Thursday, 28 July 2016

For When The Worst Happens – Possession Proceedings

Being a landlord today can be pretty precarious. While of course the number of landlords in the UK has risen in recent years, due to steep housing costs meaning that many under 30s still find it extremely difficult to apply for mortgages, the number of collective landlords in the UK is slightly below demand for property. As such- it is problematic in more than a few ways to keep a tenant around in the face of rent arrears, unacceptable behaviour or even damage to the property as direct result of occupation. However, getting your property back isn't easy. Thankfully, there are a number of solicitors in North Wales which are here to help and can ensure that you, as a landlord, don’t end up in hot water as result of doing what you think is right.

A landlord may recover possession of a tenancy using varying methods, outlined by the type of tenancy a problem tenant might possess. If your tenant has an assured, or assured shorthold tenancy (most tenants do, if they have entered a private sector tenancy after 28th of February 1997—though a good solicitor will be able to find out) then they are under the protection of the Housing Act 1988 which includes the statutory continuation of the tenancy, as well as provides limitations concerning the grounds and methods on which you can lawfully terminate and recover possession of a property.

Should a tenant continue to occupy the property beyond the fixed term, then their tenancy will not terminate. Your tenant will be legally entitled to live in the property as normal from month to month- with only the “assured” part of their tenancy missing.

Hypothetically, if your tenant is in arrears with rent and normally pays on the 1st of the month—as long as they continue to make the month’s rent on the 1st from then on, by making them leave you would be committing an offence that will lead to a penalty at best, with up to two years in prison at the very worst.

So how are you supposed to recover possession of your property from problem tenants? The Housing Act 1988 states that a landlord may terminate an assured tenancy by serving a notice under Section 8 of the Act.

This notice is known as a Section 8 Notice or a Notice Seeking Possession. It is recommended, before any landlord looks into serving tenants with such a notice, that they have a broad grasp of the law through the services of a specialist solicitor – as the Notice is less of a letter of intent, and must contain a variety of information for the tenant to be considered legitimate.

Furthermore, it might not be that easy. Should the tenancy have clauses in the agreement, it can put a real spanner in the works and scupper the start of the process of retaking possession of your property.

A good solicitor with a wealth of experience in property matters is worth their weight in gold when it comes to dealing with a very tricky situation.   

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Sustainability in construction

Sustainability is a very broad term, that describes activities being carried out without depleting the Earth’s resources or having harmful impacts on the environment. The Brundtland Commission quite rightly called sustainability “meeting the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” When you’re looking for civil engineering in North Wales, it stands to sense to go for a company with a vast portfolio, proven experience of delivering high-quality results, on schedule and to budget, but also one that takes sustainability to heart.

Why? A company that actively works to ensure sustainability is high on their list of priorities is one that puts thought and consideration into the construction process. When you consider that wastage is the number one cost when it comes to projects, a company that actively monitors their materials orders and usage is one that’ll cost you far less in the long run. Sustainable Construction also means accountability, and a team with accountability is one that will provide results with far less waste of materials – and your project’s money.

But how do you know that a company is accountable when it comes to wastage? There are a number of assessment tools and standards available to help assess environmental performance. The most well-known of which is BREEAM. The world’s leading sustainability assessment method for masterplanning projects, infrastructure and buildings. BREEAM has an edge over other assessment tools by the fact that it addresses a number of lifecycle stages, such as New Construction, Refurbishment and In-Use. That, and it’s a well-respected, well-used tool for any discerning company. Globally, there are more than 547,900 BREEAM certified developments, and almost 2,247,300 buildings have been registered to the BREEAM assessment since it was established, moderately recently in 1990.

BREEAM assessment processes evaluate the procurement, design, construction and operation of a development against targets that are based on ever-changing performance benchmarks. Assessments are undertaken by independent assessors, and developments rated and certified with easy to understand grades.

When it comes to hiring contractors, project management firms or construction in general, look for firms that work to BREEAM standard, strive to use renewable or recycled materials, develop carbon neutral operations and reduce or eliminate waste. It’s for the environment, for future generations, and it’s also for your project’s financial viability.  

The 1bn Electrified Rail Vision For North Wales

North Wales is a wonderful place to live and work, with beautiful surroundings, excellent schools, and a peacefulness that’s hard to replicate. For many that are thinking of moving to the region, nothing is better than The View – a series of New Build Apartments Colwyn Bay. The View by Blue Bay Homes is the very epitome of what the company stands for; great value, tastefully constructed, luxuriously decorated, and the very best of quality, from top to bottom.  

