Bring the Outside In With Bifolding Doors

Add Light and Life to Your Home All Year Round

With the Christmas and New Year celebrations behind us, many people’s thoughts are already turning towards spring and any DIY projects that have been lurking in the backs of minds will be pushed closer to the forefront.

Of course, if we have learned one thing in recent years it is that winter often saves its most brutal weather for late January and February, so we are probably not out of the woods yet. However, the addition of sliding or bi folding doors is one of the most efficient upgrades you can make to your home, and will immediately start paying dividends, whatever surprises the English climate might have in store over the coming weeks.

Make your home light and spacious

January can seem like the most depressing of months. In part, it is down to the post-festive hangover, both literal and figurative, but there are also physical and medical factors in play. Reduced daylight hours affect our serotonin levels – this is the neuro transmitter that contributes to feelings of happiness and well being. Installing bi folding doors makes the room feel bigger and more airy, while allowing you to take advantage of every bit of natural light – even if the rain is thundering down or the snow is piling up in the garden.

Enjoy the spectacle

That image of extreme weather does have a certain majesty to it – as long as you are not stuck outside in it seeking shelter! There’s nothing quite like being safe and warm indoors and watching nature in all its forms through a glass window with a cup of coffee in your hand. Glass doors turn your back garden into an ever changing source of wonder at the marvels of nature. You’ll wish you had installed them years ago!

Take advantage of outstanding thermal efficiency

If you grew up in the mid to late 20th century, you will probably remember a time when glass doors were the last thing you wanted to have in winter, and conservatories were frozen no-go zones for half the year. How times have changed. Today’s bi folding doors are made of modern glass that has awe inspiring thermal efficiency. As a result, many people actually find their domestic heating bills go down after they have installed them!

Adding style and value

Bi folding doors can add benefits and savings to your home from the moment they are installed. But that is only half the story. They also add tangible value to your house that will immediately deliver a return on investment if and when you decide to sell. The fact is that every potential buyer has doors and windows near the top of his check list when viewing a potential new home. Not only will modern bi folding doors give your property a sophisticated air that makes it stand out from the neighbours, but also that thermal efficiency will really come to the fore when the estate agent produces your home energy certificate.

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Retrofitting Existing Street Lights With LED Can Save Money

Newer lighting tech drastically reduces energy use and emissions

Amongst the various concerns governments and environmentalists have regarding saving energy and reducing emissions, street lighting burning electricity every evening and increasing our carbon footprint is a key concern.

An alternative lighting technology to the common and very old sodium lighting type widely used is LED, and more areas UK and world-wide are embracing it.

The energy and environmental lighting issue

The widely used sodium lighting in our towns and cities is, by modern standards, expensive and inefficient and costs many cities and towns an average of 40% of their total electricity bill.

Costs are further increased through their need to be replaced on average every three to six years so making for a hefty maintenance bill for local authorities.

Governments are setting high energy use and emissions targets that older lighting technology simply can’t meet, so LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting is seen as the way forward.

Many local authorities have moved at least part of the way over to LED with lighting conversion programmes in full swing (see below) with more to follow with street lighting specialists finding themselves being booked years ahead to do the work.

LED – cheaper and more efficient

LED lighting is becoming increasingly popular and widespread thanks to its energy efficiency and longevity; it’s becoming more common in automotive applications as more cars and other vehicles sport LED lights, and many homes and businesses now have at least some LED lighting.

LED offers a number of benefits:

  • Long life – LED lights last around 20-25 years compared to just three to six for conventional lighting so saving on replacement and maintenance costs
  • More focussed – LED lights are more focused so improving night visibility and reducing light spillage
  • Low energy consumption – saving power and emissions
  • Safer – LED lights don’t contain toxic materials such as lead and mercury
  • Vast cost savings – energy bills and maintenance costs could reduce by as much as 90%
  • More robust – LED lights are more durable and robust than older lighting types

How much can LED help save money and reduce emissions?

