Thursday, 21 September 2017


The Specialist Engineering Contractors’ (SEC) Group is calling on the Government to solve the UK construction industry’s long-standing and crippling payments problem, labelling the current cashflow position as “critical”.

In a recent article, the SEC Group – which represents SMEs in the construction engineering sector – warns that its members are increasingly being propped up by their directors’ wallets as an interim cashflow ‘solution’.

They cite Funding Options figures that show directors lent their construction businesses £38 million in 2015/2016, up from £29.7 million in 2013/2014 – a jump of 28 per cent in just two years.

Unsurprisingly, the SEC Group labels this rise as “unsustainable” and has urged the Government to introduce legislation to solve the problem.

We agree wholeheartedly with the SEC Group – the cashflow issue has affected growth of construction businesses of all shapes and sizes for too long and needs to be addressed urgently.

However, we feel that while the Government has a role to play in improving B2B payments in the industry, businesses themselves can do much more to take greater control of their finances.

We’ve partnered with Invapay, an Optal company, to make this easily achievable. Our unique proposition – a combined full-service payment solution – provides construction businesses with a quick and effortless way to manage their payment process and maximise working capital benefits.

With Open ECX and Invapay, businesses are able to make their payment processes simple, streamlined and effortless from the moment a payment application is made right through to the point that it is paid.

Our cloud-based paper-free WebContractor solution manages the first half of the process, giving subcontractors and suppliers the ability to submit invoices quickly and easily through an online portal. The automated service then processes the application, sending verification notices emails to the applicant and the QS, allowing invoicing authorisation to be granted hassle-free.

At this stage Invapay’s payment solution comes into play. With no changes to processes and systems, Invapay’s business-tobusiness payment platform allows businesses to optimise their payments to suppliers and subcontractors.

Through Invapay, businesses can take greater control of their cash flow – across working capital, credit lines and third party funds – ensuring long term cash flow benefits for buyers and subcontractors.

For more information and to download a free payments guide visit:

from The UK Construction Blog

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Going Digital for the Digital Enterprise

As engineering firms move toward developing a digital strategy, a new phrase – going digital– will resonate with engineering, architectural, and construction professionals, as well as infrastructure asset owners, is now part of the infrastructure lexicon. Going digital refers to the business transformation being realized as infrastructure professionals take advantage of a connected data environment by leveraging a cloud computing platform that digitally connects and converges people, processes, data, and technology to yield significant benefits.


In its broadest sense, going digital means moving data that used to be locked in application-specific files or even paper documents, and making the data inherent in these files and documents available to be consumed and analyzed by other software and processes. Through going digital, 3D digital engineering models created during the planning and design phase can provide the interactive 3D environment for operations and infrastructure asset performance modeling, leveraging cloud computing, predictive analytics, and operational data from the Industrial Internet of Things and other sources. These models can now be referenced throughout the full lifecycle of an infrastructure asset, improving performance, safety, and sustainability.

But what about an infrastructure asset that does not have a digital engineering model? Reality modeling, an exciting technology that involves the process of capturing existing facilities and site conditions with the use of digital photographs and/or point-cloud data – enables the rapid creation of 3D, engineering-ready mesh representations of the existing, as-operated conditions. The process is simple: overlapping photographs taken with a camera either handheld or mounted on a UAV are uploaded to a cloud processing service that automatically reconstructs the 3D model for use in engineering applications. Further detail and accuracy can be added to the model through close range photos or point-cloud data from laser scanners.


In the past two years, reality modeling has gone from being a specialty service to a mainstream process by engineering and construction firms, and by owner-operators of infrastructure assets. The speed and ease of reality modeling now makes it possible to do nearly continuous surveying to monitor construction progress and as-operated conditions. And, the resulting 3D model components can be classified and hyperlinked to engineering models, documents, and specifications (the ET or engineering technology), historical operations data, (the IT or information technology), and real-time IoT sensors (the OT or operations technology). By going digital, the digital engineering model, whether built from scratch through design and engineering application software, or created from existing conditions through reality modeling, can deliver new value as an immersive environment to access open and live information for visual operations of infrastructure assets—bridging ET, IT, and OT—and with that visibility comes the empowerment to improve asset performance.


Making the Digital Enterprise Real

A going digital strategy begins with information technology and seeks convergence with operational technology. As such, realizing the digital enterprise would involve adding engineering technology to complete the convergence. While going digital means different things for different enterprises, in our industry, users of infrastructure engineering can take advantage of new form factors for connecting and computing in their pursuit of it. For many of our large users, the strategy is an opportunity to improve their business model for better asset performance and capital project cost reduction.

An effective digital strategy can realize benefits through all phases of the infrastructure lifecycle. In the CAPEX phase, a digital workflow can take advantage of better decision making with immersive design and collaboration in construction. For OPEX, the value of digital engineering information provides performance improvement opportunities for owner-operators seeking to maximize their assets. The core value is reducing TOTEX (total expenditure) as owners seek to manage and mitigate the risk associated with large capital projects and the ongoing maintenance over time. Owners require information from all phases of the project lifecycle to be useful in the asset management or maintenance management systems when the asset reaches handover, which is fully realized through a digital strategy.


For engineers, going digital can mean new business opportunities, such as conceptioneering, the process of quickly creating multiple iterations of a conceptual infrastructure design model with engineering content, at the beginning of a project, to constructioneering, the process of bringing engineering data directly to the field to drive construction workflows and equipment, during construction and into operations. It can also mean inspectioneering, which is the process of bringing as-operated and continuously surveyed, engineering reality meshes into digital engineering environments, enabling engineers to inspect and evaluate infrastructure assets from any location. And, lastly, to productioneering, which is the process of leveraging the digital engineering model, with live and open connections to IT and OT data, and predictive analytics, as an immersive environment for visual operations, decision support, and performance improvement. These are all examples of going digital, and Bentley is providing the solutions for our users to get there.

from The UK Construction Blog

Sunday, 17 September 2017

How To Get a CSCS Card

If you are working in construction in the UK, you have properly heard about the CSCS card. But what is it exactly?

CSCS stand for Construction Skills Certification Scheme, and the whole thing was invented about 25 years ago. It is a card that provide proof that an individual has the required training and qualifications to carry out work on a construction site.

What does it cost?

Before you can apply for the CSCS card you must be certified. That normally requires that you take a CITB Health Safety and Environment Test. Such a test cost £19.50 to take.

Once you have passed that test, you can apply for the CSCS card, which will cost you £30.

But be aware! There have been examples of companies overcharging the prices for the tests. These mentioned fees are the standard, so if you’re being charged more than that, you should make sure that you understand what additional services you will receive. To know more about booking the appropriate test, read more about that below.

Booking the test

At first glance, the whole system can appear a bit complicated with loads of different coloured cards showing people’s qualifications in different areas of construction skills. The number of colours has recently been reduced, but to make it more complicated, one colour card can cover many things. However, things have been made easier now through On the site you’re able to use their online card-finder to figure out what kind of test and CSCS card you need, based on your occupation.

You’re also able to call them and have people at the other end of the line asking you the questions and be able to advise which card an applicant you should be applying for. That makes the whole decision-making process easy. Once that bit is over, you will be given a date on which you can take an online test in a center.

Revolution Construction

How is the test?

Okay. So you booked the test and everything is set, but how will the test be, you might wonder? The test is a multichoice based test with 50 questions that you have 45 minutes to answer. The questions can be case study or knowledge questions, but the difficulty of the test depends on the type. For entry-level construction workers such as labourers or apprentices, the questions and answers are pretty simple. Moving to the other end of it though, for people like contract managers, their test is actually very demanding as their card is equivalent to an NVQ 7.

Once you book the test, it will take place at a CITB-approved test centre where you can use a computer to take the test online. Make sure to be there 15 minutes before your test begin.

How can you prepare for the test?

