Friday, 16 April 2021








Why should we all be building eco? 

When we take on a project, we have decisions to make. Building eco can have many benefits, from being cheaper to run, and also reducing your carbon footprint. We need to find ways of coexisting with our planet without destroying it in the process. The saying goes “The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do”

 

What you have to remember is that building sustainable homes will increase the energy efficiency of your build and, over time, it should mean less maintenance. Green materials often require less upkeep, which not only helps with lowering your carbon footprint, but also helps reduce the need for costly repairs. Green living is now, more than ever, easier to achieve. There is a wealth of information on the web which can help you plan, build, and give ideas and advice. 

 

We all have different ideas as to what building eco means. To some it will mean living completely off grid, maybe even having your own veg patch. To others it is a process which needs easing into. This could mean using certain eco elements, such as solar powered energy. Whatever it means to you, taking that step is vital in order to maintain our environment. If we each take action now, we can reduce our carbon footprint considerably. We are merely borrowing our planet, we need it to survive, but we are the only ones who can protect it for future generations. 

 

Energy efficiency. 

We have all, at one stage or another, been victims of increasing energy prices. The only way to ensure that your utilities are kept to a minimum is to build in a manner where electricity, for example, is generated naturally. If you’re planning to stay in your home for the foreseeable, you will soon recoup the initial upfront set up costs. 

 

Indoor environment 

A lot of building materials, to some degree, contain harmful substances, even if only a small amount. This can be because of the way the materials are made. If you build eco, you will benefit from using materials which are free from these substances. You will also build to strict building regulations, which means the air quality inside your build is healthier and more comfortable. Using the right materials, we can harvest the existing heat, which remains in the property, using a heat exchanger. Cold fresh air brought in through the exchanger replaces the polluted warm air with fresh air, with minimal heat loss. Air tightness is key, along with the fabric, for this to be achieved.  

 

Lower carbon footprint. 

As I have already stated, we need to be lowering our carbon footprint in order to protect our planet and reduce our negative impact. If we don’t start changing our ways now, then we are destroying the future for the younger generations. 

 

Higher property value

What we have to remember is that when we build to a higher standard, we can charge more, when selling, to recoup the costs. Energy efficient builds are sought after due to the fact that there aren’t many around. We want to be able to help the environment and we want to have reduced energy bills. I am really hoping that mortgage companies, carrying out valuations on these builds, start to recognise them in a positive light, and value them accordingly. This would encourage developers to construct such builds.   

 

Together we can have a hugely positive impact on our planet; we just need to understand what works best for us. Don’t be put off, just do your research. 

Friday, 9 April 2021








What are the benefits of timber frame construction?

I have no doubt that when you’re thinking of starting a build you consider all of the different types of construction, as you should. Which means you’ve probably thought about timber frames and wondered what their benefits are. Well, I’m going to discuss a few of my thoughts around timber frames. 

Firstly, timber is a natural material. There aren’t many natural building materials in the grand scheme of things, but timber has a lot of advantages. Firstly, when timber ages, it does so naturally. Generally speaking, timber is non-toxic, meaning it doesn’t leak any chemicals or vapour into the building. This makes it safe to use in terms of longevity and also for the construction process itself. Your timber framed home will have a safe, comfortable and fresh environment for your occupants, which is exactly what we’re all looking for. 

When taking on any build, it is always best to understand not only where your materials come from, but also what the production process is. With timber there is very little energy used to produce a working material, compared to other materials, such as steel. This means that the energy used to produce a working material from timber is low. When constructing we really do need to consider what the materials can do for the build, and also how they are being produced. This will all impact the environmental footprint of the build. 

With sustainability being so prevalent, it is important to understand the ecological and sustainable factors of your materials. Timber has been used for many years and is a natural, sustainable, and renewable building resource. You need to check where you are getting your supplies from, ensuring you get them from a responsible and reputable company. Most companies that supply timber for use in buildings, have policies in place to ‘re-grow’ more timber than they use. It is your responsibility to ensure that the suppliers you use are reputable and take sustainability seriously. A few studies have shown that timber framed buildings actually outperform houses built with steel and concrete, which is another added bonus to timber framed builds!

Due to timber being a natural material, it really is durable. Well-made wooden buildings can last for centuries, and have done just this in the past; the proof is in the pudding as they say. Another big pull for timber framed builds is the time they take to construct. Timber can be partly pre-cut which helps in saving valuable construction time. In comparison to other methods, timber framed builds are much faster, which in turn saves money! 

Timber is a natural insulator which helps to reduce energy. As I have said many times, sustainability is key to ensuring the future of construction and also our planet. 

I really like, and appreciate, the use of timber in builds, and I am an advocate for a timber framed build. Don’t just take my word for it though, do your own research, I have no doubt you will soon come to realise the benefits of timber and you’ll soon be an advocate for it too. 


 

 

Friday, 26 March 2021





 







Concepts which could change the course of construction. 

 

Construction is an ever-evolving industry and with new technologies, and skill progression, the future is exciting. There are many different concepts and systems which are progressively becoming more popular, for example, BIM. 

 

BIM has been around for a while, but it is now becoming more widely used. This system helps with materials, scheduling, and even giving a representation of the build itself before construction happens. BIM can really help with providing information. You will be able to see what materials will best suit your build, and you can also keep an eye on the progress of your project. It is easy to see why this is as popular as it is. It really is a time-saver and on a construction site, that is vital. This technology is a must see; this description only scratches the surface! 

