Archive for the ‘Buildings’ Category

A quick overview guide to The London Building Act (Amendment) Act: 1939 Section 20

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

Overview

Section 20 of the London Buildings Acts (and subsequent amendments) is concerned with the danger arising from fire within certain classes of building which by reason of height, cubic extent and/or use necessitate special consideration. The principles incorporated the provision of fire-fighting facilities that would enable the fire brigade to tackle the fire with utmost speed, but also provide warning of fire, contain an outbreak of fire and to prevent its spread.

This is quick guide to section 20 building requirements. But remember, always seek professional guidance.

Especially in relation to escape routes, building services, sprinkler or other automatic fire extinguishing,  or suppressant system, including hose reels; smoke extraction / venting system,  and vertical transport (including fireman’s lifts).

The London Building Act (Amendment) Act: 1939 Section 20
(Buildings of excess height and / or additional cubic extent)
(As amended 1985 & 2005)

Do the proposed works attract an application under this Legislation?

NEW BUILDINGS:
Application will be required if the building is:

  • More than 30 metres in height;
  • More than 25 metres in height with an area of any floor more than 930m 2.
  • A building of the warehouse class, or is a building or part of a building used for the purpose of trade or manufacture exceeding 7100m3 (250,000ft3) in cubical extent  unless it is divided  by division walls (with 4hr FR) such that no part of the building exceeds 7100m3 (see note 1).

EXISTING BUILDINGS (NON-SECTION 20):

If the proposed works bring the building into one or more of the above listed categories the building will then become subject to the above legislation requiring an application.

EXISTING SECTION 20 BUILDINGS:

An Application is necessary if the works affect any of the following:

  • Sprinkler or other automatic fire extinguishing or suppressant system, including hose reels;
  • Smoke extraction / venting system;
  • A change to the access to the site for the Fire & Rescue Service;
  • Work that affects or impacts on any special fire risk areas (see Note: 2).

INITIAL NOTICES:
Where Approved Inspectors propose works within a building subject to LBA Section 20 it is mandatory that this local Legislation is recognised in the Initial Notice; failure to do so will result in rejection of the Initial Notice. Please note that this is irrespective of whether the proposed works impact on the criteria listed above or not. If the Council decides that a Section 20 Application is necessary then the Council will ask for this but will not delay validating the Initial Notice, providing that this local Legislation is expressly referred to in the Initial Notice, and confirmation is given that if necessary an application will be submitted in due course.

NOTES:
1)A building of the warehouse class means a warehouse, manufacturing, brewery, distillery with a cubic extent exceeding 4,247m3 (150,000ft 3) which is neither a public nor a domestic building. Please note for the purposes of this legislation the definition of a domestic building includes office use.
Height is taken from street level at the centre of the face of the building to the ceiling level of the top storey. Where more than half the roof is covered by a plant room such room becomes the top storey.

Cubic extent in relation to the measurement of a building means the space contained within the external surfaces and roof and the upper surface of the floor of its lowest storey but including any space within any enclosure on the roof of the building used exclusively for accommodating a water tank of lift gear or any like apparatus.

2.  Special Fire risk Areas:

  • Heat producing appliance above 220 kilowatts (heat);
  • Internal combustion engine producing above 44 kilowatts (power);
  • Oil-filled transformer or switchgear over 250 litres of oil and voltage above 1000 volts;

Flammable or combustible solids, liquids or gas manufactured, treated, handled or stored in quantities likely to constitute a fire hazard including any of the following:
i.    Fuel oil, diesel or petroleum;
ii.    Nitrate film or celluloid;
iii.   Cellulose or flammable liquid spraying

Construction output figures show record fall

Monday, June 8th, 2009

Government construction output figures for the first three months of 2009 highlight the biggest falls on record, the Construction Products Association has warned.

The Office for National Statistics figures show construction output fell an 16 per cent in Q1 2009 compared with the same quarter a year earlier.

The fall is in line with the Construction Products Association’s own forecasts.

The Association’s economics director Noble Francis said: “A large number of jobs have already been lost and there is clearly a lot of pain still to be had.”

