Thursday, 4 March 2021









 What are ‘as built’ drawings?


There is a lot of terminology which we can get bogged down with when we take on projects. This can seem overwhelming for those who are doing this for the first time, or even for those who dreaded it all the first, second and third time. What you should remember is that once you know exactly what is required, the whole process becomes a lot easier. 

 

One question which seems to crop up a lot is, what exactly are ‘as built’ drawings? We all know we have drawings to start a project. We need these to enable us to get planning permission, to allow us to cost the project, to know exactly what we’re building and how to build it. We have to realise that although we have these done at the start of every project, things can change. Alterations can be made due to many factors, such as a change in materials, problems with existing plans, among many others. So, plans need to show these revisions. They need to be an exact copy of what has been built!

 

Not only should these plans show ALL alterations, they also need to contain all approvals to the changes. So, with this information in mind, it is essential that you have someone on site who is in charge of documenting the changes as, and when, they occur. This will eradicate the need for a mad rush at the end to go round and get all of the information together. Plus, by doing it as you go along, you will make sure that nothing is missed. These are important documents and you need to remember that you can’t just bury your head and ignore the process. 

 

Are as-built drawings compulsory?

 

As built drawings aren’t always compulsory, (this is something you would need to check on regarding your particular build) they are however, invaluable to both the customer and the construction team. If the customer, down the line, decides to make changes to the property, or even to sell the property, these drawings will provide great support in achieving these goals. 

 

As built drawings don’t need to consume your time. What you have to remember is if you note each change, whether big or small, the process will be done in no time. Whereas the initial drawings are completed by the architect, the as built drawings can be altered by the contractor. Don’t let these weigh you down. As long as you’re organised it really is a case of record keeping. If a change is made, make a note of it, and keep all relevant paperwork related to said change. It can seem overwhelming if you leave it all to the last minute. Take pride in your work and ensure that everything is completed to the best of your ability. Don’t forget, you’re only as good as your last build! 

Friday, 26 February 2021









How can you work together with the planning team? 

We might think that the planning team is there to cause us problems or to put a stop to our dream build but that is far from the truth. They are there to ensure that builds are kept to a required standard and to make sure they fit in with our landscape. 

What does our planning system do?

We are lucky to have a lot of green spaces in the UK and we would be fools to use them all up with buildings that don’t ‘fit’ or that aren’t going to be suitable in the long-term. The planning system is there to protect our countryside and to ensure that positive change is made. Imagine the carnage if there was a free for all; what would our landscape look like now?

How can the planning system help you?

You wouldn’t be the first to dread submitting plans to the planning office, especially if this is your first time. You await the calls, and finally the decision, only to be told that your application has been denied. What you need to understand is that your application has been denied for a reason; whether you agree with that decision or not. You could go in all guns blazing but that really isn’t going to get you anywhere. Essentially if the planning office says no, you can appeal but that can take time and valuable resources only to be in exactly the same position in the end. Or, you could be one of the lucky ones and the decision could be overturned, but, really, do you need or want to go through all that? 

The best and most productive way is to ensure that you work together with the planning office. You can have talks with a planning officer and discuss plans before submitting an application. Talk with your architect, who will usually have a close relationship with the planning office, obviously and understandably. Don’t be fixated on something if someone tells you that it won’t get through. Discuss the alternatives; you might even find that you prefer the new edition. Remember, they are people but these aren’t necessarily their opinions, they are led by regulations themselves. If your design doesn’t fit in with their regulations, even if they love it, they can’t pass it. 

Can I build without Planning permission? 

No, you need to get planning permission at least to build a house. You might be able to complete an extension/conversion under permitted development rights. These are a set of rules that allow certain types of builds to be undertaken without permission. These hold their own set of rules that you have to adhere to. If you want more information on what you can and can’t do then you can once again talk to your local planning office; see, I told you they’re helpful! 

What happens if you build without permission?