North Wales isn’t half the trek to the cities as most think it is. The region links via the A55 to Manchester, Liverpool and Chester in less than 2 hours. The region offers a relaxing place that’s a little out of the way in order to enjoy life away from the cities, and not far away enough to feel like you’re spending more of your workday commuting to work, rather than being free to get on.

But what about those of us that would prefer not to drive? While it’s true that petrol prices have reached an all-time low, it might not be this way forever. That, and whether your other half needs the car for a few days a week or you just want to spend your commute to yourself with a book or otherwise, North Wales has something in the works which may enable even the most conservative and careful of people to make the jump to a better life and a better home in beautiful North Wales.

The £1bn rail vision for North Wales has recently been backed by senior figures from Manchester and Liverpool, including Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese, and Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson.

Other figures of note backing the electrified line which is said to link North Wales to the planned HS2 Line between London and the North of England are Chris Ogleby, chairman of Manchester Science Partnerships and the chair of Merseytravel, Cllr Liam Robinson.

With such powerful figures, and 79 other business leaders standing firmly behind Growth Track 360 to secure these rail improvements, we’re certain it stands an extremely high chance of succeeding. The time to move to North Wales has never been better, so come and see if you can leave the rat race behind at the office, and find your family’s ideal coastal home.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Why Do I need Landlords Rental Property Insurance?

If you’re considering a Landlord Rental Property insurance policy, no doubt you’ve considered the worst happening to one of your properties. A result of thinking of the worst is that you’ve also likely imagined a disaster happening, and spending all of your time on the telephone to a call centre. This doesn’t have to be how it goes. There are a number of insurance brokers in Manchester which can provide the security you need while being approachable, personable, and more than willing to meet face-to-face should something happen- or even if everything’s fine, and you just have any questions about your policy.

But what exactly is a Landlord Rental Property Insurance Policy, and why do you need one? A Landlord Rental Property policy can include a multitude of useful things, such as buildings insurance, accidental damage cover, not to mention financial protection against loss of rent – so if the worst happens, you’re not scrambling to make sure that your mortgage provider is shortchanged through something that isn’t your fault.

Presently, there is no legal obligation for a Landlord to take out any form of insurance, though a landlord may find that they are required to do so by their mortgage lender. This is for a number of reasons. If your property suffers a flood or fire, buildings insurance will cover the cost of rebuilding. A good insurance broker will assist you in finding out the rebuild cost of your property.

Likewise, Liability insurance is a requirement if you offer student or social housing. In the event of accident or death on your property, Liability Insurance can be absolutely invaluable by covering you against tenants that may attempt to sue you. Loss of rent insurance is also a rather large boon to have – even if it’s not your fault, in the event of your property becoming uninhabitable, any rent you miss out on can be protected by insurance. This is vital if you’re under a large mortgage and are relying upon rent to meet monthly repayments. Should the worst happen, this insurance could save you the agony of losing your property altogether.

You might feel a little dismayed at the prospects of letting property after reading this article, but most of these policies can be combined into a single Landlord Rental Property Insurance Policy, from a good provider. What should be remembered is that it’s most important to safeguard your financial future with a good policy.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Top 10 Buildings in UK

The Shard - London
A 95-storey Skyscraper is one of London’s most famous modern landmarks and a
The Shard - London
distinguished member of London’s iconic skyline collective. It’s conical pyramid glass shape lends a striking streamline appearance which has been lauded by architects worldwide. This is the tallest of London’s Skyscrapers.  

Wales Millennium Centre  ‘Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru’ - Cardiff
Architects in North Wales need only look South to their country’s capital city for the ultimate inspiration. The languages of Welsh and English are emblazoned onto a large copper coated steel sheet cladding. It was designed to look better, increasingly so with age. This Bronze coloured building is set alight at night, illuminating the characters. The Welsh words read: CREU GWIR FEL GWYDR O FFWRNAIS AWEN. – Creating Truth Like Glass From Inspiration’s Furnace. A grand site for any boat docking into Cardiff Bay Harbour

West Minster Abbey - London
Possibly the most famous church in the UK. What was originally a catholic church, after the dissolution, it passed to the Church of England. Many important national, religious  and ceremonial events take place here.  This building is the resting place of Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.

Titanic Belfast - Belfast
A monument to Northern Ireland’s Maritime heritage and the world’s largest Titanic Information Centre It is constructed on the former site of the Harland and Wolff Shipyard where the Titanic was constructed. It was designed to look like the prow of the ship, however it is also suspected that it looks like an Iceberg. For this reason, locals have nicknamed it ‘The Iceberg’.

The Clyde Auditorium - Glasgow
Also Called the ‘Armadillo’ for its overlapping segments which is said to resemble the armour plating of the rodent. This has become one of the most recognisable landmarks of modern Glasgow. 

