Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Construction - what is the new normal?

For the last few months the world has changed. We are all trying to find a new normal and the construction site is no different. There are going to be many changes, many things that aren't as they were but that doesn't mean that this has to be a bad thing.

Firstly, the things you might notice are the differences on site such as the new safety measures that are put in place, the social distancing and the slower pace of construction. Then we have the length of time it takes to get materials, the difficulties that you might face with your usual suppliers, seeking out new materials, reopening of sites, planning and maintaining site safety under the new rules, just to name a few. 





Construction has been reshaped in the type of projects that are needed. Where there used to be a demand on hospitality, retail and entertainment that demand is no longer there. I'm not saying that these won't ever need to be built again, but whereas before you used to have these complexes that would keep some companies running, you will likely find that there is no longer the need, well not right now at least. These types of builds have certainly taken a backseat, understandably but homes are and will always be in demand as people will always need somewhere to live but even these have changed. Our needs as consumers are no longer the same. Buyers expect and want more from the same build. The pressure is on for construction to not only deliver but to deliver a new normal. 

We need to make sure that whatever our role in construction is we're ready to adapt. We have proven over the last few months that there is nothing we can't do. We have come through the hardest of times and are uncertain of what the future holds. We are not out of the woods yet and we are still adapting to our new way of working. But by now, we should have working sites, employees should be back with a new working model and construction should be taking place.

I imagine that some of these new ways will be here to stay, certainly for the foreseeable, such as the distance working. We all know how dangerous construction can be and Covid19 is making us all evaluate our sites ensuring that safety is first and foremost, which can't be a bad thing. The use of technology has also been accelerated, allowing us to perform tasks that were usually only done in person or tasks that would have taken us longer or ones that would have needed more than one worker at a time. 





Projects are generally taking longer to complete and we are looking at new methods to help us get back on track. Now I know construction workers are unable to remote work but there are some people who will be able to, for example support staff. There are many ways construction has changed and many things we have had to adapt to. Houses are changing, our needs are changing and our ways of working are changing. Construction workers are now on a mission. We have to find a way through all of this madness and deliver on the new normal.


Sunday, 5 July 2020

How are the new SAP calculation changes going to affect me ?

As you may or may not be aware there are some important changes happening to the SAP calculation....





Below is an overview, make sure you become familiar with them! If you are unsure speak to Atspace who will be able to talk you through them and advise you on what you need to know.

 


  • CO2 emission factors, primary energy factors and fuel prices, have been updated
  • Default distribution loss factors associated with heat networks have been increased
  • The assumed heating pattern has been changed to a consistent daily pattern for all days of the week
  • The assessment of summer internal temperatures has been refined
  • Additional design flow (heat emitter) temperature options have been provided for heat pumps and condensing boilers, which affect their efficiencies
  • Default heat pump efficiencies have been updated
  • The calculation of lighting energy has been updated to allow recognition of new lighting types with higher efficiency
  • The options for entering heat losses from thermal bridges have been revised
  • The calculation of hot water consumption has been adjusted to account for shower flow rate
  • Battery storage is now accounted for in calculations for PV panels
  • The impact of PV diverters is now taken into account
  • The over shading factor used for the PV calculation can be taken from Microgeneration Certification Scheme data

Thursday, 2 July 2020

The future of home building

By the end of 2020, we will witness the first meaningful steps towards achieving net zero emissions. With energy usage in homes contributing to over one quarter of carbon dioxide emissions, it’s necessary that change is made in the housing sector, not only to benefit our planet but the end user.

 


So what is changing in Part L and F of Building regs?

England and Wales are set to publish the revised approved documents part L & F later this year which set out the standards for energy performance and ventilation in dwellings.

The reason for this is to prepare the construction industry for an even larger leap forward in 2025. We’ll see the likes of passivhaus standard wall, floor & roof make-ups, conjoined with the scrappage of gas heating and surge in heat pumps & electric boilers usage.


A change of performance metrics...

