Monday, 31 July 2017

New appointment to the Association of Noise Consultants Board

Increasing training opportunities in acoustics and continuing to develop professional standards are among the key priorities for Anne Budd following her election to the board of the Association of Noise Consultants (ANC).

Anne joins the leadership team after being appointed at the trade association’s AGM – and is the first woman to be elected to the board in its 45-year history.


Throughout her career, which spans 21 years in the acoustics sector, Anne has played an active role in the industry.


She is a member of the Institute of Acoustics’ Building Acoustics Group, the Acoustical Society of America and the Women’s Engineering Society.


In her position on the ANC Board, Anne is particularly keen to give a voice to the small acoustic consultancy members located in the regions.


Anne said: “During my time on the board I hope to represent the voice of the micro-acoustic consultancy.


“We face very different challenges to the larger SMEs and multi-disciplinary – in some cases multi-national – firms based closer to the capital, in areas including recruitment and in developing training and education opportunities.


“I am looking forward to working with the other members of the ANC board on this and other industry matters over the coming years.”


Anne, a BEng Electroacoustics graduate from the University of Salford, started her career in 2000 at Bruel & Kjaer’s headquarters in Copenhagen, where she was an application specialist for the electroacoustics team and product manager for the ear and mouth simulators.


In 2002 she joined Professor Bridget Shields’s team at London South Bank University as a research assistant, investigating room acoustics in classroom environments and their effects on children and teachers.


Anne’s career then took her north in 2005 to Scotland where, six months after joining New Acoustics consultancy based in Clydebank, she became a director of the company.


Today Anne is the company’s majority shareholder, and is responsible for all aspects of its technical work and administration.

from The UK Construction Blog

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Going Digital for the Digital Enterprise

As engineering firms move toward developing a digital strategy, a new phrase – going digital- will resonate with engineering, architectural, and construction professionals, as well as infrastructure asset owners, is now part of the infrastructure lexicon. Going digital refers to the business transformation being realized as infrastructure professionals take advantage of a connected data environment by leveraging a cloud computing platform that digitally connects and converges people, processes, data, and technology to yield significant benefits.


In its broadest sense, going digital means moving data that used to be locked in application-specific files or even paper documents, and making the data inherent in these files and documents available to be consumed and analyzed by other software and processes. Through going digital, 3D digital engineering models created during the planning and design phase can provide the interactive 3D environment for operations and infrastructure asset performance modeling, leveraging cloud computing, predictive analytics, and operational data from the Industrial Internet of Things and other sources. These models can now be referenced throughout the full lifecycle of an infrastructure asset, improving performance, safety, and sustainability.


But what about an infrastructure asset that does not have a digital engineering model? Reality modeling, an exciting technology that involves the process of capturing existing facilities and site conditions with the use of digital photographs and/or point-cloud data – enables the rapid creation of 3D, engineering-ready mesh representations of the existing, as-operated conditions. The process is simple: overlapping photographs taken with a camera either handheld or mounted on a UAV are uploaded to a cloud processing service that automatically reconstructs the 3D model for use in engineering applications. Further detail and accuracy can be added to the model through close range photos or point-cloud data from laser scanners.

from The UK Construction Blog


Keeping on top of the paperwork generated by even the most straightforward project-based contract with a given subcontractor can prove an arduous task, with various documents coming in and going out throughout the works requiring actioning. Managing this process in a timely and efficient manner becomes increasingly difficult as the number of ongoing projects and subcontractor contracts increase, something we have first-hand experience of at Osborne.

We utilised the services of more than 1,200 different subcontractors last year – from major businesses working on our behalf on a number of projects right down to small, niche companies working on one-off projects.

As you can imagine, processing payment-related paperwork for each of these subcontractors without error or issue is no easy task. That’s why we’re working with Open ECX to build and implement a bespoke system called WebContractor to increase efficiencies.

At this stage, we’re looking to launch a pilot phase on a small number of projects in the very near future. Following successful completion, we plan on implementing WebContractor across the business on all our projects.

For now, all we can say is what we’re expecting to achieve. There are three main reasons WebContractor stood out for us; compliance, fairness, and forward planning.



Firstly, we want to make sure we comply with the requirements laid out in the Construction Act. We are looking for a way to ensure we don’t miss any timelines for issuing any paperwork for the various types of contracts we enter into, such as payment and payless notices, for example.

Our current processes are insufficient for our future needs and direction of the business. Through the WebContractor system we will significantly improve our Construction Act compliance, with the system providing early warnings and a fixed process to work through for both our and the subcontractors’ teams.



We’ve signed up to the Fair Payment Charter as we believe very strongly in providing payment on time for our subcontractors to help them with their cash flows.