If you undertake works that require permission, but don’t get it, then you will be in a planning breach and you will be required to submit a retrospective application. If this application isn’t granted you could potentially have a notice from enforcement. This could mean you will have to take down parts or even all of your build. It really is easier to just get the permission to start with. 

So, there you have it, why the planning system is good for all of us and really, if we work as a team it is a much easier process.  

Thursday, 18 February 2021

 








Should you extend or move? The big question!

We often daydream about extending our homes, and with ever-changing situations, we need our homes to be able to adapt to us and our lifestyle. The big question that we all ask ourselves, is should we actually move or should we extend what we have got?

Before making any decisions, you have to work out your budget. More often than not you’ll find that extending is actually the cheaper option, in the short term at least. What you must do is ask yourself whether an extension will suit your needs for the long-term, or is it a sticking plaster solution. You will need an extension to do more than just buy you time. 

On the other hand, you have to consider the costs associated with moving, the costs people don’t always factor in, such as a solicitor’s bill, removal vans, and time off work to be present to organise everything. 

So, should you move or extend?

There is a certain amount you can do to your home before you require planning permission. It is always best to seek the advice from your local Planning Office. This really could be a good way to add value to your home in the most cost-effective way. There will obviously still be a certain amount of disruption but, assuming you present your plans clearly, it should be a smooth-running project. 

Make a list of what it is you’re trying to achieve; what is it you want from your home? Be realistic, don’t start fantasising about the things you’d like to have, such as a 10ft swimming pool, if your budget won’t stretch. Remember to compare what you could get if you moved with what you could get if you extended with your budget firmly in mind. Write down what the important factors are such as, cost, room, disruption, locality, time etc. Decide what it is that you need from your home and not just for now. If you’re going to extend you need to be able to stay put for a while to ensure you get your money back. You don’t want to be in the position where you have extended and then realise that actually, you still don’t have enough room after all. 

If you’re limited with a budget get some expert advice from an architect from the out-set. An architect will be able to get the most out of your space in accordance with your budget. They have the experience and expertise and will be able to implement ideas into your design. 

Essentially, there is no right or wrong way. If you have your heart set on moving, do just that. If you really are just looking for a bit more space, but you love your home, have a look at what an extension could do for you. Whatever you decide, make sure your budget can take it. 

Friday, 12 February 2021









How are laser scanners changing construction?

I have said this many times and I will continue to say it, we are very lucky to be working in an industry which is ever-changing. It keeps us on our toes and it constantly makes us re-evaluate the way we build. 

We live in a society where technology is advancing and luckily our industry is heaving with new ideas, new products and new systems.

Laser scanners aren’t necessarily new to us, but they are relatively new to the construction industry, in the grand scheme of things. 3D laser scanners are more often than not considered to be a 'treat' to have on site. Not everyone has one, but, when they are used, their true potential shines through.

A laser scanner, on site, is used to capture data. This data is detailed and will cover every section of the build, down to the last inch. The data can be used in many ways, but the most important factor here is that no matter what, a detailed record of an object or space will be kept on record. With technology, assuming it is being used correctly, there isn’t room for error so you can trust the figures you receive. Unfortunately, with humans, errors can be made. Humans will also take a lot longer to retrieve the same figures so this technology can cut down on time quite significantly; time equals money. 


So, how are laser scanners actually used in construction?

- When you’re designing your build, you might find it a lot easier to use a laser scanner. It can help you to define the smaller details. 

- Data from the laser scanners can be shared easily. You can use a laser scanner at any point of your project, more than once, to keep up-to-date records. This will also help reduce any errors and, in addition, if you do encounter any problems, you will be able to work with the system to find out ways to overcome them. 

- Laser scanners are exceptionally good for renovations and retrofits. They help to provide data which is very useful on these projects. 

- Laser scanners improve quality and accuracy as well as provide instant information. 

- Laser scanners will cut costs, partly because the system is much faster than conventional methods, and partly because it will take less man power to complete the same job. 

These are just some points to show where laser scanners can be helpful and how they are used on a construction site. This technology has been around for a while, but it is only just starting to become a staple on site. These scanners are not cheap, so you do need to weigh up your options and work out what is most suited for your site. You will also need to practice with these, and by practice, I don’t just mean know how they work, but get used to them working. 

