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UK Experiencing a Big Shed Boom!

I am sure you are aware of the downturn in business for our High Street retailers as every month we seem to lose a nationwide name. However, the increase in online shopping has had one positive effect on the construction industry – an increase in demand for sheds!

Of course, I am not referring to the wooden construction at the bottom of your garden but the huge warehouses that feature on our out of town industrial parks. It is estimated that some £3 billion will be spent this year building big warehousing to service the online retail industry.

Construction Analysist Barbour ABI have concluded that in the first three quarters of 2018 £2.2 billion worth of construction contracts were for warehousing, an increase of £800 million on 2016 figures.

Michael Dall is the lead economist for Barbour ABI and he is quoted on The Construction Index website as saying “Since the start of the decade, the UK has seen ever increasing numbers of warehouses being constructed as firms re-aligned their offer to meet the increasing propensity of consumers to shop online. From fashion to food, the need for more storage space to deliver to customers quickly and efficiently has resulted in a boom for warehousing construction.”

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The World’s Smallest Skyscraper!

I am not advocating anyone getting involved in a scam but if you watch and enjoy programmes and films such as BBC’s Hustle, The Usual Suspects or The Sting then you’ll love this true story.

Back in 1919 skyscrapers were all the rage in America and an enterprising contractor called J D McMahon announced he was going to build one in the booming town of Wichita Falls in Texas.

He managed to raise funds of $200,000, estimated at nearly £3 million today, but the completed Newby-McMahon Building stood just 40ft tall. How did he manage to fool his investors into parting with their hard earned cash?

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Carillion Crisis – the Threat to Small Businesses!

I fear that the fallout following the collapse of Carillion, the UK’s second largest construction company, will be felt throughout the industry with many small businesses severely hit.

The problem is simple; if Carillion’s suppliers do not get paid then they will struggle to keep going and the worry is that many will go bust.

Speaking to New Civil Engineer, Specialist Engineering Contractors’ (SEC) Group chief executive Rudi Klein said “There are millions of pounds of unpaid payments to the supply chain. I know lots of SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) are concerned about whether they’re going to get paid, and whether they’re going to get their retentions back.”

New Civil Engineer also quoted the chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses Mike Cherry.  “It is vital that Carillion’s small business suppliers are paid what they are owed, or some of those firms could themselves be put in jeopardy, putting even more jobs at risk besides those of Carillion’s own employees”, he said, adding that some suppliers had been kept waiting four months for payment of bills.

He added “When the dust settles on this sorry saga, there is also a wider lesson to learn about the concentration of public contracts in the hands of a small number of very big businesses.”

Formal inquiries into the affair have already been announced and the one good thing which may come out of it is a complete shake up of the procurement process in the construction industry and better protection for SMEs involved in the supply chain.

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How Engineering Combats the Cold Snap

You may think it is cold here in Gloucestershire, with a smattering of snow making things look very seasonal, but other parts of the UK have been experiencing extreme weather conditions.  Luckily civil engineering teams throughout the country have leapt into action.

•    The West Midlands saw nearly 100,000 homes without power overnight on Monday.  By mid-morning Tuesday, however, Western Power Distribution had fully restored supply to 99,500 customers.  Their engineering teams continued to work throughout the day dealing with incidents such as fallen trees bringing down power lines.

•    Highways England had teams working round the clock to keep motorways and major A roads clear.  The gritting lorries were spreading brine as this activates salt more quickly.  They used modern technology such as weather stations and road condition data to correctly assess the mix amounts of brine and salt needed for different road and weather conditions.

•    The snow saw rail services affected, particularly in the West Midlands, and there were several incidents of trees falling onto tracks.  However, Network Rail soon had teams in action clearing snow as well as deploying cold weather vehicles and specialist machines such as snow and ice treatment trains fitted with snow ploughs, hot-air blowers, steam jets, brushes, scrapers and heated track de-icer.

All-in-all I think you would agree that the country was kept moving, thanks to these dedicated people.  A Merry Christmas to them and to you all from the team here at Regency Construction.

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Considering Commercial Conversions

I think we are all aware that these days it is pretty essential that any commercial business premises should be flexible.  In fact modern buildings are designed to be readily adaptable and easily converted to a variety of uses.

