Category: Latest News

ACT Building Control: gain FULL PI COVER

As a contact of CHPK who will use the services of Approved Inspectors or be required to appoint them, we wish to inform you of the issues in the Approved Inspector market so you can plan ahead in case you experience any issues. We have an interest in this market as Act Building Control, our sister company, is a firm of licenced Approved Inspectors.

Fortunately for Act Building Control, we are one of the few who have been given new insurance policy, one of the few companies that have been successful.

CHPK and Act have been at the forefront of trying to resolve this issue and for the benefit of all the companies involved publicity has not been sought. However, as things have not been resolved and some firms are now being forced to cease operations and are notifying their clients it has been picked up by the press (

Download the attached briefing note that we have prepared which explains the current situation.

If you have any questions or are concerned your project may fall foul of this debacle, please contact us and we can help you through these difficult times.


ACT Building Control: gain FULL PI COVER

Pothole detectors fitted to waste trucks

A pothole detector fitted beneath bin lorries is being trialled in Thurrock and York.

The technology aims to monitor road surfaces and detect problems before they become potholes.

The pothole-spotter system, mounted to refuse collection vehicles, comprises of high-definition cameras, integrated navigation system and intelligent software.

York City Council executive member for transport and planning Ian Gillies said: “We welcome investment in this pioneering technology which will hopefully allow the council to reduce the amount of money spent fixing potholes each year by repairing road surface defects before they escalate into potholes.

“The trial is also expected to identify wider efficiencies in how the council’s highways maintenance service is managed. It is expected that by using the data collected, the council will be able to respond to dangerous defects across the network quicker, hopefully leading to a reduction in the number of compensation claims.”

Thurrock council leader Rob Gledhill said: “Thurrock was selected as it is recognised by government as being ready to test innovative new techniques to improve the efficiency of local services, and for which the reliability and quality of its road network is crucial for residents and businesses alike.

“This is the first initiative of its kind – using cutting edge technology and innovation that leads to better road conditions at less cost. I am very pleased Thurrock has been chosen by the Department for Transport as a partner in this pioneering project and I look forward to sharing how it worked with colleagues in other local authorities.”

One of the consultants working with Thurrock is Gaist, whose director of innovation and research Stephen Remde said: “This project is really exciting and will capture the highest ever levels of technically advanced data that will provide us with a real insight into how roads deteriorate and defects form such as potholes, surface durability and day to day traffic volume damage.

“Computer vision technology is advancing rapidly and we seek to capitalise on new ‘Deep Learning’ data analysis techniques we have, to analyse and manage the huge volumes of video and related data that can be used to improve the safety of roads and provide more cost effective repairs.”



Pothole detectors fitted to waste trucks

Most councils flout prompt payment law

Six out of 10 local authorities are ignoring a legal requirement to ensure prompt payment in their supply chains.

An investigation by the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) has discovered that 59% of English local authorities were breaching the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, to the detriment of many small businesses struggling with cashflow issues.

The ECA issued a Freedom of Information request in September to 320 local councils in England about their payment practices to establish the extent of illegal purchasing behaviour. Of the 137 that responded, 52% of councils have not yet built in a contractual requirement for payment to flow thorough the supply chain within 30 days, as required by law. A further 7% were unable to say whether or not they did this.

28% said that they ‘have not and will not’ be building in a contractual requirement to ensure the supply chain is paid on time.

Only 9% monitor and report on whether their supply chain is being paid within 30 days, in line with the law and the spirit of the law.

59% said that they have no intention of monitoring supply chain payment.

The ECA undertook a similar exercise in 2015. One year on, the number of councils building in supply chain contractual requirements for 30 day payment has risen from 28% to 40% and a further 25% said they intend to insert contractual requirements eventually.

However, there was a year-on-year increase from 21% to 28% in the number of councils stating that they will never build in contractual requirements for prompt payment – in direct contravention of the law. Statutory guidance on the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 states that “any subcontract awarded” by a local authority “contains suitable provisions to impose” the payment of invoices within 30 days.

ECA director of business and external affairs Paul Reeve said: “Our survey shows that many local authorities continue to ignore the legal requirements for prompt public sector payment along the supply chain. It’s particularly disappointing when one considers that doing so would support SMEs in their local areas.

“We have seen next to no improvement among many local councils since the ECA conducted a similar investigation last year. The government has issued regulations to help smaller businesses, but they are being viewed as optional by far too many councils, and too many are opting out.

“What we need is for government to approach those who flout the law and to make it harder for them not to comply, than to comply. The government could impose penalties to achieve this.”



