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April 21, 2016

Gas Safety Week 19-25 September 2016

Gas Safety Week aims to raise awareness of gas safety and reminds us to have our gas appliances safety checked annually by a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer. We know gas safety is important all year round, but the value of Gas Safety Week lies in getting many people involved

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Engineering Videos Launched by Groundforce to Share Knowledge

Communication and knowledge sharing is seemingly a concept on the rise in the construction industry. With organisations increasingly recognising that the fate of the industry is tied to the operations of all, the sharing of knowledge is key. As such, Groundforce has recently introduced a new “first” in the industry

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Uncertainty Over Energy Company Obligation Replacement

Concerns have been raised by Alan Whitehead, Shadow Energy Minister, that the provisions made to replace the Energy Company Obligation and Green Deal won’t be enough, and perhaps does not serve anywhere near a considerable purpose as Energy Company Obligation. Of course, Alan Whitehead did not to the positive nature

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Construction Industry Headaches as Highlighted by Travis Perkins

As a continuation of the company’s declaration to both encourage and promote innovation for the benefit of the customer, Travis Perkins has gone out of its way to highlight some of the most prominent issues, or “headaches” currently prevalent in the industry. As for the concepts themselves, it is reported

Read More »

Featuring Roadbridge: Interview With Peter Byrne (Environmental Manager)

A Considerate Constructor (The Following is a Promoted Article) The completion of the Chelmsford Effluent Pipeline Works by Roadbridge was met with the glowing commendation that is expected by this award winning company. As one of Ireland’s most prominent and well-respected civil engineering businesses, Roadbridge has enjoyed significant growth over

Read More »

Are Modern Homes Too Small for the Modern Family?

In a recent piece of research published by RIBA, a worrying notion has been conveyed. Despite keen developers working tirelessly to provide further housing stock in this time of shortage, it has been highlighted that over half of those homes being developed right now aren’t actually large enough to provide

Read More »

Featuring Savills: Interview with Jonathan Channing, Head of Residential Block Management and Director at Savills

Savills – Prime Estates: Expanding Property Management (The Following is a Promoted Article) Long established and highly regarded as an international real estate services leader, Savills has, for an eighth consecutive year, been recognised as the top real estate Superbrand by the Centre for Brand Analysis, whose assessment takes into account

Read More »

What Does Brexit Mean for the Northern Property Market?

Harry Dhaliwal, of Property Provider, Belvoir, Gives His Thoughts on what the Brexit Means for UK property. In preparation for the poll on Britain’s EU membership status scheduled for June 23rd this year, the property industry is suggesting that withdrawal could have a devastating effect on the UK market. The

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Latest Issue

BDC 317 : Jun 2024

April 21, 2016

Gas Safety Week 19-25 September 2016

Gas Safety Week aims to raise awareness of gas safety and reminds us to have our gas appliances safety checked annually by a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer. We know gas safety is important all year round, but the value of Gas Safety Week lies in getting many people involved – strength in numbers! By focusing all of our communications in one week, we are more likely to generate media interest and have a greater impact. Over 3,000 supporters have already signed up to this year’s Gas Safety Week. One simple way to get involved is to join the Gas Safety Week Thunderclap, and a pre-written message of support will be automatically sent from your Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr account at the start of Gas Safety Week – let’s get #GSW16 trending! Don’t forget to pledge your support online, and we will email you a free digital toolkit in the next few weeks, to help you promote gas safety – including social media updates, web banners, images, articles, a press release kit and more.   If you’re looking for inspiration on how you can go the extra mile, why not visit GasSafetyWeek.co.uk to see what others did in 2015 to support the week. Source link

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Engineering Videos Launched by Groundforce to Share Knowledge

Communication and knowledge sharing is seemingly a concept on the rise in the construction industry. With organisations increasingly recognising that the fate of the industry is tied to the operations of all, the sharing of knowledge is key. As such, Groundforce has recently introduced a new “first” in the industry – a series of engineering discussion videos to showcase its commitment to knowledge-sharing and purvey a “new approach” to engineering for the sector. The series, dubbed “Back to the Drawing Board”, serves as a collection of shorts to explain key industry topics in a simple and easy format – these topics relating to topics such as excavation support. For those interested in viewing the videos, it is exacted that they will be available for public viewing on both the company’s official website as well as its YouTube channel, allowing it to reach a larger audience of interest. As we understand it, the monthly video releases are intended to communicate core engineering industry topics, incorporating the technical, the practical and the theoretical so as best to discuss a wide variety of topics which may help organisations to reshape the way in which they think, and work. Of course, it is hoped that the videos will play a part in encouraging further discussion on the topics presented, getting an increasing volume of industry representatives providing their thoughts, and perhaps even adding to the knowledge pool. The first video is set to discuss hydraulic propping design to Eurocodes, which will serve as a video to discuss a widely-accepted, tricky concept for the sector which is not yet directly covered in any official guidance or documentation. As such, the video will lay the foundations and perhaps engage with an audience looking to either learn from knowledge, or provide additional food for thought. Groundforce’s Technical Director, Tony Gould explained: “We hope this series of videos will open up in-depth discussion on a platform which is easily accessible and available when the audience chooses.”

