All our readers and contributors.
We hope to see you all again in 2017
from The UK Construction Blog http://ukconstructionblog.co.uk/2016/12/22/seasons-greetings-to-all-our-readers/
Eight Features All Successful Construction Companies Have in Common
There are countless construction and civil engineering companies out there, but not all are equal and if you’re thinking about a career in construction (and the economy needs you!), then here’s what you should look for in a prospective employer.
A company with a vision
Everyone needs a vision, a plan, an aim and a focus so if the company you’re looking at wants to develop an award-winning set of environmental practices, for example, it could be the right one for you. The Lagan Construction Group from Northern Ireland recently won an environmental award, so awards and plaudits are definite things to look for.
A company with a clear leadership plan
Leadership isn’t just about dishing out orders – it’s also about creating an ethos and about finding a niche. Look for a company with a definite ethos, be it considerate construction, ongoing training, diversity or eco-friendly practices.
A company that invests in its people
Investing in people means taking time and spending money to train staff and employees so that they are always growing and developing. Instead of sending everyone home for the day because it’s raining, a good leadership team will spend a few hours teaching new safety techniques, for example.
A company that promotes skills
If a company’s workers all have different strings to their bows, then that’s a strong, flexible workforce. If each worker can operate two or three machines, as well as lay bricks and build fences, then there’s less downtime due to sickness. This makes for an efficient, profitable team.
A company that laughs
The most successful contractors are the ones that people are happy to work for and with, as well as engage. Make sure that staff members feel they can take a few minutes out to have a laugh with (that’s with, not at…) the foreman, the client, the client’s children. Laughter and kindness makes the day go by faster and gets you great reviews from clients big and small.
A company that’s driven…
…but in a good way. If every job is an emergency, workers get exhausted and stressed. However, a sense of purpose and urgency is a good thing – you’re aiming to beat a deadline with ease, not squeak by it all out of breath.
A company that rewards good work and good ideas
Everyone wants to earn more money and by providing a generous (but sensible) incentive scheme, a construction company will get the best out of its staff. The scheme could be a bonus payment for early completion of a project, or it could be one-off rewards for employees who find new clients. It could also be help towards extra training for promising newbies. As long as the criteria are easy to understand and the payouts are honoured, the job’s a good’un.
A company that encourages input and suggestions
This shows that a company has a good, forward-thinking culture. If the workforce is educated and well-trained, then it’d be foolish to ignore their ideas and suggestions. If the culture encourages wider reading, or visits to expos, then the natural result is some good ideas and suggestions and these shouldn’t be ignored.
One of the biggest changes for the buy-to-let sector was that letting agent fees will be scrapped.
The ban will help struggling renters, as the average cost of these fees is £340 per tenant.
As a result of the new ban, stocks of Foxton’s and Countrywide fell sharply.
However, there has been concerns in the industry that the fees could be passed on to landlords, who are already facing the upcoming ‘tax attack’ in April 2017.
Experts fear landlords will be left to foot the bill, as estate agents will raise fees to make their money back. As a result landlords could be forced to raise rents to cope with more financial strain.
Others advise landlords to look elsewhere for new letting agents to cut costs. The emergence of online letting agents who can undercut high street agents could be where landlords turn next as a way of negating the need to increase rents.
Many believe that the ban could backfire as landlords are left with no choice but to raise rents, making rents even more unaffordable.
Additionally the government plans a comprehensive package of reform to increase housing supply and help first time buyers.
A new fund, the Housing Infrastructure Fund, will invest £2.3 billion into housing by 2021. The fund will be competed for between local governments in high demand areas and will help to build 100,000 new homes.
A further £1.4 billion will be provided in 2020-21 to start building an additional 40,000 affordable homes.
Funding will be made available for a large-scale regional pilot of the Right to Buy scheme too.
The scheme will be for housing association tenants, helping over 3,000 of them to buy their own home with under the new right to scheme discounts.
Will you look to pass on any additional costs, or do you plan to absorb them ?
Well, following the announcement last month that Chancellor Philip Hammond is to abolish letting agency fees for tenants, it is expected that many private landlords will increase rents to compensate. This is a further blow to buy-to-let landlords who are also facing higher borrowing costs and increased Stamp Duty fees, as the Government cracks down on the sector. Tenants’ fees add on average £340 to the cost of letting a home, so naturally the 4.3 million renters in the UK will be concerned of further rental increases when landlords have to pay the letting agency fee themselves.
Professional, corporate landlords such as Folio London offer a fresh alternative to private landlords. Renting with Folio London, tenants can be assured against these increases and any unpredictable changes in the market. Many lettings agencies charge for administrative work such as contracts and inventories. Folio does not charge admin fees, only a deposit of £350 to secure the property while references are checked, which is then deducted from the first months’ rent and deposit.
For further information on Folio London and the rental offering across the capital, please see attached press release and images.