The current Performance Metric Part L models itself around is the ‘Target Emission Rate’. Setting the amount of CO produced per m² the property cannot exceed. The target emission rate is influenced by a notional dwelling of the same size, shape and ‘living area fraction’ which reaches compliance. There are five different space heating packages pre-calculated from gas to biomass, all with selected u-values and heating controls.

The first change is a new performance metric called ‘Primary Energy Factor’. ‘Target Emission Rate’ will become a secondary metric.

The consultation has seen two proposals for a reduction in Carbon emissions. They’re 20% or 31% improvements, unlike Wales who are leading the parade with reductions of either 37% or 56%. Why is it that Wales have set highly ambitious targets and we haven’t?

The primary energy factor gives a more accurate overall energy usage from baseline to end use. It’s created for each fuel type based on the Excavation, Processing, transformation and Transportation of the fuel in mind.

Also, when the overall energy demand is worked out, energy generated by renewable technologies can be subtracted from overall demand.



What is thermal bridging?

It has never been more important to both consider and understand the value of thermal bridging. Accredited construction details have been a lifeline for many a building project giving better psi values and enabling compliance. The shock will come next year when either default or independently assessed values will be required. Have you got a plan in place for this?

A thermal bridge is when heat is lost over a given length of a structure. A thermal bridge (cold bridge) occurs either when a more conductive material penetrates the fabric build-up, or when the insulated envelope doesn’t continuously join to the adjacent wall, floor, roof or window junction. Thermal bridging is measured as a Psi-value (ψ-value), and calculated over a metre length. This is not to be confused with a U-Value which calculates the heat loss over a square metre.

The removal of the Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard...

Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard came into use in 2014. It outlines the minimum energy performance required for a new dwelling. To keep the ‘simplicity’ of SAP they are opting to remove this metric. As a result, fabric performance will only be dictated by the back-stop U-values:

Heat loss elements

Current England ADL1A

Current Welsh ADL1A

England 2020 proposed

Wales 2020 proposed

Floors

0.25W/m²K

0.18W/m²K

0.18W/m²K

0.15W/m²K

External walls

0.30W/m²K

0.21W/m²K

0.26W/m²K

0.18W/m²K

(flats 0.21W/m²K)

Flat and pitched roofs

0.20W/m²K

0.15W/m²K

0.16W/m²K

0.13W/m²K

New regulations are proposing lower U-values build-ups with the removal of ‘FEES’. How drastically will this affect your build cost? Speak to Atspace to make sure your insulation, window and heating purchases stay low, and have little effect on your EPC rating!

Surely removing the Fabric energy efficiency standard is taking a backward step? It’s common knowledge that adopting a fabric first approach is not only more cost effective but benefits the end user as well by saving on heating costs... is this not what we need?

There’s convincing evidence that the end user’s heating costs will increase by up to fifty percent in some circumstances due to the lack of a ‘fabric first’ approach, as-well as opting for electricity which Is notoriously more expensive than gas heating. Are we entering a new era of fuel poverty? Will electricity providers lower their prices with the inevitable increase in usage?

What do you think? I would love to hear your opinion!

 

 




Smart storage ideas

So you've got to the point where you have either built your house or you're updating your current home. Things have changed over the years and there are now so many ways to store all your household items without them being seen!





Let's start with the kitchen or if you have a utility room we can add some clever storage suggestions there too. I don't know about you but I think those 'fake' drawers that are placed at the top of cupboards can be such a waste of space?! These are often in places like under the sink as a full drawer wouldn't fit as the sink would be in th way. Have you ever thought of making those into flip trays? You can store all of your small items like soaps, cloths etc in there. This is just a small way in which an otherwise 'pointless' space can be utilised. 



Have a look here for some ideas

https://lightersideofrealestate.com/around-the-home/home-improvement/25-super-smart-storage-ideas 

They have some amazing small storage space ideas that can de-clutter your work surfaces and put everything you need in its very own place. By opening up your rooms to these new space saving ideas you will create the illusion of space, even though, technically you haven't gained any floor area! I know that the minimalist design isn't for everyone but that's not necessarily what I'm talking about here, what I'm suggesting is that you make sure everything has a place of its own.