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Uncertainty Over Energy Company Obligation Replacement

Concerns have been raised by Alan Whitehead, Shadow Energy Minister, that the provisions made to replace the Energy Company Obligation and Green Deal won’t be enough, and perhaps does not serve anywhere near a considerable purpose as Energy Company Obligation. Of course, Alan Whitehead did not to the positive nature of their being, at the very least, something to replace Energy Company Obligation with, as there had previously been doubts as to its replacement with anything at all. Yet, he then went on to highlight that, from the early signs shown in the Autumn statement, all we presently have is a plan for £640m each year and an overarching target of some 200,000 homes each year between 2017 and 2021 – an approximate 40% drop in the previous expenditure figures and an even more considerable drop in the number of homes. Whilst the news that the scheme will be replaced is received on more of a positive than negative note, with some support being notably better than none, there are serious concerns as to just how the new provision will make any meaningful difference when considering the lack of success seen in the original Green Deal, which was a greater dedication to investment. Alan Whithead commented: “As it stands at the moment it seems like a pretty ineffective replacement for schemes that themselves were going down below levels that had previously been seen for energy efficiency…when we need those energy efficiency measures like never before.” Of course, given the severe shortcomings and lack of interest in the Green Deal, it was originally hoped that any deal to follow would try to provide a more substantial offering so as best to incentivise green energy initiatives. These signs are, of course, only early days, yet thus far the concerns are that the new deal will simply see the mopping up of homes which are deemed easy to treat, with those perhaps in most need, taking a back seat.

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Construction Industry Headaches as Highlighted by Travis Perkins

As a continuation of the company’s declaration to both encourage and promote innovation for the benefit of the customer, Travis Perkins has gone out of its way to highlight some of the most prominent issues, or “headaches” currently prevalent in the industry. As for the concepts themselves, it is reported that they became apparent upon Travis Perkins conversing with a mixture of industry manufacturers, housebuilders, contractors and members of staff. Of the key gripes, the weather in the UK was noted to be one of those challenges shared by many individuals across the sector. Notoriously poor weather has always been something of a gripe for the UK as a whole, but within the construction sector it is something to which many organisations attribute a degree of their construction delays, the reduced effectiveness of some building products, and a deprecation of working conditions and overall productivities. It’s of no real surprise that another of the key areas highlighted was health and safety, being something that presently places more limiters on what can be done more than any other construction concept. Incorporating areas such as working from heights and the use of heavy equipment and materials, the potential for injury within the construction sector has always, and perhaps always will be something of an annoyance to the industry itself. As has also been reported, the skills shortage was also highlighted as one of the other key areas of challenges, which has placed severe brakes on the continued growth of the sector; this also being something very difficult for the average SME to be able to overcome without dedicating a great deal more attention to community engagement and recruitment strategy. Travis Perkins’ Group Strategy Director, Norman Bell commented: “This is a golden opportunity for those in construction who face daily problems that are a barrier to progress and profit, as well as for creative minds that want to make a difference to a vital industry sector.”

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Featuring Roadbridge: Interview With Peter Byrne (Environmental Manager)

