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.

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. 

Thursday, 26 November 2020

 How can technology improve construction?

The big question, how can technology improve construction? Well, as with anything, some people are more concerned about the impact technology will have than others. Obviously there is the worrying thought that it could take over some of the jobs that others are trained to do but I think we’re far from losing a full sector of people. That said, don’t forget, there actually need to be people designing these machines, apps, programmes, training to use them and even selling the new technology, all of which will provide work. I thought it was best to get that out of the way early on. 

Now, what improvements can be made? Technology doesn’t have human error, and assuming all of the set up is correct, the results are faultless. If there are any mistakes, it is usually ‘user error’ rather than anything else. 

Software and apps are some of the most used advances in the industry to date. These are there mostly to help manage scheduling and reports. They’re predominantly designed to streamline processes and improve productivity. The Cloud is used a lot, so when people aren’t in the office they still have the same access as if they were, which makes communication throughout the day between team members so much easier and more successful than before. 

AI (Artificial Intelligence) is storming our industry and quite literally has no bounds. This technology can improve the quality of work undertaken, which in turn reduces the amount of wasted time on site. It also allows for the direct input of data, which can then be assessed and predictions made on present or future projects.  AI doesn’t stop there though. We soon move into robotics, a big move but one which can save time and money in the long-run. Drones can be used to photograph and scan a site. The data and measurements received can then be analysed in order to provide accurate site details and potentially even a model drawing. This is by far the quickest option and quite frankly, the most accurate. This will save a lot of time on certain tasks and allow more of a hands-on approach where needed. 

For us, if we want to remain competitive within our industry, we really need to be able to adapt to the new technologies. In order to stay ahead of the game we must adopt these new strategies because this technology is here to stay. Soon, it will be the norm to be used on every construction site and you wouldn’t want yours to be left behind. Technology allows for information to be transferred in real time, by far the best, quickest and easiest option; what’s not to love?

Quite honestly, I think that sometimes we, as an industry have been slower to accept change but thankfully this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. I really believe these advances are going to be the making of our industry. Yes, we have already adopted some of these changes and yes, they are helping us progress but, mark my words, there is a lot more to come!

Friday, 20 November 2020

How to get started in construction; construction careers

Firstly, you need to understand exactly why it is that you want a career in construction. Perhaps it’s the opportunities that await; the fact that the country relies heavily on construction workers to thrive. Or maybe it is quite simply what you know and love. Whatever it may be, as with any job, you need to do it for the right reasons. Is there a
particular area you’d like to focus on? Expand your knowledge or even have more of a desk role. Hone in on your skills and utilise what you already know. 

The construction industry is a popular choice for many people, partly because the career options can vary so much. Studying is more often than not the way forward and will give you hands on experience; learning a craft from actual experience is the best way into this field. It will also give you a good standing if an apprenticeship came up. From an employer’s perspective this is something they really look for, practical experience and knowledge. This is a popular industry so you need to make sure you’re the best you can be for the job!   

If you’re looking into studying but you don’t know where to start, do some research. Find a training provider that is recommended, or that also has connections with companies within the construction industry. Not only will they offer thorough training but there is also the potential to network for future positions. Don’t underestimate the importance of networking, build this up early, get a list of people you know in the business, then if a job or training ever comes up you’re already in the loop. 

This industry is full of skilled workers, from carpenters to painters and everything in between. If you have had the relevant training then obviously you will need your CSCS card (Construction skills certification scheme). This might seem like quite a self explanatory thing to say, but you’d be surprised at how many people overlook this detail. 

If you’re looking into architecture or to become a surveyor, for example, you really should be going, or have gone, to University. The amazing thing about construction is that there are so many different levels to think about. Are you looking to progress in your career? Have you been working in the industry for a while and are looking to move forward but don’t know where to turn? Have you thought about going to an agency? The agency will be able to match your skills with jobs they have available. Sometimes you need more experience to be able to progress up the ladder, so getting that under your belt where possible can only be a good thing. This industry offers positions that are on site, office based or even home based. There is quite honestly, something for everyone which makes construction quite different from other career choices. 

Whatever stage you’re at in life, if you’re thinking of changing your job, or just progress in the one you have, you need to research. Look at what avenues you have available and what opportunities there are out there and what qualifications are required. Learning a trade is more than just building, it is a craft. Blood sweat and tears go into perfecting the art. 