We here at Regency Construction have many years of experience in carrying out conversions in existing commercial and industrial premises throughout Gloucestershire and we can fulfil even the most complicated contracts.  

It may be a humble warehouse, for example, but it still needs a smart reception area for visitors, sound proof offices for administrators and senior staff, a good-sized meeting room and clear, well-lit space for the sharp end of the business.  You will find that the same applies to nearly all commercial premises.  

Here are some examples of typical conversion or refurbishment projects we have carried out in commercial premises:

•    Creating reception areas
•    Installing or moving existing office partitioning
•    Installing suspended ceilings
•    Office refurbishments
•    Toilet block refits to include showers and washing facilities

If your business needs to reconfigure its existing accommodation or add some new features, contact Regency Contracting on 01452 372229 to discuss your requirements or take a look around our website: www.regencycontracting.co.uk to view plenty of examples of our work.

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Road Electrification to Follow Rail?

Following on from last month’s article about self-driving trucks reaching our roads it seems that electrification may be close behind them.

It has been proposed that some of the busiest freight road networks be fitted with overhead gantries and catenary systems, similar to those used for electric trains.  Trucks could then be fitted with pantograph systems to allow them to run.

The advantages of such systems are the significant increases in efficiency and the carbon savings switching to electric away from fossil based fuels.  Noise will also be reduced as electric trucks are practically silent when running.

Trials have already taken place on 2km and 5km stretches of public road in Los Angeles, Germany and Sweden.  The trucks used in these countries are hybrids, capable of switching between traditional fuel and electric.  Battery powered trucks are also under consideration.

A full field trial of the design phase is due to take place in Germany in the latter part of 2018.

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Self-Driving Trucks on UK Roads in 2018!

I read with interest a recent government announcement that self-driving trucks will be running on major UK roads by the end of next year.

These trials will form part of an £8.1 million scheme to test the feasibility of what is known as ‘truck platooning’.  The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) will oversee the scheme which will see as many as three autonomous HGVs running in close formation.

Each vehicle will have a human driver on board able to take control in case of any emergency.

The government believe that truck platooning will be for the benefit of both businesses and road users.  Having the vehicles running in close formation means the lead truck pushes the air out of the way for those following, reducing fuel consumption and emissions.   It is also claimed that traffic congestion will be reduced.

Not everyone is convinced, however.  AA President Edmund King, for instance, said “Platooning may work on the miles of deserted freeways in Arizona or Nevada but this is not America”.

The Road Haulage Association also expressed concerns.  Their Chief Executive, Richard Burnett, said “of course we welcome improvements to the way the road freight industry works and we understand the benefits that such a mode of operation would bring.

“However, currently the focus seems to be on the technology behind the system. Safety has to come first and it cannot be compromised. It is crucial that this element of the concept gets the highest priority.”

I will be watching developments carefully.

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Your Permitted Development Rights Part 3

This is final part of my article about Permitted Development, following on from my blogs of the last two months.  

This time I am considering outbuildings.

Outbuildings – Permitted Development:

•    It is permitted to construct any type of outbuilding for the use and enjoyment of the home as long as they do not cover a total of more than 50% of the garden space. In Scotland this is area is reduced to 30%.
•    In Wales and Northern Ireland any outbuildings closer to the house than 5m are deemed to be extensions. In Scotland any outbuildings larger than 4m² and closer to the dwelling than 5m are counted as extensions.
•    Outbuildings must only be single storey and have a maximum ridge height of 4m for a pitched roof or 3m for any other type of roof. The eaves height must be no more than 2.5 metres.
•    If the outbuilding is closer to the boundary than 2m then it should be no higher than 2.5m.
•    No outbuilding can be constructed in front of the original dwelling. In Wales and Northern Ireland this applies unless the resulting building would be more than 20m from the road.

If you are considering any such improvements or conversions in the Gloucester area, do give me a call on 01452 372229 and I’ll be happy to chat through your ideas.

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Your Permitted Development Rights Part 2

This is a follow up to my blog last month about Permitted Development.  This time I am looking at extensions.

