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 http://ukconstructionblog.co.uk/2017/07/03/these-5-amazing-spaces-can-beat-building-regulations/

A RENAISSANCE IN THE IDEA OF GARDEN VILLAGES AND TOWNS

The Government recently announced plans to support the creation of 14 new Garden Villages. Universally seen as a good idea, there is however an underlying concern. This is around the historical slow growth which can be attributed to the existing ones failing to be the Utopia they promised to be. However, this discouraging outcome is rooted in lack of a mechanism that considers all social and technical impacts of a new development in its context in a wholesome manner. So what do we need to do to make sure our planned 14 Garden Villages are a success?

The concept of Garden Towns or Garden Villages was first introduced in the UK in 1898 and has continued to modestly grow ever since. They are defined as ‘a free standing, self-sustaining, high quality urban space that can address the housing issues, and is led by the local authority and supported by the community’.

To ensure the new 14 new Garden Villages are a success, there are a number of common problems that need to be addressed. BREEAM Communities is one solution that can help to ensure we don’t fall in to the same old traps.

Loss of Character

Garden Villages/Towns have been often criticised for not respecting or retaining the original characters of the locale they are developed in.

Every region and community holds its own unique characteristics and vernacular. Continuity between architectural style and building design within the development and the surrounding area will create coalition between the existing and new residents which in turn adds value to the quality of life within that community.

Injecting a new neighbourhood with its own facilities and potentially brand new occupants into the countryside requires a great deal of scrutiny into the existing and local features through studying the surroundings and consultation with stakeholders and community representatives. To illustrate the importance of this, BREEAM Communities scheme has an assessment issue worth of 2 credits dedicated to the subject of local vernacular to confirm that the development relates to the local character whilst reinforcing its own identity through a few practical steps.

Infrastructure

Concentrating new homes in purpose-built new towns or villages, has a two-fold effect on infrastructure:

  1. Services and infrastructure (such as new drainage systems and gas and electricity services etc.) are built as part of the development which upsets people who live nearby in numerous ways if not done properly. Power loss, road closures, interruptions to customer supply or unnecessary expenses are some of the unwelcome outcomes of the inefficient structure for the existing/surrounding communities.

This is addressed under BREEAM Communities’ Utilities assessment issue where 3 credits are awarded for providing ducting and access points for services and for service providers’ coordination to ensure that installation and maintenance would not interrupt consumers’ supply.

  1. It puts pressure on the existing infrastructure and services where no extra infrastructure or services to support the new homes has been provided.

The notion of considering communities needs and requirements in terms of services and facilities and also delivery of these is visited in a few assessment issues within BREEAM Communities at the very early stages of development.

Traffic

Milton Keynes, as one of the first new age Garden Towns, has over the years been criticised for its grid of broad roads that steers the residents towards driving their cars rather than using public transport. The grid also frustrates developers by taking up more space than a traditional city street despite the fact that it distributes traffic.

Other Garden Villages, on the other hand, seem to have been unable to cope with the traffic load due to poor or no evaluation of the infrastructural needs of a newly built community.

Both of the above cases have led to unhappy stakeholders, whether that’s the community or the local authority. Whereas, an early consultation with the stakeholders alongside an assessment of the transportation situation in the area followed by a design review in line with the results, can prevent either of the above issues.

To achieve this, BREEAM Communities provides step-by-step guidance to:

  • Ensure the needs, ideas and knowledge of the community are used to improve the quality of the design, planning and construction process. (Consultation)
  • Ensure that the masterplan’s design is reviewed by the community and other key stakeholders, ensuring that it supports a vibrant, healthy, functional and inclusive development. (Governance) and;
  • Ensure transport and movement strategies reduce the impact of the development upon the existing transport infrastructure and improve environmental and social sustainability through transport. (Transport and Movement)

Other issues

Overloaded schools and surgeries and lack of essential facilities such as shops, post office, banks etc. and absence of green infrastructure are some of the other issues that have made Garden Cities movement unsustainable. These are all as a result of a lack of consideration to demographic needs in general which is the core of BREEAM Communities methodology.