Other figures from the report showed that industrial new build fell 40 per cent compared to a year ago and

Output in the commercial sector fell by 26 per cent in the first quarter of 2009 compared to a year earlier.

Over 25 per cent of the sector has been lost in the past year and with new orders in commercial falling 55 per cent in the first quarter of 2009 compared to a year earlier, output will be expected to fall further.

Even in infrastructure, expected to be buoyed by significant workloads in rail, output in the first quarter of 2009 was 5 per cent lower than one year earlier.

Housing update

Friday, June 5th, 2009

Hometrack released research on house prices in May, finding prices remained static in May after almost two years of falls. (01 June)According to the latest figures from Land cialis 5mg Registry, annual house prices in England and Wales fell by 16.2 per cent in April, taking the average house price to £152,898. This mirrors the annual house price fall in March. Monthly house prices fell by 0.3% in April compared to a fall in March of 0.4 per cent (Press Release). (01 June)

UK Applications to build new homes up 10pc

Friday, May 29th, 2009

The housebuilding industry has received a boost with applications to build new homes up 10 per cent in the three months to April, figures from the National Housebuilding Council have revealed.

The National Housebuilding Council statistics show 17,859 applications to build new homes were received in the three months to the end of April 2009.

The amount is 10 per cent higher than the previous rolling quarter January to March 2009 when 16,232 applications we received.

Some encouragement can be taken from April’s figures, which show applications to start new homes in the combined private and public sectors rose for the fourth successive month in a row to 6,379.

But activity levels during the three months to the end of April were still severely depressed, with a 53 per cent reduction compared to the same period a year ago.

NHBC chief executive Imtiaz Farookhi said: “While it is still too early to assume that these are definite signs of a recovery, some positive indicators are emerging which suggest that the severe downturn in house-building activity may be beginning to turn a corner.

“Anecdotal evidence from house-builders and developers also suggests that conditions are easing slightly on site, no doubt boosted by the Government’s recent £1 billion budgetary pledge to help the housing market and the Homes and Communities Agency’s (HCA) Kickstart initiative to open up mothballed sites.”

REGIONAL BREAKDOWN
Region    Feb to April 2009    Feb to April 2008    Percentage Increase / (-) Decrease

England- Regions   
North East                                 630    1,223    -48%
North West                              1,127    2,633    -57%
Merseyside                                  364    1,121    -68%
Yorkshire & the Humber        967    2,320    -58%
West Midlands                          936    3,033    -69%
East Midlands                         1,381    3,017    -54%
Eastern                                    2,618    4,342    -40%
South West                             2,280    2,935    -22%
Greater London                      1,375    4,924    -72%
South East                               3,061    5,736    -47%
Totals for England            14,739    31,284    -53%
Scotland- Councils                 1,561    4,011    -61%
Wales- Unitary Authorities    786    1,374    -43%
Northern Ireland – Counties      749    968    -23%
Isle of Man                                       24    125    -81%
Totals for UK              17,859    37,762    -53%

BAA radically overhauls procurement procedures

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Airport operator BAA’ s procurement procedures were overhauled last week in a bid to cut costs, with major projects being put out to tender rather than awarded through its framework of contractors.

Under the new system, projects of more than £25M will be procured through open tender, projects worth between £10M and £25M will be bid for by framework members and projects less than £10M in value will be allocated to framework contractors according to BAA’s criteria. “BAA is looking to introduce a more efficient, fairer way of doing things,” said a BAA spokesman.

Opening it up

The spokesman added: “In the past BAA has worked with contractors and consultants that we have had a long-term relationship with, but now we are going down the route of opening it up.”

In addition to the procurement overhaul, plans for a second runway at Stansted were put on hold this week when BAA announced that it plans to appeal against the Competition Commission’s report that dictates it should sell Stansted and Gatwick and either Glasgow or Edinburgh airports.

RICS: Construction workloads continue to fall

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Construction workloads in the first quarter of 2009 continued to weaken the latest construction market survey published by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors today revealed.

Around 45 per cent of surveyors reported a fall in overall workloads for the first three months of 2009 up from a net balance of 47 per cent.