There is different ways that you can prepare for the test. You could buy a book with information that can help you prepare for the specific grade of card you’re going to apply for. There are different books out there, which will give you loads of questions and answers that would appear in the test. A good thing is to buy the latest addition though because the different tests keeps getting updated. And then keep reading the book from cover to cover until you are able to pass the test. You will need to score 47 out of 50 questions correct in order to pass.

Another thing you can do, is to go online and use some of the free tests of there. You can find a bunch of tests here.

Is a CSCS card a legal requirement?

No, it is not a legal requirement. It is up to the different contractors if they require workers on their site to hold CSCS cards. But the law in the UK states that anyone undertaking construction work need to be competent. And a way of showing that, is by having a CSCS card as a proof of that. Another things is that if you’re working in an unsafe manner because you don’t know better, the site manager will get fined or imprisoned. That eventually lead to you getting fired.

How long does it take to get a CSCS card?

It doesn’t take long to get a CSCS card. Once you have paid for the CSCS card, it will be posted to you the next working day. You will just have to wait then, and normally you can expect the card to be there in around 10 days. Be aware that if your card has not been delivered within five weeks of your application, you should contact CSCS. After 90 days your application will be considered closed, and you will then need to pay an additional payment of £30 to reprocess an application.

How long can you keep your CSCS card?

It depends on the type of CSCS card that you are applying for. But in general most of the cards can last five years. Once you have your card, you can read the expiry date on it.

If you need to renew your card, you will have to prove once again that you have the appropriate training and qualification that your job need. That means you will need to retake the CITB Health, Safety and Environment test.


By preparing for the test, you will get a better chance of passing it. The CSCS card is good to have, and something most employers will require that you have (at least in the UK). Therefore, if you are in construction and know what kind of card you need, start preparing today and take the exam to get your CSCS card.

Prepare by taking our quiz and other quizzes online or buy a book that can help improve your knowledge, and make sure that you pass the final test. We wish you the best of luck.

from The UK Construction Blog

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Considerate Constructors Scheme reaches major 100,000 milestone

Considerate Constructors Scheme reaches major 100,000 milestone


  • Mulalley celebrates as Network Homes’ housebuilding project is named as 100,000th Scheme-registered site
  • Government praises Scheme’s invaluable role in improving the image of construction

The Considerate Constructors Scheme – the national Scheme to improve the image of the construction industry – has reached a major milestone in UK construction history by registering its 100,000th site.

The Infrastructure and Project Authority’s Head of Construction, Dr David Hancock, welcomed this achievement and the Scheme’s role in helping to improve the image of the industry.


The site registration was made by one of the leading UK’s contractors – Mulalley – for the Chauncey Residential Development in Ware, Hertfordshire.


Mulalley are working with housing association Network Homes – a Client Partner of the Considerate Constructors Scheme – to deliver this £8.6m project of 18 semi-detached houses and 29 apartments, with associated car parking and amenity space, delivering much needed affordable homes in Ware.


In addition to this site being the Scheme’s 100,000th registration, it has also been recognised as an Ultra Site – the highest level of attainment with the Considerate Constructors Scheme.


Registering its first site in 1997, the Scheme has firmly established itself as the major force for good in helping to improve the image of the construction industry – for the benefit of the community, workforce and environment.


It is highly regarded throughout the UK construction industry as the ‘go to’ organisation to support construction sites, companies, suppliers and clients in raising their standards and best practice above and beyond statutory requirements.


One of the very few organisations to monitor the industry’s progress and share best practice on the ground, the Scheme undertakes around 14,000 visits to sites, companies and suppliers per year.


Considerate Constructors Scheme Chief Executive Edward Hardy said: “We are delighted to celebrate the registration of the Scheme’s 100,000th site with Mulalley, who have been registering sites for nearly 20 years and are a founding Scheme Partner. This is a truly momentous milestone for the Considerate Constructors Scheme and the industry, and is made even more special with this being the 20th year of the Scheme.


“It is with huge thanks to the continuous hard work, commitment and dedication from an increasingly growing proportion of the UK, and more recently the Irish construction industry, that the Scheme has gone from strength to strength since it registered its first site in 1997. At the very centre of this success has been true collaboration across our industry.


“As a Scheme, we continue to grow and engage with an ever-increasing number of contractors, suppliers, companies, clients and other construction industry-related organisations to continue to promote the benefits to the industry in looking after our workforce, site neighbours and the environment.


“Whilst it is important that we celebrate this phenomenal achievement, it is also important to remember that much more still needs to be done to continue to improve the image of our sector and to encourage the industry to continually raise its standards and share best practice throughout the supply chain. It is only through an ever-improving image that our industry can continue to attract the very best to work in our fantastic sector.


“As one of the few people who have been involved with the Scheme from its earliest days, I am incredibly proud of what the Scheme has achieved. I am also hugely grateful to the construction industry for the way in which it has embraced the concept of considerate construction, and how it continues to challenge itself to attain even higher standards.”


Considerate Constructors Scheme Executive Chairman Isabel Martinson commented: “This is a huge achievement for the industry. By reaching such a significant milestone, the Scheme is clearly demonstrating its ongoing importance in driving higher standards to improve the image and reputation of construction.”


Mulalley Director Vince O’Malley said: “Mulalley are extremely pleased for our Chauncy Residential Development project to be the Scheme’s 100,000th registered site. As a Founder Partner of the Scheme, this is a significant milestone and testament to the Scheme’s commitment to improving the construction industry’s image and creating a legacy of continued improvement.”


Network Homes’ Executive Director of Development Vicky Savage added: “It’s really important that we provide high quality affordable homes for the communities we work in. This is a positive statement to local people, letting them know we take construction standards seriously. We look forward to continuing our work with the Considerate Constructors Scheme and providing fantastic new homes with Mulalley at the Chauncy Residential Development.”


The Infrastructure and Project Authority’s Head of Construction, Dr David Hancock added his congratulations to the Considerate Constructors Scheme in reaching this milestone: “It was a pleasure to present at the Considerate Constructors Scheme’s National Site Awards earlier in the year, and it is great to hear that the 100,000th site has registered with the Scheme.  It reflects well on the efforts that have been made by the industry.  We are seeing much cleaner and tidier sites, efforts being made to minimise noise and having safety systems in place.  This has had a positive effect on the environment and surrounding communities, and also on working conditions.  We are seeing constructors providing a more supportive and caring environment for their workforce.


“This is great progress and I hope it will continue and help attract more people into the industry at a time when we are seeing much change and challenge around how the industry operates.”


Click here for further information about Site Registration.

Click here for more information about Ultra Sites.

from The UK Construction Blog

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Rebuilding the UK’s infrastructure at Civils Expo 2017

Civils Expo, the UK’s leading event dedicated to civil engineering and infrastructure, will once again bring together leading suppliers of the latest technologies, systems and products for the sector when it returns to Birmingham NEC from 10-12 October 2017.


Exhibitors already signed up to launch new products, showcase software and provide technical advice include HS2, CEMEX, Breedon Group, Creagh Concrete and Bluebeam. Leading figures from across the industry will also attend the show, such as Crossrail, Heathrow, BAM Nuttall, Kier, Transport for the North and Highways England, where they will debate the industry’s most pressing topics and discuss the challenges and opportunities currently facing the sector.


The seminar programme for Civils Expo has been designed to inform and educate visitors about the planning and implementation of significant projects, as well as introduce them to suppliers so they can learn about new products, gain skills and make long-lasting contacts. One of the show’s biggest attractions will be The Infrastructure Hub, which will explore the process of planning, designing and building a variety of projects from road infrastructure and rail infrastructure through to airports and seaports. Topics such as future proofing infrastructure and construction, sustainability in business, drones, offshore wind turbines and connecting Britain to the world post-Brexit will be discussed at the show, while projects that are having an important impact on the sector such as Crossrail, Ordsall Chord and Hinkley Point will be explored by those leading them in front of a live audience.

