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The Crucial Stages Of A Construction Project

June 6th, 2019 No comments

Construction projects must have certain steps and processes followed in order to achieve the desired outcome. It is crucial for these processes to be split into stages as constructing a structure can be a huge undertaking, sometimes taking many months to complete. If a step or process is missed, it can cause serious delays in the construction project. So without further ado, here are the crucial stages of every construction project!

Inception Stage:

This is the stage where it is still largely in the hands of the client and the project owners. The conception of a project can take weeks to months, depending on how urgent the deadline is. During this stage there is a lot of research done and many things are decided, such as the construction location, the specification, the final design and standards of the project, as well as deciding who will be involved, such as contractors.

Concept Design Stage:

This phase is perhaps the most crucial of them all, with a lot of heavy decisions made. Construction project design is influenced by the scope of the project, its individual budget and requirements. Once parameters have been established in the inception stage, logistics are figured out such as how big the structure will be, the number of rooms and how to utilise the space.

Pre-Construction Stage:

Before construction can begin, a project team must be put together. This usually consists of a health and safety manager, an architect, a field engineer, construction project manager and designers. A project can remain in this stage for a while because the project team must examine the site to detect and predict environmental challenges, as well as testing the soil and putting the results forward for reviewal. Once everything has been signed off, the next stage can begin.

Procuring Materials, Equipment and Workforce:

During this integral stage, all the necessary materials, equipment and workforce (including contractors) are procured. Depending on resources and on how big the project is, this stage can be quite challenging and intricate. Materials such as concrete, plaster, cement and mortar, as well as cables, mesh, lighting and metals for fabrication, are procured – this list is not exhaustive and what is procured is largely dependant on each individual project! It is also typical for construction companies to simultaneously order materials and equipment for multiple projects, as well as construction workers working on several projects at once. This stage can also be a major expense in construction, so it’s crucial for this to be planned, executed and controlled accordingly, to minimise costs.

Construction Stage:

Now this is the stage where the construction begins! Lots of initial meetings are held at the beginning of this stage to ensure that everyone involved is on the same page, and knows their role in the project, including timings, deadlines and the location of materials. A lot of employees, contractors and subcontractors will be unable to begin their portion of the project such as installing lighting, architectural rigging and balustrades, until certain aspects are completed. The consequences of poor planning and delays will become evident during this stage.

Post-Construction Stage:

When construction is completed, there needs to be a final inspection of the building. This step is paramount for safety reasons and to ensure that every step and process was followed through accordingly to meet the exact specifications given by the client. Usually, no issues are found at this point as regular inspections will have been conducted throughout the construction stage. The client will also be trained to operate and maintain the newly-built structure, which will also still be under warranty. Contractual agreements and a post-project review usually occurs during this stage as well.

In sum, no matter how big or small a construction project is, there are crucial steps and stages that cannot be skipped. A large part of a project in construction successfully coming to fruition boils down to careful planning and execution. Each phase in a construction project needs to be streamlined in order to meet the pre-agreed time constraints and budgets – it is not a straightforward task!


Laura Driver is a Brit working abroad. She works in outreach and has dabbled in copywriting, SEO, Outreach and Digital PR for a wide range of industries. Laura is especially experienced in writing for construction, architectural rigging and fabrication.


HLM’s Emergency Services Design Expertise Brought to Life as Ground Broken at Crowthorne Community Fire Station

June 5th, 2019 No comments

HLM, a leading design and architecture practice with studios in Belfast, has embarked upon a new project with Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS).

Group shot in front of Crowthorne fires station, , Crowthorne, 9th May 2019

An impressive ground breaking ceremony at Crowthorne Community Fire Station has started the redevelopment of the current fire station facilities to create the second tri-service station in Berkshire. Directed by HLM’s Head of Emergency Service, Steven Lennon, the HLM design team is leading the complete design project for the rebuild, including interior and landscape design.

The project is part of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority’s Capital Investment programme. A vital focus of the new design is to provide a recognisable property brand across the Service area.  The new station will provide a base for all three blue light services, as well as, much needed community accessible facilities in the heart of the village.