Houses of Parliament – London
Unmistakably British. Also known as the Palace of Westminster, The world famous building where politicians battle it out in debate over the country’s affairs. This was originally constructed in the middle ages, however due to a fire, the palace was burned down in 1834, 6 years later however reconstruction began, and would continue until 1870 when I was completed. This new building was created in perpendicular gothic revival style. Perhaps the most iconic part of this is the clocktower of Big Ben (Officailly known as the Elizabeth Tower).

St. George’s Hall - Liverpool
Liverpool’s Neo-classical acropolis style building has been a prevalent landmark for many a year.  It is clearly visable as you exit Lime Street Station. Home to 19thcentury law courts and concert halls. It is a popular tourist attraction. It is fronted by a cenotaph to those who died in the Great War

Windsor Castle - Windsor
The largest, and best preserved occupied castle in the world. It is a royal residence of the crown located in Windsor. The original castle was built in the 11th century after the Normal Invasion of England, by William the Conquoror. It was originally  constructed to establish and protect Norman Dominance. Today, more than 500 people live and work in Windsor Castle, the largest inhabitad castle in the world. 

The Walkie Talkie - London
This oddly shaped construction is another strand-out figure in london’s skyline, although apart from the main cluster of skyscrapers.  Construction was completed in 2014. Because of its unusal top-heavy construction, it acts as a concave mirror, focusing light onto the streets like some kind of giant magnifying glass. During the hot summer of 2013, light burned up to 6 times hotter than direct sunlight shining onto vehicals, in some cases melting bodywork warrenting £946 in repairs. The skyscraper is home to London’s ‘Sky Garden’, which offers spectacular views of the London skyline.

The Urbis - Manchester
The Urbis is a museum and exhibition centre. International football fans will be very interested in coming to this building, as it serves as the national football museum. Fans visiting the city to watch a game will be pleased to find that entry is free. It has six storeys and has a distinctive sloping shape to it. Which makes it recognisable as you are walking through the streets of Manchester. The pinnacle oin the roof of the building points towards the city centre.

Your Home in Deganwy

We love the North Wales area and we can see why so many decide to sell up and purchase property by the sea after holidaying in this spectacular region. The region has an amazing variety of apartments for sale in Deganwy, a particular venture by property developer Blue Bay Homes promising outstanding luxury apartments on the North Wales Coast.

Their Deganwy development in particular, the Bay View, ticks all of the boxes, offering an elevated position with truly stunning panoramic views overlooking Deganwy, the Conwy Estuary, Conwy Bay and, on a clear day, the Carneddau Mountain range and even the Isle of Anglesey.

If you’re considering relocating to North Wales, these properties are in a stunning, wonderfully panoramic location and are built with a focus on quality. You’re able to select your own kitchen cabinets for instance, from their high quality range of German or Italian styles with a large choice of finishes.

Integrated appliances are, of course, included, and of extremely high quality. Each property comes complete with a stainless steel oven and hob with a stainless steel and glass canopy hood – altogether with an included fridge freezer. Don’t want to give up your dishwasher? We can promise you’ll be satisfied with the included dishwasher in your brand-new luxury apartment in Deganwy.

Bathrooms are also fully fitted, and furnished to the same high standards consistent with Blue Bay’s ventures. For the Bay View, each bathroom is furnished with the very latest contemporary high quality white designer suites, together with ultra-fancy chrome taps and a chrome towel radiator. There’s also a great selection of tiles to choose from for your bathroom.

Elegantly designed inside and out, the Bay View provides a luxury lifestyle which comprises of 22 one and two bedroomed apartments. All are wonderfully designed, to a standard that you don’t have to leave behind in the city. The development has proved to be astoundingly popular, and as of July 2016, more than 50% of the apartments comprising the Bay View have already been sold.

With so many customers left more than satisfied with the quality of this fantastic development, we predict that it won’t be long before they’re entirely gone. Why not call to arrange a viewing today?

Friday, 15 July 2016

Radical and Incremental Innovations in Construction

“Innovation” is a concept that goes hand-in-hand with the concept of “Invention” - the idea, practise or object that is perceived as new by an individual or the unit adopting it. Firms, organisations and businesses which provide plasters in Llandudnoconstruction in North Wales and the whole of the UK break innovation into three categories: Product, process, and service.

Products and processes are known to have lifecycles. Typically, at the start of a product's lifetime there are a huge amount of designs and varying approaches. Over time, a variation in product narrows as standards and concepts emerge which are refined slowly by improvement over time. Radical innovations are those that open up new markets and can be covered by varying disciplines – construction included. To give a very simple example, the invention of the television could be considered a radical innovation.