To tackle the issue of building safety head on, Civils Expo will also bring together leading authorities to deliver free CPD advice and guidance on key issues such as fire prevention and safety in buildings; guidance on sprinklers, fire doors and dampening; health and safety and how to improve safety through technology, as well as the latest advice on cladding and other flammable building materials. These free CPD and workshop sessions will be hosted at The Infrastructure Hub and have been specially tailored for those responsible for building safety. The sessions are expected to book up quickly, so registration is encouraged.


Nathan Garnett, Event Director at Media 10, which runs the show, said: “This year’s Civils Expo will bring together the UK’s largest and most important infrastructure projects with the latest products and innovations being used to build them. Our programme is evolving with more speakers, exhibitors and suppliers signing up every day, and we’re committed to making this our most successful show to date. In addition to showcasing new products for the sector, we will also tackle the issues surrounding building safety head on with a carefully chosen schedule of talks, workshops and events.”


Consisting of Build Show, sponsored by Easy-Trim, Civils Expo, Plant & Machinery Live, Energy 2017, Smart Buildings 2017, Surface & Materials Show, HVAC 2017 and Grand Designs Live, UK Construction Week caters for the entire spectrum of the industry from builders, architects, innovators and consultants, each show provides exhibitors with the opportunity to network alongside decision makers and purchasers while showcasing their services and products to thousands of visitors.  For more information and free registration visit

from The UK Construction Blog

Thursday, 7 September 2017

4 tips for a clean construction site

Health and safety on a construction site is most closely associated with the use of heavy equipment and hazardous materials.

But each year in the UK, there are 1000 slips or trips on worksites that cause fractured bones and dislocated joints.

And many of these accidents are caused by a messy and disorganised work environment.

So here are four tips for a clean construction site that keeps your staff safe.

Safe storage

Clients, contractors and suppliers should all be clear about where certain types of materials and equipment are stored onsite and any materials that are flammable or hazardous should be separated and labelled clearly.

Large pieces of valuable kit can be kept safely overnight in vandal-safe storage containers but secure portable cases for smaller tools are also useful.

And if you store materials and equipment that only certain workers are qualified to work with, then it might be wise to only provide keys for these zones to qualified staff.

Once you’ve decided where various materials and equipment should be stored, be sure to leave pathways for workers to travel safely on foot.

Waste management

There are stringent guidelines regarding the collection and disposal of hazardous waste materials.

But even more commonplace waste like rubbish and rubble can cause serious accidents if it’s allowed to pile up.

Rubbish chutes offer a solution to this problem — waste is collected by workers and slid down smoothly into skips positioned below.

All onsite workers should be responsible for clearing their own work areas throughout the day and a rubbish rota can be used so there’s a shared responsibility for cleaning general areas.

Clear floor spaces

Trailing cables and abandoned equipment can present risks from falls.

But workers’ dirty boots can also drag mud and hazardous materials from one area of your site to another, resulting in risky cross-contamination.

So plastic shoe covers should be worn in certain areas, while floor mats should suffice for keeping shared canteens and restrooms clean.

And don’t forget the basics — buy sufficient stocks of brushes, brooms and dustpans that can remain in arm’s reach in every area.

Dust control

Construction dust is another substance subject to regulatory control in the UK — it can cause serious diseases like asthma and cancer.

And many tasks carried out onsite create dust, so it’s essential that workers are provided with protective equipment like masks and suits.

But a specialist dustguard machine can be used for dust control and washing equipment on larger sites.

As with any construction housekeeping task, keeping dust at bay relies on team members working together to ensure it doesn’t build up until it’s unmanageable.

The success of a construction project isn’t just based on the quality of the finished building — it relies on a safe and efficient site that’s kept in good shape throughout.

These four tips for a clean construction site should ensure your project runs smoothly from start to finish.

Do you have other tips for keeping construction site clean? Share your advice in the comments section.

from The UK Construction Blog

Impact of Brexit on Construction Industry

After the decision of Brexit, there is an uncertainty in the economic sector in Britain. Consequently, construction industry is currently facing a slowdown as many projects are being put on hold. In August, the growth in construction sector unexpectedly fell to a one year low.
Economic activity slowed down to 51.1 in August from July’s 51.9 indicating expansion of marginal size according to a survey published with the help of Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS). While 50 is stagnation, anything below that shows contraction in a business sector. Samuel Tombs from Pantheon Macroeconomics who is a major UK economist, states that, the figures indicate that construction sector is currently flirting with recession.

If Brexit talks don’t progress well, then large firms will be forced to relocate activities to Europe. A range of banks including Goldman Sachs and HSBC have previously stated the possibility of moving staff. Mr. Tombs believes that the negotiations for Brexit will continue progressing slowly. This will lead to more firms acting on contingency plans, through freeing up offices resulting in exhaustion of demand for commercial projects.

After commercial building work dropped at a quick pace since July 2016, the civil engineering sector came close to stagnation but the construction industry kept growing due to house building activities. The employment rose at the slowest pace due to completion of more projects and lesser new projects.

Reason for slowdown in construction sector:
Duncan Brock, who works with CIPS, believes that there are more than one interrelated factors for this situation. The major factors are economic uncertainty, delayed decisions due to Brexit and reduced expenditure by government. These factors if not improved immediately can easily lead to a recession in construction.

The survey was done after the recent fall in Sterling value which increased pressure on the construction sector. Consumers in UK need to pay more costs and businesses who have to purchase products from abroad have lower purchasing power thus making the market slower. This, if not mitigated, will lead to accelerated inflation forcing the Bank of England to increase interest rates for coping up.

The survey also took into account the slowing down of house prices since the middle of last year after Brexit. This was pointed out previously by the Office for National Statistics. But, since the mid 70’s, house prices have garnered a support from even the lowest brackets of unemployed people and low interests reducing mortgage costs.

Possible outcomes:According to these results, the construction sector may contribute only a little portion to GDP in the economic quarter ending in September. Many firms are also preparing themselves if these conditions continue into autumn and lower confidence in firms leads to weak trends for creating jobs.

Joshua Mahony, who is a market analyst at trading firm IG, believes that according to current situation, there is a strong possibility for construction sector to move into contraction in coming months. But, there is also a potential for robust production especially if the Brexit discussions go well. Also, since homes are a necessity, the government may subsidize house owning with the decrease of Sterling value. Until final decisions are made and market stabilizes, the construction industry will keep flirting with recession.

The post Impact of Brexit on Construction Industry appeared first on Econ Construction LTD.

from Econ Construction LTD

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Construction Safety In the European Workplace – Perception vs. Reality

Since the enforcement of the EU Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Strategic Framework in 2014, the numbers of accidents at work have been dropping, suggesting a positive impact on health and safety regulations and compliance at the workplace.

The framework analyzes key challenges and strategic objectives for health and safety at work and aims to identify actions and instruments to address these objectives.

But whether workers actually feel safe at work is a different matter. Perception of safety or danger is none the less a very important question that can have a significant impact on a worker’s performance and well-being at work.

Health and safety consultants Arinite compared research from Eurofound on the perception of safety in the workplace with Eurostat’s recent analysis of health and safety incidents across the EU 28 countries. This is what they discovered.






Mismatch between perception and reality

Revelations show that actual workplace safety and perceived safety do not always match. Romania, for example, has an incidence rate of 68.9, meaning out of 100,000 workers 68.9 were injured and had to stay off work for more than 4 days (5.5 out of 100,000 on average died).

Compared to other European countries in the survey, that is the lowest rate, followed by Bulgaria and Greece. France, Portugal and Spain show the highest incidence rates.

If you now look at how workers from these countries perceive safety in the workplace, the results are perplexing. Denmark, which scored fourth in the incident rating, now ranks first place, with almost 50% stating they were “Very Satisfied” with their working conditions. They thus having the most satisfied work force in the ranking.

Romania on the other hand, previously having the fewest incidences in comparison, appears to be one of the least satisfied countries, with only 11% saying they were “Very Satisfied”.

Reasons behind the discrepancies

How come the number of accidents at work and the perception of safety do not seem to correspond very much?