The most important outcome for the design is having a fit for purpose facility that support the role of a modern firefighter, as well as the local community that they serve. The design of the new station ensures that operational requirements and processes have been incorporated into the building around them. This has been achieved through the inclusion of a two-vehicle appliance bay, which will support emergency response. There is also a compact gym that demonstrates the understanding and importance of fitness standards for firefighters.

To create a building for all, HLM has designed a community room within the new station, to be used by local community groups. In recognition of the importance of local community involvement, members of the public were invited to the ground breaking ceremony to learn more about the project.

Steven Lennon, Head of Emergency Services, HLM, said, “We are always delighted to work with RBFRS to develop leading fire stations in keeping with contemporary development in the emergency services sector. As well as being lead designers, we are also creating the interiors and landscaping for the project. Crowthorne Community Fire Station will become a strong focal point for all, focusing on the technology requirements and response times for firefighters, and also considering the needs of the local community.  

Alex Brown, Head of Property Capital Projects & Estates at Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service said, “HLM have clearly demonstrated their expertise within the emergency services sector and more specifically in fire station design.  We have enjoyed working closely with the team to develop the design and requirements of Crowthorne Community Fire Station and we look forward to opening the new building.”

This is HLM’s second Tri-Service (on-call) Community Fire Station, working in partnership with RBFRS, having previously designed Hungerford Community Fire Station in 2017.

HLM offers expertise across five disciplines including Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, Environmental and Masterplanning. It has studios in Belfast, London, Sheffield, Glasgow, Cardiff and Manchester, as well as Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

For more information on HLM visit and follow @HLMArchitects on Twitter.



June 4th, 2019 No comments
  • North West construction businesses working on the Paddington Village development join forces to buck the national skills shortage trend
  • Young people challenged to come up with solutions to attract others into construction sector
  • Award-winning programme helping to bridge the ‘skills gap’ for the region’s employers

A consortium consisting of leading construction businesses Morgan Sindall Construction, Curtins, Faithful+Gould, Ryder Architecture and Regenda Group is collaborating with Agent Academy CIC to create new employment opportunities for young people across Liverpool City Region.

With five years’ experience of securing jobs for young people in the creative and digital sector, creating £2.5 million in annual salaries, Agent Academy will work with the consortium to understand what can be done to encourage more young people to consider careers in construction. 

During the three-month project a group of 12 young people will be challenged with finding solutions to the construction sector skills shortage. They will learn from experts in both built environment and marketing, engage in research with other young people from diverse social backgrounds and use the insights they gain to come up with answers to their unique challenge.

Every Agent Academy programme is underpinned with a client challenge enabling the young people to put their learning into practice. During this programme, the programme participants will meet with over 40 city leaders as well as hundreds of other young people to bring about their client recommendations. 

Recent CITB research shows that there is significant room for improvement regarding young people’s perception of the construction industry as a career option, with it scoring 4.2 out of 10 among 14 to 19 year olds. The research showed that young people’s understanding of what a career in the construction industry entails is based on outdated stereotypes and differs greatly from the reality.

Sue Patterson, senior business development manager at Morgan Sindall Construction in the North West, said:

“We regularly visit local schools and run jobs fairs, and often find that many young people are completely unaware of the great variety of career opportunities available in the sector. As an industry, it’s our responsibility to demonstrate the wide variety of fulfilling roles that construction has to offer.

“In order to make construction more sustainable for the future and to boost employment opportunities in the communities in which we work, it’s critical that we demonstrate the great number of careers available to all young people and attract a more diverse workforce in to the sector. 

“The work we are undertaking with Agent Academy enables us to take a completely fresh approach to this complex issue by having young people engage with their peers to consider solutions on how to best promote the many fantastic careers that our industry has to offer.”

Zoe Wallace, director at Agent Academy, said:

“Agent Academy has a track record tackling the talent challenge faced by the creative and digital industry by giving young people the opportunity to upskill and then kick-start their careers. We hope that this experience together with the insight from our students will give a fresh perspective to how the construction sector can tackle talent issues. 

