BDC

Search
BDC Magazine

April 11, 2016

Miller Homes fined £100k for pollution offence

House-builder Miller Homes has been fined £100,000 over a pollution incident on a site in Huddersfield. At Leeds Crown Court this week the company admitted one environmental offence for an unauthorised discharge of water, containing silt and sediment, from its  construction site at Lindley Park into a nearby watercourse that

Read More »

Josh Phillips – Tata Steel Losses

The European arm’s loss for the year to 31 March 2016 was in stark contrast to the £435m profiit posted in its previous results. Turnover for the division was down by 15.3 per cent over the same period, falling to £6.87bn from £8.11bn the year before. Chief executive Hans Fischer

Read More »

More Woes for Circuit of Wales Project

Despite work already expected to have begun on the Circuit of Wales project, months of negotiation as to the viability of the project have come to an end with Edwina Hart, Economy Minister highlighting “significant question” of the project’s viability. Although previously hoped that the project would, this week come to

Read More »

MTW Research Highlights Potential for Growth in Facilities Management

In contrast to a perceived slowing of pace in the facilities management sector, a new report published by MTW Research has highlighted the prospective of a marked rise in sector profitability this year. The report, which features information from 100 prominent providers of facilities management services, highlighted the capacity of

Read More »

Breedon Aggregates Highlights Success in Latest Financial Reports

One to watch this year is Breedon Aggregates as, in line with the resurgence of the UK construction industry, the company has seen a stark increase in group turnover as highlighted in last year’s financial reports. In addition to this, a marked increase in company profits has also been highlighted.

Read More »

Sustainable Construction Solutions: Should this be a Company Policy?

Sustainability and environmental awareness should, by now, be high on the list of priorities for any business. But for home improvement and construction companies — which require high energy and raw material resources — these responsibilities should already be comprehensively understood and systematically improved upon year-on-year. By Coral Pearce-Mariner at

Read More »

Latest Issue

BDC 318 : Jul 2024

April 11, 2016

Miller Homes fined £100k for pollution offence

House-builder Miller Homes has been fined £100,000 over a pollution incident on a site in Huddersfield. At Leeds Crown Court this week the company admitted one environmental offence for an unauthorised discharge of water, containing silt and sediment, from its  construction site at Lindley Park into a nearby watercourse that runs into Grimescar Dyke. The incident took place in November 2013. Flannery Civil Engineering Ltd was fined £9,000 by Kirklees Magistrates’ Court in March after admitting a similar charge for its involvement in the same incident. The Environment Agency prosecutor told the court that the polluted water should have been managed on the construction site, and that neither company had permission to discharge silt water from the site. Miller Homes contracted Flannery to construct four storage lagoons in order to reduce the risk of flooding downstream. Straw bales were used on the outflow of the lower lagoon to prevent silt from leaving the site. But following heavy rainfall in November 2013, the lower lagoon filled with water, and Flannery removed the straw bales to allow it to drain. With the bales removed, silt water ran directly into the watercourse, affecting water quality. A member of the public reported the pollution incident to the Environment Agency, which sent an officer to investigate. He found that the watercourse was running a dark brown colour, and traced the source back to the development site. The officer also saw that the straw bales were situated at the side of the lagoon, no longer filtering the discharge. Water entering the top lagoon was clear, but the water leaving the bottom lagoon was cloudy. In mitigation, Miller Homes said that it immediately improved the lagoon system following the incident. It said that its directors had been ‘apoplectic’ that the problem had not been reported to the Environment Agency or even themselves at the time. A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said after the hearing: “Environmental permitting laws exist to protect the environment and local communities from harm. This case shows how important it is that construction and other industrial companies adhere to the regulations to ensure that their activities do not pose a risk of pollution. “Miller Homes should have had more effective water management systems on the construction site to prevent the silty run-off from affecting local watercourses.”     This article was published on 20 May 2016 (last updated on 20 May 2016). Source link

Read More »

