contradictory picture that emerges. If construction is one of the largest industries, then how is it that so many people haven’t got a roof over their heads? Poverty, increasing population, and inadequate facilities have led to homelessness even in first world nations such as the United States of America, with New York, Los Angeles and Phoenix all featuring in the list of top 15 cities based on homelessness; a highly ironic fact given that the US’ construction industry contributes $78.4 billion dollars per annum to the country’s GDP. Even more astounding is that fact that about 25% of all homeless people in the world are children. That means every fourth homeless person is a child!

So where do we draw a connection between these two completely opposite yet related aspects of humanity? And where do the deeds of giving and charity come into play, in all of this? Well, charity isn’t only restricted to food and clothing.

Charity and the Construction Industry

The role of charity in the construction industry isn’t a recent development. In fact, substantial evidence of charity in the construction industry can be traced back to the “First Houses” project, a public housing project by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) in 1935. Labor was donated to the project by the Emergency Relief Fund and financed by philanthropist Bernard Baruch. The NYCHA also sold salvaged material from its other clearance projects to raise funding for “First Houses”

Today, many organizations exist worldwide that donate labor and material to various housing and school projects around the world. Construction giants such as Windover Construction and Skanska in the USA conduct independent campaigns and drives to build homes, apartment complexes and educational outreach programs for homeless veterans, the elderly and children. Whilst in the UK, the construction industry’s charity CRASH works with volunteers and patron companies to deliver much needed support to homeless and hospice charities across the country.

How Companies Can Get Involved

Construction companies undertake projects of massive proportions. It’s, therefore, an easily deducible fact that more often than not, there will be excesses of construction material, which is paid for by the consumer but not often utilized. Be it paint, tiles, or any of the other commonly used materials, these can be donated to non-profit organizations. A tiling company could easily donate tiles for the roofing and flooring of children’s homes and orphanages. A company that produces sanitary equipment could donate leftover materials from projects to schools or housing complexes.

Another way that companies can make a difference is by tying up with organizations such as CRASH or  Habitat for Humanity International, a not-for-profit organization that helps end homelessness around the world through its many branches. The organization accepts professional services as well as materials such as lumber, paint, equipment, trucks, tools, appliances, and fixed furnishing towards its campaigns, either as a donation or at a discounted amount in return for tax deductions.

For example, donors have the option of donating “gifts-in-kind”, a tax-deductible gift of services, labor, or materials of value to the organization. These could include shingles, plumbing services or tools, or even a donation of land.

Also, it’s not merely housing projects that can be undertaken by construction companies. Creativity can lead, with children’s playgrounds, donated land with simple recreational facilities or even skating rinks, all requiring the most basic construction materials. Building schools and libraries for communities that lack these facilities can go a long way in the realm of literacy for the poor.

The simplicity of charity in relation to construction industries lies in their architectural efficiency.  For example, building apartments can minimize the materials and space required to relocate a community. When it comes to orphanages, hospices and other organizations, an association with a company committed to bettering the society and fulfilling its corporate social responsibility is desirable. Therefore, construction companies could fulfill their Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) by donating to organizations such as Mellon Educate to help further several housing projects.

With frequent news of hurricanes, earthquakes and the like, another important aspect of charity in construction is the building of safer houses in high-impact regions. Further, the materials that once supported a structure can be reused to the best of its ability, especially under the experienced eye of an architectural company. Sustainable housing and development fall within the same realm, as simpler housing complexes imply cheaper livelihoods. This would mean that people living below the poverty line or who are homeless would be able to gain a roof over their heads, at almost zero cost.

To quickly recap, these are the ways in which construction companies could lend a charitable hand:

  • Donating excess or leftover material from previous projects, such as wood, tiles, sanitary equipment, concrete, cement, and so on.
  • Donating land to build houses and schools and even recreational spaces for children.
  • Fulfilling their CSR by donating monetarily or in-kind.
  • Provide assistance during disasters.
  • Provide expert services and labor in the form of employees and volunteers.