If you would rather have your items on show, that's fine, everybody's taste is different. There are loads of ideas where you can utilise the space to ensure that you have the right type of display. Does your home have alcoves? These are a great place for adding shelves or cupboards and you can even make these into a feature by bringing them into the design of your home or even making them the pinnacle of your layout. 



If you're an avid reader, maybe you could add some storage to your bed...your headboard to be more precise! There are many ways where you can add some smart storage that will fit behind the headboard but still be easily accessible. Check out here for ideas as to what this might look like and they might also have some other clever tricks that you might just like.  https://www.idealhome.co.uk/all-rooms-ideas/storage-solutions-for-small-spaces-10-ideas-90457

There are solutions for many things in your home. Perhaps you don't have space for that home-office so what about a fold-down desk? This could potentially solve your problems. You don't have to give up a space in your home totally dedicated to an office, yet you're still able to have the space to have an office. Once the desk is folded away you've transformed your room to back its original state; it is a multiuse space.



If you're building from scratch then you can incorporate some amazing storage design techniques into your build. This is the perfect solution. If you're updating your current home then there are many ways this is possible. Start on each room, make notes for what you'd like and then research what ideas work. Trust me, there is storage out there for every one of your needs!





Monday, 29 June 2020

Home Quality Mark (HQM) - changing the way of eco living


The Home Quality Mark (HQM) system is for everyone, from construction workers, builders, property sellers to buyers and renters. We are in a world where we like to know exactly what we are getting and why should that be any different when it comes to property? 

Buying a house will be one of the biggest expenditures that you will ever have to pay for, so how much easier would it be to know exactly what you're getting, to have the 'credentials' of the build there, in black and white? This is what HQM is all about. It helps builders to demonstrate the quality of their homes and stand proud from the rest. HQM is an independent assessment though and you will need to get this carried out by a certified assessor.

Obviously to get the best from HQM you will need to make sure that you have something of quality to show. ATSPACE will be able to help you along this route. Take their advice and run with it. Make sure that your build stands proud; this is a chance to get the best from your project in every respect. It will be worth the time and effort, trust me.

Since 2007 the Code for Sustainable Homes has been around to measure sustainability but it is being withdrawn. You may assume that HQM is not about sustainability but that it exists to 'just show off' the quality of a build, but that's where your wrong. The quality of a build is partially measured by how sustainable it is, which will include things such as Air tes
ting, SAP testing, Sound testing etc. This is why, as a builder, it is essential that you maintain high standards throughout your project. You have a chance here to show off the quality of your work, to ensure your build stands tall and to make sure that your working reputation is also one of which to be proud. As I have said before, you're only as good as your last build!




HQM will help those people who are looking at buying and also those who are looking to rent. You will be able to see, on paper, if your home (current or soon to be current) is future ready. You will know what the performance is like, you will even get an idea of what the running costs will be. HQM is beneficial to both, the builder and the buyer. This is, I believe something that should be embraced and that can be used to everyone's advantage. 

This will, no doubt, increase the competition for sustainable homes, which can't be a bad thing. With the 2050 deadline looming in the distance it is better to be forward thinking now, to ensure that the
se targets are being met and to have proof of that. The world is a forever changing place and this has been proven more recently than ever before. We need to be able to move with the times, support each other and ensure that we protect our environment while we do so. Essentially, we need to be able to live in harmony with our environment without compromising our standard of living. HQM, is a positive step towards sustainable living; the more people who use this, the more demand there will be. 

If you would like more information then go to https://www.homequalitymark.com where you will find everything you need to know..... Good luck!








Thursday, 25 June 2020

How to get the best from your Site Manager


So you have people counting on you and you have deadlines and a build that needs completing...if you're busy yourself then you need a right-hand man (or woman). A site manager is your first port of call and will keep your site running smoothly and efficiently...if you find the right one of course!