Most councils flout prompt payment law

Budget boost for London cyclists

London is to spend £770m over the next five years on infrastructure and initiatives to promote cycling.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced that an average of £154m a year will be spent on cycling up until March 2022, which is almost double the £79m per year spent over the last mayoral term.

The percentage of Transport for London’s budget going on cycling is being increased from 2.4% to 5.5%.

Projects include the completion of phase two of the north-south cycle ‘superhighway’ from Farringdon to Kings Cross, which will begin construction next year. It also includes the extension of the east-west cycle route from Lancaster Gate and work to deliver cycle ‘superhighway 11’ from Swiss Cottage to the West End.

“I said in my manifesto that I’d be the most pro-cycling mayor London has ever had,” the mayor said. “Today I’m delighted to confirm that TfL will be spending twice as much on cycling over the next five years compared to the previous mayor. Making cycling safe and easier can provide huge benefits for us all – improving our health, cleaning up our toxic air, and helping tackle congestion.”

Budget boost for London cyclists

Half of sites fail HSE refurb blitz

Latest statistics from the Health & Safety Executive show that construction companies are failing to meet basic requirements on smaller scale projects.

The chief executive’s report to the Health & Safety Executive board meeting on 7th December 2016 highlighted the continuing dangers faced by construction workers.

The HSE conducted 1,840 visits to small refurbishment sites in June/July and October/November this year. Inspectors found that 49% of sites did not meet safety standards. They issued 741 enforcement notices and 1,059 notices of contravention.

Inspectors had to deal immediately with a number of dangers; safe working at height was a particularly prevalent issue, as was the management of asbestos and silica dust.

A similar blitz on small refurbishment sites in 2015 found problems on 46% of sites visited; 692 enforcement notices and 983 notifications of contravention were served.

Brian Rye, acting general secretary of construction union Ucatt, said: “This shows that safety standards on small construction sites remain a basket case. Safety laws are being ignored and workers placed in daily danger. It is frankly more by luck than judgement that more workers are not being killed at work. It also shows that the HSE needs greater resources to conduct these initiatives 12 months of a year as they are only able to visit a tiny amount of sites.”

Half of sites fail HSE refurb blitz

New laser scanning test to assess fire-damaged concrete

Engineering research at the University of Nottingham has found laser scanning is a new and viable structural safety technique to detect the damaging effects of fire on concrete.

Concrete is the most extensively used construction material worldwide with an average global yearly consumption of 1m3 per person. Fire is one of the most serious potential risks to many concrete structures such as bridges, tunnels and buildings.

While concrete is known to be a material with high fire-resistance, capable of retaining much of its load-bearing capacity; its physical, chemical and mechanical properties undergo severe modifications when subjected to high temperatures. A significant loss in strength occurs when concrete is heated above 300°C.

A structural safety assessment provides information needed to evaluate the residual bearing capacity and durability of fire-damaged concrete structures. They are also used to propose the appropriate repair methods or to decide if demolition is needed.

There are several conventional on-site and off-site techniques for assessing fire-damaged concrete. On-site methods include visual inspections of colour change and physical features; off-site methods involve invasive tests such as core drilling or lab-based techniques. All methods have merits and drawbacks.

The research into the benefits of laser scanning has been carried out by the University of Nottingham in both the UK and at its campus in Ningbo, China (UNNC).

Wallace Mukupa, a PhD student at the Nottingham Geospatial Institute at UNNC, Gethin Roberts, reader in geospatial engineering at the University of Nottingham, and Craig Hancock, assistant professor of geospatial engineering at UNNC, studied the use of terrestrial laser scanning (TSL) as a non-destructive way to assess and detect fire-damaged concrete in a structural safety appraisal.

Wallace Mukupa said: “Scanning can be done at a distance, which improves site safety. Scanning is also quick, with millions of points measured in a few seconds and spatial resolution acquired in short time. This is advantageous for engineering structures considering their scale or magnitude.”

Their findings have been published in The Journal of Civil Structural Health Monitoring.

Their study investigated the influences of scanning incidence angle and distance on the laser intensity returns. Concrete colour change was also studied. Data was collected and interpreted on unheated and heated concrete to establish the baseline condition of the material.

Study experiments were carried out in a controlled laboratory and used two-phase shift terrestrial laser scanners (Leica HDS7000 and FARO Focus 120) to scan the concrete specimens before heating and then after they were cooled again.

The concrete specimens were heated in a furnace to elevated temperatures of up to 1,000°C as the temperature attained is an important factor in assessing fire-damaged concrete.