If you don’t know whether to invest in a laser scanner, why don’t you try hiring one? This will give you a chance to see if it is a good investment for your company. 

Whatever you decide, there isn’t a one size fits all, so take your time and think about your options. Ask for advice. There are plenty of people out there, who are, perhaps, in the same situation. 



Thursday, 4 February 2021


 






How difficult is it to build eco?

Building an energy efficient home is something that most people aspire to these days, if for no other reason than they cost less to run. That and the fact it is kinder to our planet and we each need and want to do our bit. We’re preparing for the generations to come, providing them with a more sustainable future. 

So, is it hard to build an energy efficient home? 

The difference here is experience. If you haven’t ever built an eco construction then you will need to do your research. As with all construction the planning stage is vital and by far one of the most important stages. Every aspect of your build will contribute to its level of ‘eco’. For example, the materials that you use, the design of your build and even the way that it faces. Every last detail is important. 

I realise this makes it sound stressful but what you have to remember is that it is no different to any other build; you just might opt for a different method or design. If you get the help from an energy assessor, architect or engineer (or even all three) at the earliest possible stage then your build can run like clockwork; trust in the process.

Know your materials 

You obviously need to know exactly what it is that you want but you also need to know how best to implement it. This is where the materials come into play. What works, what doesn’t and what is most suited for your design. Think about where your materials are sourced from, how are they manufactured, how will you get them to the site. There are so many questions that need answering which is why it is always best to have someone in the ‘know’ on your side; take the pressure off and enjoy the ride. 

Know your systems 

As with the materials, you need to know and understand the different systems, heating, ventilation, electricity etc. What systems will work best for your build? What systems will provide you with the best energy efficiency? Again, speak to someone who knows all about this, who has the knowledge and experience and who will be able to help you get the best from your build. 

What are some of the basic elements that make up an energy efficient build?

- Water consumption

- Energy efficiency 

- Renewable energy 

- Air quality (indoor)

- Air tightness

- Ventilation 

- Materials

- Design 


There are many more aspects to ‘building green’ but these are a few to get you thinking. So, to answer the earlier question “How difficult is it to build green?” well actually, with a little bit of guidance it really isn’t difficult at all.  We need to ensure construction is sustainable, for both the planet and for the future generations. We are lucky to be able to work in an ever-changing industry; we just have to learn to be able to change with it. 

Green construction is the future; lets embrace it together. 

Monday, 25 January 2021




What is a Prefab build? 

There are so many types of buildings, materials and methods in construction and these can sometimes be confusing. What will suit your needs best? Is it worth spending the extra money? One question that has come to light in more recent times is “What is a prefab build?” 

There was once a time when the name ‘prefab’ filled people with mixed emotions; not all of them good. But, times have moved on, things have changed and the world of prefab has come a long way. 

Why prefab?

The prefab option fits many people’s needs. It is often cheaper than conventional methods and the actual construction time on site is much less. A lot of the construction is completed in the factory, the design and cutting for example. The physical construction will, obviously, be done on site.  Depending on what suppliers you use will depend on exactly how much is completed in the factory. For example, some suppliers will fix all windows and doors and others will even go as far as the plasterboard. Either way there are options that will fit all of your needs. 

The design of a prefab

The design needs to be thought out carefully, there is very little room for error. Assuming all the measurements are correct then this is a relatively easy and stress-free method of construction. You really must sit down with your architect and make sure that every area is covered. 

Can a prefab home be energy efficient?

What you have to remember is that as long as you have spent the time planning there is no reason why your prefab build can’t still be green. As you know, a lot of the detail for green construction is in the design. That coupled with some decent systems is a winning combination. You can talk with your energy assessor and get their advice as soon as possible. The design of the build can really impact the energy efficiency results.   

How easy are prefabs to construct?