But the housing market has shown an easing in the pace decline.

RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said: This slight easing we are seeing in both public and private housing is broadly in line with the figures coming from the Government on the number of housing starts, which saw a small rise in the first quarter of 2009, and could be aligned to recent signs of a gentle pick-up in the housing market.”

Private commercial and industrial workloads recorded the worst figures with net balances of 57 and 61 respectively. The infrastructure sector’s decline accelerated at the fastest pace in the surveys history.

The outlook for the next year remains ‘downbeat’ with the 46 per cent of surveyors expecting employment levels to fall and 72 per cent surveyors expecting profits to be down over the coming months.

Mr Rubinsohn added: “Despite some sub-sectors showing slightly more positive signs, construction output is likely to post a double digit drop over the course of 2009 with a further loss of employment and skills in the industry.”

Robert Peston (BBC) tells building industry ‘life will be tough’

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

The BBC’s business editor Robert Peston has told the property and construction industry that the economy will not recover until the end of 2010.

Addressing the British Council for Offices annual conference he said: “The challenge for the UK is convincing the rest of the world that we can live within our means.

“Yes we are going to recover, your sector will recover. It is not a disaster but it is going to be pretty tough.”

He told conference delegates in Edinburgh that the private sector should assume more of the burden of driving recovery to relieve the public sector, which has been propping up the banking system.

Mr Peston said the recovery would be slow. “When the recovery comes it may be a bit sluggish as households and companies follow banks in paying down debt.”

He added that the downturn was worse in Germany and Japan but added: “The big question is will there be a semi-permanent reduction in the British economy? We will have to tighten our belts for several years.”

Conference chair Mike Hussey, senior vice-president at Land Securities, said: “We need to look at how we do things in the property industry to see if there is anything we can do [to help the global economy].”

Shortlist revealed for £4bn academies framework

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Partnerships for Schools has shortlisted 22 contractors for the hotly contested £4 billion academies ‘super framework’.

Construction giants including Balfour Beatty, Carillion and Kier are joined by firms scattered throughout the construction top 100.

Scunthorpe-based Clugston and Sheffiled-based Henry Boot – both of which have turnovers in the region of £125 million – made the 18-strong North and Midlands shortlist.

Abingdon-headquartered JB Leadbitter and East Sussex-based Rydon made the cut for the Southern and Eastern section. They are joined by Educinq, a joint venture of Osborne and Midas.

A total of 14 companies are shortlisted for both frameworks, including Willmott Dixon, Interserve and Wates.

A maximum of 12 contractors will be named on each framework, both of which are expected to be up and running by the end of the year.

Pre-qualification questionnaires were completed by a mammoth 57 companies. Contractors are desperate to be on the broadly-scoped framework, which has double the value of its predecessor at a time when work is hard to come by.

Partnerships for Schools chief executive Tim Byles said: “The interest in the new Contractors’ Framework from large and medium-sized companies across the country demonstrates how all sectors of the construction industry see this as a great opportunity, particularly at a time when conditions are challenging.

“With more than 127 Academies being delivered through BSF currently, and more than 100 more in the pipeline, the new Framework will enable contractors and suppliers from across the country to get involved in a scheme that has a predictable flow of work, supported by direct grant Government funding.”

The shortlisted companies:

Sector 1: North and the Midlands
Apollo
Balfour Beatty
BAM
Bovis
Bowmer & Kirkland
Carillion
Clugston
Galliford Try
Henry Boot
Interserve
Kier
Miller
Morgan Ashurst
Shepherd
Sir Robert McAlpine
Vinci
Wates
Willmott Dixon

Sector 2: London, the South and the South and East of England
Apollo
Balfour Beatty
BAM
Bovis
Carillion
Educinq
Galliford Try
Interserve
JB Leadbitter
Kier
Miller
Morgan Ashurst
Rydon
Sir Robert McAlpine
Vinci
Volker Fitzpatrick
Wates
Willmott Dixon

Heaviest falls on record in UK construction

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

With the amount of bad news that has been coming out, it is tempting to become desensitised to any new bad figures.