A radical innovation is one that changes the rules, and creates real opportunity for new approaches to be developed. Saying that, radical innovation is double-edged. Progress can often make existing skills and competencies obsolete – the same way the advent of the first television sets meant that no-one was interested in the purchase of the Wireless any longer. In terms of site workers, this can be devastating for both individual and organisation. A good firm will ensure that their staff’s training is kept up to date and that they are abreast of the curve before it turns into a precipice.

After a radical innovation (such as our example of the television) Incremental innovation is the process of refinement. Incremental innovation comprises small changes to design and performance to gradually and proactively take advantage of breakthroughs in other areas to apply it to their innovation. The televisions of today are a far cry from the clumsy, awkward and deep black-plastic encased monsters of the 1990s, and they themselves were once considered a large advantage over older models. In matters of construction, innovation improves the performance of existing processes and thus strengthens the position of firms that adopts it.

Countless civil engineering, groundworks and construction firms in the UK understand that innovation needs to change from just being the application of good ideas to a process that is manageable, measured and controlled in a systematic fashion. The standardisation of innovation is the most important thing; with the key lying in considering innovation a management process. That way, each part of an organisation can control and improve different aspects of innovation and integrate them into company processes.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Your Project Brief – Getting It Right First Time

It barely needs saying to construction professionals that a project brief is the final stage in defining the client’s requirements and expectation for the development of a built asset. For civil engineering in North Wales and beyond, these are increasingly detailed documents that that come in varying parts.

The Project Brief’s Statement of Need is the first attempt to describe the requirements of the project. The Strategic Brief develops from the statement of need and describes the client’s requirement in sufficient detail to allow the appointment of consultants. It is then developed further with the benefit of comments made thereupon. Those are the tenants for a good project brief. The intent of such is that everyone involved within the project is on the same page, and amendments, especially after the appointment of consultants, are to be expected. The document is one that isn’t set in stone – instead it is intended to evolve through the benefit of information gained by consultations with the client, other stakeholders, and through ongoing design development.

But how is a brief prepared? It’s a matter that’s likely coordinated by the project’s lead consultant. This brief may be developed based upon existing information such as the business case, statement of need, and the strategic brief. Site surveys, site information, and appraisals, workshops with user panels to establish needs, expectations and priorities, input from other stakeholders, input from consultants, user surveys, and input from statutory authorities such as local authorities, heritage organizations, and even the fire brigade. This stage might feel tedious, but it’s better that problems are identified before an asset is built, rather than later.

There are a number of things a good brief will contain, be them descriptions of clients (for the purpose of identifying the client’s vision, mission, objectives and how to best convey the client’s brand, culture and organization) site information (such as building and site surveys, and legislative constraints) spatial requirements (schedules of accommodation, areas and special requirements – as well as required adjacencies, groupings and separations) technical requirements (waste and water management, pollution control, durability and lifespan) component requirements (potential requirements for specialist design or the need for specialist contractors) and project requirements and other issues (such as planning requirements, the budget, and key milestones)

Any project brief should also be frozen at the end of the concept design stage, and change control procedures introduced to prevent further changes. Most project briefs usually are presented as reports, though information and requirement should be scheduled appropriately. With the advent of BIM (Building Information Modelling) Employer information requirement may be considered a parallel document to the project brief. Any project brief is a document intended to set out requirement for physical, built assets. An Employer Information Requirement defines the information the employer needs to enable them to develop and operate the asset after completion.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Fabric First For Zero Carbon Buildings

The Climate Change Act was introduced in 2008 in order to create a legally binding and long-term framework for reducing carbon emissions and tackling climate change. It set the target of reducing carbon emissions by 80% by the year 2050, with a 34% reduction by 2020. This affects a number of individuals and organizations - Civil Engineering and Groundworks in North Wales, engineers, and developers.
Reducing carbon emissions by such an amount is undoubtedly and unquestionably worthwhile, though it is a tall order. Thankfully, it is not one without a supporting strategy. This was set out in the Carbon Plan which was published in December 2011. Building works account for 45% of humankind’s total carbon emissions, so they are a significant part of this initiative.  In 2006, the then-prominent Labour government committed the UK to a single ideal – that from 2016, all new homes would be “Zero-Carbon”, and the later budget announced the government’s intention that all non-domestic buildings from 2019 should follow suit.  

It is generally considered that the approach to achieving this aim is to adapt a “fabric first” approach; which is maximising the performance of components and materials that make up the building “fabric”, thereby reducing capital and operational costs, improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions. This approach can also reduce the need to maintenance during the building’s lifespan.