A Considerate Constructor (The Following is a Promoted Article) The completion of the Chelmsford Effluent Pipeline Works by Roadbridge was met with the glowing commendation that is expected by this award winning company. As one of Ireland’s most prominent and well-respected civil engineering businesses, Roadbridge has enjoyed significant growth over the last few years, now boasting activity across the United Kingdom as well as further afield with projects completed in Poland, the South Pacific and the Middle East. Since its formation in 1967, Roadbridge has continued to develop around the family traditions on which its foundations have been built upon. This has seen it develop enduring relationships with clients, successfully delivering projects across a variety of sectors for customers serving the transport, renewables and energy, utilities, commercial, industrial, waste management and leisure industries. A key component of its ethos is consideration for the client’s needs, the community in which its endeavours may impact upon, and the wider environment in terms of sustainable, long-term value. Roadbridge – acting as principal contractor was responsible for the design and build of an 8km effluent pipeline between the Chelmsford Sewage Treatment Works in Essex to an existing outfall on the River Blackwater – brought it the attention of the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS). It came as little surprise to Quality and Environmental Manager Peter Byrne who said Roadbridge had exhibited the qualities of a “considerate constructor” since its inception; it is part of the company’s defining approach. Recognised by the CCS for its work on the Chelmsford Effluent Pipeline with the award of Bronze, the accolade joins others achieved by Roadbridge including Silver for a road improvement scheme in Wales. The Executive Summary recorded by CCS representatives following inspection of the site scored the company highly across all categories with the appearance of the site achieving particularly high marks. The report said Roadbridge clearly approached “everything in a very professional manner” and that this is “evident immediately when arriving on site”. The CCS award was a chance for the company to celebrate its work ethic – combining the elements that make a “considerate constructor” with sound implementation of civils expertise. Indeed, as Byrne notes, it was a fitting endorsement of the company’s abilities. “The Considerate Constructors award actually mirrors our ethos,” he says. “It gave us an opportunity to be externally recognised for our policies and procedures which we have always considered to be standard practice. “When we’re looking to stand out in a competitive market, awards such as the CCS Bronze gives us that edge. But, importantly, it is an endorsement of the successful systems we have in place – systems that have driven the business over the years, resulting in its success today.” The pipeline project, one of the biggest of its kind in the UK, saw Roadbridge install around 8km of concrete pipe alongside 2km of upgrades. The contract with Northumbrian Water involved the design, supply and installation of the underground gravity pipeline to run in parallel with the existing pipelines including numerous strategic crossings of roads and watercourses. The project was successfully completed on time, to budget and to the total satisfaction of the client in November 2014. The success of the project led it to being awarded Project of the Year Finalist at the Northumbrian Water Group Framework Awards for 2014 – 2015. One of the considerations when undertaking the contract was the close proximity it had to a caravan park. A popular destination for holidaymakers in the summer, Roadbridge liaised with the park owner in regards to working hours in order to mitigate noise, while measures were put in place to prevent potential pollution to nearby water courses from the site’s large areas of exposed soil. It was representative of the company’s overall approach. “When we leave an area we’ve worked in, we want only to have left a good impression. We will buy from local suppliers, we’ll help out with local interest groups in the area. We try to give back to the community meaning there’s a lot more value to our presence than merely the job at hand,” explains Byrne. This means mitigating disruption to daily life, communicating with local residents to keep them up to date with project works, caring about the wider environment and the health and safety of both the workforce and others who may visit or be affected by the site works. It all adds up to being an ideal “considerate constructor”. Byrne calls it the “non-adversarial approach”. He adds, “The very nature of civils work means we are inherently impacting on people’s day-to-day lives. We aim to be transparent and to work closely with the client as much as possible to limit the adverse effects of our work. Our ability to do this is paramount and it’s something that we’ve been able to highlight through the CCS awards.”

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Are Modern Homes Too Small for the Modern Family?

In a recent piece of research published by RIBA, a worrying notion has been conveyed. Despite keen developers working tirelessly to provide further housing stock in this time of shortage, it has been highlighted that over half of those homes being developed right now aren’t actually large enough to provide for those individuals purchasing them. Perhaps due to the need for squeezing as many separate housing plots in small geographic areas, a severe minification process is being seen for new homes, with thousands of families not being able to utilise their home to live in a manner deemed comfortable and sociable – effectively, not having a great deal of social space, not having any room for relatives or an expanding family, or even having room for storing away household essentials. In the research, RIBA highlighted that the, in the case of a new three-bedroom property, the average amount lost with modern property is about 4sqm, the same size as an average bathroom for the family. Yet, in the smallest of three-bedroom properties, it has been reported that the space missing jumps up to the size of an entire double bedroom. Across England, Yorkshire homes are reportedly those smallest in size across England, with the average three-bedroom Yorkshire property being a shocking 25sqm smaller than one in London, whilst the average new home as a whole in Yorkshire is actually smaller by the approximate size of both a living room for the family, and an additional double bedroom. And so, while it’s great to see developers trying to develop housing stock quickly, and even in a manner of space efficiency, the quality of such housing stock is of incredible import. As such, RIBA is presently making the case for amendments to be made to legislation to bring an end to the development of homes deemed sub-standard.