Friday, 13 November 2020

 The most iconic buildings in the uk; clever construction

We have some brilliant construction here in the UK and we’re not done yet, not by a long shot. To look at some of the most clever construction over the years we actually have to go back in time. I realise the Pyramids aren’t in the UK but still, they are one of the most talked about ‘buildings’ to this day. The building techniques used to construct them are still on the table and up for discussion. This doesn’t mean that we haven’t come far in our techniques. We have many different materials now, some better than others, we have newer methods and we’re driving eco living into the future. We have a lot to be proud of and look forward to, but, what have we achieved? What builds amaze us in our homeland?

The Uk is full of stunning architecture, heritage and amazing builds. The Shard in London is a landmark that is recognised both near and far. It takes its name as it quite literally resembles a shard of glass. It boasts 95 stories and is over 1000 ft tall. This iconic build takes over the skyline and is the tallest building in the UK and Western Europe

The Uk, as mentioned, is full of stunning architecture but it isn’t all new. As I have said, the heritage we have here is like no other and this architecture has been around for years. You only need to take a look at the Cathedrals we have in the Uk, for example Ely Cathedral. This beautiful build has brought many a visitor over the years and has even featured in films such as ‘The other Boleyn Girl’. The Cathedral has also featured in the background of the cover of Pink Floyds album ‘The Division Bell’.  Stunning architecture has been in our landscape for years and it is documented forever. 

Another landmark, love it or hate it, is the Gherkin in London. This is one more for our capital city and again it is one that’s recognised all over the world, not only by sight but also by name. It has 41 storeys and is 591 ft tall. This building was constructed in the early 2000s and uses energy saving methods. It actually uses ½ of the energy than a ‘standard’ build of its size. 

Construction methods have changed over the years and now a lot of the focus is on eco technologies. In the Uk we have builds such as PWC (Price Waterhouse Cooper) building in London. This build uses many new technologies and has an Environmental Performance Certificate A and a BREEAM score of 93.31%. It is considered one of the best builds for the environment and one to look up to. 

As you can see, we really do have a collection of various different builds, which are not all in London or in the south, but are quite literally all over the UK. We are very lucky to be surrounded by this stunning architecture and clever design. It just means that we have a lot to live up to. Construction is at the height of its game, recognised and renowned all over the world. We really are learning from the best of the best. I wonder what the future will hold?  

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

What does it take to be an entrepreneur?

I honestly believe we each have an entrepreneur inside us, a smaller version of ourselves that is bursting to get out. All we need is a vision, a passion and a break. The most important thing is to find something that you’re interested in, not just marginally interested in, it needs to be a ‘thing’ that you have a deep-rooted passion for. The more passion, the better the outcome. 

Whatever business you decide on you must be able to execute your ideas. There is no point having a fantastic business plan but no idea about how to make it happen; ‘all the gear but no idea’. You don’t have to have an idea that isn’t already on offer but you do need to be able to make your business stand out from the rest. So, you will have competition but what makes your idea different? What are you going to do that will make people want to use you instead of someone else? Good execution and a positive twist are excellent ways to get started. Research, research, research! 

You will make mistakes, they make us who we are but they don’t define us. We learn from them and move on. The greatest entrepreneurs fail at some point, but they don’t let that stop them from achieving. Remember, no matter what, have passion, execute your plans, research and move on from mistakes. 

Throughout life we learn, we have the ability to discover new information daily, if we so wish. A true business person will thrive on this. You need to have the ability to continue learning, throughout life. Accept and appreciate that you can learn from anyone, at any time. Everyone has the ability to teach us something new, we just have to be open to accepting new information. 

Are you a risk taker? There is a lot of risk in setting up your own business. Some people don’t like the idea of this and much prefer sticking to what they know. If you’re happy to come out of your comfort zone, then you’re more likely to succeed. Yes, manage your risk level, don’t put silly things on the line if you’re really unsure as to whether you’re going to succeed but, with a solid idea and business plan, there is no reason that you should fail; have faith in yourself. 

Monday, 26 October 2020

The construction industry is one of the biggest claimers of furlough money 

The construction industry has been hit hard. On the one hand we are to continue as normal, construction needs to happen after all, and on the other hand we are hit with delays in materials, employees not able to come in because of illness or self isolating, sites being shut down or on pause; so what is really going on?