Your site manager can only be as good as the people on your team. I wouldn't expect you to employ people who couldn't do the job but if your manager is having to spend time teaching and up-skilling your team then it will be taking valuable resources away from your site. Your manager needs to be able to use his or her time and skills on the important stuff and not carry you or your employees.

  

This brings me to my next point. If you have employed a site manager then you need to allow them to do just that. Yes of course you will need updates and you may even have the odd bit of advice here and there but you need to give your manager the space to get on with the job. You employed that person, so you need to have the confidence and trust that they are competent in this position.

Your site will be a much happier place if it is run on trust, confidence, compassion and understanding. I am in no way suggesting that you should just let people walk all over you, but there is a big difference between allowing your staff a 'free ride' and gaining their trust and respect (and vice versa). It is a bit of a cliche but a happy site is a productive site.

Motivate and build your team and make sure everyone feels part of it. The more your team feels motivated the more they are going to be excited about your ideas, the more productive they are going to be. Your site manager needs to have excellent communication skills, as do you. If a job needs doing and you have someone who can't communicate well how do you expect that will go? Exactly, that's the point. Communication is key. Another old cliche but these cliches really do hold some meaning!

To give your site manager the best chance you should enlist their help and input from the very beginning. This will give them time to understand the build, to get to know the workers and to implement their knowledge right from the get-go.





Your manager will nee
d to be able to plan ahead and organise their time well. Not only their own time but also the time of the other workers without overloading them or under-working them...there is a fine line.  The workers are likely to be professionals who do this work on a regular basis. Your site manager will know what to do and will be the best of the best, because YOU hired them. Trust in your manager, trust in your team and ensure that your site is run by those who take a pride in their work and respect their team.

If you get the right team together there is nothing you can't do!



 


Monday, 22 June 2020

Eco living - building a brighter future together


The future of Construction is eco friendly and sustainable. We, as a country, world even, are more conscious of our planet. We, collectively, are destroying the very home that we all inhabit and it is about time we started to look after it. I don't want to keep referring back to Covid19 but since this, since lockdown, it has become evident how we have damaged our planet and environment. It is not just the construction industry that needs to help raise a greener future generation, but we can make a start. We have some of the best technology around to ensure we can move forward together. 

Eco living was here way before this epidemic but it is being propelled forward at a faster pace than ever. People are looking forward and are getting excited at doing their bit for the environment and how it can impact them.

Eco friendly homes have been in production for a while but not everyone wants solar panels on their roofs, or plastic windows. For some reason these types of homes haven't been designed as people want....thankfully there has been a great improvement in the design of eco homes in recent times and in some cases you wouldn't even know they were an eco home!



They don't have to cost a fortune, a small difference can go a long way. When building eco on a budget there are a few things to consider. Triple-glazed windows will help to keep the warm air in; insulation is vital and possibly one of the most important aspects of building a sustainable house. Essentially you need to make the property as airtight as possible, so that the heat is retained, meaning there will be less consumption and it will also stop or at least minimise any air leakage going in/out of the home. ATSPACE will be able to help you with any compliance. They are leaders in their field and I'm sure you will be able to gain a lot from their experience.



The Beacon, in the UK for example is a zero emissions building boasting 17 storeys! This is one of the first of its kind and uses Solar PV installation which has been designed into the structure of the build. It also has ground source heat pumps (which use underground heat to produce heating and water) and it has an underground carpark which is said to reduce emissions by 80% compared to a normal carpark. It has a rainwater and greywater harvesting system, an air source heat pump, sunlight tracking system and much much much more. This is just an example of what can be achieved. Sustainable living can be designed for any build, whether that be a small dwelling, a large family home, an office block or even a high rise group of flats. 




Eco living is for everyone. We all need to do our part in making our planet and environment a cleaner and happier place and together we can make this happen... one build at a time. 


Thursday, 18 June 2020

Home living is the new norm. Why do we need more versatility from our home?


In recent months we have all found ourselves spending more and more time at home. By being made to stay at home we have all started to appreciate what we have got and perhaps even taken on some DIY projects ourselves. 