Undeniably there are other types of hurdles to building a practical Garden Village/Town. However, with the Government’s financial backing, lessons learned from the previous projects and the sciences within the Communities assessment methodology, now is the right time to create Garden Villages that are, more than ever, environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.

The most commonly accepted number of homes the UK needs to be building each year, in order to meet future housing need, is 240,000. Despite the small increase (6%), against the number of the newly built homes in the past year, we are far from achieving the above, hence the Government backing of the garden villages.

However, the housing crisis is not about how many homes we can build each year. It is about how many of these homes are affordable, habitable and practical for the people, the community. This is where the politically sponsored, sustainably created and socially approved Garden Villages/Towns come into play.

For more information on BREEAM visit: www.breeam.com

from The UK Construction Blog http://ukconstructionblog.co.uk/2017/06/29/a-renaissance-in-the-idea-of-garden-villages-and-towns/

Gilbert-Ash Completes British Embassy Fit Out in Kathmandu, Nepal

Gilbert-Ash Completes British Embassy Fit Out in Kathmandu, Nepal

UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office project assists with local rebuilding efforts

Award-winning UK construction, refurbishment and fit out contractor, Gilbert-Ash, has put the finishing touches to a £1m fit out project on the British Embassy compound in Nepal.   In the wake of the Gorkha earthquake, the project included design, fit-out and seismic reinforcement.

Within the British Embassy compound in Kathmandu, the project builds on Gilbert-Ash’s international expertise with work completed for the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office in a total of 41 countries to date.

Nepal has been rebuilding since the devastating Gorkha earthquake which took place two years ago killing 9,000 people and causing widespread structural damage.  The fit out team at Gilbert-Ash worked closely with Nepalese construction companies to assist in sourcing local materials and labour to support the refurbishment.   Having had little exposure of working in earthquake zones, they worked closely with local structural engineers for whom earthquakes are a common occurrence and have excellent knowledge of seismic projects.

In contrast to the UK, Nepal has seen an increasing number of females taking up more prominent roles in the building trade since the earthquake due to a local labour shortage that has seen many male construction workers leave for work in the Middle East.

Ian Fisher, Contracts Manager, Gilbert-Ash Fit Out said: “This was a humbling project as our team saw first-hand the impact of the 2015 earthquake on the everyday lives of the people in Nepal. The local response to the earthquake to rebuild their country has been inspiring and we are pleased to have supported the recovery efforts.”

“The refurbishment of the British Embassy in Nepal for the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office included retrofitting to increase the safety of the buildings and our team worked closely with local structural engineers to meet earthquake building regulations. This project was complex due to its location but having worked in so many countries, our fit-out team are now highly skilled in undertaking projects in a wide range of culturally diverse and environmentally challenging locations.”

He continued: “We travel with an open mind and are constantly learning and adapting to local cultures. Everywhere we work we take away something new. It was particularly inspiring to see the construction skills, knowledge and standards of craftsmanship practiced by the local industry in Nepal; with the advances in modern technology, many of these traditional skills have been lost in the UK.  Also while we are one of many actively involved in encouraging more women to join the construction industry in the UK, it was really incredible to see so many in the workforce in Nepal who are playing such a key role in rebuilding the country.”

To help the Kathmandu construction companies involved in the project, the Gilbert-Ash team donated building tools and materials alongside the transfer of new health and safety skills.

Highly detailed design, advanced logistical planning and development goes into every Gilbert-Ash fit out project, with the team skilled in delivering the finest quality projects on a global scale. To meet exacting specification standards befitting the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the company ships many of its fit out materials around the world.

The leading construction company has specialist fit out expertise in a range of sectors including workplace, retail, leisure and restoration.