WebContractor will help us achieve this and also provide all of our valued subcontractors with much-needed transparency, letting them know where their application for payment is in the process.


Forward planning

We expect WebContractor will also provide us with additional administrative capabilities as we will have greater visibility of the payment process throughout the project cycle. From a finance point of view, it will allow us to have a better and real-time understanding of our cash flow forecasting, something that is vital in this industry. Moving forward, we would like to expand this solution further to link in with construction industry services and databases such as Builders’ Profile and Construction Line, helping us to be more streamlined and joined up in our approach and significantly reduce the need for manual intervention.

We will also benefit from having a single and uniform way of storing all paperwork and supporting documentation and information.


WebContractor has been developed to provide businesses with time and labour savings, helping them to improve efficiencies and compliance with legislation as well as give them the platform to plan their finances more easily and accurately. As a company with construction and infrastructure contracts creating an annual turnover in excess of £350 million, we’re very excited about the size and scale these benefits can bring us not only on our pilot projects but long into the future.

from The UK Construction Blog

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Why Modular Construction CAN Support Rapid Growth in the Construction Industry

There is a housing crisis in the UK. According to the National Federation of Builders, the answer is simple: build more homes.

But, critics say it is more complex than this. Brown land has to be found and planning permission granted. And, say others, the construction industry is not geared to meet such a massive upsurge in building demand. The results will be shoddy buildings and poor-quality homes for homebuyers and tenants.

But there could be a solution that means a surge in new homes coming to the market is possible. Rather than using bricks and mortar or breeze block and concrete, the solution is modular building, using a wood frame or steel frames, along with other readily available materials.

The modular build industry can support the rapid growth in the construction industry and here’s how;

SPEED is of the essence

On the one hand, you may assume that quick building means a final product of dubious quality. It is right to be cautious, especially when we are discussing people’s homes. This is a place of sanctity, a place where we should be warm, safe and comfortable.

We have seen poor housing in the past and in modern times – the draughty post-war prefabs and the anonymous looking housing estates where walls aren’t straight, and quality of the fixtures and fitting flimsy at best.

Speed in terms of modular building is not because the design is poor or the construction hurried, but because the methods of construction and materials used vary from those of a traditional build.

Within days, the outer walls of a modular building can be erected. Only a few days later, the interior walls and roofing frames can be complete. In fact, research shows that a modular build takes around half the time of a traditional building.

For a construction industry that needs to build good quality housing and fast, modular building is the answer.

OFF SITE construction

One of the issues with traditional building is often the location and access to the building site. For example, in cities and towns, building in a busy urban landscape brings additional costs. Difficulty accessing the site also leads to delays, again an expensive problem but also one that slows down progress.

With modular building, there are few worries of this nature and that is because the construction happens off site. In most cases, the houses are built in a factory setting and then shipped to their location. Where access is difficult, the homes can be delivered ‘flat-packed’ and put together on site.

Utility points can be added as part of the construction process, with the components fixed into position once the building is erected.

This makes this form of building friendly to the local community and businesses, as well as neighbours of the building site as there is no heavy machinery pounding away, day after day for months on end.

COST-EFFECTIVE housing solutions

Another factor that slows down the construction of new homes is who is going to pay for the building work? One of the issues within the housing crisis is affordability. For new buyers, it takes on average 20 years to save up a deposit on a home. By the time they have saved the deposit, there will be new hurdles to jump through.

And so, building housing estates in the traditional style could be a risk. Can people afford to buy? But also, is the style of home being built what they want or need?

Another issue with the housing crisis is that even if someone is lucky enough to get on the housing ladder when they need to buy a bigger property – e.g. more bedrooms for a growing family – they can’t afford to do so.

The solution is to bring more supply to the market place. And this means more houses. Modular building consumes fewer materials and resources, and are faster to build and that means they are cost-effective. With these substantial savings passed on to the buyer, more people will be able to afford a home that suits their needs.

HIGH-QUALITY in every aspect

From design to completion, to delivery to style, to aesthetic appeal, everything about a modular building is attractive. And that means the housing market will not be awash with sub-standard homes, but high-quality properties that people want.

For modular build specialists, the building of modular homes to add to the dry well of the housing market is a no-brainer. But is the great British public ready for modular homes?


MTX Contracts designs and constructs modular buildings for clients in the UK and beyond. Specialising in bespoke healthcare buildings, they understand how modular building is the future of the construction industry.

from The UK Construction Blog

Monday, 24 July 2017


Planning permission has now been granted for the nine-storey building at 262 York Road on the site of a Shell petrol filling station – the last undeveloped site at Battersea Reach, a mixed-use development fronting the River Thames.