 

Smart buildings really can provide the construction industry with valuable information. The idea here is to build ‘intelligent architecture’ which will not only adjust with time, but will also collect data. Smart buildings will use sensors to collect this data, which can then be used to ‘build better’ in the future. If we know how buildings, or even cities, are being used, we will know exactly how to cater for them; knowledge is power after all. Having these systems installed will also allow for these buildings to perform better, which not only means a healthier living environment for the occupants, but also a more energy efficient home. 

 

Prefab construction is yet another concept which is turning heads. Essentially you design your home, but a large part of it would be made elsewhere. The on-site build time for this type of project is relatively short. However, you do need to ensure you consider the time in the factory. These predesigned structures can fit many budgets, depending on the design. This concept is becoming more popular and you can really understand why! I think we might be seeing a few more of these in the years to come.

 

Green buildings are thankfully becoming more important to people. The concerns over sustainability are growing and, individually, we are taking the steps to secure our future. There are many different levels to building green, and although it is ideal to be as sustainable as possible, any step in the ‘green’ direction is progress. Solar energy, and the equivalent, play a massive role in green buildings. The idea is to use as minimal energy as possible. Don’t forget though, just because solar is mentioned a lot in relation to this concept, this is not the only technology to consider when building green. There are many other technologies which can help with your eco project. Also, you must remember how important your design is, this really can impact your energy efficiency; build tight, build right!

 

As you can see, construction is changing. Who can complain though when it provides us with some amazing designs and ideas, and also looks after our planet? The way we build now is likely to be very different to the way we will build in the future. But the only way we can have progress is by learning, not only from our achievements, but also by our mistakes!

Friday, 19 March 2021

 









How do I organise my construction job?

 

When we start on a build, we need to know what to do and when to do it. If this is your first time then you’re likely to feel overwhelmed. What you need to remember is, there are a lot of lists out there to help and guide you. These will vary depending on your build, but you should be able to get some guidance from them. 

 

Now, just in case you’re searching Google and you’re still not sure or, you’re unable to find what it is you’re looking for, I have set out a basic guide just for you.

 

Site set up

Foundations

Drainage 

Ground Floor

Scaffolding 

Timber Frame

Felt and Batten

Fascia and Soffits

Roof Covering 

Guttering 

Windows and Doors

External Cladding 

Pinch Battens 

Brickwork

Battening and Boardwork

Render

External Silicone

Scaffolding down

1st Fix Carpentry 

1st Fix Plumbing 

1st Fix Electrics 

Decorating 

Carpets 

Air/Vent Test

Patios

Externals 

Snagging 

Service Connections 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


You can use the above list to help set out your project. It will give you an idea of what to do and when. What you have to remember, is that although construction is a hands-on job, there is still a required amount of paperwork that needs to be completed before you start to build. 

 

The chances are, if this is your first build, you have spent a lot of time thinking about this. These decisions are not made off-the-cuff. You’ve received your planning consent, you’ve got all of your finances in order and you have filled in all of the other blanks. You’re ready!

 

The above list is set out in an order of stages and as I have said, each project will vary, so make sure you adapt to your needs. Just take from the list what works for you. 

 

There is a lot of organising to be done when building, so you need to make sure that you have an excellent team. If you’re taking on the role of site manager then you need to ensure that you have everything in place. You must have excellent communication and organisational skills for the site manager position, regardless if it is you, or someone else, taking on the role. Make sure that you have a team you can trust! Trust is the biggest factor in any team, and most importantly, enjoy every step because the end result will be more than worth it. 

 

 

 

Friday, 12 March 2021










Are construction conferences really worth it?

So, this is a question which I get asked a lot. Conferences are used in many sectors of the work place and their value is real. But, are they as important in the construction industry? 

Really this depends what you’re looking for. Each conference is designed around a certain area of construction, so you need to make a list of what it is you want to get out of them. Once you have that list, you can make more informed choices. 

These conferences are excellent ways to network. You might find a product which will make your life much easier, and it just so happens that the said product is to be showcased at the conference. To you, your projects and your clients, this is invaluable information and you could potentially be one of the first to use this product on your builds, and therefore be ahead of the game. 

At the moment, with the world the way it is, there is a lot of uncertainty. We may have issues on site which are a direct result of the lockdowns, or even Brexit. So much has had an impact on the way we work, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. If there is something we all have to remember it is, if we can’t change it, change with it. 

These conferences showcase innovative designs and new technologies, and can answer questions you’ve got stored away. So yes, they really can be beneficial, in my opinion. Assuming you know exactly what you’re going for, pick the right one for you and go with the right attitude. You’re not going to be excited by every part, but, if you come back with more understanding than you went with, that’s a win.  

Also, what you need to remember is that at these conferences they tend to have ‘high achievers’ delivering the speeches. Pick their brains, ask questions, find out what is going on in the background. How is your industry changing? What are they going to do with the change? How are they handling it? It might not be the ‘hands on’ work that you normally do, but you can get a lot of knowledge from these conferences, and from the people working them. 

This year, there is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to conferences, not just for our industry, but for all industries. Currently the UK’s construction week is 5th-7th October 2021 and is to be held in Birmingham NEC. The London dates are 3-5 May 2022. If you’re interested, they do have some virtual dates and information of these can be found here https://www.ukconstructionweek.com/visit.

Remember, whatever your industry, you get out what you put in. So, make the most of all the opportunities you have. Even if you learn one thing, that’s one thing you didn’t know yesterday!


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.




Why should we all be building eco?   When we take on a project, we have decisions to make. Building eco can have many benefits, from being c...