For more information on Gilbert-Ash visit www.gilbert-ash.com

 

from The UK Construction Blog http://ukconstructionblog.co.uk/2017/06/28/gilbert-ash-completes-british-embassy-fit-out-in-kathmandu-nepal/

Trade body awards celebrate top flight acoustic performance

The skills and ingenuity of UK-based acoustic professionals working on national and international projects across a variety of environments were celebrated at a trade body awards.

ANC, the Association of Noise Consultants, unveiled the winners of its acclaimed Acoustic Awards programme at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham.

Promoting and recognising excellence among UK acoustic consultants, the awards showcased the skills of members across five categories.

Hoare Lea secured the winning project in the award for ‘Architectural Acoustics: Commercial Buildings,’ sponsored by H & H Acoustic Technologies, with Sandy Brown Associates highly commended and SRL Technical Services commended in this category.

‘Architectural Acoustics: Education Buildings,’ sponsored by Ecophon, was secured by Sandy Brown Associates, with Adrian James Acoustics receiving the highly commended accolade and a commended award for Pace Consult.

‘Environmental Noise,’ sponsored by ANV Measurement Systems, was won by Apex Acoustics, with Southdowns Environmental Consultants taking highly commended and a commended title for AECOM in this category.

It was another successful outcome for Apex Acoustics, the winners in the ‘Smaller Projects’ award sponsored by Bruel & Kjaer, with AECOM taking the highly commended award and Red Twin the commended title.

The final award, ‘Vibration,’ sponsored by Pliteq, was won by Cole Jarman. WSP were highly commended and RBA Acoustics commended in this category.

Full details about the winning entries, with a link to a brochure featuring case study information on each project, can be viewed at http://www.association-of-noise-consultants.co.uk/2017-award-winners-revealed/

The awards were presented by James Woudhuysen, forecasting and innovation specialist and visiting professor at London South Bank University, with a distinguished panel of judges comprising of academics and professionals, as well as representatives from the sponsor companies, scrutinising the national and international entries.

Robert Osborne of ANC, said: “Now in their fifth year, the ANC awards continue to gain ground as a major opportunity to highlight world-leading expertise in the industry, and to inspire the next generation of acoustic consultants.

“Once again this year, the judges were hugely impressed with the scope and scale of the entries.

“The projects illustrate the unique skills of our UK-based acoustic and noise professionals and their innovative approach across the built environment, transportation and entertainment sectors.”

from The UK Construction Blog http://ukconstructionblog.co.uk/2017/06/26/trade-body-awards-celebrate-top-flight-acoustic-performance/

Construction must say never again to another Grenfell

In the aftermath of the horrific fire that engulfed the Grenfell tower in London there is a feeling of frustration and anger emerging among those who work in construction.

Grenfell

The disaster has raised many questions.

How did the blaze defy accepted thinking, spreading so rapidly with such devastating effect and at such a terrible human cost?

Should building regulations be improved, were they ignored and was the management of the block also a key factor? There is also the question of who is to blame.

The concerns of hundreds of thousands of residents in tower blocks across the country need to be addressed with urgency.

Deeply concerned industry experts have responsibly driven a rapid first response from authorities, using media pictures and footage to speculate about what may have caused the disaster.

The police must now move this on releasing relevant findings as soon as they come to light in their investigation.

Government’s decision to call all tower cladding in for immediate testing is a proportionate response at a time when public confidence in the fabric of our tower blocks is rock bottom.

But our response must also focus on the root causes of what went wrong at Grenfell.

There will be few in the industry who won’t feel uncomfortable about the way the culture of construction has developed in recent decades.

They will know too often individuals and firms are put in compromised positions – obliged to conduct themselves in ways that are wrong and potentially dangerous.

Construction has made great strides forward in health and safety in recent years.

This shows that an inappropriate culture can be challenged when all parts of the industry unite with common cause.

It is now time to challenge lowest cost and the pernicious culture it fosters.

The fire was an inevitable consequence of what was dreaded by many who have seen the systematic degradation of the industry in the face of short-term commercial pressures.

These short-circuit long-term sustainability and the health and safety of the public.

Shocked and moved by the Grenfell disaster, many have stepped forward to offer their advice and expertise.