Make a Difference

As Thomas Fuller said, “Charity begins at home, but shouldn’t end there”. The possibilities of giving are endless if only the opportunities are recognized. Given the state of homelessness on a global level, every small step counts towards bettering lives, whether it’s a donation of your time or resources. Charity isn’t exclusive to any field; every field has something to give or can find something to give! Construction companies make a difference with the many projects they undertake, be it historical buildings, modern work spaces or grand establishments. However, at a very basic level, all of humanity needs a roof over its head. Be a part of a bigger difference.

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Home Hosting: One Third Of British Homeowners Inspired To Rent Out Their Homes After Rise In Airbnb Popularity

November 13th, 2017 Comments off

A brand new study looking into ‘home hosting’ has revealed that as many as one third of British homeowners have been inspired to rent out their homes to paying customers thanks to the growing popularity of sites like Airbnb, Tripping.com & HomeAway.

 

Homeowners living in the South East, North West and Wales are the most likely to be intrigued by the potential financial opportunities associated with becoming a home host and renting out their properties or rooms to tourists, with the average homeowner expecting to receive £250 per week from visitors staying at their residence during peak periods of the year.

 

As part of the study, the team at www.coverbuilder.co.uk polled 2,983 adults aged 25 and over, all of whom owned at least one property in the UK, in a bid to uncover how much Britons understand about  home hosting, and how many might be looking to take advantage of the growing industry in the coming years. All those taking part were split evenly across each of the UK regions.

 

All participants were initially asked to disclose if they currently had a property or rooms they owned listed on a site such as Airbnb for travellers to stay in, with less than one in ten (7%) claiming that they did. A further 28% of respondents admitted that, although their homes weren’t yet listed on a home hosting site, it’s something that they were planning on doing in the future after seeing others do so.

 

When asked to state their main motivation behind renting out their property, or rooms within a home, the majority (78%) admitted that they were financial and profit-focused.  12% admitted it was ‘in order to introduce family to new people from all around the world’, with 3% confessing that they’d be joining ‘in order to enjoy the company of others and feel less lonely at home’.

 

Relevant participants were then asked to disclose their approach to using home hosting sites, with just over a fifth (21%) stating they’d be advertising their property on a hosting site year-round, with the remaining 79% doing so during peak periods when a local city or town has an event that tourists are likely to flock to.

 

Next, those already renting out a property or rooms, as well as looking to rent out their homes, on a hosting site were asked to state how much money they’d be hoping to make through renting out their home, per week, during peak periods. The average amount emerged as £250.

 

In order to uncover the areas of the UK with homeowners most likely to be using, or planning to use, a home hosting website in the future, researchers analysed answers to reveal the geographical breakdown of participants, with the number of those interested in home hosting revealed as follows:

 

  • South East – 16% (of those using or looking to list their property on a home hosting site lived here)
  • North West -14%
  • Wales – 12%
  • London – 11%
  • Scotland – 10%
  • South West  – 7%
  • West Midlands – 6%
  • Northern Ireland – 6%
  • Yorkshire and Humberside -6%
  • East Midlands -5%
  • East of England – 5%
  • North East – 2%

Finally, all relevant participants were asked if the thought of visitors damaging or causing harm to their property had put them off renting out homes or rooms on hosting sites, with the vast majority (68%) admitting that it had done. Furthermore, just 18% had either purchased or looked into specialist home insurance required to protect those using home-sharing services.

 

Rob Rushton, Head of coverbuilder.co.uk said:

 

“Tourists are increasingly looking to sites like Airbnb in order to experience a more cultural trip and avoid bland or overpriced hotels, and as a result British homeowners living in areas that regularly attract tourism can financially benefit from renting out properties through sites.

 

“Those looking to take advantage of the industry mightn’t be aware, but it’s important to look into specialist insurance for home hosting, as failure to inform your home insurer that you have paying guests occasionally staying at your house could result in them refusing to pay out on an insurance claim you make, even if the claim has nothing to do with a guest.”