Multi-disciplinary consultancy Meinhardt UK is using its expertise in modern methods of construction and structural engineering to realise the architect’s vision for a new build-to-rent development despite a unique set of challenges.


Working with clients Angle Property and architects TP Bennett, Meinhardt was originally asked to look at a scheme that would have seen the development rise above the petrol station. Although that plan achieved planning consent, the client decided to acquire the lease of the filling station and demolish it, and the revised application, for a building of approximately 10,000 sq m of floor space, has now achieved planning permission.


The development includes a commercial unit at ground floor with office, retail space and a lobby, ground floor car parking and a one-storey partial basement, which will house bike storage, plant and back of house. Removing the filling station made room for an additional storey of residential accommodation adding a further nine units. The apartments are a series of duplex units designed to stagger over the course of each level.


Large protruding balconies are a key element of the development, and Meinhardt coordinated extensively with the architects to accommodate these, and to incorporate the thermal break requirements in a twin wall construction frame. There is a terrace at first floor level and residents’ amenity spaces on some floors. Penthouse flats on the top, stepped back from the perimeter, are built around a lightweight steel frame.


Meinhardt’s design does not hinder the overall architectural solution because it sits on a transfer platform from which the structure can fly up. The MMC solution is predominantly twin wall and precast lattice slab over the insitu concrete transfer deck. That will accelerate the construction programme, and so that it does not impede the architectural layouts, Meinhardt’s team designed around tricky features such as a central corridor, which would otherwise have impeded the use of twin wall construction, and circumvented tricky sun rooms with steel beams.


Following planning permission, the client intends to tender for a contractor in autumn with start on site in the early 2018. Meinhardt will work with the contractor through an anticipated 18-month construction period to a mid-2019 completion.


Despite the decision to remove the petrol station, the site still poses all the underground complications of having been occupied by one. Meinhardt will work with geotechnical specialists to tackle complications including contamination. Obstructions such as the fuel tanks serving the filling station will have to be removed. A search of the site’s history revealed the ground also conceals a gas tank, likely a reinforced concrete wall with basement construction, which will either have to be removed or designed around.


The Meinhardt team has spent a year developing the design from work on the original idea through to planning consent on the current one to replace the filling station, and will now work with the contractor to see the project through to completion. The key outcome is enabling the use of MMC without impeding any of the architectural layout.


This is the second PRS scheme employing MMC in London that Meinhardt has worked on during the pre-planning process, the other being Greenford Green, Ealing, the UK’s largest purpose designed build to rent scheme, which will create almost 2,000 new homes.


from The UK Construction Blog

Friday, 21 July 2017

Recent Self-Building Influx Increases Health and Safety Risks

With more and more people deciding to build their own properties, more people are putting themselves at risk of injury on building sites. From simple building extensions to 3 bed houses at some point those who work on the project will need to wear the correct safety equipment, but often health and safety regulations are only followed by contractors and those who regularly work in this sector.

In this article, we will be exploring why the sudden increase in injuries and risks can be quickly averted…


Self-Building Safely

Self-Building is a rewarding and brilliant way to save money, however maintaining site safety is a must, even more so if you do not work in the building sector. A lot of the time when people are to self-build, they spend their spare time such as evenings and weekends to complete the project. This can cause many problems, the biggest of which is laziness and cutting corners.

Something as simple as putting on the correct safety equipment can become a chore, with the popular thought being “I’m only going to do a bit, not worth putting it on”. Well not wearing safety equipment can quickly increase the risk of injury, whether that injury is minor or major.

Cutting time doesn’t save lives.

Areas such as the hands and feet are usually the first place to have injuries with hazards such as sharp objects, you can easily find yourself with a minor if not severe injury. Protective gloves and boots can quickly reduce the risk of these injuries but there are many other potentials you will need to protect from. Hard hats are a must on a building site and can quickly reduce the impact of an object on the head. And strong thick clothing can reduce the chance of scuffs and abrasions, however specialised PPE will need to be used in other circumstances.

Remember if you do not have the correct protective equipment then you shouldn’t be working, no matter the complexity of the task.


Not sure what PPE to wear?

If you do not understand which PPE you should wear before you begin the task you need to speak to an expert. Whether this is specialist which will also provide equipment for you and your team or a PPE and Workwear company. Both will help you choose the correct items which are rated for the type of work you are undertaking.

from The UK Construction Blog

Wednesday, 5 July 2017


When it comes to maximising natural daylight in buildings, understandably perhaps, much attention is paid to the type of glass used in windows or the shades of finish applied to walls – but what about the colour of the flooring?

In commercial properties especially, staff not only benefit from a smooth, reliable, hard-wearing surface, its colour can have a large bearing on creating an environment conducive to a happy, healthy, productive workspace.