Rents up by an average of 3% across England and Wales year on year

Rents in England and Wales have increased by an average of 3% over the last year to £791 per month, according to the latest buy to let index. Record rents were recorded in the Midlands while rents fell in Wales and the North East, the data from the Your Move and Reeds Rains index also shows. On a monthly basis March was a relatively subdued month, with the level of average rents the same as was seen in February. Month on month rent growth has dipped marginally from 0.1% between January and February 2016 to a flat 0% between February and March 2016. Leading the whole of England & Wales, rents in the East Midlands now stand 8.5% higher than in March last year, at an all-time record high of £613 per month. This is followed closely by the West Midlands with 6.7% annual rent rises, taking the average rent in the West Midlands region to a separate all-time record of £597 per month. London is in third place in terms of annual rent rises, up 4.6% from the same point last year. However at £1,231 the capital’s average monthly rent remains below the all-time record of £1,301 set six months ago in September 2015. At the other end of the spectrum Wales and the North East are host to annual rent falls, both dropping by 2.2% since March last year. This takes rents in Wales to £551 per month and rents in the North East to £507 per month in March 2016. On a monthly basis the East Midlands matches the South East with a 0.7% month-on-month rise in rents, followed by the East of England where rents have risen by 0.6% between February and March. Meanwhile, taking into account both rental income and capital growth, but before property specific costs such as maintenance, the average existing landlord in England and Wales has seen total returns rise to 12.2% over the 12 months to March. The index points out that this is a clear jump from 10.7% seen a month before, over the 12 months to February, and is also the fastest annual rate of return for existing landlords seen since November 2014, when the same measure last reached 12.3%. In absolute terms this means that the average landlord in England and Wales has seen a return of £22,135 over the last year before any deductions such as property maintenance and mortgage payments. Of this, the average capital gain contributed £13,494 while rental income made up £8,641 over the 12 months to March. While a recent surge in capital values has boosted total returns for existing landlords, the same trend has suppressed rental yields for those aspiring to become landlords, or looking to grow their property portfolio,’ the report points out. As rents rise alongside property prices, rental yields are proving relatively resistant to rising purchase prices. However the gross yield on a typical rental property in England and Wales, before taking into account factors such as void periods, is now 4.9% as of March 2016, compared to 5.1% in March 2015. Adrian Gill, director of lettings agents Your Move and Reeds Rains, explained that new tax changes intended to benefit owner occupiers are now making it more expensive to become a landlord, at least for the time being. ‘Ultimately this will only punish tenants and aspiring first time buyers, driving out buy to let landlords will reduce supply leading to lower choice and higher rents for those that can least afford them,’ he said. ‘In particular, this month’s new stamp duty surplus has driven an extra wedge between those aspiring landlords planning to invest in additional homes to let, and those existing landlords who have already built up their portfolios. That difference will not last for long. But by making it more expensive to invest in property, it will hamper the healthy growth of the private rented sector,’ he pointed out. He believes that over the longer term there will still be a sharpening shortage of homes available, and rents will rise in line with any extra costs. ‘So being a landlord will remain a profitable investment, though tenants will just see unnecessarily higher rents in order to price-in the extra bill for the taxman,’ said Gill. ‘In the short term, there has also been a scramble to buy property before the deadline. As a result, a flurry of interest from property investors has boosted values, and delivered a bonus for existing landlords through faster capital growth. In search of political points, the Chancellor would do better to help tenants rather than punish landlords but the most ironic part of the new tax regime is the additional bonus to the wealth of current landlords,’ he added. Paying the rent on time has become slightly more of a challenge for tenants in March, the index suggests. Across England and Wales the overall level of rental arrears now stands at 9.1% of all rent due in the private rented sector, compared to 8.8% in February 2016. Tenant finances have also felt a setback compared to the same point last year. The latest arrears rate of 9.1% compares with 7.4% rent arrears in March 2015. Despite this, and on a longer term basis, levels of late rent remain more encouraging. March still compares very favourably to the all-time high of 14.6% of all rent payable in arrears set in February 2010. ‘Landlords need tenants with sound finances, and tenants need a property they can afford. While there is always room for healthy negotiation on rents, both landlords and tenants need each other to reach a deal. So some of the language of confrontation between landlords and tenants is not healthy or constructive,’ said Gill. ‘For private renting to remain an affordable option and a high-quality home for millions, the answer is more supply and more choice. That means lifting the barriers to investment in property, rather than adding fresh penalties for landlords aspiring for their own financial security,’ he explained. He also pointed