Firstly, the feeling of safety can be shaped by many factors, such as job quality, financial security, development of skills or national labour laws.


Also, considering the results in Denmark and Romania, the strength of bureaucracy in a country may influence the perception of safety too, as effective and exact incident reporting systems manipulate the ranking. Denmark’s high incident rate might simply be a result of the strength of the Danish accident reporting system, which leads to the assumption that safety is being regarded as a high priority – therefore workers naturally feeling safer.


Construction workers seem to feel less at risk when they feel that safety provisions and strong labour laws are in place. Creating a safe work environment is not only a question of compliance, but also of assuring a productive and happy workplace.

The OSH will keep improving prevention measures, implementing existing health and safety rules, and reinforcing coordination with international organisations, like the International Labour Organization (ILO). Social safety nets also need to be strengthened to ensure accidents across the EU decrease further while working conditions improve, leading to a successful relationship between employer and employee.

from The UK Construction Blog

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

What’s next for college leavers this A Level results day?

On the 17th August, teenagers up and down the country will receive their long-awaited A-Level results. Results day will come as a huge relief for most college leavers after the months of waiting. The day will mark a new phase of their lives; a phase no longer dictated by textbooks and strict curriculums.


Young people receiving their results this year have more options than ever before when it comes to choosing a career path. The choice between applying for a job, internship, apprenticeship or going on to further education can be quite a task in itself though.


Apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly popular and appealing and offer a unique opportunity to combine practical training with study, thereby enabling young people to get the much needed and sought after, experience, but also the tangible qualifications, readying them for future career opportunities.


According to, over 90% of apprentices currently go into work or further training. This high percentage almost certainly stems from the fact that apprenticeships provide individuals with the relevant skills, energy and commitment required for full-time employment.


Workplace specialists and design and fit-out firm, Active, has taken on numerous apprentices since they were founded in 1999. Jennie Armley started as a marketing apprentice with Active in 2015, after completing the programme last summer, she was taken on as a full-time marketing coordinator.


Armley said “I was keen to get some experience early of working within marketing and Active offered me just that – I could deal with real business problems and continue to learn at the same time. I was convinced it was a better opportunity for me than going to university and it certainly has been!”


Adrian Powell, director at Active, said, “The services sector is a great place for apprentices to be able to explore the right career path for them. There is ample room for growth both personally and professionally, as people can move up quickly within their chosen speciality. I would encourage young people receiving their results this week to explore all the options available to them before embarking on the next chapter.”

from The UK Construction Blog

Sunday, 13 August 2017


There is no doubting the fact that we are living in a global economy and that we are all going through an intense period of change. For many of us, our focus is on our immediate vicinity and surroundings and the issues that affect our customers and business operations. However, there are a number of fundamental issues that affect and drive us all, the world over – financial stability, safety, environmental concerns etc. One area that can directly affect these issues, and more, is innovation.

For most manufacturers, innovation is a critical factor that is equated to their success. It builds competitive advantage and in turn financial stability. It can also improve environmental performance and health and safety, criteria that are at the very heart of many businesses’ operational ethos.

In many instances, product innovation is developed at a local level, often as a result of customer demand or identification of an opportunity. Some innovations are developed at a global level but this poses great challenges with regards to local interpretation, market need, performance expectations and regulation differences. Factors that drive product specification can greatly differ from one country to another, due to issues such as legislation, climate, culture and infrastructure.

As a leading manufacturer of products working across multiple industry sectors (see Sika has a robust – and shared – approach to product innovation. The company has created a number of Global Technology Centres. These centres are design to drive product innovation at both local and global level. The UK centre, based at Sika’s Head Office in Preston focusses on liquid applied membranes and coatings, utilising the vast experience that Sika UK has within this field.

Whilst developing products for the UK market, the centre can call upon global market intelligence and the resources of the rest of the group. This helps to advance product development within a network that has the ability to share outcomes and successes around the world, often in turn helping to drive other innovations.

In so doing, Sika is able to leverage the benefits of both centralised and decentralised approaches to Research and Development, responding to local market and customer demands and sharing this advancement around the world. For organisations such as Sika, successful innovation results from the inter-connected nature of broad knowledge networks and the sharing of know how within these networks.

A great example is the recent development of extremely low odour, liquid roof waterproofing systems. Conventional products have traditionally contained significant quantities of organic solvents that can lead to significant odours during application. This can lead to risks of disruption occurring when used on live sites such as hospitals and schools.

Through the development of new technologies, Sika UK developed an ultra-low odour system that established new benchmarks in performance. Drawing upon its significant expertise and longstanding involvement in the UK roofing market, UK developers worked collaboratively with colleagues in Zurich to pioneer and patent novel curing compounds, commissioned specialist manufacturing equipment and worked in close partnerships with colleagues overseas to support successful market introductions across Europe and the US.

As a global brand, Sika has the ability to deliver local innovations on a global basis. To find out more about the impact Sika are making every day, visit

from The UK Construction Blog

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Gilbert-Ash Awarded British High Commission Project in Ghana

West Africa project is latest for UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office

26th July 2017: Award-winning UK construction, refurbishment and fit out contractor, Gilbert-Ash, has been awarded a fit out project on the British Embassy in Accra, Ghana.

Set to commence in August 2017, it is the latest international project by Gilbert-Ash for the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) with work undertaken in a total of 41 countries worldwide to date.

Ghana is one of the world’s fastest growing economies and the UK’s fourth largest export market in Sub-Saharan Africa. The UK is a key partner to Ghana and is committed to advancing continued economic development in the country.

The fit out project, the first by Gilbert-Ash in Africa, includes interior and exterior refurbishment of British Embassy facilities in the capital city.

A key aspect of the close to £400,000 project includes fitting and reinforcement of new enhanced windows and doors in key embassy buildings.

Andrew Whitten, General Manager, Gilbert-Ash Fit Out said: “Ghana is a modern, dynamic country and one of the UK’s longest-standing and strongest partners in Africa. As with all our projects for the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, it is critical that the fit out of the British High Commission is completed to the highest standards showcasing UK excellence in design, construction, materials and innovative technologies.

We will be working closely with local Ghanaian companies and so far, our team have been very impressed by the level of commitment provided across the local supply chain for this prominent project. We look forward to playing a small part in transferring some new skills that we hope will also benefit and bolster the growing local construction industry in Accra.”

Over the last decade, Gilbert-Ash has undertaken a broad range of projects in partnership with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office to refurbish and refit British Embassies, Consulates and High Commissions around the world. Often in environmentally challenging and culturally diverse locations, the company’s fit out team are highly skilled in delivering the highest quality projects on an international scale. To meet high specification standards befitting the UK’s leadership in design and construction, Gilbert-Ash ships many of its fit out materials around the world.

Andrew Whitten added: “With each project we develop for the FCO, we are acutely aware that the High Commissions, Embassies and Consulates represent the ‘public image’ of the UK. We therefore think of the work we do as being a ‘showcase’ for British skills overseas, so we really give the projects everything, both through a sense of company pride and of national pride.”

Working with its strong UK supply chain network, the company recently commissioned the manufacture of the bespoke windows for the British Embassy project in Accra with manufacturing, packing and shipment within a four week timeframe.

With Ghana’s tropical climate, the Gilbert-Ash Fit Out team will be working to complete the project in 12 weeks in challenging 34°C temperatures.

The leading construction company has specialist fit out expertise in a range of sectors including workplace, retail, leisure and restoration. For more information on Gilbert-Ash visit

from The UK Construction Blog

Timber Expo set to address safety and quality in buildings

A unique show designed to bring together the leading voices of the construction industry for all in the

built environment

Timber Expo, the UK’s only event dedicated exclusively to Timber, announces its return to Birmingham NEC from 10 – 12 October 2017. Covering a wide range of timber applications, from timber frame through to plywood, CLT and timber cladding, the show will explore the latest developments across the industry as well as new products and innovations from around Europe, for all in the built environment.


