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Since 2007 the Code for Sustainable Homes has been around to measure sustainability but it is being withdrawn.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 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:


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:

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. 

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Supply shortage - construction during Corona

Your supply chain in any project is vital to your build. Without the materials your team don't have anything to work with which can always cause you problem but, during this time with Coronavirus you might find that your supply has been compromised. Since the virus hit the UK, restrictions have been put in place for the safety of the workers and some of these restrictions have had an impact on manufacturing and delivery of goods. 

Ports have been working reduced hours. Some factories have closed and some have worked reduced hours with lower output. The disruptions in operations have caused some shortage in supplies. If this has happened to you then now is the time to think about new ways in which to source your materials. Look more local; we have some amazing companies here in the UK who have the supply and ability to provide you with all of your needs. We have some of the best workers, materials and skills to enable your projects to continue and be the best that they can. 

If you're one of the unlucky ones who is used to getting materials in from overseas and you are struggling during this time, then re-think. Don't give up and try not to let it consume you. Plan ahead, make sure you have a list of the materials that you need for the whole build, order ahead, check the delivery times on your order and if you have somewhere for storage then you can always utilise that space.

Perhaps you have a smaller workforce due to employees being off because of Covid19 symptoms and not forgetting the usual sicknesses that are still around. Covid19 seems to have taken over our thinking; as soon as we are told someone is off sick we automatically think it's because of Corona. 

Life has not stopped because of Coronavirus!! Builds still need to be complete, workers still need to be paid, deadlines still need to be met. 

The Construction industry already has the difficulty that every project/building is different so you won't be able to store materials in the same way as other industries. For example the car industry; if they were building 10 cars, all of the same model, they would know exactly what parts they would need for completion of the whole project but this is very different for construction. You are also likely to be working with a different group of people for each project. You may not have worked with them before, you may not work with them again so you will need to be adaptable with other employees.  

The key to supply chain management is to find a system that will work with the project management. This is usually completed right at the beginning of the design stage. Just remember, this is your project and there is so much to say for preparation. Make sure you know exactly what you will need for each stage of your build, ensure you know how long delivery will take and set it out in order of what you need to do and when. Take into consideration any delays and get a good manager. This might be your project but it is a team effort to complete. Get a team you can trust! 

Monday, 8 June 2020

All you need to know about health and safety in construction

We all know how difficult things can be when it comes to health and safety and we all know that a construction site can be a very dangerous place. I know what it's like with all of the different compliances; sometimes it can feel as though you're just jumping through hoops. What you have to remember is that these are legally binding compliances. They are not just there to 'provide' someone with a job, they are there to ensure that your site is as safe as possible. 

Compliances are often being reviewed and with the advances in machinery, technology and the number of people you have on your site the compliances need to be updated frequently. You should always make sure you know what these are and what they mean to you, your build and your company. 

For a comprehensive list  check this out 

Without the correct health and safety procedures you will be breaking the law and can be severely fined, sued or even banned from operating.  You need to consider health and safety training, PPE, site maintenance etc etc. Health and safety can have its benefits for your company too; by having the right tools, equipment and training your employees will be happier and this can lead to better productivity. You will obviously have less chance of illness and injury so you will have fewer people off work. You will benefit from better profitability and an excellent reputation. A lot can be said for reputation; this is what your business runs on for clients and workers.

Some areas which could impact your site are:

Working in dusty environments can lead to conditions like occupational Asthma among other things. Exposure to specifics such as asbestos can cause illnesses such as Cancer. Loose materials can cause blindness without the right PPE and training and can result in lasting damage to you and your workers. Persistent loud noises can cause deafness and handling heavy equipment can cause back injuries, among other bodily injuries. These are just a few of the dangers that can occur on your site and by no means are they listed in order of severity. 

By making sure that you have the correct training, PPE and equipment you can ensure the safety of your workforce. You might find this overwhelming but if you do your research and appoint health and safety measures and officers then you can continue with your build and feel comfortable and secure in what is happening on your site. 

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Building Regulations- The importance of the structure

We all know that sometimes we dread the Building Inspector but we shouldn't! These regulations are there to ensure the structure we're building is safe and secure. These builds need to be designed and constructed in accordance with the Building Regulations and Associated Legislation which are developed by the Government. 

These are the national standards for Building work, regardless of size. The Building Regulations are regularly being updated and consist of parts A-P. You should always ensure that you have the current copy. The Building Regulations contain the MINIMUM standards of design and building work for domestic, commercial and industrial builds.  These are minimum standards, which in no way means you shouldn't aim higher!

The different parts A-P are catergorised below:

A-  Structure
B - Fire Safety
C -Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture
D - Toxic Substances
E - Resistance to the passage of sound
F - Ventilation
G - Sanitation, hygiene and water efficiency
H - Drainage and waste disposal
J - Heat producing appliances and Fuel Storage system
K - Protection from falling, collision and impact
L - Conservation of fuel and power
M - Access to and use of buildings
N - Glazing - Safety in relation to impact, opening and cleaning
P - Electrical safety

Before you start work you need to decide if you're going to submit a Full Plans Building Regulations application or submit a Building Notice. The Building Notice makes it possible to carry out the work without prior approval but the responsibility of the work is then on the builder and mistakes can be costly. If you start with Full plans then you will have the Building Inspector involved from the outlay. There are benefits to both of these, but the latter will allow for peace of mind throughout the process.

You will also have to decide whether to appoint a Building Inspector from your Local Authority or to appoint one from a Government approved Building Inspection Company. The Building Inspector is there to help, offer advice and ensure that your build runs smoothly. Gaining an understanding of the UK Building Regulations is extremely important when considering any project. The regulations need to not only be considered throughout the build but also from the initial planning stage. There are many places where you can go for help with this, some sources are listed at the bottom. ATSPACE is a good place to start, with years of experience behind them, they have experts on hand to help with whatever your needs. 

Monday, 1 June 2020

Move with the times - Construction Compliance

When undertaking any build there is always a certain amount of Compliance that you have to adhere to. There are many variations but it will depend on what type of build you're undertaking. To keep ahead of the game you should adhere to the highest of standards to future proof your build. Construction compliance has come a long way in the last few years, especially with the rise in Passivhaus. 

Whether you're building from scratch, renovating or extending, you will need to know what it is you have to comply with. Atspace Ltd are one of the leading experts in this area and you will find many of the answers you need on their webpage or just give them a call they will be happy to help.

The main thing you need to know is that Compliances are there for both you and your build. They help provide healthy living as well as safety and, if adhered to fully, they provide you with a build of the highest standard and can even save you money in the long term on your bills. 

The Construction industry contributes millions to the UK economy, so think of all those builds. How many are going to last the test of time? How do we ensure that the work we are doing will be there in years to come, not just physically lasting but still seen as some of the best construction around? 

Essentially what you need to do is not see the compliance as something you just need to pass to move on to the next stage but something you need to excel in. If you have the best score on your testings (Air, sound, SAP ETC) then these will continue to provide a healthy, eco future, not only for your clients (or yourself) but for the Eco future of the country. 

To ensure that you can push forward with your build to the highest standards, you will need to either know the compliance requirements or at least have someone in your corner who does. This knowledge will influence the design of your build from the very beginning. There are many factors which can be enhanced right from the off, even down to the site location. If you leave things to chance then your build will be severely affected. 

Don't forget that you will need someone who is accredited to sign off your compliance. For full information take a look at Atspace Ltd, they have been dealing with compliance needs for years and are constantly updating to include all new requirements. 

Follow me for top tips on everything construction. Build a brighter future for you, your clients and the environment. 

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