Read More »

New digital letting service aims to save landlords up to £1,600

New digital letting service aims to save landlords up to £1,600 A new fully digital letting service, No Agent, has launched today, with landlords set to enjoy savings of up to £1,600 per year. NoAgent uses technology to automate the marketing, administration and maintenance of properties – as well as supplying round the clock support for landlords. No Agent provides free advertising on the UK’s major property portals (eg. Rightmove, Zoopla) and will use a simple fee structure, charging landlords £39 / month for London properties – and £29 / month for those outside the capital. Owners and tenants face no additional fees. Landlords aren’t tied into long-term contracts and can cancel at any time. Landlords manage their property via a real-time dashboard. All administration is handled online or via No Agent’s 24-hour call centre including viewings, reference & credit checks, contracts, the move in, compliance reminders, management of repairs and deposit / rent collection. No Agent also announced veteran property technologist Gillian Kent has joined as chairman. Her previous roles include CEO of Propertyfinder.com – which was sold to Zoopla in 2009 and integrated into its platform – and Managing Director of MSN UK. Gillian commented: “Despite the impact of the digital revolution, property services haven’t fundamentally changed. No Agent is the only service that completely automates a range of essential tasks such as marketing, bookings, reference checks, maintenance and compliance. “Strategically what we’re doing is empowering landlords to fully manage all aspects of the letting of their property – and save money as a direct result. Agencies currently earn £115m a year in fees for doing these sorts of tasks.” “The average monthly rent outside of London is now £779. So when you add on standard agency charges like a month’s rent together with monthly management fees of up to 15%, the first-year cost for a landlord is close to £2,000. By contrast, using No Agent would save them just shy of £1,600. “Tenants will also be better off as we don’t charge for services like drawing up tenancy agreements and credit checks. However letting agencies now typically charge tenants £337 in fees – many in London are forced to pay over £400.” However Barry Nichols-Grey, Chief Financial Officer at Dezrez, thinks that the new service may be underestimating the value that estate agents play in the letting/buying process. He said: “The move towards fully digital buying and letting services has been in the works for a while now. The property and estate agency markets are ripe for innovation and encountering the sort of digital transformations being seen across a number of industries. “But we need to balance a tech-only approach with caution. In light of the cheaper prices that online services often list as the number one benefit, we must remember that agents are more than a middle man. Our research shows that the local knowledge of agents is important for 78% of consumers. In addition, only 10% are strongly in favour of only dealing with agents over the phone or via email. Whilst many people like to be able to search online, they clearly value the customer experience and human element of face-to-face interactions later on in the process. Online services just can’t compete with the level of face-to-face service that consumers demand.” Source link

Read More »