Exhibitors from across Europe will be at the show including fastenings and fixings provider, Schmid Scrauben Hainfield; manufacturer, Intumescent Systems, a leader in fire containment technology; Czech distributor of plywood and packing, Orlimex; Latvian sawmill, Vudlande Sawmill, which will showcase the newest form of sawmilling technology at the show, and Gaujas Koks Ltd, which has 25 years of CLT manufacturing and will operate two major sawmills with a total output of 300,000m3 of finished products. This top quality product is not one to be missed.


This year, collaboration with TRADA, the leading authority dedicated to informing best practice design, specification and use of wood and timber in the built environment, will see the Timber Focus Theatre introduce speakers who will explore how the industry is pushing the boundaries on the use of wood, wood for good health, technical timber an how designers are working directly with fabricators.


Students from the Emergent Technologies and Design Programme at the Architectural Association are also developing an innovative timber installation, co-ordinated by TRADA and sponsored by Hanson Plywood. The design derives from extensive research on plywood composite material systems, focused on the integration of doubly curved plywood forms and tensile cables. The design is a development from an initial understanding of ‘tensegrity’ (or floating compression) systems and departs from a pure tensegrity through a three-dimensional structure, where doubly-curved plywood members coexist in equilibrium.


There has never been a more important time to learn about building materials and regulations, which is why the show has introduced a series of free CPDs bringing together leading authorities to deliver advice and guidance on key issues including:

Up to date advise on fire prevention in all types of buildings

Changes to Legislation on Safety

Advice and guidance on construction product safety

Your responsibilities in the construction process and protecting you and your employees


Nathan Garnett, Event Director at Media 10, which runs the show, said: “In addition to showcasing the latest products and innovations across the timber sector, the Timber Expo will deliver the latest information on safety and quality in buildings for all in the built environment, from architects, contractors, local housing authorities, and developers. This is crucial in the current climate and only by coming together, through shared knowledge and learning, will we be able to tackle the issues surrounding building safety head on.”


Consisting of Build Show, Civils Expo, Plant & Machinery Live, Energy 2017, Smart Buildings 2017, Surface & Materials Show (featuring Kitchens & Bathrooms Live), HVAC 2017 and Grand Designs Live, UK Construction Week caters for the entire spectrum of the industry from builders, architects, innovators and consultants, each show provides exhibitors with the opportunity to network alongside decision makers and purchasers while showcasing their services and products to thousands of visitors.


For more information and free registration visit

from The UK Construction Blog

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Post Grenfell: UK Construction Week to offer definitive safety courses

In light of recent tragic events, UK Construction Week, the leading event for the construction and building sector has taken the most positive step possible by launching free unbiased, factual workshops to anyone working in the industry. These free, one hour CPD-certified sessions – taking place from 10 – 12 October at the Birmingham NEC – will address the specification and use of products from the viewpoint of safety, quality and fire prevention in buildings to ensure that all participants are given the most up-to-date advice and guidance on the main issues affecting the built environment following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower.


These topics have been under intense public scrutiny at a national level, and whilst Grenfell will change the construction industry forever, companies must come to terms with the fact that ‘doing enough’ is no longer good enough. Our industry has a responsibility for the safety of every user or inhabitant of every building in the UK and with an ever-zealous media looking to apportion blame, and the threat of prosecution and prison now a stark reality, these workshops will ensure that our industry is completely informed with the latest views, findings and legislation.


Earlier this month UK Construction Week issued a survey which received over 1000 responses from construction professionals. This survey asked them to identify the professional bodies they want the most up-to-date guidance from; the type of products and services that are now a priority for on-going and future projects; and how the industry can learn from this terrible event and move forward. The survey results have shaped a series of workshops, which will seek to clarify the latest advice and guidance for the industry. Topics include:


Building Regulations – an update and interpretation

Fire Prevention – guidance on sprinklers, fire doors, dampening

Flammable Building Materials – looking at cladding and other materials and latest advice

Health & Safety – knowing your responsibilities and up to date guidance on the latest legislation

Improving Safety through Technology


Nathan Garnett, Event Director, said, “In light of recent tragic events in London, and the fact that there are millions of square metres of building space being refurbished, refitted  and built right now, the industry must act swiftly to decipher the latest guidance and advice by separating the facts from the fiction. By collaborating with the authorities and professional bodies, we at UK Construction Week have responded with a series of free, CPD certified workshops to address the latest issues and provide the facts from people the industry knows and can trust.”


Available to any companies involved in the specification or use of products or services in construction or who are responsible for Health and Safety in commercial or residential buildings, the show is offering completely free subsidised places on the workshops. Due to the expected high demand, places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.


For more information and free registration visit or contact

from The UK Construction Blog

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Graduation Day honours for Survey School’s 2017 top achievers

A record number of graduates of the TSA Surveying Course were commended for their commitment and hard work at The Survey School’s annual ceremony and presentation, held at Worcester Racecourse.

From the intake of 35 students, ten achieved distinctions and 13 submitted a total of 26 assignments judged to be of A-A+ grade, in terms of technical knowledge and professional presentation.

The recipients of the Best Student, Best Assignment and TSA Vice-President’s Award were also announced.

Jointly sponsored by The Survey Association (TSA) and Leica Geosystems, the Best Student Award went to Paul Cross of Sterling Surveys, who gained an outstanding overall mark of 94 per cent.

Paying tribute to the winner, John Fraser of Leica Geosystems, said, ‘’The award for Best Student is a real achievement, with students required to return, not only high marks in all areas, but to act in a professional and dedicated way throughout the course. Paul is a very worthy winner.’’

For the second successive year the Vice-President’s Award was given to a student graduating from the TSA Surveying course. This year’s recipient was Jacob Sharples of Site Vision Surveys Ltd.

TSA Vice-President, Nick Hampson said that all graduating students should be commended for meeting the high standards required to pass.

Nick added, ‘’A number of candidates achieved high marks over the last two years but Jacob’s consistent professionalism made him really stand out.’’

Declan Meban from WYG Group was presented with the prize for Best Assignment by Harry Bell, President of the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (ICES).

The Survey School is recognised by industry and employers as the UK’s premier commercial training centre for the education of land surveyors.  TSA Surveying Course 46 starts on 25 September 2017 and Course 47 on 20 November 2017. For full details on these and shorter technical courses on specific topics, see the School’s website.

from The UK Construction Blog

Wednesday, 2 August 2017


The mini-heatwave that settled upon many parts of the UK in June provided a welcome reminder that hot, sunny weather wasn’t necessarily the preserve of our compatriots across the continent. Sweltering temperatures, however pleasant they might be for camels or ice cream vendors, do not make ideal building conditions, particularly when it comes to concreting.

For concrete to be placed and finished correctly, it needs to remain workable. In hot weather, moisture is drawn from the mixture more quickly, which can lead to it setting too rapidly for the user’s requirements. For instance, a 300mm-thick slab requires two loads of concrete to fill a mould.

Timings are tight, and it’s not unknown for the first load to set before the second load is even delivered – particularly during hot weather. It only takes the second delivery load to be delayed by traffic, for example, for the process to fail. Fresh cement that’s poured onto an already-set and compacted base can lead to cold joints and unevenness.

Fresh loads of cement should knit together to form one homogenous mass. For this to happen – concrete generates its own heat, so climatic conditions are only part of the hydration issue – it helps if the setting process is decelerated. Here’s where the availability of a product range such as Sikatard is such a huge benefit.

Sikatard is an admixture in liquid form developed for the control of cement hydration. It coats the cement particles to prevent infusion and slow the drying-out process. This ensures the concrete mix is stabilised and prevents its setting for hours or even days. Sikatard, which conforms to the requirements of BS EN 934-2 Table 8, can also be used in steel reinforced concrete construction without restriction. Its stabilising properties ensure the distribution of stresses throughout the reinforcement encapsulated in the concrete isn’t compromised.