Most of the construction time on a prefab build is completed in the factory. Once you have got to that stage it is relatively quick. Most of the time will be taken on the planning and the design because as I have stated above, this really does need to be perfect. There is no reason why you can’t have a home designed to your exact needs and specification, but there is no room for error. Once the factory starts to make your materials there really is no turning back. So, put the effort into the planning and try and get as much help from the experts as possible. 

Will a prefab home be cheaper?

Honestly, this is often the pull that gets people invested or at least initially interested, in prefabs. The cost can vary but, if you’re having a ‘run of the mill’ design and spec, then yes, more often than not it can cost less than the traditional construction methods. But, if you’re having a totally bespoke design, utilising all possible green methods and you have focused and got the help needed with the design, then the price can really vary. It really is what you make it. 

Prefab builds aren’t for everyone but it really is good that we are at the stage where we have so many options for various types of construction.




Friday, 15 January 2021

 Tips for starting a business











Now, I am not suggesting that I know everything, I have the belief that, regardless of age or experience, you can always learn something new; I love to surround myself by people who can teach me things.

Starting your own business can seem a daunting thought, but you just have to remember that you can do this. The main thing that you need is confidence; I will, for the benefit of this, assume you have the business idea already. 

The first thing you’re always told is to make sure that you have all your ducks in a row. Yes, that’s important, but, you need to also not talk yourself out of it. Prepare of course, but there will always be a reason why now isn’t a good time. Change is always difficult, especially if you have a lot on the line already but, you need to realise when you’re just finding excuses to put it off because you’re scared. Don’t look for reasons why you shouldn’t start a business but look for the reasons why you should! Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t be sensible, plan and research everything and know what steps to take, but, don’t talk yourself out of a good idea; it’s easily done. 

You need to know what your business is about and I don’t just mean what it does for you, but what it does for your clients? What are they going to get out of it? If, like me, you’re into construction, then you could have an answer similar to mine. I love construction, this is where my passion lies, which is a good start, but I also want to be able to help with the future of construction in terms of the ecological aspect. I want to be able to provide energy efficient homes across the board and make them accessible and understood by everyone. I want eco builds to become seen as the ‘norm’ and I want my clients to have a taste of what construction can achieve. You can see from that, that what I want to achieve and what actually do marry up well. It is simple and you should keep it that way but deciding where you want this business to take you helps to define your audience. 

Keep an eye on the pennies, they will likely get spent quickly. There are quite a few set up fees in a business, but don’t let this stop you. Throw yourself into the business, build it up in every way possible and take chances, educated chances, but don’t get distracted. You do need to be able to earn money while you set up; get used to living on the bread line but don’t expect to stay there. Businesses, in the first few years, don’t always make money, in fact some of them are in negative equity. Keep your eyes on the prize. To be able to get to the top, you have to start at the bottom. 

You need to know your worth and to be able to sell yourself. If you wouldn’t buy through you, then you can’t expect anyone else to. Practice your sales pitch, you’re going to need this to get anywhere. Whatever your business, someone will need to be buying, whether it is the general public or other companies. You must work to sell your ‘product’ Promote yourself, promote your business and products and don’t worry about what other people think. “Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter” 

Friday, 8 January 2021

 What are BIM, PIM and AI and how are they beneficial to the construction industry?









BIM, aka Building Information Modelling, allows for digital planning, construction and management and is often used by architects and others. The best part of this technology is that it can locate potential problems as early as the planning stage. This is the most important stage of all construction and if you’re able to iron out any problems here then you will have an excellent start; this is invaluable to all types of builds. As I have always said, get the help at the design stage, either from this software or an expert. Ironing out any issues here really will allow for a smooth running project. 

BIM can also accurately estimate the correct materials to complete your build. These are just a few of the things this software can do but the extent to which it can help is endless really; trust in the technology. We shouldn’t be fighting the use of this, we should be grateful for the help. Technology isn’t there to ruin our industry, it is there to enhance it. We must understand the importance of technology and realise it is the combination of software such as this, with actual people, that really makes the power couple. 