Now all clients, designers, contractors, inspectors and suppliers alike need to say it is time to change.

from The UK Construction Blog http://ukconstructionblog.co.uk/2017/06/23/construction-must-say-never-again-to-another-grenfell/

Berkeley cleared to fast-track scheme for Grenfell survivors

Berkeley Group has been given cash from the Government to speed up a housing scheme to house survivors of the Grenfell tower fire in West London.

Kensington Row, St Edwards, Berkeley, Grenfell

Extra construction staff have been committed by the group’s development arm St Edward and working hour restrictions will be relaxed so work can continue around the clock.

The government is putting up extra cash to fit-out the flats to ensure they are ready for people to move in to sooner.

The Housing and Communities Agency has struck a deal to purchase 68 flats in the Kensington Row scheme which forms part of the Warwick Road masterplan.

Homes will be a mix of 1,2 and 3 bedroom flats across 2 blocks.

The new permanent housing is expected to be completed by the end of July.

from The UK Construction Blog http://ukconstructionblog.co.uk/2017/06/21/berkeley-cleared-to-fast-track-scheme-for-grenfell-survivors/

2016 has been dubbed the ‘Year of Ransomware’…but why?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The NHS was a high-profile victim of a WannaCry Ransomware attack that hit businesses in over 150 countries recently. Find out more about the attack and how you can prevent your business from becoming the next victim

What Can I Do?

If you haven’t been a victim of this particular Ransomware attack, this doesn’t mean you won’t be in the future. There are a number of steps you can take to protect your systems against future attacks – not just Ransomware attacks, but exploits in your operating systems that could lead to additional attacks.

Always update your systems

We know, Windows updates are notoriously laborious. But it’s no longer something you can ignore. These updates might be cumbersome but they’re deployed to keep your systems and your business safe from exactly this type of exploit. It’s worth checking for updates right now (search ‘Windows Updates’ in your Windows search bar) and if there are any waiting, install them now. Microsoft has made it clear that if businesses had installed its MS17-010 security patch, they could have avoided the attack.

Be vigilant with emails

The method of distribution for this attack hasn’t been made public yet, but it’s very likely to be a malicious email link or attachment. Previously, spammy emails were easy to spot as they were plain text and littered with spelling errors. Hackers are more sophisticated than ever now, and emails containing Ransomware, malware or phishing links look more realistic thanks to email spoofing.  If in doubt, never click a link or open an attachment; speak directly to the supposed sender and alert your IT department.

Backup your critical systems and data

Because hackers are ever more sophisticated, zero-day attacks are now very common; these are attacks that exploit an as-yet-unknown vulnerability, meaning you could become the first victim of a new attack. Having a robust backup and disaster recovery solution in place means that, should your business fall victim, you’ll be able to restore not only your critical files but your systems too, and why it’s critical that your business has both in place.

Use a Ransomware-specific anti-virus

This attack exploited a security issue in Windows operating systems, which means the attack could have been something other than Ransomware. But this highlights the proliferation of Ransomware, which has seen a significant resurgence since last year. Ransomware attacks continue to hit and devastate thousands of businesses – don’t let your business be one of them. We recommend Sophos’ anti-Ransomware solution Intercept X, which prevents Ransomware viruses at the point of entry. What’s more, if your files have already been encrypted, Sophos Intercept X decrypts them. It’s an intelligent product that has protected many of our customers and ourselves from this global attack. We’re hosting emergency webinars on Sophos Intercept X this week

What next?

This is one of the most widespread Ransomware attacks ever. While the NHS and telecoms and car giants Telefonica are the headline victims, this attack has hit businesses of all sizes – some of which may never recover from it. IT security can no longer be ignored. This attack is expected to continue as the malware evolves, so if you haven’t been hit yet it doesn’t mean you’re protected.

Find out more

Read more here

from The UK Construction Blog http://ukconstructionblog.co.uk/2017/06/13/2016-has-been-dubbed-the-year-of-ransomware-but-why/