Most developers, contractors and engineers would argue that compliance with zero carbon requirements by adapting low carbon technologies rather than creating energy efficient fabric would be cheaper, at least in the short term. Doing so is certainly true, but this would not minimise costs associated with the entire lifespan of the project, due to ongoing costs associated with fuel, maintenance and replacement.

Additionally, it’s well known that most technological solutions are prone to operate below an optimal level due to behaviour of occupants, poor commissioning and maintenance issues – which adds more weight to the idea that building energy-saving, carbon-reducing features into new builds rather than being content to simply add them on is far more favourable. Furthermore, the reliance on energy-saving technology or renewable energy generation is still expensive to contractors and the expense will therefore be shared by property buyers. Building energy efficiency in is also efficient financially, with far less of a burden to developer and client.

Image Credit: Sam Saunders | CC BY 2.0

Friday, 8 July 2016

£3 Million Available for Coastal Communities in Wales

The Welsh Government is urging Coastal Communities to apply for the Coastal Communities Fund which has a reported £3m available (July, 2016) for regeneration projects. Due to this, construction North Wales will have increased building and renovating opportunities around the coastline.

The Coastal Communities Fund delivered by Big Lottery Fund on behalf of UK Government aims to support economic development projects in coastal areas across the UK. Since its establishment in 2012, the fund has awarded grants totalling £125 million to 218 organisations across England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. The awarded funding is estimated to have created around 12,000 direct and indirect jobs, and has helped to attract over £240 million of additional funds to coastal areas.
‘CCF Round four’ in Wales will have around £3.4 million available for spending before December 2019 and the Welsh Government is urging coastal communities to make the most of this fund.

Who can apply?
According to the CCF, ‘any coastal settlement within a local authority area whose boundaries, including local authorities whose boundaries only include estuarine foreshore’ can apply for the fund. Coastal settlements include seaside towns, ports and other areas which have a clear connection to the coastal economy.  A wide range of organisations and projects can apply for awards between £50,000 and £300,000.

Who has already benefitted?
Since its establishment, some Welsh communities have already benefitted. Halen Mon - Anglesey Sea Salt Company secured £191,817 to be put towards its £1.25m bespoke Tyˆ Halen Anglesey Saltcote and Visitor Centre. Since, the funding, Halen Mon has been recognised as one of the most highly accredited food producers in the UK.

In the leisure industry, Plas Heli Cyf Welsh National Sailing academy in Pwllheli was awarded £120,000 in round 2 of the funding. This award was given in efforts to promote the seaside town ‘as the heart of Welsh Sailing’. New visitor berths and regatta facilities have been set up to increase the number of visiting yachts, cruises and events in the area.

We are lucky to have such a magnificent coastline with outstanding views. This fund will help local communities to strengthen their offering and build a stronger economy on top of what we already have. What’s more, it is hoped that the funds will benefit some of Wales oldest seaside buildings, restoring them to their former glory.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Making Sense of EPCs

Three years ago, the Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations took effect, which required that Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) were to be produced for dwellings and non-dwellings in order to set out the energy efficiency rating of buildings. An EPC is typically required when buildings are built, sold or rented -- as long as said building has a roof, walls, and uses energy in order to condition an indoor climate. Essentially, EPCs affect house sellers, buyers and many more individuals including civil engineering in North Wales and beyond, so understanding them is key.

As stated above, EPCs were devised in order to set out the energy-efficiency of buildings, yet not all are subject to requiring one. Buildings that do not need an energy performance certificate can include places of worship, temporary buildings, stand-alone buildings with a floor area of less than 50 square metres, industrial and agricultural buildings (providing they have low energy requirements) and protected buildings where compliance with energy efficiency guidelines will alter their appearance. Additionally, rented dwellings that continue to be occupied by the same tenant since before 1 October 2008 do not require an EPC certificate.

Within the certificates, the building in question is rated from A to G. ‘A’ represents a very efficient building, and G the most inefficient. EPCs are provided by accredited energy assessors who also provide recommendations to help owners and renters make their building more energy efficient and they can also help identify recommendations that are eligible for Green Deal financing. Whereas now in 2016 there is absolutely no requirement for the recipient of a report to follow these recommendations, from 2018 it will be illegal to let buildings which do not meet minimum energy performance standards.

An EPC is valid for 10 years. They are available free of charge to prospective buyers or tenants at the earliest possible opportunity, and although it is no longer required to attach the front page of the EPC to written material, the energy efficiency of any building not exempt must be shown.
Image Credit: Rebecca Forbes | CC BY 2.0