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Managing a Workforce in National Mourning

Queen Elizabeth

John Burke Associates joins the country, if not the world, in mourning Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth III.  We would like to express our sincere condolences to the Royal Family during this sad time.  Our offices will be closed, and projects suspended on Monday, 19th September 2022, as a mark of respect as our Monarch is laid to rest.

Are Organisations Obliged to Close?

As RICS Chartered Surveyors we feel it is appropriate to take time to commemorate Her Majesty’s Reign. However, the Government has made it clear that there is “no obligation on organisations to suspend business during the National Mourning period”. Whilst this may be the case, we review the CLCs guidance in this blog as to what considerations you should take.

Location

The CLC urges organisations in the Central London area to consider potential site restrictions during the State Funeral. There is expected to be a large influx of people entering the capital to pay their respects. As such, there may be restrictions due to enhanced security, road closures and traffic issues, consequently causing site accessibility issues. Furthermore, local authorities within the area of Her Majesty the Queen’s Lying-in-State have instructed several construction sites not to carry out any noisy works or freight deliveries until Tuesday 20 September.

Reputation

Due to the nature of construction, any works within the capital could be seen as disruptive to gathering mourners. In an age of social media and instant communication, organisations are encouraged to consider the reaction to continued works. Some may perceive this as inappropriate or disrespectful to continue such works during a period of National Mourning.

Workforce

Another consideration you must make, is your workforce. Whilst it is clear there is no statutory entitlement to time off, workers may expect the opportunity to pay their respects. You must consider the moral implications of refusing them the right to do so.

Where Closure is Not Possible

It is accepted that certain parts of the industry where essential services are involved cannot cease work. In such circumstances the following guidance should be applied.

  • Use a common-sense approach to ensure that you are operating respectfully during this period
  • Consider staggering the start and end times of work on site
  • Minimise road movements of freight over the next week

For more information you can read the full guidance by clicking here

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth III | 1926 – 2022

Building Safety Act 2022

Building Safety Act 2022

The Building Safety Bill was granted Royal Assent on 28th April 2022. This means that whilst it may not deliver what everyone wants, it is a step in the right direction. This act aims to fundamentally change the way UK property is designed, built, and managed. Thus, closer to resolving the building safety crisis and giving leaseholders more protection. However, the bill comes with hundreds of clauses which require further clarification through secondary legislation.

RICS Response

RICS has released an article on their website which details their intended solutions to the concerns which surround the bill.  They continue to work constructively with Government, the Building Safety Regulator (BSR within HSE), BSI and industry to support the measures in the Building Safety Act to be implemented swiftly. We have summarised the points they have raised in the article below.

Timing & Clarification

It is imperative that organisations such as RICS who represent our profession (and others impacted by the act) can give their valuable input. The industry will need a clear brief from our government outlining the timeline going forward. This includes when the legislation will be ready and forewarning any consultations to be brought in. Therefore, allowing the industry to support it at pace.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

Whilst PII does not feature in the bill, RICS feel it is a vital component in the implementation of the Act. Currently, it seems the PII market is too weak to meet the requirements of the industry. This is a point RICS have pursued since late 2018 and continue to call out. They feel it needs delivery of the long-awaited Government EWS (External Wall Systems) PII scheme to support professionals that are carrying out external wall assessments. Furthermore, they also need the Government to intervene to find a solution for PII firms providing wider fire risk and building safety assessments and those carrying out remediation; and for all those involved in HRBs design, construction, and management.

Remediation Funding

RICS continues to support the Government to review holistic ways to fund the remediation programme. But ultimately up-front funding should be made available to leaseholders along with a clear timeline for remediation. Consequently, enabling mortgage lending, meaning sellers can sell, and buyers can proceed with confidence.

Click here to read more

Train to Become a Clerk of Works

What is the Role of a Building Inspector?

Are you a site supervisor or senior building tradesman looking to progress your career? Retraining to become a Clerk of Works or building inspector may be the next step. John Burke Associates can offer the right candidates with transferable competences, on-site mentoring. If you can answer yes to all the questions below, this could be the role for you.

Do you have experience in new build construction and/or remediation projects?

Do you hold a construction related qualification at ONC level or higher?

Do you need a new challenge or a change of career?

What is the Role of a Clerk of Works?

The role of a Clerk of Works is to provide independent third-party site inspection and is best suited to those with a vigilant approach to their duties. You will be responsible for the systematic inspection of construction work including the following.