I think this pandemic has changed our thinking, or at least it has for some of us. We have started to know what it is that we need from our home and it may be that what we have doesn't fit the bill anymore! Perhaps we now need a home-office, larger living space or maybe you have just outgrown what you've got. Sometimes we don't notice until there isn't any room to escape!




The impact that this could have on the construction trade is a positive one. There are people now, who are looking to move, who know what they want and what they need from a home and it is now our job to be ready for them and provide those houses for smart living.




Since lockdown the way we have been living has changed and we need to acknowledge this in future builds. The furniture in our homes has been moved to create space for kids to play, tables and corners have been altered and enhanced to create a space to do school work, spare rooms have been made into offices and gardens (if you're lucky enough to have one) have been given the make over that they've needed for such a long time.





Lockdown has forced us all to engage with our homes in ways which we wouldn't normally do (or have time to do). Everything in our lives has to happen in the home whether it be the gym, the classroom, restaurants, cafes, bar, home cinemas and quite literally everything else that you can think of. We are now expecting more and more from our homes. Now I'm not saying that everybody is  looking for an indoor cinema when they move, but we are expecting our homes to deliver on meeting  more of our needs and to do this we need them to be more versatile. I guess what I am trying to say is that while a lot of us have 
rediscovered the joys of our homes, we have also experienced its limitations!

 


Now I know that no one wants, wishes or expects another pandemic to happen but maybe to future proof our homes we need to think through their versatility; how can they change and grow with us? 

So to all of the builders, construction workers and trades out there, this is something to think about when you're designing, building or working on your next project. Think about the needs of your clients and how they may have changed. Think about the space that you're providing and how this could potentially be versatile. Many things have changed in recent months, some more than others and some for the better. Just remember that the way people view and use houses is different now; they expect more from the same build....people need more!





Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Air Pressure testing- the future of energy consumption

As with any compliance there are levels to achieve and air testing is no different. It is your choice as to how far you wish to go with your testings. Obviously there is criteria you HAVE to meet. These are Government standards and are a requirement for your build. However you have a choice to make; are you just going to aim to pass the test or are you going to aim to surpass the test?

What you need to understand is that these tests are there to ensure that your build provides a healthy, safe living space and also has the smallest impact on the environment. 






Air testing (also known as Air pressure testing, Air tightness testing and Air permeability testing,) is there to ensure that your build meets the minimum targets of air leakage in your build. 

What is Air testing? This compliance calculates the air tightness of a building. Air that escapes your build through gaps, holes or cracks means the building is less efficient than one where there is less leakage. This means that the build will be less energy efficient and more expensive to run. Air testing is required to meet parts L1, L2a  of the Building Regulations. 

The planning stage can sometimes be seen as a long drawn out process. However if you don't get everything right here then you will pay for it down the line. Your build can be severely impacted if you don't get this stage correct. So you need to make sure that you have a good architect who you're able to work with. Don't forget taking advice from others is invaluable, never assume that you know best; we can't know it all. Unfortunately builds can sometimes fail such testings and this can be a costly job (depending on the reason for failure) if it does. The materials used in the fabric of the build might not be correct for example; imagine having to rectify this once you're at the final stages. 

The future is green, whether you agree, disagree or sit on the fence, this is the way we are moving and we need to all move together. There are many ways in which you can be one of the first companies to reach the greener living and you can become the teachers for the rest. 

There are many sites about that will be able to help you with this journey. Atspace provides compliance testing for all compliances and is keen to move with the times towards a more sustainable future. The information for Atspace can be found here.



Just remember, we are working as one big team. Low energy consumption can benefit us all with cheaper running costs and cleaner living. Not to mention the impact it will have on our environment. There are many factors that are in play already and there are many other factors that will come into play down the line. Air testing is here to stay. If you plan from the beginning, test day will seem like just another day on site. 

Your reputation within the construction industry is based solely on your last build. Make it a good one!


Sunday, 14 June 2020

Design tips on how to get the best from your build


So you're at the stage where you can start to pick out soft furnishings for your beautiful home. People think the tough decisions are over, but I can tell you there are still a lot to be made!