The short answer is ‘considerably.’ Both in the UK and worldwide significant benefits have already been seen with LED lighting conversions:

  • In Boston, USA, the city saves some $2.8 million (£2.1 million) each year in electricity having converted 40% of its street lights in 2012. When taking into account reduced maintenance costs the ‘break even’ point was reached around three years later.
  • In Portsmouth the majority of street lights are being replaced with LED; savings are expected to be around £400,000 per year with a 40% reduction in energy used.
  • In Brighton, an LED street light replacement project began in 2017 to replace 18,000 lights; the expected energy savings are in the region of £200,000 per year with a projected energy consumption and carbon emissions reduction of just over 60%.
  • In Manchester, the City Council commenced a project to replace the city’s 56,000 street lights with LED tech. When completed in 2020, the savings are likely to in the region of £1.7 million per year with emissions reductions of 7,500 tonnes.

Further savings and emissions reductions necessary

Although LED lighting clearly saves considerably on energy use and reduces emissions considerably, in itself this won’t be enough to meet strict energy consumption and emissions targets.

In order to boost savings and reduce emissions, LED lighting will combine with tech such as AI (Artificial Intelligence) and IoT (Internet of Things) to create ‘intelligent’ street lighting such as this Future Cities demonstration project in Glasgow .

This tech can control when lighting is switched on and off, when it’s dimmed, how much it’s dimmed by, and alter lights through using motion sensors to detect movement and activity and switch lighting on or brighten it when needed.

This will help not only make for more useful lighting for various situations (for example lights coming on in daylight when there’s heavy fog) but contribute to more cost savings and reduced emissions.

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Why You Need a Topographical Survey for Your New Development

Large projects, such as new housing developments, can often be costly affairs; therefore, it is imperative that the planning stages are meticulous and well thought out. A topographical survey is the very first part of the development process, and is the foundation in which your new project will stand.


Transforming sketches

Knowing what is on the land is vital, especially if you want your development to proceed without incident. A thorough topographical survey is like a window into the future, providing a vision on how your empty site will transform into a stunning new development.

Everything needs to be planned out, such as where drainage pipes will be placed and where to build foundations for a flat surface. Topographical surveys give developers the data they need in order to make the right decision the first time.

Saving time and money

The right information from a survey will allow planners and architects to foresee any problems that may lie ahead due to the way the land sits. The knowledge before the project can save time and money, as they can work their plans around the findings in the survey, rather than encountering issues half way through a build.

Everything from road markings through to maximum building heights and alignment can be included in a survey for a developer to work with, making a topographical survey an indispensable part of any successful project.

How a topographical survey works

Topographical surveys are conducted in one of two ways; either conventionally or aerially.

Conventional surveys are the most popular; they are carried out by land surveyors who look at the surface of the land and are generally still conducted in a manual fashion, despite the advances in topographical surveying technology.

Aerial surveys however are done by taking photographs of the land from the air. Two overlapping photos are looked at together to form a stereo pair that allow surveyors to see the ground’s surface from two different vantage points. This gives the surveyor a greater sense of depth than is possible with a single photo.

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Why Do Construction Companies Require Marine Plant?

Many cities in Britain have changed beyond recognition since the industrial revolution, leaving behind their industrial pasts and resulting in a greater demand for housing for the continually growing populations.

As a result, this has required the regeneration of many inner city areas close to the rivers and waterways which can often be challenging locations for construction companies to operate in. To meet the increased demand for housing and infrastructure projects, marine plant such as barges, have become more important to the construction industry in providing over-water access to otherwise hard to reach areas of our cities.

Marine plant hire has become crucial to many construction companies to support the delivery of their projects, barges are used for a variety of tasks throughout the project from the initial site investigation works, overwater piling, personnel access, crane platforms and materials delivery.