  • Work carried out conforms with the drawings, specifications and British Standards etc.
  • Materials are measured, tested and comply to requirements
  • Anticipating and identifying potential problems, before they arise.
  • Ensuring clear communication to all parties.
  • Ensuring Health and safety guidance is adhered to.
  • Monitoring the project and compiling accurate and concise reports and records.
  • Highlighting variance in construction work, by means of sampling, benchmarking, testing and measuring.

The Benefits

Becoming a Clerk of Works or Site Inspector allows you to develop and diversify your construction skills. A change of pace from your usual duties whilst retaining a key role in the industry. You will be a self-employed consultant with a choice of full or part-time projects available. Therefore, allowing you to manage your own workflow.

What We Are Looking For

John Burke Associates requires building Clerk of Works and site inspectors in Greater London. We have both full and part-time projects across the Greater London and Home Counties regions. Such opportunities may suit experienced site supervisors or senior building tradesmen who have the relevant transferable competences. If you would like more information to train to become a Clerk of Works or Building Inspector contact Ian Carey for an informal chat.

Biodiversity Net Gain and Property Development

property developers

Biodiversity Net Gain and Property Development

In a bid to combat the climate crisis and restore nature within the built environment, property developers will soon be required to improve biodiversity. In November 2021, the government announced a landmark amendment to add biodiversity net gain to the new Environment Act 2021. This means that biodiversity net gain will become a mandatory part of the planning process. Furthermore, developers will be required to deliver a minimum 10% net gain in biodiversity.

What is Biodiversity Net Gain?

Biodiversity net gain also known as BNG, aims to preserve the natural environment in development as well as improving where permissible. The goal is to leave nature in a measurably better state than it was beforehand. Therefore, contributing to achieving the commitments made at COP26. The recent change in legislation means it will become a mandatory requirement as of Winter 2023.

How Will This Affect Property Developers?

Many property developers are already adopting the biodiversity net gain approach voluntarily or in line with local authority requirements. The proposed mandatory legislation would give more clarity and certainty of what is expected. As we are a quality and environmentally driven consultancy, we support our clients in achieving results in this area.

Have Your Say

While the Environment Act 2021 sets out the core components, the journey to implementation is an arduous one. Therefore, a crucial part of this journey is the DEFRA led consultation. It is essential this consultation receives feedback from all interested parties to understand how best to implement the legislation. The public consultation is now open and runs until 5th April 2022. The responses will help shape the success of BNG and develop secondary legislation and guidance for all.

 Do You Need More Advice?

John Burke Associates work with a varied and prestigious portfolio of clients across the UK. Our forward-thinking approach provides pro-active advice and cost-effective solutions. We are also certified under ISO 14001 as an Environmental Management Organisation. We continue to review our procedures for improving our environmental performance.

Positive News for Procurement

Digital Construction Week

Positive News for Procurement.

According to the latest PMI from IHS Markit-CIPS UK, 30% less construction companies are experiencing supplier delays. This is in comparison with the peak of 77% reporting delays in procurement of materials in June 2021. November’s report shows under half (47%) of companies are still experiencing extended waiting times for deliveries. Therefore, suggesting that supply times are improving, and we are out of the worst phase in procurement.

“A Glimmer of Hope”

This is all welcome news to an industry which has been plagued with supply issues. Whilst the rapid input price inflation continues, operating expenses are marked at its lowest for seven months. It appears staff shortages within the haulage industry continue to affect costs. Consequently, 72% which is about three quarters of those who responded to the survey, report an increase in purchase prices. However, 3% did cite a decline.

Commercial Construction on the Rise

The report also shows that the commercial construction sector is the best performing area. With the rebound in November resulting in the quickest level of output growth in four months. This upturn means that client spending continues in response to the reopening of the economy. With commercial construction leading the way to economic recovery through new projects. This in-turn counteracts the recent decline seen in the development of new housing.

 Is This the Light at the End of the Tunnel?

It’s important to remember that input price inflation continues to be very strong. Therefore, we are not out of the woods yet. But according to Tim Moore, director at IHS Markit they are starting to see a downward trend after the peak in summer. It is also important to bear in mind that this report predates the announcement of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Here at John Burke Associates, we remain optimistic that the road to recovery will continue. Furthermore, we will continue to monitor the guidance and practices in place from our governing bodies to keep our clients informed.