“The young people on this programme will come up with the answers that many construction industry businesses are looking for. 95% of the young people we work with gain full-time industry employment after completing the programme so it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

“We have a lot to look forward to, despite the skills challenges faced by our region’s employers there are so many opportunities and by coming up with new ways to engage the regions young people and motivate them we can make sure they are ready to take on the careers of the future.”

Ged McNicholl, regional director, Faithful+Gould, added:

“The opportunities in the construction industry are vast. Diversity in the industry is a challenge, but through the research from this project we are determined to change this to make a career in the construction industry appealing to all.  

“We are all taking a collaborative and forward-looking approach to solving the challenges faced by the sector and I believe the next generation can play a big part in this, particularly when it comes to bringing new technology and more digital ways of working into the industry.”


Uncertain times hold no fears for trussed rafter manufacturers

June 3rd, 2019 No comments

In the face of Brexit and other challenges this year, leading trussed rafter manufacturers and timber engineering firms learned to tackle fear like a Marine Commando, at a high energy AGM and conference for the Trussed Rafter Association (TRA) on 2 May.

More than 70 directors and business leaders within the sector met in Warrington this month to discuss some of the key issues creating uncertain times.

This included presentations on changing legislation regarding wood dust, changing Building Regulations and testing requirements on fire safety, and a continuing skills crisis across construction.

Nick Boulton, TRA Chief Executive said:

“That was an uplifting and thought-provoking conference. It has left trussed rafter and metal web joist manufacturers and installers much better informed of the big issues affecting our industry this year and next.”

“Prepare now to demonstrate professional competence in everything you do,” warned Barry Turner, director of technical policy at LABC. This was the main issue that all firms, big and small, should take seriously in the post-Grenfell era, he explained, while also making clear his concerns regarding the new ‘clarified’ Approved Document B on fire safety which is due for publication this month.

Similar warnings to prepare for new legislation came from occupational health expert Alan Ballard from ELAS. He broke the news of reduced softwood dust workplace exposure limits by the HSE coming into effect in 2023 – a health and safety change which is going to demand innovative solutions from the industry and its cutting machinery suppliers.

Mental health is continuing to be an issue within construction. “Construction has the highest suicide rate of any industry in the UK, America and Australia. This is a statistic that needs to change,” said Bill Hill, chief executive of the Lighthouse Construction Industry charity.

In light of this shocking statistic, The Building Mental Health campaign has been launched to support construction workers at all levels, with a free Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). Other support tools are also available via their website. 

How do you market your company and its career opportunities to Generation Z? That was the question posed by Liz Male, managing director of LMC, the TRA’s PR and marketing agency.

As the skills crisis escalates, attracting and retaining talent is becoming an increasingly urgent issue. Liz’s description of Generation Z and what engages them really resonated with the TRA members and highlighted the need for much more face-to-face communications and involvement with local schools and colleges in the battle for talent.

A big technical innovation also had its debut at the TRA’s conference. The Cullen Gable Restraint Bracket allows for a complete system to connect timber gables and masonry walls to the roof structure in order to resist wind loadings.

Scott McAndrew, R&D manager at ITW Construction Products explained how the system has now been accepted by the NHBC as meeting its technical requirements and how it delivers a robust structural fixing for timber gables. Site testing with housebuilders had gone well, he said, and the new connector will be adopted by the TRA in its forthcoming Gable Panel Guide.

Housebuilders in Ireland can also have more confidence in the fire safety of the homes they are building, thanks to a successful metal web joist fire testing programme carried out by the TRA. This was off the back of Irish Government’s decision to move to Eurocode test standards.

An update on this fire safety project was presented by Julian Marcroft of MiTek. TRA Ireland has already issued guidance to its members who produce metal web floor joists, to assist them with designing and constructing products which are compliant with fire safety in Part B of the Ireland building regulations.

Finally, back to the Commando reference. A tour of Afghanistan taught former Marine Commando, Ben Williams, a lot about fear and how to manage it. He brought this experience to the AGM but with a business spin on it.

Fear can stifle creativity within a company, he explained, before talking about how all businesses – including those in this industry facing an uncertain future – can build up resilience and overcome fear and anxiety to perform in the most gruelling of circumstances.