Transporting equipment and material by river or sea reduces the construction traffic to many of the project sites, which reduces congestion and pollution in our busy cities. Supply barges are used on the River Thames to remove spoil materials from the many tunneling projects that are underway to discharge sites outside of London. This material is being used for regenerating wetlands and recreating saltmarshes for the wildlife along the Thames Estuary. The construction materials are then transported back up the river to the sites, this use of the river as a major transport route reduces thousands of HGV movements every year as the barges can carry hundreds of tons of material in a single movement

Jack up barges have legs which reach down to the sea or river bed so that the barge can be lifted out of the water. The platform is then stable, level and not affected by the tidal movement. A floating barge will move with the water and rise and fall with the tide. Jack up barges can also be used on the inland waterways where a stable fixed platform is required for projects where heavy lift cranes are required

At Battersea a 400t deck load jack-up barge was used to provide a stable working platform for a 160 tonne crane to complete the piling works, driving 28m long steel tubes into the riverbed. These piles will be used to hold the new pier extension in place at Battersea, which will allow TFL to operate improved riverboat transport links from the area into central London for commuters and tourists.

Marine plant hire is essential for projects such as these to solve the issues such as access, the lack of suitable shore side working compounds and to allow the safe delivery of many of these projects. Aside from jack-up barges, there is an extensive range marine plant that may also be used, flat top barges, jack-up barges, modular pontoons, workboats and various bespoke items of plant

Although ideal for coastal and city redevelopment, the versatility of marine plant means it is used in many different sectors from marine construction through to the offshore renewables industry, where it is used to service the operations and maintenance on the offshore wind farms.

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When Do Your Employees Need SMSTS Refresher Training?

Certification lasts for five years, but refresher training is recommended every three years.

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme is an industry recognised course that ensures compliance with all today’s legislative Health and Safety demands.

Statistics recently released by the Health and Safety Executive confirmed what the construction industry has intuitively known for some time – that the UK is a world leader in the implementation of Health and Safety practices.

Inevitably, this laudable position has not come about without significant legislation. The construction industry is statistically the most high-risk profession in terms of employee injuries, and is regulated accordingly. It is, therefore, particularly important that businesses working in this sector understand and comply with the rules.

Conducting site risk assessments, displaying the correct warning signs and ensuring personnel are adequately trained are all key to maintaining a robust culture of Health and Safety, ensuring that employees are safe, your business is in compliance and the UK’s position as a trailblazer in Health and Safety is maintained.

What is SMSTS?

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme is a five-day course aimed at Site Managers, Agents and anybody who is, or is going to be, responsible for planning, organising, monitoring, controlling and administering other personnel and groups of workers.

This course covers the relevant legislation and other important considerations that relate to safe working practices in the building, construction and civil engineering industries.

What does the course involve?

Participants are taught all they need to know in order to effectively enforce their health and safety code of practice onsite in the real world. This includes the importance of carrying out risk assessments in the workplace and tools to manage and monitor the numerous hazards that those working within the construction industry encounter every day.

There are a number of workshop sessions on specific areas that carry their own unique risks, including working with scaffolding, electricity, in confined spaces and performing excavation work.


Attendees will become familiar with the following important pieces of HSE legislation:

  • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995
  • Provision & Use of Work Equipment 1998
  • Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • Working at Height Regulations 2005
  • Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
  • Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006
  • Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007

Assessment and Certification

Course assessment is through a combination of core exercises and a final multiple-choice examination.

Participants receive their Construction Site Manager’s Safety Certificate on successful completion of the course. Note that for successful completion, attendance is mandatory at all sessions and workshops.

Refresher Training

The Certificate remains valid for five years. However, Health and Safety legislation is constantly changing and evolving, as are the technologies and methodologies employed in the construction, building and civil engineering sectors.

For these reasons, it is considered best practice for everyone to undertake an SMSTS Refresher Course no later than three years after completing the full training course.

Stay on top of the world

The UK is justifiably proud of its world-leading position in Health and Safety. Keep your employees safe, your business in compliance and the UK on top of the world rankings by booking SMSTS refresher training today!