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ARCHITECTS CELEBRATE ANNIVERSARY WITH TOUR OF LANDMARK PROJECT

November 8th, 2017 Comments off

Architects maber celebrated the tenth anniversary of their Leicester office with a VIP tour of one of their latest projects in the city – the restoration and refurbishment of the Great Hall of Leicester Castle.

The firm’s roots go back more than 30 years, and it employs 70 people across five offices in the Midlands and London. Since the Leicester office opened in 2007, it has grown to employ ten people in the city and has been responsible for some of Leicester’s best known buildings and architectural projects.

Ian Harris, a director of maber who heads the Leicester office, said: “Two huge reasons for our success are long-term relationships with clients and the talent of our people, so it was great to bring everyone together to celebrate in an amazing space.”

Guests at the tenth birthday party toured the newly-refurbished Great Hall, thought to be the largest medieval hall of its kind in Europe. Converting it into a new Business School for De Montfort University brought together a wide range of the practice’s skills, including architecture, interior design, landscape design and conservation.

Part of the hall, once used as a Crown Court, retains the gothic Victorian furniture, including the judge’s chair, dock and jury benches, which must rank it as one of the most unusual university teaching spaces in the world.

Some of maber’s other major Leicester projects include:

  • The King Richard III Visitor Centre in the city centre, a £4 million project designed to tell the story of “the king in the car park”.
  • The Summit, a £13 million, 12,200 sq m student residential space with a 22-storey tower that has created a new landmark at the western gateway to the city.
  • New Walk Museum’s stunning new entrance and spiral staircase, featuring a design inspired by ammonites
  • Charnwood Primary School for Leicester City Council, an award-winning design that complements the traditional architecture of the existing Victorian school buildings.

Originally formed in 1983 in Nottingham, maber now also has offices in Birmingham, Derby and London as well as Leicester. A multi-award-winning architectural practice, it specialises in education, sport, industrial, leisure, culture, residential, workplace, commercial and health.

As well as touring the Great Hall, birthday celebration guests also experienced some of maber’s latest technology, including virtual reality, 3D design and 3D printing as well as Indian snacks and a slice of birthday cake.

 

www.maber.co.uk

 

About Maber

 

Maber is an architectural practice with bases in the Midlands (in Nottingham, Derby, Leicester and Birmingham) and London. Founded in 1983, it has a growing team of 70 qualified professionals, specialising in architecture, landscaping and interior design. The firm has an established reputation in the education, sport, industrial, leisure, retail, culture, residential, workplace, commercial and health sectors.

 

  • Architecture
  • Interior Design
  • Landscape Design
  • Sustainability
  • BIM
  • Masterplanning and Urban Design
  • Contractor Collaboration
  • Conservation

 

www.maber.co.uk

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CONCERNS RAISED AS FIRMS FAIL TO TAKE UP APPRENTICESHIP LEVY

November 2nd, 2017 Comments off

One of the leading providers of apprenticeships for construction and utility firms has reacted with concern to news that two thirds of companies are failing to take up the Apprenticeship Levy offer.

Chris Wood, CEO of Develop Training Ltd (DTL), said with a two-year time limit on accessing funding, firms were facing a ticking time bomb after which the money they paid into the levy would be lost to the taxman.

He was responding to a survey by West London College that found only 32 per cent of employers who qualify have used the funding.

Mr Wood said: “At a time when the country is suffering from serious skills shortages, it is worrying that businesses are missing out on an opportunity to train new and existing staff.”

He pointed out that firms with a £3 million pay bill and above are legally required to pay into the levy via the PAYE scheme: “If they do not access funds to train people, they are choosing to be taxed instead.”

Mr Wood highlighted the two-year time limit within which firms have to use their Levy funding.

“There is evidence that employers don’t fully understand the Levy, so while some may have weighed up the pros and cons before making a decision, it’s likely that others will be out of pocket because they didn’t get to grips with it early enough,” said Mr Wood.

“They really need to get help to navigate their way through the options because this is a ticking time bomb.”

