Friday, 29 May 2020

Technology and Construction - The power couple

There is a lot that can be said for this combination! Years have gone by and each one has ensured that there are more options for technology within our industry. Technology can ensure the safety of the site and can sometimes even ease the work burden of the workers but there can often be a resistance towards this. Why do we need it when we have been fine for years without this help; there is far more that could go wrong ...?

I am here to tell you not to resist! Obviously only use what you feel comfortable with, but don't force it and don't cut it off before you've tried it. There are many ways in which the benefits can out-way anything else.

The use of mobile apps and devices have become the most widely used forms of technology. These can allow workers to share documents, edit and improve on the go, download results, but they can also cut down contact between people (which is perfect at the moment with the measures that are in place).

Technology is also developing where workers can wear devices in their clothing to provide information on the site itself. This is direct contact and a constant stream of information. In unison with the software this information is proving invaluable.

Laser scanners are very accurate and they can really show the true conditions of a space or building. Mix these scanners with the matching software and you will have a winning combination of equipment. The time that this will save is second to none (not to mention money in the long run). With the accuracy of the scanners and the direct input of the data from the software you will wonder how you ever worked before.

You now have more and more people using 3D printers. These can be amazing for making construction materials from concrete and plastics etc

GPS has been around for sometime now, but it has provided managers' with the exact whereabouts of their vehicles, which in turn has enabled them to provide feedback to sites with times of expected deliveries. If you connect some of these technologies together you will find that you can gather even more information.

There have even been examples of robots being used to construct the build itself. check this out...

These are just a few of the many ways in which technology is fast becoming a huge part of the construction industry.

We have all had years learning our crafts; maybe it's a family tradition or maybe it's just your passion. Either way don't look at this as a replacement, this is nothing more than help.

Technology is continuously developing and one day it may leave what  humans can do behind. Is it better to be part of it or resist it? Only you can answer that.  Right now though, we may not be building our houses by robots as the norm, but we are using technology more and more in each step of the process, from building to surveying and even producing our materials.

Are construction and technology the real power couple? I think we already know the answer to that!

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Passivhaus principles - The next generation

Passivhaus is a revolutionary concept for building low energy houses. Established in 1996 by the Passivhaus Institute in Darmstadt, Germany, it now has worldwide recognition. There are so many factors that can influence your build we could talk about this for months on end; how long is a piece of string?

The principle of a Passivhaus is for the building to essentially be an energy efficient home. The idea is that the design of the house will enable it to source heat from sunlight, equipment and even from people. The building is designed to prevent heat loss without compromising the comfort of the families who live there.

These houses are built and designed for Eco living. There are many benefits to them that for example, pollution free healthy living and reduced living costs. You will also benefit from more wall space (no radiators) as well as less technology in your home so less to go wrong!

There are certain criteria that you will need to attain in order to achieve the Passivhaus standard in the UK though. As with most things there are levels to these criteria and you will need to get certification from a qualifying body in order to receive the title Passivhaus.

For a Passivhaus you will need:

- Excellent Air-tightness
- Excellent indoor air quality
- Passive solar gains and internal heat sources
- Excellent levels of insulation with minimal thermal bridges offer excellent services that will help you achieve the Passivhaus title and offer advice on the requirements that are needed.

To qualify for the basic standard in the UK you will need to fulfil the following:

1. The renewable primary energy demand; the total energy that is used for all of the domestic applications must not exceed 60 kWh per m2.
2. The thermal comfort must be met for all living areas throughout all seasons. There must be no more than 10% of the house in any year over 26 degrees C.
3. Air-tightness; there must be a maximum of 0.6 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals pressure.
4. Super insulation.
6 Draught proofing
Passive Solar gain - (e.g carefully placed windows)
7. Low energy appliances; these all influence the running efficiency of your home
8.The use of renewable sources (making you more energy independent)
9. The space heating demand must not exceed 15kWh per m2 of the net living space and 10 W per square meter peak demand. Where active cooling is needed the space cooling energy demand requirements should roughly match the heat demand. There will be an additional demand for dehumidification.

Each one of the points above will have an impact on the materials that you use. You will need to consider elements such as windows and insulation. There are many levels to achieving Passivhaus standard though and it is your decision as to how far you're willing to go. To fully comply with the specifications you will not only need to ensure the building specifications are correct but you will also need to consider furniture and the finish of the interior. This will ensure that you're minimising air pollutions from INSIDE your home.

For more information, updates and help watch this space.

Monday, 25 May 2020

Coronavirus and the Construction Industry

We are currently living in unprecedented times. We're being told to 'keep alert' from an invisible virus but we are to try and carry out work as though things are normal. Where does this leave us? What are the new rules that we have to comply with to ensure the safety of ourselves and our employees. I am here to help with Coronavirus restrictions and how to make these work with your site. 

Firstly we need to understand the effects of Coronavirus on our businesses. Whether you're a trade, developer, labourer, office worker or anyone living and working in 2020 for that matter, we need to accept the times we find ourselves in. By understanding what we can't change, it will allow us to recognise which areas we can change. Lets do this, lets break through this period of time and get to the other side.... and we will!

Every part of the Construction Industry has been affected by Coronavirus from manufacturing to planning to having to social distance on site (and anyone who has had to deal with this knows this is no easy feat.) The time it takes to actually build has been one of the many knock on effects, not to mention once your build is complete, who's there to buy it? Remember what it took to get your business up and running... Remember the hours you put in, the blood, sweat and tears? Remember.. this is TEMPORARY

Secondly, this might be  a time when, if you're able, you can give your business the overhaul, cleanout and dusting off you don't normally get around to doing. Do you need to sort out the filing, contact suppliers or customers? It's good to keep that communication open, remind everyone that we're all in this together. This is your support network. In a few months time you're going to need a chain of people who have your back and are willing and prepared and looking to move completely past Covid19. 

Thirdly, maybe you could take this opportunity to expand your knowledge. Take those courses, brush up on your techniques, watch those YouTube videos or keep a look out for online seminars. There are many ways in which you can expand on what you already know to make sure you're ahead of the game when it's all systems go!

Follow others in the construction industry, keep up to date with what is happening, what is hot and what is not. Prepare, prepare, prepare. 

Thankfully the housing market for buying and selling has reopened which will be music to many of our ears. Obviously, as with anything at the moment we must comply with all the guidelines to ensure the safety of ourselves, staff, clients and the public. As long as we can adhere to the guidelines then there is no reason why we can't continue to work as before, perhaps a touch slower, but work nonetheless. 

These times aren't ideal but if I know anything I know that we're very good at adapting when we have to. As I said, accept what you can't change and change what you can. Humans were born to adapt; it's not always easy but it can be done. 

If you're unsure how to work safely and within the Government's guidelines during this time then Build UK has a handy list of procedures or go to the Government website.

  How Do You find Expensive Air Leaks In Your Home?   Air leaks can occur from gaps and cracks in the building's fabric. Air will travel...