Ben is now a leadership coach and mentor working with premier league footballers as well as business leaders in VW, Travis Perkins, Keyline and Oneserve. His wisdom was the perfect end to the conference and left everyone feeling positive and reinvigorated for the year ahead.


Can Your Business Afford To Ignore Mental Health In The Workplace?

May 30th, 2019 No comments
  • Mental health issues now affect 1 in 6 UK workers.
  • 91 million workdays are lost in the UK due to symptoms of mental health problems.
  • The cost to employers is approx. £34.9 billion each year.
  • This equals £1,300 for every employee in the UK workforce.
  • The Department of Work and Pensions estimates that around 300,000 people with a long-term mental health problem will lose their jobs each year.

Looking at these statistics, there are two questions that every employer in this country should currently be asking themselves: How can I best support my employees to proactively minimise the impact of mental ill health on their work and life AND can my business really afford not to support my employees with wellbeing strategies? Accelerator Solutions, the award-winning training provider, believes companies simply cannot afford to ignore the increasingly significant issue of mental health. Not only from a productivity/profitability point of view, but best practice employers also have a duty to act as pioneers in helping to bridge the gap between how people think and how they act regarding mental health issues in the workplace.

In response to these concerns, Accelerator has translated its extensive experience in providing professional workplace training into the field of mental health. As a licensee for Mental Health for England, they are now able to offer an accredited two-day Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) certified training course for groups and individuals. This certified training is a mix of presentation, activity and group work based around the MHFA action plan. It is delivered by one of the leaders in this field, Nina Maan, who is a multi-award-winning Trainer and licensed Mental Health Instructor.

Henry Hopkins, Managing Director of Accelerator Solutions Ltd comments: “UK employers are gradually waking up to the fact that mental health problems in the workplace are a significant issue. They are now realising that they have an important role to play in supporting employees to make mental health first aid as equally important as physical first aid in the workplace.”

Henry continues: “Our aim here at Accelerator is to make Mental Health First Aid training accessible to companies of all sizes. By investing in these courses, employers will assist their staff with being able to identify, understand and help a colleague who may be experiencing a mental health crisis – this empathic action may even be able to help to prevent the crisis altogether. And of course, providing MHFA training will also have significant business benefits in terms of decreasing the impact of mental health issues on factors such as productivity and profitability”.

The next two-day MHFA ‘open course’ that Accelerator Solutions is offering takes place in London on the 25th and 26th June, led by Nina Maan. Places are booking fast – full details of the course content and how to book can be found by clicking here.  

Accelerator also offers in-house MHFA training courses for larger groups from the same organisation and can be contacted at:


How Britain Could Benefit from Building Upwards

May 29th, 2019 No comments

How Britain Could Benefit from Building Upwards

  • It could boost the productivity of the UK’s construction sector by 50% – rooftop homes use the modular housing method, where workers only need to be semi-skilled. It’s, therefore, easier to train staff, the hiring process is easier, and it helps overcome the industry’s critical challenge of an ageing workforce.
  • Upwards extensions could save 1/5 of London’s Green Belt – Annually, 66,000 homes need to be built in London to meet the housing shortage demand. With 1/5 (22%) of London landing on the Green Belt, there are calls to release the land to build homes. However, upwards extensions could refrain this from happening.    
  • Rooftop homes could reduce construction waste by up to 90% – The more traditional methods of construction create 400 million tons of waste each year. However, rooftop extensions use the ‘modular home’ method, which is more controlled, due to standard sizes and layouts. This method reduces waste by up to 90%.  
  • Building upwards allows more homes to be built in dense cities – this allows people to live in city centres, rather than forcing them to move to commuting areas.

UK’s Biggest ‘Building Upwards’ Opportunities

Although ‘building upwards’ is a possible solution for the housing crisis, it’s important to consider which cities need it the most.

Insulation Express have, therefore, calculated how many residents share a sqm across the UK:

Surprisingly, Brighton and Hove has more people (10) packed into a residential sqm than London (7). In such a densely packed city, there are limitations on where to build on land so skyward extensions could be hugely beneficial for the housing shortage.