DTL already works on Levy-funded apprenticeships with major utility companies including Amey, SGN and South Staffordshire Water.

The firm also specialises in providing consultancy advice to help firms plan their use of the Levy and align that to meeting their training needs.

While DTL welcomed the announcement of the Apprenticeship Levy, it has consistently warned that both the government and the construction, utility and energy sector need to do more to address the sector’s chronic skills gap.

It runs an Industry Skills Forum where senior HR personnel discuss the issues and formulate strategies to jointly solve the problems posed by an ageing workforce and a young generation who don’t envisage a career in construction or the utilities sector.

DTL also supports clients to bring people into the industry by helping them to manage initiatives such as recruitment days.

The company has delivered more than 1,000 apprenticeship programmes. One of these is for dual fuel smart meter installation engineers, a shortage of whom means the government may miss its target for rolling out meters nationwide. Other apprenticeships include gas network team leader, utilities engineering technician, installation electrician and water process technician as well as supervisory and management roles.

 

www.developtraining.co.uk
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The future of IoT in manufacturing

November 1st, 2017 Comments off

The future of IoT in manufacturing

IoT is a common term used within the manufacturing industry. It stands for Internet of Things and can be referred to as Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). If you haven’t already implemented it in your business, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about — is it really going to revolutionise manufacturing in the way that so many articles promise? The short answer is yes.

IoT is not limited to manufacturing however; you may have a smart TV sitting in the corner of your living room or a host of intelligent kitchen appliances. They all fall under the IoT umbrella terms — they’re interconnected devices with advanced features and capabilities that make our day-to-day lives more efficient.

Where is this technology heading? And is it worth getting amongst this trend as a manufacturer? Manufacturing software provider Datawright answers those questions here:

Should I be investing in IoT as a manufacturer?

The short answer to this question is yes. Any technology that promises greater efficiencies should be welcomed by manufacturers. The IIoT has transforming the traditional face of the factory through streamlining processes and maximising production yields. So, what are the main benefits that the IoT can bring to the manufacturing industry?

  • More intelligent machinery — by implementing the IoT in the traditional sphere of manufacturing, manufacturers can gain greater visibility of production performance, supporting the early detection of delays to minimise downtime and maximise productivity.
  • Better data collection and analysis — through collecting productivity and waste performance data, manufacturers are able to make more informed decisions to improve their company’s overall performance.
  • Improved resource management — by understanding how a machine performs and is being used, manufacturers can safeguard workers, boost productivity and reduce associated operating costs.

As with the introduction of any new operational change, manufacturers are naturally sceptical about introducing IIoT. If you’ve buried your head in the sand hoping that the IIoT wave will pass you by, you are very much mistaken.

IIoT is disruptive and there’s no way to avoid this, but it’s a negative worth considering. For some, this is a scary prospect, pushing them further towards their familiar working practices. Doing so puts your company at risk of being left behind, as your competitors embrace the technology and continue to march forward.

Ignoring the current trends and technologies can be detrimental to a business and could eventually lead to failure. Blockbuster is just one example; the video rental brand neglected the growing dominance of DVDs and video streaming services, which ultimately led to its failure. Ignoring the IoT places your company at risk of following a similar route.

Looking to the future

Connected devices are on the rise, and by the end of 2017 it is expected that there will be 8.4 billion connected things – up 31% on 2016s total. Fast-forward to 2020 and this figure will more than double to 20.4 billion. Clearly, the IoT is not a fad; it’s a trend that will completely revolutionise manufacturing.

As connected devices increase in popularity, the number of manufacturers accepting IoT will increase too. By the start of 2018, 60% of manufacturers will use connected products to capture and analyse data, delivering a 15% increase in productivity.

Telling a similar story is research conducted by Verizon. This suggests that IoT-enabled manufacturers will be 10% more profitable than those who aren’t. You can’t ignore these figures in a sector so heavily focused around productivity and performance.