Indeed, some commentators do appear to be seizing on any bits of positive news so they can be the first ones to call recovery.

However, as tempting as it is, we are nowhere near the upturn. Within housing there have been recent rises in mortgage approvals and house prices.

Yet transactions have fallen to such depths that monthly changes are likely to be erratic and the increases have been high as percentage changes but high percentage changes but on low levels.

Homebuilders have been discounting heavily and once destocking has finished, we may expect a slight increase to match demand levels.

But these demand levels are still extremely low by historical standards and the bigger picture highlights a concerning story with construction expected to endure historic falls in 2009.

Macroeconomic forecasts keep being revised down each month that goes by despite government and central bank intervention.

With the fall in economic activity, and unemployment set to break the three million barrier by early 2010, construction is anticipated to fall further.

The latest output and new orders highlighted the worst falls since 1980 and 1983 respectively.

The Association’s latest forecasts published this week highlight a fall of 12 per cent for construction in 2009, the largest fall in construction output on record – and the records go back to 1955.

Private housing and industrial already fell in 2008 and are set to endure further falls this year.

Offices and retail are set to fall as private sector construction suffers a 20 per cent drop in 2009 alone.

Private housing starts are set to fall to 70,000 in 2009, the lowest figure since 1924 and contrasts sharply with 181,000 starts in 2007.

Prospects are that 2010 will not be much better and the Association anticipates starts of only 77,000.

Industrial properties also felt sharp falls following the economic slowdown and by the end of 2010, warehouses and factories construction are expected to be 50 per cent and 39 per cent lower respectively than in 2007.

The falls in offices and retail are just as shocking with expectations that by 2011, the new build offices market will be 56 per cent lower than in 2007 and retail new build will be 43 per cent lower in 2007.

Public growth

It is not all bad news, thankfully. Construction work driven by public funding such as education and rail is expected to grow significantly over the next five years.

On the rail side, the regulator has agreed funding with Network Rail at £28.5 billion between 2009 and 2014, which should provide consistent double-digit growth.

Programmes such as Building Schools for the Future, Building Colleges for the Future and Primary Capital Programme are helping education work but with public borrowing expected to reach unprecedented and unsustainable highs over the next few years, government spending will be cut in the medium term.

In the near term, Building Colleges for the Future has already experienced funding problems.

With the worst fall in construction on record anticipated this year, it is difficult to be anything other than pessimistic.

NHBC stats show private home starts are down 72pc

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

The NHBC’s latest housebuilding statistics show 14,537 applications to start new homes in the combined private and public sectors in the three months to February.

The applications are 59 per cent down on the same period a year earlier when 35,733 applications were made.

Of the 14,537 applications to start new homes, 7,931 related to private sector activity – 72 per cent lower than the 28,533 in the same three-month period a year ago.

Public sector figures for the three months to the end of February totalled 6,606 – 8 per cent lower than the 7,200 in the same period a year ago.

New build completions in the combined private and public sectors totalled 26,918 in the three months to the end of February – 32 per cent lower than the 39,499 in the same period a year ago.

The average number of daily sales of new homes in the UK from December 2008 to February 2009 was 333 – 37 per cent lower than the 525 a year earlier.

NHBC chief executive, Imtiaz Farookhi, said: “With the number of applications to start new homes in the public sector remaining broadly consistent in recent months, our statistics suggest that house builders are increasingly relying on public sector work in the downturn.”

The Housing Forum today called for a radical shake-up of housebuilding and planning priorities to better accommodate current market conditions and better insulate for future market recovery.

Unveiling the findings of its Reaching for Recovery report, the Forum highlighted the need to review funding and planning models, re-evaluate land value and quality standards and ultimately reinstate a stronger sense of realism about the short and long term challenges facing the house building industry.

The report summarises the findings of four cross-industry working groups to investigate several key areas of housing industry reform including.

Each group produced a set of proposals which will be further developed in collaboration with The Housing Forum members and taken to Government.

Housing Forum chairman Jeffrey Adams said: “The need to increase housing volumes and improve existing homes does not lessen in the wake of the financial crisis – rather the challenges and timescales for delivering reform simply become tighter and shorter.