Read the full findings, including the challenges of building upwards:


Connecting communities at WoodFest Reading

May 28th, 2019 No comments

WoodFest is coming to Reading following the recent success in Newcastle and Sheffield. The event takes place throughout May, June and July with a focus on the social impact of housing, custom build, connecting communities, local timber and healthy building products.

The programme features a collection of seminars, exhibitions and tours celebrating the versatility and sustainability of building with wood, organised by the UK timber industry’s campaign, Wood for Good.

For the next two weeks until 7 June, the University of Reading School of Architecture invites visitors to explore its pop-up structure, the ‘The Urban Room’. This is a second year architecture student project designed for discussion and debate about architecture in the built environment.

The Urban Room will also host a series of Wednesday and Friday lunchtime ‘encounters’ with Reading-based artists exploring their own practice in response to the Urban Room. On 7 June, Reading University will explore ‘hybrid practices’ through an arts-architecture lens, offering opportunities to move, discuss, think, experience and explore with guest artists and architects.

WoodFest Reading continues on 12 June with a tour of Vastern Timber, one of the largest British hardwood sawmills in the country. In addition to the tour, the day will include an insightful CPD talk delivered by managing director Tom Barnes, ‘Selecting Timber Cladding’, covering timber cladding choices, composites and modified wood. The day will wrap up with lunch and plenty of opportunity for questions and discussion.

On the afternoon of Wednesday 3 July KISS House will host a panel discussion on the topic of ‘Making high quality housing attainable.’ Chaired by Christiane Lellig, campaign director for Wood for Good, the event will bring together a broad line-up of panellists from across the industry to discuss what quality housing is, why it is important and how to achieve it. Invited panellists include Jonny Anstead, TOWN, Sally Godber, WARM: Low Energy Buildings Practice, Ian Pritchett, Greencore Construction and Mike Jacob, KISS House.

The early evening will see a case study presentation of the RIBA East award-winning home, The Deerings. Delivered by the project team and the client, attendees will learn more about this striking and ambitious Passivhaus building, constructed from a super-insulated timber frame with recycled paper insulation.

Christiane Lellig said: “With a focus on housing and local communities, WoodFest Reading promises to offer a fantastic opportunity to bring all those involved with the built environment to explore what can be achieved when we work together.”

“Each event is a chance to learn and share about the use of timber in architecture, particularly around the social impact of housing and helping to connect local communities. It provides a platform to discover what’s happening in the region and to be inspired by timber design.”

Partners include: KISS; RIBA South and South East; TRADA; The University of Reading School of Architecture; Vastern Timber.

Book your place at any of the WoodFest Reading events here.


HLM Completes Powell Hall Student Accommodation at The University of St Andrews

May 28th, 2019 No comments

Leading design and architecture practice, HLM, recently completed the delivery of the new Powell Hall student accommodation within The University of St Andrews North Haugh Campus.  

Named after the American professional golfer Renee Powell, the new hall provides 205 modern student bedrooms alongside high quality interactive social and common spaces. Inspired by the courtyard blocks of the existing hall, the three-sided u-shaped scheme creates a new central quad at the heart of the project.

The colour palette and finishes reflect and enhance the aesthetic of the building; elevations bounding the site incorporate light buff solid masonry and light grey polished concrete cladding panels.  The social, study and common spaces throughout the building are located in prominent positions which, alongside zinc detailing help, activate and animate the façade.  The angled window pods offer views out to the landscape northwards; a small nod to the A-listed Andrew Melville Hall to the west by James Stirling.

A double-height space to the west of the building provides social and common space close to the existing hall and a prominent active ground floor frontage to the new annexe.  Students are drawn through these spaces upon entering the building along the route to the main vertical circulation cores as a means of encouraging interaction and engagement between students.

Commenting on the development, HLM Associate Ross Barrett said: “Powell Hall is designed to have a wide array of common spaces to foster communication and reflect the University’s mission of interdisciplinary collaboration. These interactions are key in connecting students, and in turn, creating a sense of community in each hall, enhancing the student experience and fostering academic and personal growth.”

The development also incorporates newly formed parking, drop-off areas and an entrance plaza to create a high-quality arrival space.