Similar to the introduction of other advanced processes and technologies, there are security concerns. Estimates predict that by 2020, IoT connected devices will be the target of more than a quarter of all enterprise security attacks. To combat this, manufacturers will naturally have to increase their security spend to safeguard their IoT systems. Experts predict that the global security spend will reach $547.2 million by 2018.

Although manufacturers remain hesitant, it’s clear that the positives outweigh the negatives when examining IIoT. With the future of the IoT looking bright, manufacturers are faced with a choice: to adopt and move forward or ignore and stand still. Which path will you choose?

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One In Eight British Homeowners Are Planning To Buy A Second Property In The Next 10 Years

October 30th, 2017 Comments off

A new study has revealed that whilst 12% of homeowners polled in a new study are saving to invest in a second property within the next decade, the majority of these individuals admit they’ve not fully researched the costs associated with doing so, such as stamp duty surcharges and periods of unoccupancy.

Whilst undertaking new research into the future investment plans of homeowners, a UK insurance agency has uncovered that as many as two thirds of Britons want to add value to their homes through extensions, conversions or conservatories, whilst almost one in three plan to make overpayments on their mortgage product in order to pay off their loan before their agreed term length ends.

As part of the study, the team at www.coverbuilder.co.uk polled 2,784 UK adults aged 25 and over, who’d all purchased a property within the last 10 years, in order to understand Britons financial plans for the future with regards to homeownership. All those taking part were from an even split of each of the UK regions.

When respondents were initially asked to state roughly how much longer they had left on their mortgage terms, the average length of time emerged as 14 years.

All homeowners were then given a list of potential options relating to their property and asked to reveal which, if any, they’d considered doing themselves during the next 10 years. The results emerged as follows:

  1. I plan to add extra rooms to my property (e.g. extensions/loft conversions/conservatories etc…) – 59%
  2. I plan to remodel rooms in my house – 47%
  3. I plan to take in lodgers/tenants to rent out spare rooms in my property  – 32%
  4. I plan to make overpayments on my mortgage in order to pay off my loan before the agreed term length ends – 28%
  5. I plan to save up and purchase a second ‘buy-to-let’ property – 13%

Next, those that stated that they were planning on owning a second property within the next decade were asked if they’d begun to fully research the costs associated with doing so, such as the stamp duty surcharge and the issues surrounding periods of unoccupancy. The majority of these individuals (71%) confessed to researchers that they’d not yet begun to look into the implications and potential drawbacks of owning a second property, but that they planned on doing so within the next year.

In order to uncover the areas of the UK with homeowners most likely to want to invest in a second property within the next 10 years, researchers analysed answers to reveal the geographical breakdown of participants, with the number of those looking to purchase another home as follows:

  • South East – 16% (of those looking to purchase a second property lived here)
  • South West  – 15%
  • Scotland – 12%
  • North East – 10%
  • London – 9%
  • West Midlands – 8%
  • East of England -6%
  • East Midlands – 6%
  • North West – 5%
  • Northern Ireland – 4%
  • Wales – 4%
  • Yorkshire and Humberside – 3%

Finally, the 87% of homeowners not planning to purchase a buy-to-let property in the future were asked if it was something they’d previously considered, with more than one fifth (21%) admitting they’d “considered it in the past but decided it was no longer something I wanted to pursue.” When asked to reveal why they’d come to this conclusion, “increasingly strict regulations and legal requirements for buy-to-let owners” (64%), “the hassle of on-going maintenance work on the property” (27%) and “the financial risks of not finding suitable tenants” (12%) emerged as the most common reasons Britons had been put off.

Rob Rushton, Head of coverbuilder.co.uk says:

“To purchase a buy-to-let or not to purchase a buy-to-let, that is the question. In theory there are many benefits to owning a second property, but unless you are fully prepared for the reality of the additional financial costs, legal requirements and have a sufficient amount of funds to fall back on, then it might not be the best financial investment for you.