Applications to build new homes up 10 per cent in the three months

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

The housebuilding industry has received a boost with applications to build new homes up 10 per cent in the three months to April, figures from the National Housebuilding Council have revealed.

The National Housebuilding Council statistics show 17,859 applications to build new homes were received in the three months to the end of April 2009.

The amount is 10 per cent higher than the previous rolling quarter January to March 2009 when 16,232 applications we received.

Some encouragement can be taken from April’s figures, which show applications to start new homes in the combined private and public sectors rose for the fourth successive month in a row to 6,379.

But activity levels during the three months to the end of April were still severely depressed, with a 53 per cent reduction compared to the same period a year ago.

NHBC chief executive Imtiaz Farookhi said: “While it is still too early to assume that these are definite signs of a recovery, some positive indicators are emerging which suggest that the severe downturn in house-building activity may be beginning to turn a corner.

“Anecdotal evidence from house-builders and developers also suggests that conditions are easing slightly on site, no doubt boosted by the Government’s recent £1 billion budgetary pledge to help the housing market and the Homes and Communities Agency’s (HCA) Kickstart initiative to open up mothballed sites.”

Schools ‘could do better’ on EPC ratings

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Details of Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) awarded to new schools reveal the majority of school buildings are not performing sustainably.

More than half of new schools obliged to report their energy performance via an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) are falling into the lower bands for asset efficiency, writes Roderic Bunn.

In response to a parliamentary question tabled by shadow climate change minister Gregory Barker, the schools minister Jim Knight revealed that 28 secondary schools and 64 primary schools had EPCs at the end of 2008. Of those 92 schools only 43 have performed in bands A-C (see table).


Source: Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF).
From October 2008 all public buildings with a floor area greater than 1000m2 are required to have an annual Display Energy Certificate (DEC) showing their energy performance. This obliges new schools built under Building Schools for the Future programme to have an EPC. This has to be followed by a DEC once 12 months energy data is available.

The certificate has to be publicly visible. Existing schools which are refurbished will also need to publicise their DEC ratings.

School buildings will require an Advisory Report providing recommendations for energy improvements each seven years.

In January, Jim Knight promised that efficiency band percentage splits for DECs will be made available “in the next two weeks”. However, at the time of writing the data were not available.

Both DECs and EPCs are recorded on a national register available at www.ndepcregister.com. An EPC or DEC certificate can only be retrieved if the unique Report Retrieval Number (RRN) is known. The database cannot be accessed by building name.

“Individual school energy data are kept confidential, and Communities and Local Government only receive aggregated data from the register,” explained Jim Knight.

“There are no plans to publish individual school energy data although many local authorities and schools hold these data themselves,” adding: “We do not keep records of whether schools have incurred penalties for non-compliance.”

This report is sourced from the BSRIA Website: http://www.bsria.co.uk/news/epc-schools

Further £60m allocated in higher education spending spree

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

More than £60 million of capital projects funding has been brought forward by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to help boost the building sector.

The money will be poured into 47 projects across 26 higher education institutions, with some stalled projects now able to start as soon as this month, HEFCE said.

Projects to be boosted by the funding include:

  • More than £14 million for projects at the Open University, for building science laboratories and refurbishing university buildings.
  • More than £3 million for a new Centre for Immunology and Infection at the University of York.
  • About £11 million to build a new Arts Academic building and to refurbish the library at the University of Sussex
  • Nearly £8 million to build the Van Geest Research Centre and to extend the sports centre at Nottingham Trent University.
  • More than £3 million for a new heating system at the University of Durham; and
  • About £15 million for the University of Oxford to build and improve book storage facilities and to construct a fourth floor at the Oxford Molecular Pathology Institute.

It is the second round of accelerated funding to be spent on higher education, with about £150 million spent in March on the first wave of projects.

HEFCE deputy chief executive Steve Egan said: “Through their quick responses to the two rounds of this programme, universities and colleges have demonstrated their determination to do their part in beating the recession. The capital projects, round the country, should make a real difference to local employment and the economy.”

Question: Who’s got the contract to design them?