Firstly, you need to decide what colour schemes you like. Do you have a lot of light coming into your home or do you need to add the illusion of light? Look at the layout of your room; what do you want to use the space for; how do you imagine living in the space. There are a lot of questions that you can ask yourself but where do you start?




Well some people suggest starting with the furniture, or the sofa at least. Pick a sofa that will suit your needs in a colour you like and one that will fit your room. This is your first piece. Be confident in your choice and be brave. I realise everything costs money and we don't have pots of that to waste but don't second guess yourself. You know what you like!



Instagram, Pinterest and even Facebook are excellent ways to get inspiration. There are loads of design ideas out there, you just need to be able to narrow it down to something you like. Your home is an extension of your personality and you need that to shine through. Don't worry about what 'Sandra' from down the street might think or what your best friend might say, they're not living there, you are!

Invest in classic pieces as these won't go out of fashion and can last a long time. They can always be moved around your home. Never be afraid to move something that you bought for a particular room as it could work just as well, or even better, in another. There is no right or wrong when designing and everyone's tastes are different. I like to pick out furniture and design my room around that, however you might prefer to do it another way. 




Get samples as these are a fantastic way to see what you like and what you don't. Have a budget in mind and stick to it. This won't limit your ability, but it might mean that you have to shop around a bit more. Don't be afraid to spend out on a statement piece as this is your design and you know what you want. 

There are a few elements to consider when talking about interior design and these are:

Space
Lines
Light,
Colour
Texture
Pattern

Take these elements and consider each one. This is an excellent starting point for ideas. Make a design board sampling all of the things you like. This is a great reference tool. 



There are some tips and interesting design ideas at: 





www.paulandpage.co.uk

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Net zero carbon emission is the future of eco living

The Government vows that by 2050 we will be at net zero carbon emissions and living in a different time. That means that your business needs to be up to scratch and what better time to start than now.

There are many factors here to consider; for example you need to know where your materials are being sourced.

Virgin materials are materials that are in their raw form direct from nature, such as wood etc. When using these you need to consider replenishment and the impact that their usage will have on the environment. There may be ways in which you can use recycled materials, but the manufacturing of these must also come into consideration. 



Fossil fuels are quickly being replaced with renewable energy. Fossil fuels are renowned for the gasses that they produce and whether you're using them in your build, or for manufacturing of materials, the impact on net zero carbon emissions is still the same. 

The quicker we start to apply net zero rules the more knowledge we will have by the time these are the norm. Education is key when talking about net zero carbon emission. Essentially the builds will provide us with healthier living and lower running costs. 

The design of your build will play a big part in this, so it is something that needs to be considered from the get-go. You need your build to be able to run more efficiently and use less energy throughout its lifetime. There are levels as with any 'compliance'. Some will say that it is impossible for a build to be net zero and some will push to advance to the stage where they're below net zero. The choice will soon be out of your hands, so educate yourself now, while you can. Be the best in this field. Practice makes perfect; now is the time to make those mistakes and learn from them. Soon that option won't be yours. 



Together, building and construction are responsible for a large proportion of all carbon emissions. This isn't something that is sustainable. 

Embodied carbon emission is carbon that is emitted during the production of materials and, as you can imagine, our industry is responsible for a large proportion of this carbon. Sometimes it is important to look at the ways in which materials are manufactured; Can these be altered to help us move toward the deadline. 

Here are a couple of interesting articles.I think it is always worth reading what others have to say. 



Energy efficiency is one of the first steps to ensure that your build is as sustainable and as 'green' as it can be. Atspace has been dealing with compliance needs for years and is an excellent port-of-call when wanting to further your knowledge in the 'Eco' field.


We have no choice but to move with the times. They will soon catch up with us and we will have no choice. Let's get educated now, move forward together and surpass the target showing the world that the construction industry isn't just a necessity but a necessity that is working with our environmental needs and flying into the future. 





Construction - what is the new normal?

For the last few months the world has changed. We are all trying to find a new normal and the construction site is no different. There ...