Sika PilePak is another product proven to eliminate moisture escape from concrete. Its use during cast in situ concrete piling projects eases steel reinforcement fitting. Sika PilePak acts as a thickening agent which helps retain moisture within the concrete’s cement paste. It’s added to the concrete during batching then delivered to site.

Dry or gravel-based ground absorbs water from cement like a sponge, making steel reinforcement insertion incredibly difficult, which could affect the concrete, and ultimately, the infrastructure’s stability. Sika PilePak ensures consistency and workability of the concrete over a prolonged period of time, helping avoid any concrete problems at any one pile position.

With the government announcing a total of 250,000 new homes are needed annually to keep pace with demand, speed is key to developers helping fulfil this requirement without compromise to safety or quality. Thankfully, in Sika PilePak and the Sikatard range, the industry has the products with which to build a stable base to help meet our future housing needs – however hot the weather.

from The UK Construction Blog

Monday, 31 July 2017

New appointment to the Association of Noise Consultants Board

Increasing training opportunities in acoustics and continuing to develop professional standards are among the key priorities for Anne Budd following her election to the board of the Association of Noise Consultants (ANC).

Anne joins the leadership team after being appointed at the trade association’s AGM – and is the first woman to be elected to the board in its 45-year history.


Throughout her career, which spans 21 years in the acoustics sector, Anne has played an active role in the industry.


She is a member of the Institute of Acoustics’ Building Acoustics Group, the Acoustical Society of America and the Women’s Engineering Society.


In her position on the ANC Board, Anne is particularly keen to give a voice to the small acoustic consultancy members located in the regions.


Anne said: “During my time on the board I hope to represent the voice of the micro-acoustic consultancy.


“We face very different challenges to the larger SMEs and multi-disciplinary – in some cases multi-national – firms based closer to the capital, in areas including recruitment and in developing training and education opportunities.


“I am looking forward to working with the other members of the ANC board on this and other industry matters over the coming years.”


Anne, a BEng Electroacoustics graduate from the University of Salford, started her career in 2000 at Bruel & Kjaer’s headquarters in Copenhagen, where she was an application specialist for the electroacoustics team and product manager for the ear and mouth simulators.


In 2002 she joined Professor Bridget Shields’s team at London South Bank University as a research assistant, investigating room acoustics in classroom environments and their effects on children and teachers.


Anne’s career then took her north in 2005 to Scotland where, six months after joining New Acoustics consultancy based in Clydebank, she became a director of the company.


Today Anne is the company’s majority shareholder, and is responsible for all aspects of its technical work and administration.

from The UK Construction Blog

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Going Digital for the Digital Enterprise

As engineering firms move toward developing a digital strategy, a new phrase – going digital- will resonate with engineering, architectural, and construction professionals, as well as infrastructure asset owners, is now part of the infrastructure lexicon. Going digital refers to the business transformation being realized as infrastructure professionals take advantage of a connected data environment by leveraging a cloud computing platform that digitally connects and converges people, processes, data, and technology to yield significant benefits.


In its broadest sense, going digital means moving data that used to be locked in application-specific files or even paper documents, and making the data inherent in these files and documents available to be consumed and analyzed by other software and processes. Through going digital, 3D digital engineering models created during the planning and design phase can provide the interactive 3D environment for operations and infrastructure asset performance modeling, leveraging cloud computing, predictive analytics, and operational data from the Industrial Internet of Things and other sources. These models can now be referenced throughout the full lifecycle of an infrastructure asset, improving performance, safety, and sustainability.


But what about an infrastructure asset that does not have a digital engineering model? Reality modeling, an exciting technology that involves the process of capturing existing facilities and site conditions with the use of digital photographs and/or point-cloud data – enables the rapid creation of 3D, engineering-ready mesh representations of the existing, as-operated conditions. The process is simple: overlapping photographs taken with a camera either handheld or mounted on a UAV are uploaded to a cloud processing service that automatically reconstructs the 3D model for use in engineering applications. Further detail and accuracy can be added to the model through close range photos or point-cloud data from laser scanners.

from The UK Construction Blog


Keeping on top of the paperwork generated by even the most straightforward project-based contract with a given subcontractor can prove an arduous task, with various documents coming in and going out throughout the works requiring actioning. Managing this process in a timely and efficient manner becomes increasingly difficult as the number of ongoing projects and subcontractor contracts increase, something we have first-hand experience of at Osborne.

We utilised the services of more than 1,200 different subcontractors last year – from major businesses working on our behalf on a number of projects right down to small, niche companies working on one-off projects.

As you can imagine, processing payment-related paperwork for each of these subcontractors without error or issue is no easy task. That’s why we’re working with Open ECX to build and implement a bespoke system called WebContractor to increase efficiencies.

At this stage, we’re looking to launch a pilot phase on a small number of projects in the very near future. Following successful completion, we plan on implementing WebContractor across the business on all our projects.

For now, all we can say is what we’re expecting to achieve. There are three main reasons WebContractor stood out for us; compliance, fairness, and forward planning.



Firstly, we want to make sure we comply with the requirements laid out in the Construction Act. We are looking for a way to ensure we don’t miss any timelines for issuing any paperwork for the various types of contracts we enter into, such as payment and payless notices, for example.

Our current processes are insufficient for our future needs and direction of the business. Through the WebContractor system we will significantly improve our Construction Act compliance, with the system providing early warnings and a fixed process to work through for both our and the subcontractors’ teams.



We’ve signed up to the Fair Payment Charter as we believe very strongly in providing payment on time for our subcontractors to help them with their cash flows.

WebContractor will help us achieve this and also provide all of our valued subcontractors with much-needed transparency, letting them know where their application for payment is in the process.


Forward planning

We expect WebContractor will also provide us with additional administrative capabilities as we will have greater visibility of the payment process throughout the project cycle. From a finance point of view, it will allow us to have a better and real-time understanding of our cash flow forecasting, something that is vital in this industry. Moving forward, we would like to expand this solution further to link in with construction industry services and databases such as Builders’ Profile and Construction Line, helping us to be more streamlined and joined up in our approach and significantly reduce the need for manual intervention.

We will also benefit from having a single and uniform way of storing all paperwork and supporting documentation and information.


WebContractor has been developed to provide businesses with time and labour savings, helping them to improve efficiencies and compliance with legislation as well as give them the platform to plan their finances more easily and accurately. As a company with construction and infrastructure contracts creating an annual turnover in excess of £350 million, we’re very excited about the size and scale these benefits can bring us not only on our pilot projects but long into the future.

from The UK Construction Blog

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Why Modular Construction CAN Support Rapid Growth in the Construction Industry

There is a housing crisis in the UK. According to the National Federation of Builders, the answer is simple: build more homes.

But, critics say it is more complex than this. Brown land has to be found and planning permission granted. And, say others, the construction industry is not geared to meet such a massive upsurge in building demand. The results will be shoddy buildings and poor-quality homes for homebuyers and tenants.

But there could be a solution that means a surge in new homes coming to the market is possible. Rather than using bricks and mortar or breeze block and concrete, the solution is modular building, using a wood frame or steel frames, along with other readily available materials.

The modular build industry can support the rapid growth in the construction industry and here’s how;

SPEED is of the essence

On the one hand, you may assume that quick building means a final product of dubious quality. It is right to be cautious, especially when we are discussing people’s homes. This is a place of sanctity, a place where we should be warm, safe and comfortable.

We have seen poor housing in the past and in modern times – the draughty post-war prefabs and the anonymous looking housing estates where walls aren’t straight, and quality of the fixtures and fitting flimsy at best.

Speed in terms of modular building is not because the design is poor or the construction hurried, but because the methods of construction and materials used vary from those of a traditional build.

Within days, the outer walls of a modular building can be erected. Only a few days later, the interior walls and roofing frames can be complete. In fact, research shows that a modular build takes around half the time of a traditional building.

For a construction industry that needs to build good quality housing and fast, modular building is the answer.