Josh Phillips – Tata Steel Losses

The European arm’s loss for the year to 31 March 2016 was in stark contrast to the £435m profiit posted in its previous results. Turnover for the division was down by 15.3 per cent over the same period, falling to £6.87bn from £8.11bn the year before. Chief executive Hans Fischer said demand in Europe was “undermined by continued surging imports in 2015”. He said imports “rose so fast that domestic deliveries declined, and prices came under further pressure”. He added that it was “vital” the European Commission and national governments continued to “strengthen action against unfair trade”. Tata said its board was “actively reviewing all options” for its UK businesses, including a potential sale. Its UK arm has already agreed to sell its Long Proucts Europe business to Greybull Capital, which will be completed once contracts are transferred and “certain government approvals” are met. In January this year, Tata Steel UK axed 750 staff at its Port Talbot-based Strip Products UK business, with 200 support jobs and a further 100 jobs at steel mills in Trostre, Corby and Hartlepool also cut. It also announced it would axe 1,200 jobs at its Scunthorpe plant in October last year, but these jobs could potentially be saved once the sale to Greybull Capital is completed. The company is shifting its output to focus on higher-value sales and differentiated products, which now make up over a third of total sales. In the UK, the firm said it would be focusing on “higher-value sales rather than volume”. Liquid steel production across Europe stood at 3.41m tonnes, down from 3.91m tonnes in its previous results, while deliveries fell to 3.55m tonnes, down from 3.81m tonnes over the same period In April, business secretary Sajid Javid announced that the government would provide debt financing, or take up to 25 per cent of Tata Steel UK, to encourage “a credible private buyer” to come forward, a move welcomed by the steel industry. Source link

Read More »

More Woes for Circuit of Wales Project

Despite work already expected to have begun on the Circuit of Wales project, months of negotiation as to the viability of the project have come to an end with Edwina Hart, Economy Minister highlighting “significant question” of the project’s viability. Although previously hoped that the project would, this week come to a financial close, Edwina Hart has instead outlined an “unacceptable” risk for the project, drawing concerns and unverwriting the entirety of the project despite progress already made thus far. This came as the Welsh Government was unable to see eye to eye with the project’s developers in recent funding talks and could not agree with the 100% guarantee which the developer sought. The original contract for the construction of the project was initially won by FCC all the way back in 2002, which was in partnership with Alun Griffiths, which has since backed out of the project. Though Roadbridge had reportedly taken the place of Alun Griffiths in the project, the recent announcement signifies a considerable hit to the contractors on the already greatly delayed scheme. The scheme was originally expected to see a commencement in construction all the way back in 2013, yet funding and planning permission woes saw the project delayed until now. The recent news then highlights growing concerns as to if and when the project will eventually reach an official construction start. It is, however, still hoped that the scheme will be completed before the Moto GP race to be held in 2018, for which the venue is expected to play host up until 2024 at the very least. Of course, the project has not been entirely scrapped as of yet, as it is expected that Heads of the Valleys Development Company will continue to maintain talks with the Welsh Government, yet construction of the racetrack will be delayed once again, with the outlook for the project remaining regrettably bleak.

Read More »

MTW Research Highlights Potential for Growth in Facilities Management

In contrast to a perceived slowing of pace in the facilities management sector, a new report published by MTW Research has highlighted the prospective of a marked rise in sector profitability this year. The report, which features information from 100 prominent providers of facilities management services, highlighted the capacity of a £200m rise in sector profitability as a result of “largely positive” sector fundamentals which will provide stable growth in both volume and value over the course of this year and next. This, of course, comes in contrast to woes highlighted from an outsourcing perspective, which the report does not dismiss as such, but merely regards such issues as a relatively short term challenge. One of the largest restraints on profitability will come from the new national living wage, which will see an increase in costs of circa £250m over the next few years, as some 400,000 individuals are affected. Of course, whilst not being an altogether positive not from a corporate profitability angle, the new national living wage will indeed allow for employees to enjoy in the potential success of the sector in the years to come. Most specifically, the report showcased how the outsourcing sector plays host to some 1.4m jobs for the facilities management sector this year, with the majority of the industry pressures from the new national living wage impacting small and medium enterprises, as well as regional organisations most. This comes in contrast to larger enterprises and London-centric organisations who are expected not to be feeling the “pinch” quite so much. Preparing for the evolving facilities management landscape, trends have been seen within in-sourcing and more strategic facilities management processes, as well as the usage of new technologies, data management and communication seeing the potential for facilities management providers to shape up their operations from both a quality-of-service perspective, as well as profitability.