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Featuring Savills: Interview with Jonathan Channing, Head of Residential Block Management and Director at Savills

Savills – Prime Estates: Expanding Property Management (The Following is a Promoted Article) Long established and highly regarded as an international real estate services leader, Savills has, for an eighth consecutive year, been recognised as the top real estate Superbrand by the Centre for Brand Analysis, whose assessment takes into account the company’s depth of expertise, reliability of professional advice, management and transactional services, and overall competitive performance. A delighted Mark Ridley, CEO of Savills UK and Europe commented, “That Savills has once again been ranked as the top UK real estate Superbrand is testament to the consistent world class service we offer and that the values voters look for – quality, reliability and distinction – are second nature throughout our business. As a company expands it can be all too easy to lose sight of the values that have made you a success, but the fact that both our clients and peers continue to recognise Savills as the best of the best is proof we have successfully embedded these qualities at the core of everything we do.” Established in 1855, listed on the London Stock Exchange, with representation in a network of 700 international locations, Savills provides one of the strongest real estate offerings in the world. Property management The largest single division at Savills, Property Management, provides services for all sectors including offices, shopping centres, rural estates, as well as volume high-end private rented sector (PRS) management, build-to-rent and traditional block management. The Prime Estates department within the division specialises in the provision of assured shorthold tenancy management for a broad range of clients including financial institutions, charities, property developers and investors, and London’s famous landed estates. Over the last few years Savills’ increasing development of full and attentive block management has earned it an enhanced reputation. Head of residential block management and director at Savills, Jonathan Channing, explained, “Prime Estates is a unique team of residential property and asset managers serving every conceivable client type. There is a shared passion for the maintenance and value enhancement of residential buildings of heritage and, at the opposite end of the property spectrum, there is a growing appetite for the management of large-scale mixed-use developments.” “Institutional investment into the build-to-rent sector is pouring in – billions of pounds being invested by the likes of M&G Real Estate, LaSalle Investment Management and Legal & General,” Jonathan commented. “These landlords have realised that owning entire blocks of flats, or huge apartment complexes, can provide year-on-year profits and sustainable long-term returns. While the UK is decades behind the USA’s so-called multi-family housing sector, it is determined to catch up and the likes of Savills’ Prime Estates were ready to provide them with a comprehensive, bespoke service.” Encouraging innovation Despite its sheer reach, existing capability and expertise, Savills has built its reputation on adapting to the ever changing needs of the market by encouraging and supporting innovation among key members of its team and this had provided the opportunity to build a truly market-leading block management service. For a company of its size, Savills is surprisingly flexible and entrepreneurial. “If there are better ways of doing things, and you put forward a strong case,” said Jonathan, ”the chances are that Savills will back you”. Savills’ success has much to do with hiring the right entrepreneurial people and then giving them the support to build their departments. These approaches have led to a notably low staff turnover, many senior members giving exceptional years of service, with some 40% members of the board having joined the company through Savills’ own graduate scheme. Unsurprisingly, Savills also has its own training division, ‘Savills Pathways’, to provide training and personal development, offering courses from customer service to health and safety, and keeping property professionals up to date with the demands of the sector. Client relationships In both block management and build-to-rent management, there is a great deal one can learn from the other. In common with both is the drive to provide first class customer service to its customers. As Savills’ personnel are promoted, the company ensures that they maintain and continue to foster their relationships with their existing clients as the key point of contact. Glowing testimonials, which we have seen, are evidence of how much Savills values client rapport. Savills also has a dedicated in-house research division, satisfying both internal and external requests and also undertaking market research for industry and governmental bodies. Taking advantage of this facility, the Prime Estates department has initiated joint research to gain a better understanding of leaseholders’ needs – how they feel about communal living, how they want their buildings to be run, and what they expect from their managing agent. Savills is anticipating producing a really meaningful piece of work later this year. Project integration Savills’ approach to working with and benefiting leaseholders is to integrate itself into the client’s project as far as can be achieved at the earliest stage of development. From a management perspective the agent should become involved at the level of anticipating finances and even how the building is going to be designed so that it can be maintained in a cost-effective scheme. It’s also a case of scrutinising the leases and ensuring that they give the landlord and managing agent the flexibility to manage the property effectively. Already a proven market leader, Savills believes that this positive approach to its relationships with both clients and customers will continue to help it achieve commensurate rewards.

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What Does Brexit Mean for the Northern Property Market?