 

COP26 and Commercial Property

Commercial Property

COP26 and Commercial Property

Since the beginning of the pandemic the commercial property sector has had to adapt much of how it operates. In addition to transforming buildings to be safer, adaptable, and more autonomous, the focus is now on sustainability. Consequently, the demand for more eco-friendly space and green sustainable buildings is on the rise. According to The Q3 RICS Facilities Management (FM) Survey, workplace and relocation FM is likely to see its biggest growth this year. Therefore, it’s important we follow RICS guidance to transform traditions.

Supporting Green Developments

Both investors and occupants alike are favouring sustainable solutions when it comes to property. From smart homes to the materials used to build them, the future is very much green! We are seeing a growing trend of “green buildings” bringing in a higher premium in contrast with “non-green buildings.” Such premium is now driving the market towards more sustainable developments than ever before.

Decarbonising commercial buildings

The commercial property industry is currently responsible for around 39% of energy related CO2 emissions. Furthermore, as of March 2020, “nearly two-thirds of UK homes are still failing to meet long-term energy efficiency targets with the majority of buildings predating modern energy standards” (BBC). Therefore, it is vital the industry prioritises the decarbonisation of such commercial buildings to meet net-zero targets.

Adopting Innovation

Developers are being urged to adopt new innovative technologies to retrofit buildings. Technology such as Smart Grids allows us to collate information and allow cross-communication across components and central systems. Thus, making buildings more efficient. Furthermore, software such as Digital Twin uses sensors to collect real-time data to highlight inefficiencies in a building’s energy uses. Using such technologies will accelerate the decarbonisation of commercial buildings, therefore contributing to the UN’s SDGs.

The Future is Green!

The world must collaborate to work towards a greener planet. Consequently, the demand for eco-building and retrofitting will continue to increase. As RICS Chartered Surveyors we urge you to keep up to date with industry standards. There is a RICS Commercial Property Conference on the 6 – 8 December 2021, please click here if you wish to join.

Implementation of EV chargers into all new builds.

EV Charger

As the world moves towards a more sustainable future, the UK want to set themselves ahead of the rest. The UK’s transport minister describes it as a ‘race’, and, thus, there is set to be a mandate from next year. The new rule will see it compulsory that an (electric vehicle) EV charger is installed in all new build, commercial and domestic properties. Across the country, we are striving towards electrification but see an underwhelming lack of electric vehicle charging points.

See our blog about the effects of climate change here.

Why is it so important?

The UK has a number of ‘Net Zero Objectives’.  Most importantly, one of the goals is electrification. Therefore, by 2030, the sale of all (new) petrol and diesel vehicles will cease and only electric vehicles will be on the market.

Due to the increasing trend of purchasing electric vehicles, a high number of unsuitable charging points have been installed in homes across the country. To tackle this, the new mandate is likely to state to allow only ‘smart’ chargers.

What is a ‘Smart’ Charger?

Simply put, ‘Smart’ or ‘Intelligent’ charging is a process in which the charging point and the vehicle share information with one another. Ultimately, this allows the owner to remotely monitor the charging of the vehicle, as well as set up automations. This ensures that the power grid does not become over-loaded and that electric vehicles charge to the optimum level.

Some companies have even taken it one step further, attaching their smart chargers to solar and wind generation technology, therefore reducing the effect on the electric grid and further contributing to a more sustainable, carbon neutral country.

What Action Do We Need to Take?

PREPARE NOW. Next year may seem like an age away but careful implementation is key to the success of this movement. As businesses, we need to ensure that our staff remain educated with the most up-to-date information and processes. Now certainly is the time to start investing capital into sustainability and the installation of suitable EV charger stations. While there is not currently a list of government-approved smart chargers. We expect that it will be available in the nearby future.

 

Follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook to keep up-to-date with the progress of this movement!

Is the Zonal System to be Scrapped?

Zonal System

Is the Zonal System to be Scrapped?

Back in August 2020, Boris Johnston announced the biggest reform to the UK’s planning system since World War 2. The White Paper was set to shake up the whole system to allow developers to “build back better”. However, whilst the Government admit the planning system is broke, their plan to fix it appears to be failing. The newly appointed housing secretary Michael Gove wasted no time pausing the so-called radical reform. But where does this leave developers?   Is the new zonal system the first change to be made?

What Could Change?

There is no way of knowing what decisions the housing secretary will make, but rumour suggests a watered-down version of the reform. They know the planning system needs to change, but seemingly implementing such change is more challenging than expected. Especially, with ongoing protests from Tory back benchers and the public refusing to back the proposals.