OFF SITE construction

One of the issues with traditional building is often the location and access to the building site. For example, in cities and towns, building in a busy urban landscape brings additional costs. Difficulty accessing the site also leads to delays, again an expensive problem but also one that slows down progress.

With modular building, there are few worries of this nature and that is because the construction happens off site. In most cases, the houses are built in a factory setting and then shipped to their location. Where access is difficult, the homes can be delivered ‘flat-packed’ and put together on site.

Utility points can be added as part of the construction process, with the components fixed into position once the building is erected.

This makes this form of building friendly to the local community and businesses, as well as neighbours of the building site as there is no heavy machinery pounding away, day after day for months on end.

COST-EFFECTIVE housing solutions

Another factor that slows down the construction of new homes is who is going to pay for the building work? One of the issues within the housing crisis is affordability. For new buyers, it takes on average 20 years to save up a deposit on a home. By the time they have saved the deposit, there will be new hurdles to jump through.

And so, building housing estates in the traditional style could be a risk. Can people afford to buy? But also, is the style of home being built what they want or need?

Another issue with the housing crisis is that even if someone is lucky enough to get on the housing ladder when they need to buy a bigger property – e.g. more bedrooms for a growing family – they can’t afford to do so.

The solution is to bring more supply to the market place. And this means more houses. Modular building consumes fewer materials and resources, and are faster to build and that means they are cost-effective. With these substantial savings passed on to the buyer, more people will be able to afford a home that suits their needs.

HIGH-QUALITY in every aspect

From design to completion, to delivery to style, to aesthetic appeal, everything about a modular building is attractive. And that means the housing market will not be awash with sub-standard homes, but high-quality properties that people want.

For modular build specialists, the building of modular homes to add to the dry well of the housing market is a no-brainer. But is the great British public ready for modular homes?


MTX Contracts designs and constructs modular buildings for clients in the UK and beyond. Specialising in bespoke healthcare buildings, they understand how modular building is the future of the construction industry.

from The UK Construction Blog

Monday, 24 July 2017


Planning permission has now been granted for the nine-storey building at 262 York Road on the site of a Shell petrol filling station – the last undeveloped site at Battersea Reach, a mixed-use development fronting the River Thames.

Multi-disciplinary consultancy Meinhardt UK is using its expertise in modern methods of construction and structural engineering to realise the architect’s vision for a new build-to-rent development despite a unique set of challenges.


Working with clients Angle Property and architects TP Bennett, Meinhardt was originally asked to look at a scheme that would have seen the development rise above the petrol station. Although that plan achieved planning consent, the client decided to acquire the lease of the filling station and demolish it, and the revised application, for a building of approximately 10,000 sq m of floor space, has now achieved planning permission.


The development includes a commercial unit at ground floor with office, retail space and a lobby, ground floor car parking and a one-storey partial basement, which will house bike storage, plant and back of house. Removing the filling station made room for an additional storey of residential accommodation adding a further nine units. The apartments are a series of duplex units designed to stagger over the course of each level.


Large protruding balconies are a key element of the development, and Meinhardt coordinated extensively with the architects to accommodate these, and to incorporate the thermal break requirements in a twin wall construction frame. There is a terrace at first floor level and residents’ amenity spaces on some floors. Penthouse flats on the top, stepped back from the perimeter, are built around a lightweight steel frame.


Meinhardt’s design does not hinder the overall architectural solution because it sits on a transfer platform from which the structure can fly up. The MMC solution is predominantly twin wall and precast lattice slab over the insitu concrete transfer deck. That will accelerate the construction programme, and so that it does not impede the architectural layouts, Meinhardt’s team designed around tricky features such as a central corridor, which would otherwise have impeded the use of twin wall construction, and circumvented tricky sun rooms with steel beams.


Following planning permission, the client intends to tender for a contractor in autumn with start on site in the early 2018. Meinhardt will work with the contractor through an anticipated 18-month construction period to a mid-2019 completion.


Despite the decision to remove the petrol station, the site still poses all the underground complications of having been occupied by one. Meinhardt will work with geotechnical specialists to tackle complications including contamination. Obstructions such as the fuel tanks serving the filling station will have to be removed. A search of the site’s history revealed the ground also conceals a gas tank, likely a reinforced concrete wall with basement construction, which will either have to be removed or designed around.


The Meinhardt team has spent a year developing the design from work on the original idea through to planning consent on the current one to replace the filling station, and will now work with the contractor to see the project through to completion. The key outcome is enabling the use of MMC without impeding any of the architectural layout.


This is the second PRS scheme employing MMC in London that Meinhardt has worked on during the pre-planning process, the other being Greenford Green, Ealing, the UK’s largest purpose designed build to rent scheme, which will create almost 2,000 new homes.


from The UK Construction Blog

Friday, 21 July 2017

Recent Self-Building Influx Increases Health and Safety Risks

With more and more people deciding to build their own properties, more people are putting themselves at risk of injury on building sites. From simple building extensions to 3 bed houses at some point those who work on the project will need to wear the correct safety equipment, but often health and safety regulations are only followed by contractors and those who regularly work in this sector.

In this article, we will be exploring why the sudden increase in injuries and risks can be quickly averted…


Self-Building Safely

Self-Building is a rewarding and brilliant way to save money, however maintaining site safety is a must, even more so if you do not work in the building sector. A lot of the time when people are to self-build, they spend their spare time such as evenings and weekends to complete the project. This can cause many problems, the biggest of which is laziness and cutting corners.

Something as simple as putting on the correct safety equipment can become a chore, with the popular thought being “I’m only going to do a bit, not worth putting it on”. Well not wearing safety equipment can quickly increase the risk of injury, whether that injury is minor or major.

Cutting time doesn’t save lives.

Areas such as the hands and feet are usually the first place to have injuries with hazards such as sharp objects, you can easily find yourself with a minor if not severe injury. Protective gloves and boots can quickly reduce the risk of these injuries but there are many other potentials you will need to protect from. Hard hats are a must on a building site and can quickly reduce the impact of an object on the head. And strong thick clothing can reduce the chance of scuffs and abrasions, however specialised PPE will need to be used in other circumstances.

Remember if you do not have the correct protective equipment then you shouldn’t be working, no matter the complexity of the task.


Not sure what PPE to wear?

If you do not understand which PPE you should wear before you begin the task you need to speak to an expert. Whether this is specialist which will also provide equipment for you and your team or a PPE and Workwear company. Both will help you choose the correct items which are rated for the type of work you are undertaking.

from The UK Construction Blog

Wednesday, 5 July 2017


When it comes to maximising natural daylight in buildings, understandably perhaps, much attention is paid to the type of glass used in windows or the shades of finish applied to walls – but what about the colour of the flooring?

In commercial properties especially, staff not only benefit from a smooth, reliable, hard-wearing surface, its colour can have a large bearing on creating an environment conducive to a happy, healthy, productive workspace.


In a good light

As industrial flooring specialists of many years’ experience, we have seen how lighter-coloured floors can help optimise natural light in buildings for the good of the company and environment. Daylight is an even more precious commodity for those working inside; therefore it’s particularly important this natural resource is fully-harnessed as its rewards are plentiful.

Naturally-lit buildings increase the feel-good factor for occupants, and in commercial terms, a contented workforce is proven to be more productive. Lighter, brighter environments reduce instances of sick-building syndrome among staff, which leads to less absenteeism. Letting more daylight into offices and factories can also help reduce conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), an illness which is thought to occur due to lack of exposure to sunlight, particularly in winter.

As well as the health benefits, buildings with a predominance of natural lighting will use far less energy than those flooded with artificial illumination. Electricity used for lighting is considerably more expensive in terms of CO2 than gas used for heating, and as reducing carbon emissions is paramount to achieving Part L Building Regulation compliance, the importance of making full-use of natural energy cannot be overstated.


Reflective glory 

A recent refurbishment Zircon Flooring carried out at SFS Intec, a self-drilling screw manufacturer in Leeds, gives a perfect example of how a light-coloured floor can utilise available daylight. The 7,300m2 new surface of its plant comprised a low-viscosity resin: Sikafloor-161, and Sikafloor-263 SL, a multi-purpose binder.