Managing construction projects is no small feat. With 1000s of action items to handle, timelines to be met and projects to be delivered, the question many project managers face is, “is my team working as effectively as possible?”
In efforts to help you answer that question, we asked over 30 experienced project managers in the construction industry about how they spend their time on the job, their best advice for managing their team, and how they know when their team is performing to its full potential.
Many in the workforce agree that email occupies a significant amount of time spent during the workday. This article from Huffington Post found that workers spend 3.2 hours on average on work emails per day.
The construction project managers we interviewed fell in line with this finding.
Of the 17 project managers who responded to the question “How many hours per day do you spend on emails to and from your team?”, the average response was 3.02 hours. The median response was 3 hours flat. Talking numbers, this adds up to an average of 72 emails per day, with a median of 50.
So, if you find yourself spending significantly more than three hours clearing out your inbox on a daily basis, you may want to explore methods to cut back on the number of emails you’re sending to your team.
Project managers also dedicate a significant amount of time to meetings, an average of just under 1.4 hours per day.
If emails and meetings count as “managing”, this adds up almost perfectly to an 8-hour workday, with about half of the hours spent on emails and meetings, and the rest spent working on other activities that move the metrics they care about most.
Impressively enough, when asked how they split their time between “managing” and “working” most common answer we received was an even 50/50 split. This not only means that these managers balance their time well, but that their perception of how they spend their time is accurate down to the hour.
Finally, the median number of construction projects the project managers we surveyed reported is between 3 and 4. While respondents told us that things change depending on the phase of projects, most of the project managers we talked to reported splitting their time 75:25 between the office and the field.
So, how do these project managers keep everything running smoothly to make sure their teams deliver projects on time and within budget?
We asked the project management experts to tell us the most important thing they’ve learned in their role in the construction industry, and here’s what we heard in response.
We also wanted to find out how construction PMs know their team is performing well.
Out of the 20 project managers who responded to the question, two answers swept the majority of the responses.
The first, to be expected: deliver projects on time and under budget.
The second? Understanding the “big picture” or “intent” of the project, so the team can act proactively to keep things moving in the right direction.
This was described well by Anthony Garcia, of Operation Nova, who explained that when there is an issue, his team doesn’t just notify their superiors, but rather, they line up potential solutions, so that superiors can simply give approval. Garcia explained further used the example of an on-site issue. When a problem occurs, rather than raising the issue to the next level of command and asking for direction, his team explores the potential best solutions and presents them to a manager for approval.
In order for this to work, though, the team must have understanding of the general direction of the project. In order to achieve this, Garcia says he strives to keep lines of communication open, whether via text, emails, or updates on the Google Spreadsheets they share to manage operations. Project management tools can also help increase project visibility to ensure that your team knows where the project is headed.
Haydon Osborne from Sevan Multi Site explains how to implement this practice simply: “Look ahead, and go beyond the bare minimum.”
Finally, a number of project managers pointed out that when their team focuses on building strong relationships, communication flows more smoothly, which is reflected in more effective collaboration. As Tony Stock of Koontz Construction put it, “construction is a as much a function of creating and maintaining relationships with people, as it is actually building a building.”
At the end of the day, when the hard hats come off and the spreadsheets are put away, how do construction management teams celebrate project success? One anonymous respondent tells us, “100 beers”.
There are lots of things required to employ a foreign worker. To begin, the business that wishes to employ a foreign worker needs to meet all of Service requirements. The business will need to submit a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) Application. This application essentially will be the business asking for approval from the federal government of jeopardy.
A few of the requirements to get the Labour Market Opinion Application for businesses wishing to employ foreign workers are:
1. The employer will need to indicate how they have generated efforts to recruit people permanent residents or citizens. Every province has bare minimum online advertising requirements for employers.
2. The candidate needs to be compensated a typical wage as stipulated by Service for that NOC code and area in which the position is currently being made available.
3. The working situations need to meet the provincial labor requirements.
4. The federal government asks the employer to assist the foreign worker to locate housing that doesn’t exceed an established proportion of their wages.
As soon as the employer has met the pre-filing requirements and completed the Labour Market Opinion Application, they need to submit the application. As soon as Service critiques the application and gives their approval, then the foreign worker will need to submit their work permit application for the consulate that handles their nation. Some nations don’t have their very own people consulate and have to depend upon the people consulates in other nations.
The people consular officials will call for the foreign worker to undergo health-related examinations before coming into Canada. A few of the more common factors provided for denial are:
1. The candidate failed the health-related examination.
2. The candidate may be a safety threat.
3. The candidate has not met the standards of the position as set by the federal government of jeopardy.
4. The candidate carries a criminal file.Any of the above factors could make the foreign worker candidate inadmissible.
The visa business office will inform the candidate in writing of its determination. If the candidate is accepted in principle, they’ll get a letter stating that they’re eligible to get a work permit. Once they arrive at the people border they’ll need to provide the letter where they will likely be issued their work permit at that time.