Things are made to happen

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Building a garden wall as feature

Most gardens would benefit from a bit of hard landscaping, especially if the material used is beautiful and natural eg natural stone. Get some inspiration and ideas by visiting your local garden centre.

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Small walls, either built in stone or brick, are incredibly versatile in the gardens. They are specially useful for creating raised structures such as raised beds, which make it easier to plant and weed; brick barbecues; or raised water features. However, they can also be used to divide areas of a garden, or if you have a terraced area, they are vital for retaining soil.

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TA DenEco Consultancy – www.deneco.co.uk

Using salvaged materials for your building project

Whatever type of building project you are preparing to undertake, it is always worth taking time to consider if there are any materials that can be salvaged for re-use, recycled or up-cycled.

As there are many types of building projects, there will also be many uses for material that you may initially believe would not be of any use to you. This is where you need to consider the building project as a whole and see what you have to buy in for the various stages and what you can salvage for re-use, recycle or up-cycled elsewhere.

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These projects could potentially involve using salvaged material:

  • Building an extension
  • Loft conversion
  • Refurbishment
  • Renovation
  • External works
  • Demolition
  • Building a new house

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TA DenEco Consultancy – www.deneco.co.uk

 

Mystery property with no access sold for £1

Previously published on my blog to be sold on auction for a guide price of £100, this mystery town centre property with river frontage and far-reaching views has been snapped for a cool £1 at auction.

Although it might seem like a bargain, the drawback is there is no way to get into the 12sq m first-floor space.

Property in Wisbech

However, the room, wedged between two properties and suspended over an alleyway in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, appealed to one bidder whose hand shot up when the £1 price tag was announced.

The guide price of £100+ was dropped to £1 at the last minute.

The unusual property is in a terrace of old buildings, believed to have been built as granaries or shops in the 16th Century on Nene Quay.

It is bricked up from both sides and even the auctioneer had not been in to see it.

Fenland District Council, which has owned it since 1966, put it up for sale alongside other “surplus properties” with Norwich-based auctioneers William H Brown

There is no record of anyone ever having used the room and the contents and condition remain a mystery.

Property for sale in Wisbech

When it first went on their books, auctions partner Victoria Reek described it as “certainly one of the weirdest ones we’ve had at auction” and admitted it was “probably just full of cobwebs”.

She said the vendor instructed the auctioneer to remove the £100 guide price just before the auction opened.

“So we told bidders the first one to offer £1 could have it – one gentleman put up his hand and it was gone – all done and dusted,” she said.

It is not yet known who bought the inaccessible room.

Source: BBC News

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TA DenEco Consultancy – www.deneco.co.uk

Does Health & Safety at work apply to my domestic building project?

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers have statutory obligations to adhere to, based on Common Law principles. The effect of the Act has been to bring ALL people at work (and others) under the protection of the law. The Act covers all employment activities and applies to employers, self-employed persons, sub-contractors, visitors to places of employment, employees, directors and managers, members of the public, designers, suppliers, etc. It also provides the HSE with various enforcement powers.

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Whether you are overseeing the project yourself or employing a builder or contractor to carry out the work, understanding the importance of safety, health and welfare is very important. There are grey areas of health & safety regarding projects that are undertaken by homeowners themselves. Whereas the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 encompasses all work carried out by professionals during their daily activities, homeowners who are undertaking the work themselves are not covered by it. However, there is a moral duty of care by the homeowner to any person who has contact with the building project. This means any person who has contact with the project has a right under health & safety law to be protected from danger.

If you are going to employ the service of a professional to carry out any elements of the work for example electrician or gas engineer, they should have public liability insurance and qualified to work to good building practices. All appropriate measures should be taken to remove or reduce the risks of accident or incidents, by introducing methods of controlling the risk.  It is important to satisfy yourself (as far as is reasonable) that the professionals you employ are qualified and competent to carry out the work in a safe manner.

If you are responsible for a building project site and a person is injured due to negligence on your part, legal action could be taken against you. If you are in any doubt as to where you stand with regard to health & safety, or if you require any advice or information, visit the HSE website: http://www.hse.gov.uk

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How to know a good building contractor

One of the most important decisions you are likely to make when undertaking a building project of any size is that of employing the services of a building contractor or property professionals such as electricians, plumbers, gas engineers, etc.

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Before making the all-important decision of awarding the contract to a specific builder or professional, it would not be unreasonable to as to see work on which they are currently engaged or recently done. Seeing at first hand and speaking to the client on how they treat the client’s property and how they work will give you an idea of what to expect if you decide to employ them.