Read More »

Breedon Aggregates Highlights Success in Latest Financial Reports

One to watch this year is Breedon Aggregates as, in line with the resurgence of the UK construction industry, the company has seen a stark increase in group turnover as highlighted in last year’s financial reports. In addition to this, a marked increase in company profits has also been highlighted. Showcasing an 18% increase in revenues for 2015, Breedon Aggregates’ turnover totalled in at a notable £318.5m for 2015, showcasing considerable growth in the present market – a market which, while recovering, is still relatively volatile by nature. In line with the growth, Breedon Aggregates also enjoyed a rise in pre-tax profits for 2015, rising by approximately 46% to a value of £31,3m. The underlying EBITDA for Breedon Aggregates saw an increase up to £54.9m, with its margin increasing up to 17.2% for 2015, effectively meeting the group’s medium term target for EBITDA margin as set all the way back in 2010, thus positioning the company in a relatively strong position for the coming years. The results come as the company is in the final stages of securing its £336m acquisition of leading construction material supplier, Hope Construction Materials, which is hoped to be checked off from a regulatory respective mid-2016. Of course, should the acquisition go as plans, predictions for the group’s future revenue levels could considerably overshadow the success of 2015. With Hope Construction Materials also still releasing new, branded products to the market, this is expected to further strengthen the brand in the coming times, as well as providing even greater access to group turnovers should the deal with Breedon Aggregates go ahead. “We begin an exciting new era in 2016 with the planned acquisition of Hope and we look forward to the future with confidence,” commented Breedon Aggregates’ Executive Chairman, Peter Tom. This, of course, ties in with governmental commitments to investing back into infrastructure and an increase workloads for the entirety of the sector as leading infrastructure projects come into action.  

Read More »

Sustainable Construction Solutions: Should this be a Company Policy?

Sustainability and environmental awareness should, by now, be high on the list of priorities for any business. But for home improvement and construction companies — which require high energy and raw material resources — these responsibilities should already be comprehensively understood and systematically improved upon year-on-year. By Coral Pearce-Mariner at Evander If it’s not already your company policy to favour sustainable solutions over more traditional but wasteful methods and materials, then you may struggle to uphold your place in the market as we move into a new era of environmental and social responsibility. We all know that customers generally prefer to do business with companies who are mindful of their impact upon the planet. A survey conducted by The Natural Marketing Institute found that consumers are 58% more likely to buy products or services from environmentally aware businesses, and they’re also willing to spend up to 20% more for a product or service which is ‘environmentally sound’. The benefits of improved sustainability can be felt across all areas of a business if implemented in the right way. For instance, a more sustainable building material may be more expensive initially, but as long as supply is managed well and the known benefits are communicated to customers effectively, improved profit and higher customer approval ratings are likely. Managing waste is a huge part of how a business can improve their sustainability. This doesn’t just mean recycling where possible — it means working smarter to ensure you order and use the minimum resources possible for each aspect of every job. This not only saves costs in the long run, but also ensures your company is not creating demand for environmentally sensitive resources and then not using them, or even worse — throwing them away. While this is often difficult to manage, especially in the construction and home improvement sector, it’s worth spending time and money getting this right, as it has a knock-on effect for the majority of departments within any business. A further incentive to implement more eco-conscious policies comes from the future of regulations and governance in this area. It’s likely that government and business regulatory bodies will impose stricter environmental impact limits as the years go on. Ensuring that your company is already ahead of the game, or at least has the foundations built for less-wasteful and more environmentally aware working practices, could save a lot of time and money, not to mention helping your business deal with the inevitable red tape much more easily. If you’re not sure where to begin, enlisting the help of the NQA (National Quality Assurance) and working towards your ISO 14001 Environmental Certification with their guidance is a good start. This will not only help you understand your environmental responsibilities and impacts better, but it will also send a loud and clear message to your customers and clients.