PMI can be integrated into the BIM system and allows for customer and supply management. Together this can really help transform any construction site. The ease of use and the day-to-day management will be taken out of your hands. The use of this type of software won’t necessarily replace your workers but it will make their lives easier and with fewer mistakes and a faster turnaround. 

AI can explore a construction project and can do it much quicker than we can. Not only is it faster than us, it also doesn’t make mistakes as we do; unfortunately we are only human. The mix of these technologies can really up your construction game. They are fast becoming the norm on site and we can see why. 

To get more information about these check this site for an in-depth look as to why BIM, PMI and AI are so important within our industry. https://www.worldconstructiontoday.com/articles/why-bim-pim-and-ai-are-driving-transformation-in-the-construction-industry/

Technology in our industry is advancing and, as you can see, it really is proving invaluable. To have the ability to pinpoint possible problems before they happen doesn’t just save time, but also money. This technology allows you to think outside the box and perhaps be a bit more ambitious with your project. The unknown becomes the ‘known’ and with the use of AI you don’t even have to visualise anymore, you can quite literally have a 3D model if you so wish. Technology is pushing forward and the construction industry is thriving under its reign. 


Friday, 18 December 2020

 The key elements to building Eco 




There are many elements to implement when it comes to construction and eco builds are no different. An eco build starts from the design stage. By this I mean you have to think about what it is you want from the beginning and how you’re going to get there. For example, Eco builds are, and need to be, extremely energy efficient and the way to ensure that this will be the case is to factor it into your design. Air tightness testing, or an air pressure test (it also has many other names) is one of the most important aspects of any build but no more so than eco. The fewer the gaps you have in your construction the less air that will be able to escape and also enter the build. Ideally you need to be able to control the air into and out of your construction. This will pair up nicely with the ventilation system that you install. Although you want your home to be completely air tight, you also need to have controlled ventilation. This will set you in good stead for your perfect eco build. 

You need to know your plot and its location knowing where the sun will enter the build. Eco builds will use natural light throughout and this will be factored into the design. Roof lights, windows and doors etc will all allow the flow of natural light and reduce the need for artificial lighting. Windows can also have what is called ‘solar gain’ to trap the sunlight and its heat which can then be used to warm your home.  Also if you’re going to be using solar panels that aren’t on the roof, you will need to know where it is best to place them. 

You must know the thermal mass of your building materials. Materials can absorb the heat from the sun and use this heat to warm the build. This brings us nicely on to insulation. You must have the right insulation for your home; don’t fall short here. By not having the correct products or the right quantity you can loose quite a substantial amount of heat which will interfere negatively with your energy consumption. 

Often when people are building an eco home they don’t always think about how the materials that they are using are transported or made. To ensure that your build is complying with the eco ethos you need to source your materials ethically. Not only do you need to think about this but you also need the right materials for the job; they must be fit for purpose. There can be a fine line here and sometimes you have to make some tough decisions. Remember that the products you choose, you’re choosing to last; they must be durable. 

You also need to think about your structure and what you are going to build it from, such as block and brick, timber etc. There are many structures that you can choose from and some provide better levels of energy efficiency but others might lend more to your design. 

There are many things to think about when designing any home and there are even more things to think about when going all-out-eco. These are just the basics that you need to follow, but the key is in the preparation. Get the design right, build it air tight and source the right materials and you’re halfway there. Eco is a lifestyle not just a build. 

Friday, 11 December 2020

Recycled materials used in construction



In the era of eco builds there is no better time to talk about materials. We already have an array of materials to use and each has its benefits, but we are seeing more use for recycled products. Technology is advancing and we’re starting to see homes built completely from recycled materials. They’re not for everyone, and some are in the early days of testing, but, it proves that we have the capability to advance into a fully sustainable industry. 

 

The first one I’d like to talk about is newspaperwood. You might wonder what the point of this is. Firstly, it starts off as wood and then gets turned into newspaper/paper/card and then will be reverted back into its original form. What you have to realise is that these are products that are widely used and that are easily recycled; so why not? Once the newspaper and cardboard have been turned back into ‘planks’ they can be sealed and used in the same way as wood, would; sounds simple right? 