Extensions – Permitted Development:

•    You can extend a detached dwelling by 8m to the rear if it is single storey or 3m for a double storey.
•    Semi-detached and terraced homes can be extended up to 6m to the rear of the property if single storey.
•    There are height restrictions but essentially a single storey extension should not be higher than 4m to the ridge and the eaves, and ridge heights of any extension should not be higher than the existing property.
•    Two storey extensions must not be closer than 7m to the rear boundary.
•    It must be built in the same or similar material to the existing dwelling.
•    Extensions must not go forward of the building line of the original dwelling.
•    Side extensions must be single storey with a maximum height of 4m and a width of no more than half of the original building.
•    In Designated Areas side extensions require planning permission and all rear extensions must be single storey.
•    An extension must not result in more than half the garden being covered.
•    You can only do it once and the original building is either as it was on 1st July 1948 or when it was built.

Next month I will take a look at how Permitted Development affects outbuildings.

If you are considering any such improvements or conversions in the Gloucester area, do give me a call on 01452 372229 and I’ll be happy to chat through your ideas.

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Your Permitted Development Rights

As you may be aware, there are certain developments that you can carry out on your home that do not require planning consent.

General Development Planning Orders (GDPOs) give implied planning consent for certain classes of development.  Different rules apply in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

There are strict criteria that apply to Permitted Development and it is advisable to take professional advice or check with your local authority that the work you plan is permitted.  These days many local authorities offer a consultancy service for a small fee.

An important date to bear in mind is 1948.  Any development carried out to a property since then is deemed to count towards the Permitted Development for that property.  So what can be done?

 The rear wall of a detached property may be extended up to 8m in depth with a single storey extension, subject to neighbour consultation.  This is reduced to 6m for a semi-detached or terraced house.

If you intend a two storey extension which is no higher than the house, this can project up to 3m from the original rear wall, so long as it is at least 7m from the rear boundary.

With the exception of conservatories, any new extension must be built of materials of similar appearance to and with the same roof pitch as the main house.

In addition Permitted Development covers these improvements:
•    Adding a porch
•    Carrying out internal alterations
•    Installing or erecting antenna or satellite dishes
•    Converting a loft space
•    Installing solar panels
•    New doors and windows

Next month I will take a look at how Permitted Development affects extensions and outbuildings.

If you are considering any such improvements or conversions in the Gloucester area, do give me a call on 01452 372229 and I’ll be happy to chat through your ideas.

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Converting Buildings for Housing

If you want to set about converting a residential home from a building originally intended for an entirely different purpose, then there are a number of problems to be considered and overcome. The results, however, can be stunningly beautiful.

I am talking about converting buildings such as barns, churches, schools or commercial buildings here. One crucial step is to obtain the detailed planning permission for your project. You cannot just assume that you will be allowed to convert an old barn, for example. Other factors that need to be considered are whether the building is listed or within a conservation area.

This need not prevent conversion but may well lead to stringent restrictions on what you can and can’t do. You may need to maintain the existing exterior design, for example. You will need to have a detailed survey of the building carried out.

This should be done by a building surveyor who is a corporate member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). An architect may also need to be involved in drawing up relevant plans.

Here is a brief look at some of the different properties you might consider, together with some of their specific problems.

Barn Conversions – building new residential properties in the countryside is covered by strict planning rules and regulations. A
s a result, barn conversions are increasingly popular and are often covered by Permitted Development. There are some requirements that need to be adhered to with barn conversions. The existing roof line needs to be maintained, for example, so no dormer windows are allowed.

Industrial Building Conversions – if you are looking for properties to convert in an urban environment you might consider industrial buildings. These can be anything from factories, pubs and warehouses to old railway buildings, fire stations and even disused petrol stations. It is often possible to incorporate design features such as unique door ironmongery, external staircases and traditional stone flooring to create a distinctive personality for your property.

Church Conversions – redundant churches can provide conversions that are both surprising and unusual. Converting a church will present distinct design issues, however. Local planners will be unlikely to approve external alterations to any major extent and will want the original character of the building preserved through retention of existing doors and windows.

If you are considering such a conversion project in the Gloucester area, do give me a call on 01452 372229 and I’ll be happy to chat through your ideas.

Commercial and Civil Engineering Grow as Housebuilding Slows!

Britain’s construction industry eased back during March as housebuilding dropped off.  However, the sector was boosted by an increase in commercial and civil engineering activity.

South West Business reported that Tim Moore, senior economist at HIS Markit, was concerned about the construction industry falling victim to a general cooling down of the UK housing market.