It’s fair to say that we do have to keep working. However there are many of us across the country who unfortunately have found ourselves in the position of having to claim furlough. According to HMRC building companies have claimed quite a substantial proportion of the money that was allocated for the furlough scheme, in fact it is one of the highest claimers. But why? Surely we are able to go back to work? The building trade in the UK is a large and lucrative business, especially if you’re one of the top bodies, pre Covid of course. As with every other industry we have been hit by this pandemic and in more ways than are perhaps seen on the surface. Construction still has to continue, we need places to live, hospitals, infrastructure and many other buildings for the country to be able to function. However, there are many workers who aren’t on the frontline, who have been furloughed in the hope of getting back to ‘normal’ asap. 

The construction industry has a collection of employees, contract workers and self employed, so in total, the amount of support our industry has received is huge. For that we must be grateful. We have a long way to go to be back to ‘normal’. Supply chains are being disrupted which obviously means that there are delays on site. But we must just try and get on with it as much as we can, perhaps look at other outlets, other places to get materials, perhaps now is the time to reassess the way we do things on site. Try and get the most from this as possible.  

There are so many ways in which we are still going to be affected by this current situation, and with the furlough system changing now, the future is still up in the air. Thankfully the Government has put in another system to help those who are still affected financially. The office staff we rely on, the ones who organise and process the wages, those who perhaps aren’t on site but without whom we would be lost, those who are behind the scenes and those who are on centre stage, everyone who makes these projects come to fruition, these are the people that these grants are for. We don’t want to lose any more people from our industry for good; we want and need construction to thrive. We have so many exciting opportunities coming and as the age old saying goes, ‘there’s strength in numbers’. Our industry is a front line service and without us we wouldn’t have any of the building resources we do. We should be proud of everything we have gone through in the last few months. We’re not out of the woods yet but we are seeing better ways of coping with things. 

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Update to permitted development rights to blocks of flats

As in a previous post I have stated that there are some changes to the planning laws and I thought I would go into a bit more detail. These are relatively new and everyone is trying to get their head around them, including planners. So forgive me if I don't manage to answer all of your questions!

Today I am going to discuss the changes to the permitted development rights to blocks of flats. These changes came into effect from the 1st August 2020 and only apply to purpose built blocks of flats that have been vacant for at least 6 months prior to the application. The extension must not change the footprint of the original building, so building upwards is the way to go. The extensions are to be for self contained flats to be built on top of the existing building and  the extension must not exceed more than 2 storeys. These rights will not apply to listed buildings or buildings that are in conservation areas and the existing building will need to have been built between 1st July 1948 and 5th March 2018. The extension itself can't be taller than 7m in height but with a combined height (from the extension and the original build) of no more than 30m. 

As you can imagine there will be certain criteria that you will have to meet and there are permissions that you will still need to gain. It would be best to speak with your local planning office to ensure that your project meets the criteria that is outlined in the new documentation and you will also need to get permission from  transport and highways. Considerations must be in place with regards to flooding, noise, appearance, design, amenities, traffic etc. So there is still a lot to think about and it isn't quite as simple as building on top of your current building; let's face it, it never is.  

The Government is trying to provide ways for us to extend what we have and make use of it. This should help to bring existing buildings back to life. It will provide more homes and opportunities for the public and jobs for developers, builders and planners. So on paper, it's a win, win situation. In reality, I will leave that for you to decide. 

The existing footprint of the building must not exceed more than 1,000 sq m and have a maximum height of 18 meters. There is a lot of material out there regarding these new rights, some which go more in depth than others. I found that this site was one of  the best for finding material and answering questions. Bear in mind though, these regulations are new and people are still, as I have said, trying to get their heads around them so give it time. These things are not easy to manage. Visit your local planning office and talk with your planning officer, get as much information as you need. Soon, these will be second nature but if you can take advantage of these new regulations now, then why not? I can only hope that the quality of builds is not compromised, I imagine that as you are  still required to maintain the same level of excellence there shouldn't be a problem. However, I am sure there will be some extensions that are not to everyone's taste and 2 storeys make quite a difference, especially if they are not to your liking. These are questions that no one can answer, not yet anyway.

These new rules will hopefully have a positive impact on both our construction industry and environment, with buildings that were once left to just watch from the sidelines breathing life again. How will these new rules affect you? Are you positively excited or quietly nervous? These changes, with the other developments, are some of the biggest we have seen in years. 


 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 ...