Harry Dhaliwal, of Property Provider, Belvoir, Gives His Thoughts on what the Brexit Means for UK property. In preparation for the poll on Britain’s EU membership status scheduled for June 23rd this year, the property industry is suggesting that withdrawal could have a devastating effect on the UK market. The predicted level of this risk varies from region to region and from company to company, yet most are agreed that there will be some negative impact on the UK property market should Britain vote ‘yes’ to Brexit. At present there is no definitive study of the economic impact of Britain’s current membership of the EU or of the benefits and costs of withdrawal. Property experts, however, remain mostly convinced that, certainly in London and perhaps in other areas of the UK, the domestic and commercial property markets need to prepare to take a big hit should Britain leave the EU. A Vote for Uncertainty At the recent Movers & Shakers property breakfast in London, three of the largest property companies in the UK each warned of risks to the economy of the UK should Britain decide to leave the EU. Chief Executive of Land Securities, Rob Noel stated that the forthcoming referendum would at the very least create nervousness and uncertainty within the commercial markets and that a vote to withdraw was a vote for an uncertain future. Currently two-thirds of all UK property professionals want Britain to retain its place in the EU. Both Chris Grigg of British Land Chief and Peter Vernon of Grosvenor were in strong agreement with Noel. Grigg pointed out that businesses like certainty more than anything and a vote to leave would upset any certainty, while Vernon pointed out that with the information currently available, those voting ‘out’ do not yet really know what they are voting for. This uncertainty is likely to have an impact on many UK industries with the property market likely to see at least temporary upset in terms of sales due to a lack of clarity in the build-up to the referendum. The Domestic Property North / South Divide There are huge differences to the potential impact of withdrawal from the EU in terms of property sales in the UK. In areas such as Manchester or Leeds, where the property market is driven mainly by domestic owner-occupiers, the risks are minimal. It seems clear that while the effect can only really be measured once Brexit becomes a reality, the North is well positioned to avoid bearing the brunt of any economic repercussions. Stronger cities and larger conurbations should be more resilient; Manchester, for example, has many other drivers such as the universities, Northern Powerhouse proposal and other initiatives which are contributing to its growth as the fastest growing city in the United Kingdom. The London residential property market has long been seen as a safe haven for overseas investors and therefore an ‘out’ vote could have a massive impact. Currently at the top end of the London property market almost half (49%) of investors are from overseas and 15% of prime central London property is owned by Europeans. As the value of the sterling continues to drop in light of the uncertain future, these once ‘safe’ investments will be seen as increasingly risky. Yet while Northern cities are becoming more reliant on foreign investment – from individual investors, to institutional and sovereignty wealth investors – these investments are typically non-European. London has saturated the market from £1m- £3m individual investors in the Chinese and Middle Eastern basin specific markets and so Northern markets have seen an impressive upswing. The institutional sovereignty wealth investors are getting nearly double the yields they can get in London, and not the reverse in capital values that has happened in some areas of London where over investment has happened. Warnings from the International Monetary Fund The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that the twin prongs of the upcoming referendum and soaring house prices are threatening the ability of Britain to complete a successful economic recovery. Managing Director of the IMF Christine Lagarde commented that a vote for Britain to leave the EU would leave “no winners” and that the negative effects of the impending vote were already being felt. In many areas of the UK growth in house prices is already fast outpacing growth in wages, leaving many families with no choice but to shoulder more debt. These high levels of homeowner debt and rapid growth in house prices combine with weak productivity and the uncertainty caused by the looming referendum as the top three biggest risks to the UK economy at present. Freedom from Regulation? Many of those campaigning for Brexit are doing so under the impression that leaving the EU will result in more freedom from regulation. What should be considered is that ironically, in terms of the housing market, Brexit could actually result in increasingly heavy-handed regulation as is the case with Hungary’s Land Act. Should Westminster attempt to restrict the rights of EU nationals in terms of investing in or purchasing UK property, they would likely meet a wall of resistance. George Osborne has changed stamp duty to favour owner-occupiers already, but Brexit could well put pressure on to introduce laws that place limits on foreign investors in property in London. The fact remains that any departure that may happen from the EU will not happen overnight even in the case of a strong ‘out’ vote. There are a variety of possible outcomes and models throughout Europe and it remains uncertain which path Britain will take. There will be a negotiation period of at least two years, during which time the current levels of uncertainty within the property market are unlikely to be resolved. Whether the UK’s ‘safe haven’ status will be impacted remains to be seen.

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