In a good light

As industrial flooring specialists of many years’ experience, we have seen how lighter-coloured floors can help optimise natural light in buildings for the good of the company and environment. Daylight is an even more precious commodity for those working inside; therefore it’s particularly important this natural resource is fully-harnessed as its rewards are plentiful.

Naturally-lit buildings increase the feel-good factor for occupants, and in commercial terms, a contented workforce is proven to be more productive. Lighter, brighter environments reduce instances of sick-building syndrome among staff, which leads to less absenteeism. Letting more daylight into offices and factories can also help reduce conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), an illness which is thought to occur due to lack of exposure to sunlight, particularly in winter.

As well as the health benefits, buildings with a predominance of natural lighting will use far less energy than those flooded with artificial illumination. Electricity used for lighting is considerably more expensive in terms of CO2 than gas used for heating, and as reducing carbon emissions is paramount to achieving Part L Building Regulation compliance, the importance of making full-use of natural energy cannot be overstated.


Reflective glory 

A recent refurbishment Zircon Flooring carried out at SFS Intec, a self-drilling screw manufacturer in Leeds, gives a perfect example of how a light-coloured floor can utilise available daylight. The 7,300m2 new surface of its plant comprised a low-viscosity resin: Sikafloor-161, and Sikafloor-263 SL, a multi-purpose binder.

The top coat’s light-grey colour provided the ideal shade to best reflect the natural daylight and enhance the building’s overall brightness.

Sika’s support was paramount to the successful specification of the aforementioned flooring system. The guidance and knowledge of its technical teams meant the selected products were absolutely appropriate for the floor’s required performance. As well as providing excellent thought leadership, Sika’s support teams remained available throughout the floor’s installation to ensure the process was completed successfully and to the highest quality.

Extolling the benefits of light-coloured flooring doesn’t guarantee clients will take the notion on board. Some will continue to insist on having black or dark flooring as it is felt shadier tones will mask dirt or markings, which is far from the case. Reds, greens, dark greys, blacks and browns are all no-no flooring colours if natural daylight reflection is the goal.

Sikafloor has any number of light-coloured finishes to maximise daylight in buildings. Each shade has a RAL number, ensuring it meets international colour standards. Scientific study has proved interior colours can have a major influence on our mood and sense of wellbeing. Therefore, taking a lighter approach to the shade of flooring we choose can give our working environment a lift in so many welcoming ways.

from The UK Construction Blog

Sunday, 2 July 2017

These 5 Amazing Spaces can beat building regulations

Commercial spaces are at a premium and mortgages are harder to secure than ever. But George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces show has inspired people across the UK to use innovative design to navigate building regulations and live mortgage free.

Whether you want to seek advice on converting a farm shed into the ultimate mancave or transforming an abandoned lorry trailer into your dream home, here are five awesome design ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Outstanding home offices

Creating cost-effective practical space is essential for new business owners but building regulations can put paid to the best laid plans. Using existing structures creatively is a great way to get around this.

Mezzanine floor specialists can help you beat planning regulations by converting an existing warehouse shed into a two-storey structure.

This lets you preserve as much storage space as possible with a brand new private office offering the privacy to chat to clients.

Ship-shape and mortgage-free

Abandoned shipping containers have long been reclaimed as makeshift shops and shelters around the world. But a canny Bedford resident made a giant leap in design evolution by transforming an old container to a fantastic floating home.

With a price tag under £50,000, the home maximises space with unique features like a bath set into the base of the shower and an under-bed wardrobe.  This is a cool compact home that epitomises large-scale recycling.

Shed your preconceptions

Stereotypical British sheds have often unfairly been stereotyped as sad retreats for hassled husbands. But Amazing Spaces spin-off show Shed of the Year shows contestants from across the country competing to build beautiful sheds that become serene sanctuaries.

Past winners include a terrific treehouse that allows you to channel your inner Ewok and a Roman temple that provides the perfect excuse for donning a toga when you relax after work.

Conserving classics

Caravanning is still a favourite pastime in the UK so it’s no wonder that caravan and camper van conversions have featured in their own Amazing Spaces shows.

One of the most innovative conversions showcased a decrepit 1950s classic caravan that morphed into a modern static home complete with roof garden and external spiral staircase.

Bringing the past to life

But the most touching show featured a custom made caravan recreated from sketches stashed away by a British soldier imprisoned during the second world war.

Right down to the custom light switches, the Amazing Spaces team cleverly brought the design to life for the deceased soldier’s surviving relatives.

George Clarke has a knack of discovering people make the most mundane objects magical.

Amazing Spaces inspires us all to take DIY to the next level and live lives less ordinary.

from The UK Construction Blog