Below are some tell-tale signs of good building practice and responsible behaviour:

  • vehicles associated with the site are parked sensibly
  • the site on first appearance is clean, tidy and organised
  • roads and pavements are not damaged or muddy
  • where appropriate, suitable fencing is available
  • the site facilities are appropriate for the project
  • workers’ appearance is in keeping with a professional outfitSee the source image
  • equipment is clean and in good order
  • no trailing leads are evident, except in close proximity to the work
  • standard of work appears to be good
  • workers are polite
  • noise levels are acceptable (no loud radios)
  • security and health & safety signs are evident, ie visitors to report to site office, there are warning signs for pedestrians that construction work is in progress, standard health & safety signs.
  • workers are wearing Personal Protection Equipment
  • the company vehicles are well presented
  • a company sign is on display
  • where appropriate, material is neatly stacked and protected

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Dennis Bebo – MSC, BSC, DEA, CeMAP

TA DenEco Consultancy – www.deneco.co.uk

Use of technology for your building projects

Building projects is now very much linked to the use of computer generated materials. This does not mean to say that your project will suffer if you do not use computers and computer-aided material. However, one of the major problem with producing material by hand is that it takes a long time, and if you need to update or amend something it can become quite tedious. Another problem is that if your writing is not clear it may be misinterpreted.

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Advantages of using technology

  • information can be produced and sent electronically
  • Save time and speed up communication.
  • Ensure orders and specifications are clear and done in good time
  • Can be easily stored, retrieve and resent
  • Can be sent to multiple recipient at the same time
  • Saves resources and cost
  • environmentally friendly

To get the best of technology, it is worth pointing out that with the advancement of technology, digital cameras are now widely available at very reasonable prices. It is worth investing in one even if you do not own or use a computer. Alternatively you can use your mobile phone if it has a good digital camera. You can take and store hundreds of pictures of your project and documents without having them processed or printed. This may be vitally important in the event of any discrepancies and clarifications. If there is a problem or situation that is of urgent concern, the pictures can be sent electronically. This gives the person at the receiving end a visual aid and therefore action may be taken more quickly.

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Dennis Bebo – MSC, BSC, DEA, CeMAP

TA DenEco Consultancy – www.deneco.co.uk

Building planning permission for domestic properties

Building planning permission refers to the approval needed for building or extension (including significant renovation) of a property. Generally, the new building works must be inspected during construction and after completion to ensure compliance with building regulations. Planning permission is also dependent on the environment and area.

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Local councils are responsible for planning permission and if you have any issues that need to be discussed or clarified, the first thing to do is to ask the planning department. Your local library may also have information and literature to help in understanding issues that are specific to your local authority. The government planning portal website is very useful to find out whether your building project needs planning permission or building regulations approval.  There are common projects and interactive guides to use and find out about permitted development limits or to explore in-depth guidance to understand about what you need to consider at each stage of your project.

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Planning permission are required for new building and depending on the environment or area in which you live, you may need planning permission for any of the following:

  • house extensions and additions including conservatories
  • creating a basement
  • sun lounges/conservatories
  • adding a porch to your house
  • swimming pools
  • demolition of buildings
  • enclosing existing balconies or verandas
  • loft conversions
  • dormer windows and roof additions
  • garages
  • garden sheds
  • greenhouses
  • fences, walls and gates
  • patios, hand standing, paths and driveways
  • satellite dishes, television and radio aerials
  • decoration, repair and maintenance.

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Suspended mystery property with no access on sale for £100

A property has gone on the market for just £100, but it is shrouded in mystery as no-one knows how to get inside.

The 12sqm room is up for auction next month and comes with a flying freehold, as it has no structure beneath and is suspended in a passageway between two other buildings.

The room is in a row of historic buildings, some of which date back to the 16th century, but it appears to be sealed from both sides and there is no other access.

Victoria Reek, auction manager for William H Brown’s East Anglian auction centre, selling the room in Nene Quay, Wisbech, said it was one of the most unusual lots she had ever come across.

She told the Cambs Times: “There is no way in or out from the outside, we have been instructed to sell it and we’re starting the price off at £100.

“We think it would make an ideal store room for a market stall holder but it gives you no access rights, it really is just a room which at the moment, you can’t get into.

“We do come across all kinds of interesting lots like this in Norfolk but this is probably one of the most unusual.”

The room is being sold by Fenland District Council along with a number of other pieces of land, it has had in its portfolio for years.

The auction takes place on Thursday, February 20 at Dunston Hall Hotel in Norwich at 11.30am.

Source: Mirror

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What is Practical Completion in the building industry

The term ‘Practical Completion’ is a term use in the building industry at the end of a building project which is often open to interpretation. The issue of whether a building project has achieved practical completion has long been the source of many disputes within the building industry, both in the commercial sector and, in particular, the domestic sector.

Many standard form of Contract that are used in the building industry rely upon the issue of a Certificate of Practical Completion to trigger the release of funds at every completed stage or end of the project.

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Given the importance, the standard forms used throughout the industry do not define practical completion. They generally leave the matter to the discretion of the client, contract administrator, architect, engineer, supervising officer, etc. The Preparation of a comprehensive specification/scope of works is paramount to minimising the risks of misinterpretation, although the risks will never be fully removed.

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Practical completion of any part of the work should be seen as the work having been completed to a ‘set’ standard where the client can take possession of the works and use then as intended. It is important for both parties (client and contractor) to use common sense when agreeing on practical completion. On the one hand the contractor or builder should make every effort to complete the work to a satisfactory standard, and on the other the client should exercise some discretion on the finished product. That is not to say that poor standards should be accepted, but that some materials, such as bricks, timber, etc., can vary in colour or dimensions.

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