However, he said that “Civil engineering projects were the construction sector’s main growth engine in March, driven by rising infrastructure spending and a strong pipeline of new work throughout the UK.”  

He went on to say that “March data showed a slight rebound in commercial construction activity.”  Construction firms seem to be more confident about the future as anxiety about Brexit subsides and the economic data continues to be robust.

Half of the companies surveyed predicted an increase in business over the coming twelve months with less than 10% fearing a decline.  

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Budget Boosts Midlands Transport Funding!

I was pleased to see that transport infrastructure in the Midlands was given a financial boost in the recent Budget.  The area will receive some £23 million to improve conditions.

The main thrust of Chancellor Philip Hammond’s speech was to improve the UK’s productivity growth.  He sees this as the only sustainable way to raise our current living standards.  Productivity is currently below the G7 average.

His two pronged attack to increase productivity is to invest heavily in training and infrastructure.  A key element of the Autumn Statement last November was the investment of £23 billion in infrastructure innovation.  This included £27 million to develop an expressway linking Cambridge and Oxford.

Hammond’s latest Budget has confirmed £90 million for the North and £23 million for the Midlands specifically to address pinch points on the national roads network.

The Department of Transport is expected to announce details of individual schemes in the near future.

Other infrastructure investment announcements included £270 million to ensure the UK stays at the forefront of technologies such as biotechnology, robotics and driver-less vehicles, £16 million for a new 5G technology hub and £200 million for local projects to improve full-fibre broadband networks.

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Regency Are Certified!

I am pleased to announce that Regency Contracting have passed an independent inspection of our work carried out by the British Board of Agrèment on behalf of the Federation of Master Builders.

Now the first question you are going to ask is am I sure I have the spelling right for “Agrèment”.  The second will be what does that mean?

The answer to the first question is “yes” because that is what it says on the certificate I have in front of me.  As to the meaning, the Collins English Dictionary defines it as “formal approval for a construction project to proceed”.

 The Federation of Master Builders is a not-for-profit organisation which has been operating for over 75 years.  It is dedicated to supporting continuous improvement in building standards.

To gain a certificate from them a company has to undergo an independent inspection and that is where the British Board of Agrèment is involved.  

The sign of the Federation of Master Builders is recognised as meaning that you can trust the company displaying it.  It shows that the company has complied with the strict membership criteria as well as committing to a stringent code of practice.  If anything should go wrong their government approved disputes service can refer the issue to independent mediation.

As far as Regency Construction is concerned it is yet another sign of our commitment to providing the best possible service to our clients.  Do give us a call on 01452 372229 to find out what we can do for you.

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Smart Motorways Get Moving – At Last!

I notice that Highways England has awarded a total of £9.7m for new smart motorway schemes.

The idea behind smart motorways is to take a technology driven approach to motorway driving.  The aim is to increase traffic capacity whilst relieving congestion and maintaining safety standards.  

To do this the hard shoulder is incorporated for traffic use, either permanently or during peak periods, creating an additional lane and so increasing capacity.  This so-called ‘all lane running system’ has attracted some criticism on safety grounds.
Improved technology allows these traffic management methods:

•    Changing speed limits to smooth traffic flow, reducing the frustration of stop-start driving.  
•    Activating warning signs alerting drivers to hazards and traffic jams.
•    Closing lanes to allow, for instance, access for emergency vehicles.

There has been criticism that the government has been slow in providing the funding for the changes but the recent announcement by Highways England seems to have answered that.  

The motorways affected are M3, M6, M27, M60 and M62.

Raising a Laugh (and Charity Funding) with Civil Engineering!

Some will say that engineering isn’t a laughing matter but I’m not sure they are right.  To support my claim seven engineers recently took to the stage at a London venue and put on an engineering themed evening of comedy.

The show was called Engineering Showoff and was part of the Science Showoff initiative.  It is sponsored by the Royal Academy of Engineering and has seen over 500 people take to the stage in the last four years to promote and communicate science in a variety of different ways.

Steve Cross is a scientist and engineer and compered the evening.  He also provided training for the engineers on stagecraft and performance.  Each of the engineers prepared a routine on topics of their choosing which ranged from civil engineering to breaking the land speed record in America.

Philippa Jefferis was the engineer who chose civil engineering and delivered a hilarious history of the subject.  She commented that “friends who came, who have no connection with engineering, were telling me afterwards how interesting as well as funny they found the night and that they’d actually learnt something.”