The top coat’s light-grey colour provided the ideal shade to best reflect the natural daylight and enhance the building’s overall brightness.

Sika’s support was paramount to the successful specification of the aforementioned flooring system. The guidance and knowledge of its technical teams meant the selected products were absolutely appropriate for the floor’s required performance. As well as providing excellent thought leadership, Sika’s support teams remained available throughout the floor’s installation to ensure the process was completed successfully and to the highest quality.

Extolling the benefits of light-coloured flooring doesn’t guarantee clients will take the notion on board. Some will continue to insist on having black or dark flooring as it is felt shadier tones will mask dirt or markings, which is far from the case. Reds, greens, dark greys, blacks and browns are all no-no flooring colours if natural daylight reflection is the goal.

Sikafloor has any number of light-coloured finishes to maximise daylight in buildings. Each shade has a RAL number, ensuring it meets international colour standards. Scientific study has proved interior colours can have a major influence on our mood and sense of wellbeing. Therefore, taking a lighter approach to the shade of flooring we choose can give our working environment a lift in so many welcoming ways.

from The UK Construction Blog

Sunday, 2 July 2017

These 5 Amazing Spaces can beat building regulations

Commercial spaces are at a premium and mortgages are harder to secure than ever. But George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces show has inspired people across the UK to use innovative design to navigate building regulations and live mortgage free.

Whether you want to seek advice on converting a farm shed into the ultimate mancave or transforming an abandoned lorry trailer into your dream home, here are five awesome design ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Outstanding home offices

Creating cost-effective practical space is essential for new business owners but building regulations can put paid to the best laid plans. Using existing structures creatively is a great way to get around this.

Mezzanine floor specialists can help you beat planning regulations by converting an existing warehouse shed into a two-storey structure.

This lets you preserve as much storage space as possible with a brand new private office offering the privacy to chat to clients.

Ship-shape and mortgage-free

Abandoned shipping containers have long been reclaimed as makeshift shops and shelters around the world. But a canny Bedford resident made a giant leap in design evolution by transforming an old container to a fantastic floating home.

With a price tag under £50,000, the home maximises space with unique features like a bath set into the base of the shower and an under-bed wardrobe.  This is a cool compact home that epitomises large-scale recycling.

Shed your preconceptions

Stereotypical British sheds have often unfairly been stereotyped as sad retreats for hassled husbands. But Amazing Spaces spin-off show Shed of the Year shows contestants from across the country competing to build beautiful sheds that become serene sanctuaries.

Past winners include a terrific treehouse that allows you to channel your inner Ewok and a Roman temple that provides the perfect excuse for donning a toga when you relax after work.

Conserving classics

Caravanning is still a favourite pastime in the UK so it’s no wonder that caravan and camper van conversions have featured in their own Amazing Spaces shows.

One of the most innovative conversions showcased a decrepit 1950s classic caravan that morphed into a modern static home complete with roof garden and external spiral staircase.

Bringing the past to life

But the most touching show featured a custom made caravan recreated from sketches stashed away by a British soldier imprisoned during the second world war.

Right down to the custom light switches, the Amazing Spaces team cleverly brought the design to life for the deceased soldier’s surviving relatives.

George Clarke has a knack of discovering people make the most mundane objects magical.

Amazing Spaces inspires us all to take DIY to the next level and live lives less ordinary.

from The UK Construction Blog

Thursday, 29 June 2017


The Government recently announced plans to support the creation of 14 new Garden Villages. Universally seen as a good idea, there is however an underlying concern. This is around the historical slow growth which can be attributed to the existing ones failing to be the Utopia they promised to be. However, this discouraging outcome is rooted in lack of a mechanism that considers all social and technical impacts of a new development in its context in a wholesome manner. So what do we need to do to make sure our planned 14 Garden Villages are a success?

The concept of Garden Towns or Garden Villages was first introduced in the UK in 1898 and has continued to modestly grow ever since. They are defined as ‘a free standing, self-sustaining, high quality urban space that can address the housing issues, and is led by the local authority and supported by the community’.

To ensure the new 14 new Garden Villages are a success, there are a number of common problems that need to be addressed. BREEAM Communities is one solution that can help to ensure we don’t fall in to the same old traps.

Loss of Character

Garden Villages/Towns have been often criticised for not respecting or retaining the original characters of the locale they are developed in.

Every region and community holds its own unique characteristics and vernacular. Continuity between architectural style and building design within the development and the surrounding area will create coalition between the existing and new residents which in turn adds value to the quality of life within that community.

Injecting a new neighbourhood with its own facilities and potentially brand new occupants into the countryside requires a great deal of scrutiny into the existing and local features through studying the surroundings and consultation with stakeholders and community representatives. To illustrate the importance of this, BREEAM Communities scheme has an assessment issue worth of 2 credits dedicated to the subject of local vernacular to confirm that the development relates to the local character whilst reinforcing its own identity through a few practical steps.


Concentrating new homes in purpose-built new towns or villages, has a two-fold effect on infrastructure:

  1. Services and infrastructure (such as new drainage systems and gas and electricity services etc.) are built as part of the development which upsets people who live nearby in numerous ways if not done properly. Power loss, road closures, interruptions to customer supply or unnecessary expenses are some of the unwelcome outcomes of the inefficient structure for the existing/surrounding communities.

This is addressed under BREEAM Communities’ Utilities assessment issue where 3 credits are awarded for providing ducting and access points for services and for service providers’ coordination to ensure that installation and maintenance would not interrupt consumers’ supply.

  1. It puts pressure on the existing infrastructure and services where no extra infrastructure or services to support the new homes has been provided.

The notion of considering communities needs and requirements in terms of services and facilities and also delivery of these is visited in a few assessment issues within BREEAM Communities at the very early stages of development.


Milton Keynes, as one of the first new age Garden Towns, has over the years been criticised for its grid of broad roads that steers the residents towards driving their cars rather than using public transport. The grid also frustrates developers by taking up more space than a traditional city street despite the fact that it distributes traffic.

Other Garden Villages, on the other hand, seem to have been unable to cope with the traffic load due to poor or no evaluation of the infrastructural needs of a newly built community.

Both of the above cases have led to unhappy stakeholders, whether that’s the community or the local authority. Whereas, an early consultation with the stakeholders alongside an assessment of the transportation situation in the area followed by a design review in line with the results, can prevent either of the above issues.

To achieve this, BREEAM Communities provides step-by-step guidance to:

  • Ensure the needs, ideas and knowledge of the community are used to improve the quality of the design, planning and construction process. (Consultation)
  • Ensure that the masterplan’s design is reviewed by the community and other key stakeholders, ensuring that it supports a vibrant, healthy, functional and inclusive development. (Governance) and;
  • Ensure transport and movement strategies reduce the impact of the development upon the existing transport infrastructure and improve environmental and social sustainability through transport. (Transport and Movement)

Other issues

Overloaded schools and surgeries and lack of essential facilities such as shops, post office, banks etc. and absence of green infrastructure are some of the other issues that have made Garden Cities movement unsustainable. These are all as a result of a lack of consideration to demographic needs in general which is the core of BREEAM Communities methodology.

Undeniably there are other types of hurdles to building a practical Garden Village/Town. However, with the Government’s financial backing, lessons learned from the previous projects and the sciences within the Communities assessment methodology, now is the right time to create Garden Villages that are, more than ever, environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.

The most commonly accepted number of homes the UK needs to be building each year, in order to meet future housing need, is 240,000. Despite the small increase (6%), against the number of the newly built homes in the past year, we are far from achieving the above, hence the Government backing of the garden villages.

However, the housing crisis is not about how many homes we can build each year. It is about how many of these homes are affordable, habitable and practical for the people, the community. This is where the politically sponsored, sustainably created and socially approved Garden Villages/Towns come into play.

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from The UK Construction Blog