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Construction Site Safety: How To Reduce Dangerous Slips and Falls

Worker walking on trackSlipping and tripping on construction sites is a major hazard; some 1,000 injuries sustained by site workers in an average year involve broken bones and dislocations. Obstacles, stray cabling, wet surfaces, uneven surfaces and changes in level are the main causes of incidents.

Slippery or wet surfaces

Wet – mop up or dry as far as possible and use clear warning signs.

Slippery – if possible, make safe by mopping up if a liquid and using warning signs. If a substance such as ice or mud, then use an appropriate ‘gripping medium’ such as grit or stones.

Much could be done to vastly reduce these risks. For example, the use of non-slip temporary surfaces such as those from Tufftrak Mats to cover slippery surfaces is one safety measure worth taking.

Uneven surfaces

A common risk on newer sites before roadways and paths have been constructed to level the ground up, these can be made safer by the creation of designated walkways, signage and good lighting.

Trailing cabling

Using cordless tools is a help, but where cabling has to be run then keeping them tidy, moved to one side away from foot and vehicular traffic, and perhaps raised and run well above ground are some measurers worth taking.

Level changes

Where an abrupt level change such as a step or ridge is in evidence. These can be made safer using ramps – failing this, clear warning signs and bright tape or paint on the leading edge is advisable.


Remove items likely to cause a hazard as soon as possible – a typical issue on sites when, for example, deliveries are made or machinery is left somewhere.

Site users, staff and contractors should be encouraged to look out for and advise when hazardous situations arise.

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How A Client Managed To Stop A Contractor

After reading this story never again will you think that as a client you do not have any power to stop something you do not believe in or something that you disapprove. It is important for you to remember that as clients, we are the users of services, and that as such we have the full right to disapprove something in order to provide workers with humane working conditions. This story certainly proves it.contractor-frustrated

In Cambridgeshire a roofing contractor was fined for safety failings that threatened the safety of three workers. Fortunately the contractor was fined for the shortcomings in his business, but it definitely raises the question of how safe construction workers are and what can be done to improve their safety.

high-riskWhat happened is that Stevenage Magistrates heard how Kerry Parmenter was contracted to carry out roof work at the premises of Cottage Linen Limited in Hertfordshire. Work on the roof was stopped by the project client after they were informed by HSE of unsafe working methods following a site visit. Furthermore, HSE found that workers were being put at risk by working on the fragile roof without adequate controls and using inappropriate equipment. Kerry Parmenter had failed to adequately plan, manage and supervise the work.

This of course shows that everyone has to be careful and considerate of people who work in construction sites. If you see any sort of threat, it is also important for you to react to it, no matter who you are. Frequently, the work on fragile AC roofs is referred to as “high risk activity”. Luckily, after the incident Kerry Parmenter, of Ramsey, Cambridgeshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, and Regulation 9 (2) of the Work at Height Regulation 2005 and was fined £2,500 and ordered to pay costs of £1,459.

After the events took place, we also had the opportunity to hear the opinion of the inspector who was in charge. This is what HSE inspector Rauf Ahmed had to say after the hearing:

The_crane_and_the_Main_Street_midrise_on_the_Infinity_(300_Spear_Street)_construction_site,_SF“Work on fragile asbestos cement sheet roofs is a high risk activity with a history of fatal injuries. Workers are at risk of falling through the roof or from open edges if protections are not in place. There is publicly available guidance on the HSE website highlighting the control measures required for carrying out this type of work.”

Even though this particular incident was soon resolved, we have to ask ourselves how many incidents like this one have to happen before the people and the authorities realize that construction workers are truly exposed to health hazards and that their safety is often compromised only because they have a certain occupation. No one should be worried about occupational hazards, and especially not construction workers who did not consciously choose a hazardous occupation, therefore it is our duty to make sure their health and safety is guaranteed.

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