“In 2015, there were an estimated 700,000 empty properties in the UK, so there is also the potential risk of purchasing a home that ultimately won’t have an immediate tenant. This, combined with increasing regulations and rules surrounding a second property will have Britons questioning whether they are truly prepared for both the financial and administrative commitment.”

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DESIGN AND IN-USE: CLOSING THE PERFORMANCE GAP

October 26th, 2017 Comments off

As we drive the performance of our building stock, it is becoming clear that one of the key challenges we must address is narrowing the gap between design and actual performance. The industry needs support to ensure we use more accurate modelling and data in order to understand how the building will perform in operation. If we don’t, the gap in performance can be as big as 200-450% greater than predicted.

With project costs squeezed and ‘value engineered’, all too often performance suffers. By allowing design teams more time to spend on modelling and considering how the building will be used by its occupants, rather than being forced into ‘default values’ and specification, we will go some of the way to eliminating this performance gap.

 

Understanding the gap

The performance gap has two components: the compliance gap and the actual performance gap. The modellers estimate 50-70% is the compliance gap and can be solved by more realistic modelling mirroring the conditions more closely. The reasons for the second and larger actual performance gap are generally unknown. There’s speculation about this and assumptions, but little in the way of hard evidence.

When a building is managed effectively, property value is maximised. A high performing building will ultimately generate maximum profit via high and continuous rental income, low operating and maintenance costs and low depreciation.

Modelling tools are used for compliance, which means they use standard default values for the building design. All the operational plant which controls the building is then set at these ‘standardised driving’ conditions and the occupancy density (i.e people versus square metres) is based on industry averages.

As a result these standard default values underestimate the usage by up to 100%. Software is used to meet building regulations and energy performance certificates, as well as being used for ranking rather than the operation of the building. When you pass the design stage, it’s essential that real numbers are inputted and this can be done via modelling techniques such as the Green Deal software developed by BRE. This allows users to tailor the usage of the building to match real operating conditions in. It allows you to work out what it should and shouldn’t be.

But from that point onwards much depends on how well the building is commissioned; what maintenance strategies and schedules are put into place; and how the building is managed. If this doesn’t happen you begin to see divergence. Buildings need to be commissioned properly with particular attention made to control systems and the needs of the occupants.

 

The power of management

Building management systems (BMSs) and building energy management systems (BEMSs) are powerful tools in ensuring that buildings are run efficiently and provide the desired environment for the occupants. As technology becomes cheaper and advances more rapidly, control systems need to be flexible, upgradable and have the facility to easily communicate and integrate with other systems.

However, care needs to be taken in their operation, and staff using these systems need to be fully trained. Ongoing commissioning and preventative maintenance needs to be carried out to ensure the potentially large energy savings are realised, operational costs are controlled and expensive failures do not occur. End-user needs should be taken into account, while staff training and awareness-raising should be carried out to get the building’s occupants involved.

Ongoing commissioning is essentially a higher form of maintenance. Maintenance simply deals with faults. It’s also important to consider management issues. Is the right environment being provided? Is it being provided in the proper place? Is the building being turned off at the right times?

If it is not managed properly, the performance gap will only get worse. Modelling doesn’t help with the building in-use but baselines the building predicted performance. It starts by putting decent controls in so things are turned off when they are not occupied. Once you have control of the building, you can put the management systems in place so that building is optimised for energy usage.

 

Focus on people

One of the most important things to remember is that a building is built for the occupant. In terms of costs, staffing is around 95% and workplaces are key to productivity. Any reduction in productivity has a large effect on a business’s bottom line; after all 95% of operational costs are the staff. Buildings therefore need to be efficient, responsive and innovative, which is why it is so important to optimise the environment in first place.

It’s imperative that the industry treats the underlying causes not the symptoms. It’s like the heart problem analogy. A surgeon might repair a damaged heart with a stem cell but not treat the inherent diet and lifestyle issues.

One of the main problems is that architects are not bringing the design teams early enough in the design process. The later you do this, the more expensive it gets and reduces the benefits in the long term. By engaging with the performance gap, it’s possible to deliver the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.

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