 

Recy blocks can be made from plastic bags, which in itself is amazing. Plastic bags are one of the biggest wastages we have, so to be able to do something of use with them is a massive step in the right direction. The colour of these can vary depending on the colour of the bags used but, they can easily be decorated and you never know, they could even be used as a feature wall?

 

Cork is another consumable that we can recycle and use as a feature. Corks are often found in wine bottles, instead of throwing them away, collect them. Once you have enough you can easily transform them into a feature in your home. These are becoming quite popular and are something that you will usually throw away. These can be used for flooring or walls; granted, you might have to drink a fair bit of wine! Or you might be able to find somewhere where you can purchase a ‘job lot’  


 Nothing is waste, not really. There is always someone out there who’s willing to put in the time, effort and thought to create our ‘waste’ into something more useful and more beautiful. 

 

Recycled glass is also a game changer. It can be used for many things such as tiles and countertops. It can give a lovely effect to an otherwise standard fixture and what’s even better is that it is made up totally of recyclables. 


Nappy roofing is another material that can be repurposed. Yes this one doesn’t sound very nice but actually you’re just taking the nappy itself rather than the, er, contents. A special centre will be able to extract the materials that are useable, so don’t worry. The results from this can be used in roofing for example, if you so wish.

 

As you can see, just from the list above, there are many materials that you probably wouldn’t have thought about using in construction that are being repurposed and there are many more out there. If you research you can quite literally construct your building completely out of repurposed, recycled materials. So, if you’re looking at taking that eco build one step further, this proves that there really are no bounds. Some of these things might well seem crazy, but the research and forward thinking of these advances is something else. We really can take the eco train and run with it. Nothing can stop us, we just need a bit more understanding and perhaps more of an open mind and this really can be the future. 

Friday, 4 December 2020

 The World’s best designed buildings!


Construction at its best can be seen all over the world. The important factor about construction is that you and I can think completely differently as to what we find fascinating. The construction industry is an interesting one with an array of architectural design.

Westminster AbbeyWhat we have to remember is that sometimes a building can tell us more about a specific culture than we realise. Here in the Uk we’re very lucky to be immersed in architectural history. We have many buildings that silently say more to us than we do to each other, for example Westminster Abbey, London. This ancient build has been gracing our landscape for hundreds of years and is known for many things, including a few Royal weddings along the way. The architectural design in the ancient builds is something we rarely see today. The UK really does know how to make the most of a building’s history.  


Le Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France.
Taking us across the English Channel we come to Le Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France. On this stunning island you can see the beautiful medieval monastery, a breathtaking view. The history of this location dates back many centuries. This is just proof that architectural design has been around for years and quite frankly, shows us the magnitude of clever construction. 


Now we travel to Switzerland. This build is set into the hillside, blending naturally into its surroundings. This home just shows what you can achieve if you just think outside the box. To enter the building you have to go through the barn at the back and travel through the tunnel. The best bit about it is that you can hire it and make your own memories. 


Taking us across the other side of the world is “Residence amongst trees” in Sydney, Australia. The best part of this build is that it was constructed around council protected trees and even has a 30ft eucalyptus tree growing through the deck. This just shows that regardless of the restrictions you’re faced with there are ways to work with them. The house obviously has sustainable features which marry up well with the setting. You would struggle to have a house such as this and not ensure it is eco friendly. 


Some of the best builds around the globe are constructed using clever design, updated technology and passion. They aren’t to everyone’s taste but, you can take a bit of inspiration from other ideas. What you have to realise is that to make a memorable build, if that is your idea, you need to think outside the box. It is evident from past and present construction that we have the ability to build quite literally anything. All we need are the plans, the inspiration, and the design in order to be able to create. The construction industry is massive and together there isn’t anything we can’t do. 

The only thing holding us back from our perfect design, is our imagination. 

  What are ‘as built’ drawings? There is a lot of terminology which we can get bogged down with when we take on projects. This can seem over...