The proceeds from the event went to the engineering charity Engineers Without Borders.  Further events are planned for Cambridge and Bristol.

I can’t guarantee to have you rolling in the aisles but I can confirm that Regency Contracting is one of Gloucestershire’s most experienced construction companies.  Contact us on 01452 372229 to discuss your requirements with no obligation or explore their website: www.regencycontracting.co.uk

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World’s Tallest Dam Under Construction!

I was interested to learn that construction work has begun on what will be the tallest dam in the world.

Situated on the Varkesh River in Tajikistan, the dam will be 335m high and is part of the Rogun hydropower project (HPP).  When it is complete it will double the power production in the country.

At a cost of some $3.9bn (£3.1bn), it involves diverting the river using a colossal 74M.m3 of earth and rock.
The Rogun HPP is needed to counter the power outages that frequently occur during winter months.  It will also help the development of local agriculture by allowing a more efficient irrigation system.

The biggest impact of the scheme, however, is likely to be the sale of excess energy produced to neighbouring countries with Pakistan and Afghanistan both showing firm interest.

The completion of the first phase is expected by April 2019 with the whole project scheduled to take a further seven and a half years.

While we haven’t tackled anything on that scale (yet), Regency Contracting is renowned as one of Gloucestershire’s most experienced construction companies.  Contact us on 01452 372229 to discuss your requirements with no obligation or explore our website: www.regencycontracting.co.uk

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Choose Regency for your Civil Works

Civil works is the name given to a variety of important construction projects which include road building, bridge construction, installing water supply and distribution all the way up to laying airport runways and dock workings.  It can also cover more minor but still vitally important projects such as the groundworks of domestic and industrial buildings.

Regency Contracting has been undertaking civil works on numerous projects, both large and small over a number of years.
Our extensive range of civil work services includes:

•    Concreting
•    Drainage
•    Foundations
•    General groundworks
•    Hard landscaping
•    Structural concreting

Here at Regency Contracting we pride ourselves on being able to tackle any project, no matter how large or small.  We are always happy to discuss your requirements with no obligation on your part.

Follow this link to see photos of some of the many civil work projects Regency Contracting have been involved with and contact us on 01452 372229 to discuss your requirements.


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“Today I Shall Be Working in the Garden!”

More and more of us are working from home these days. However, it isn’t always practical to use a room in the house. You may need peace and quiet or you may disturb others with your racket! If you’ve got a reasonably sized garden, however, you could always have a garden room built.
A lot of people will immediately think ‘shed’, but these days’ garden rooms are so much more than that. They can incorporate electricity, plumbing, heating and air conditioning. They are also suitable for a variety of uses.

The most popular is as an office, especially as so many more people are becoming self-employed and working from home. Home offices are the most popular choices for garden rooms for working but they are by no means the only uses.

The room could just as easily be used as a studio or workshop. So why not consider having a garden room built. Regency Contracting is one of Gloucestershire’s most experienced and trustworthy builders, and would be happy to discuss your requirements and designs.
Give us a call on 01452 372229 for a chat or explore our website: www.regencycontracting.co.uk to view plenty of examples of their work.

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Commercial Conversions and Refurbs

I am sure I am not the only person aware of the speed with which modern buildings are adapted and converted to other uses. This year’s warren of partitioned offices is next year’s open plan boardroom and chairman’s office.

I am proud to say that Regency Construction has great experience in carrying out conversions in existing commercial and industrial premises throughout Gloucestershire. We can fulfil even the most complicated contracts.

In the modern age it is essential that business premises are flexible. It may be a humble warehouse but it still needs a smart reception area for visitors, sound proof offices for administrators and senior staff, a good-sized meeting room and clear, well-lit space for the sharp end of the business. The same applies to most commercial premises.

These are some examples of typical conversion or refurbishment projects we have carried out:

• Installing or moving existing office partitioning
• Creating reception areas
• Installing suspended ceilings
• Office refurbishments
• Toilet block refits to include showers and washing facilities

If your business needs to reconfigure its existing accommodation or add some new features, contact Regency Contracting, one of Gloucestershire’s most experienced and trustworthy builders, on 01452 372229 to discuss your requirements or explore our website: www.regencycontracting.co.uk to view plenty of examples of our work.