Zonal System Proposal

A key proposal was the new “zonal” system which separated land into three categories: Growth, Renewal and Protection. The system intended to speed up the planning process to enable development to come forward quicker. To all intents and purposes, a green light for property developers. However, due to the opposition during the consultation period the rumour is they could scrap this proposal.

What Happens Next?

With a target of building 300,000 new homes in the next year looming, the question is, what next? Unfortunately, the fact that nobody knows means that reaching that target is unlikely. Many foresee a hiatus in development until the government provides a resolution to a broken planning system. All we know is that something needs to happen and soon.

In Conclusion

The construction industry like many others is facing the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, such as the materials shortage. However, developers eagerly awaiting Michael Gove’s announcement may have to wait a little longer. The Government’s has pushed back their response to the consultation, initially due in Spring 2022 we can now expect it in Autumn.

Why is there a Shortage of Materials?

materials shortage

Why is there a Shortage of Materials?

In recent months the shortage of materials has become a widespread issue across the construction industry. Many trades have been affected by the reduction in supply, from SMEs to large contractors. Which in turn has caused prices to increase by 14.7% in comparison to last year! A trend which does not seem to be improving any time soon. Furthermore, in just one month the prices rose by 2.2% from May to June this year. Therefore, it is possible the prices will continue to increase as suppliers struggle to meet demand. In this month’s blog we look at the possible causes.

What Materials Have Been Affected?

There is a wide range of materials which have become increasingly difficult to source without inflating price tags. Whilst circumstances will differ from material to material, most shortages are forecast to last throughout 2021. Materials including:

  • Concrete
  • Timber
  • Bricks and Blocks
  • Steel
  • Roof Tiles
  • Paint and Sealant
  • Plumbing Items
  • Electrical Components
  • Plaster & Plasterboard
  • PIR Insulation
  • Aggregates
  • PE & PP Plastics

What is Causing the Shortages?

There is a combination of factors contributing to the shortage in supply of such materials and consequently the inflation of prices. These factors include:

Covid-19 Pandemic.

The pandemic is a big contributing factor to the lack of building materials available. From staff shortages in both warehouse and haulage to border closures, it is arguably the leading cause of diminishing supplies.

Brexit

Since leaving the EU, exports to the UK are subject to long delays. This is due to issues such as the Declaration of Conformity making it difficult for manufacturers to keep up to date. This causes further delays in exportation.

Increase in Demand

In June 2020, the Prime Minster Boris Johnston announced the most radical reforms to our planning system since WW2. With the aim to make it easier to build better homes where people want to live. This gave the green light to many developers and homeowners alike, to begin construction work. As such, demand for materials increased rapidly.

How We Can Help

Employing Project Managers and/or Employers Agents for your project negates the burden of such scenarios. Here at John Burke Associates we pride ourselves in creating and maintaining effective communication channels for our clients. We can also provide Interim payment Certificates for valuations of works and materials on and off site. To discover our full portfolio of services please browse our website.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021

Mental Health Awareness

Mental Health Awareness Week runs from the 10th – 16th May 2021.

Lockdown and social distancing measures have been easing over the past few months. We have highlighted in our previous blogs the importance of focusing on your own and your employees mental health during this time. Worries about work and home life, your own or your families physical and mental health can all take a toll on your mental health.

The Mental Health Foundation

For this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, the Mental Health Foundation is focusing on how connecting or re-connecting with nature can improve our mental health. Their study on mental health during the pandemic reported that 45% of us found being in green spaces, surrounded by nature was a key coping strategy.

Nature is Everywhere

Connecting with nature does not have to involve elaborate hikes through mountains and valleys. Simple things such as a walk through your local park or listening to birdsong can vastly improve our mental health.

If you are physically able to do so, exercising outdoors is a great idea. Physical exercise increases levels of endorphins in your body. Doing this outside is not only linked to reducing stress, anxiety and depression, but it can also help with feelings of social isolation.

Never Suffer Alone

Mind – Mind is a mental health charity that offers free advice on mental health.

You can contact them on their info line on 0300 123 3393, Mon-Fri 9am-6pm.  Alternatively you can email them on info@mind.org.uk

Young Minds – Young Minds is a charity that focuses on young people’s mental health. It is there to offer support to young people, as well as their parents and guardians. A young person can text YM to 85258 for urgent support from a trained volunteer.

Samaritans – Samaritans is mental health charity that free offers support over the phone, or using an online web-chat 24/7 365 days a year. They are available by calling 116 123.