The Powell Hall development is part of the largest single expansion of student bedrooms in St Andrews for over a decade. HLM worked closely with Campus Living Villages and The University of St Andrews to design, develop and deliver over 400 new bedrooms in total across two new buildings within two years of being appointed.


How to identify energy efficient bi-fold doors

May 23rd, 2019 Comments off

Bi-fold doors are increasing in popularity, with the market expected to grow by 7% year on year. Their aesthetically pleasing modern design lightens up a room, creating an enviable inside and outside space. The installation of bi-folds also has the power to increase a property’s value by as much as 10% – it’s no surprise they’re so sought after! While bi-fold doors are a sleek home addition, with the average large format doors filling an aperture of over 3.5m wider and 2.1m high, product quality and air tightness are incredibly important. It is recommended to review the doors energy efficiency before purchasing. Less energy efficient models that let in a draught will let heat out of a property and won’t be as protective of the interior.

Here’s what you should look out for in order to identify an energy efficient bi-fold door system:

  1. U-values

The U-value measures how effective a material is as an insulator. As a rule, the lower the U-value, the more efficient the material and therefore, the lower the annual energy bill will be. With bi-folding doors you generally want a value of 1.4 or less to ensure that you have optimal thermal performance. There are a variety of energy efficient bi-folding doors, with low U-values, such as bi folding doors from Quickslide.

  • Weather Testing

A suitable weather resistant bi-folding door should have been rigorously tested to ensure they are watertight and remain protected against an array of weather conditions. Bi-fold doors are subject to a weathertightness test, more formally known as a BS6375 Part 1. This assesses the air permeability (varying levels of air pressure are applied to the material, testing the amount of air leakage), water tightness (water is sprayed at varying pressures to see at what point it starts to penetrate) and wind resistance (varying levels of wind pressure are applied to see what the maximum resistance levels are). When purchasing a bi-folding door, make sure to check the exact model has undertaken a weathertightness test. This will offer homeowners peace of mind that the doors will keep their home fully insulated from all weather conditions.

  • CE Marking

CE Marking is a legal requirement for products sold in the European Economic Area. It is mandatory for all UK manufactured bi-folding doors to be CE marked. For a product to receive this accreditation, the manufacturer must present evidence under a series of categories, including thermal efficiency and weathertightness. Therefore, you can rest assure that any door you are purchasing with this marking, will be compliant with required performance characteristics, in line with UK requirements, such as weathertightness and thermal.

  • Polymide Thermal Barrier

Aluminium is a natural conductor, so to improve the insulation of the door frame, they can be upgraded to include polymide thermal barrier technology. Aluminium bi-folding doors that have been upgraded to this technology over old resin thermal barrier give at least a 30% improvement to thermal efficiency. The advanced profile technology creates a thermal transmittance barrier between the cold outside and the warm inside. This works to thermally secure the home, keeping it warm in the winter months, and reducing the energy bills.


Considerate Constructors Scheme expands to offer registration to professional services

May 23rd, 2019 Comments off

Professional service organisations can now demonstrate their considerate credentials

20 May 2019: The Considerate Constructors Scheme – the organisation established to improve the image of construction – has expanded to offer professional service organisations the opportunity to register with the Scheme.

Eligible organisations providing professional services to the construction industry, such as architects, engineering consultancies, surveyors, accountants and lawyers, are now able to join the 7,000 plus construction sites, companies, suppliers and clients of construction projects who register with the Scheme each year.

Professional services account for around 11% (£186 billion) of the UK’s Gross Value Added and employ around 13% (4.6 million) of the UK’s population.*

This exciting development comes at the request of those already registered with the Scheme to ensure their entire supply chain is part of the Scheme, as well as an increasing number of professional service organisations wishing to be part of the Scheme to help improve their standards in considerate construction.

Edward Hardy, Chief Executive of the Considerate Constructors Scheme said: “We are delighted to welcome eligible professional service organisations to the Scheme. This is a significant development for our entire construction industry, as professional services form an integral part of the industry’s supply chain.

“The impact such organisations can have in becoming part of the Considerate Constructors Scheme to improve their standards will no doubt have a significant influence on improving the overall image of our industry.”

Click here to find out more and to apply to become a Scheme Registered Professional.