Read More »

Featuring McAleer and Rushe: Interview with Conor Feeney, Senior Site Manager

The image of the construction industry has long been challenged by unsightly, ungainly or noisy site works – often, presenting inconveniences to those living and working nearby. With a radically different approach that places due consideration at its centre, McAleer and Rushe continues to maximise property assets with minimal disruption. With almost 50 years’ experience in all aspects of property, McAleer and Rushe has established itself as a leader in design-and-build construction, quickly picking up awards in anything from design excellence, to NHBC’s much-revered Pride in the Job accolade. Working across the student, residential, office and hotel sectors, the company has offices in London, Belfast, Dublin and Cookstown, and has been part of some of the largest, and most well-known development projects of the new millennia. What’s most notable about McAleer and Rushe however, is neither its size nor its scope but the reputation it has built as a considerate constructor. Since becoming a member of the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS), the company has incorporated the body’s ethics of responsible, attentive site works wholeheartedly. Indeed, at the end of last year, McAleer and Rushe earned a Considerate Contractor Scheme Gold Award for the London-based development for a leading German hotel chain. The construction of a 291-bedroom, to be owned by Motel One, was not without challenge – not least in view of its busy, central location. “From a site point of view, the biggest issue was our proximity to live roads and live traffic,” explains Conor Feeney, Site Manager at McAleer and Rushe. “That presents difficulties to both carrying out structural works in general, and maintaining considerate practice. Whilst such problems are fairly standard in the sector, the lengths we go to, as a company, in order to combat those potential issues is where standard practice becomes exceptional.” By opening up dialogue with neighbouring properties, businesses and facilities during the early stages of development, the company streamlined the build considerably – posing little to no impact on either private or public services. And it was no mean feat when one takes into account the major gas works replacement taking place at the same time. In fact, what began as a one-way street at the commencement of the contract was, part-way through the hotel construction, restored to a two-way through-road following work on the gas mains. The facilities maintenance, carried out by the City of London was nevertheless uninterrupted by McAleer and Rushe’s project thanks to intelligent planning and a proactive approach. Putting in place a dedicated environmental officer as well as a health and safety officer at each active site, McAleer and Rushe has a clear vision from the outset and one by which subcontractors and suppliers have to abide. “All our partners have to buy into our ethos as a Considerate Constructor,” insists Feeney. “At the bottom line, it’s about good communication. Motel One was situated on a busy street local to Liverpool Street where London’s commercial district is. Most of our deliveries were arriving at peak commuting time, and adequate signage and diversions were really important. We see sub-contracting as an ongoing process that has to be negotiated and re-negotiated as a project develops. It might take time and effort but, once the considerate practice system is in place and working properly, they appreciate why it’s needed.” Of course, before inspiring best practice from sub-contractors and suppliers, operatives have to be on side. Acknowledging that a positive culture is best fostered from the bottom up, McAleer and Rushe has invested heavily in education and training for its staff so as to inspire pride and confidence in the job. And, in what Feeney describes as the biggest change to the company’s outlook, McAleer and Rushe now holds regular toolbox talks across sites up and down the country, many led by its newly-appointed environmental manager. Amongst covering environmental aspects with a Considerate Constructor crossover (such as waste management and transport), the company has also strived to give voice to the concerns of civil, electrical and construction specialists, inviting a host of different speakers to deliver its talks. McAleer and Rushe is therefore at the forefront of developing best practice models that are not only more in-tune with each other, but are most closely aligned with the needs of the modern construction industry. What boils down to an ethic of communication and responsibility has also given a competitive edge to the well-accomplished company. As Feeney explains, “Membership with the Considerate Constructors Scheme is increasingly something that clients look for during procurement. Alongside price and specification, it’s one of the leading ways to establish yourself above others. The Gold Award is the pinnacle of all that the organisation stands for and, for that, our team’s hard work and dedication has to be applauded.” With sights set on further accolades this year, and highly complimentary feedback thus far, McAleer and Rushe is set to remain the people’s contractor. Determinedly in-step with both clients and the neighbourhood, this is one company that not only gets it, but gets it right.

Read More »