To assess colour change in the heated concrete, specimen images were captured using the M-Cam attached to the Leica HDS7000 laser scanner. A flatbed scanner (HP Scanjet G2410) was also used to scan heated concrete surfaces and capture images. It is these images that were used for analysis due to their better resolution.

During the experiments, the measurement of the incidence angles for the concrete blocks was found to vary with distance. As the scanning distance increased, the incidence angle decreased and both scanners used showed the same trend.

“The measurement of the scanning incidence angles from the various distances was found to be wavelength independent for both scanners and this is a promising factor in terms of developing standardised analysis tools for the incidence angle although several scanners need to be tested,” said Gethin Roberts.

Wallace Mukupa said: “A comparative analysis of the laser intensity for heated and unheated concrete showed that the recorded intensity values for heated concrete are higher than those of unheated concrete. In fact, the laser intensity values of heated concrete showed a remarkable increase in the concrete exposure temperatures from 250°C to 1,000°C.

“Such a correlation between the intensity and the exposure temperature is of cardinal importance in assessing the condition and extent of damage to concrete. This finding implies it could be possible to use laser intensity to detect the state of concrete whether it has been heated or not.”

The study has also shown that RGB data improves the visual identification of features and provides a rough idea of the concrete condition after a fire. Laser scanners have an advantage in that most of them have either an internal or external camera that can be used to capture concrete images if good resolution can be achieved.

“Although the laser scanners used have different wavelengths, the results demonstrated the feasibility of using TLS as an approach to assessing levels of fire-damaged concrete and provide an understanding of the condition of concrete in relation to the strength changes of concrete when it is heated to elevated temperatures,” he said.




New laser scanning test to assess fire-damaged concrete

Builders’ merchants enjoy third-quarter growth

Sales of building materials through UK builders’ merchants rose by 3.8% in the three months after the EU referendum, compared with the same period of 2015.

The third quarter of 2016 suggests that builders’ merchants bucked the downward construction trend reported by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) earlier this month.

Latest figures from the Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) show that total merchant sales in Q3 2016 were up by 3.8% on the same period last year with total ex-VAT sales reaching £1.43bn compared to £1.39bn in 2015.

Total sales for the first nine months of the year were up 5.1% year on year.

Year-on-year sales growth in Q3 was particularly strong in the landscaping sector (+9.6%), helped by good weather throughout the period. Ironmongery (up 5.9%) also performed well, as did the market’s largest product category, heavy building materials (+4.4%).

However, total merchant sales in Q3 were down by 0.6% on the second quarter, and down by 3.7% less when adjusted for two fewer trading days.  This is a turnaround from last year.  In 2015, Q3 sales were 1.7% higher than Q2. It remains to be seen if this is an early warning sign that the market may be slowing, the survey authors said.

John Newcomb, managing director of the Builders Merchant Federation, which sponsors the survey, said: “Positive trading results in first three months following Brexit are an important indicator of the industry’s health. Year-on-year sales have continued to grow throughout 2016, bucking the construction trends identified by the ONS.”

Revised ONS figures for July and August showed construction down by -0.8% and +0.8% respectively on the previous year, with a provisional September figure of +0.2%.

Mr Newcomb added: “We are not overly concerned about the slight drop in sales from Q2 as annual sales can peak in either quarter, but we will be monitoring this going forward.”

The survey is compiled by GfK tracking point of sale data from builders’ merchants representing more than 80% of the market by value.


Builders’ merchants enjoy third-quarter growth

Infrastructure Commission tasked with technology study

The government has commissioned the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) to conduct a study into how technology can improve infrastructure productivity.

The future
Above: The future

The government believes that emerging digital technologies, artificial intelligence and the so-called ‘internet of things’ could revolutionise infrastructure management. It just doesn’t yet know exactly how so it wants the NIC to find out, and advise ministers on what they should be doing to help.

“Innovation and infrastructure are at the heart of the government’s economic and industrial strategy, and emerging technologies have the potential to radically improve the way we manage our infrastructure,” said Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond in a letter to NIC chair Lord Adonis. “That is why I am asking you to conduct a study to identify which new technologies have the greatest potential for improving the productivity of our infrastructure, and what steps government should take to support the deployment of these technologies.”

The terms of reference set out by the Chancellor flesh out the scope of work: “Identify  which  emerging  technologies have  the  most  potential  in  terms  of optimising  the  management,  performance  and  maintenance  of existing  and future infrastructure assets to support economic growth; and make recommendations to government on what actions it should consider to support  the  deployment  of  those  technologies  across infrastructure  areas  and sectors, including identifying where trial approaches may be appropriate”.

The commission has been asked to publish its report by the end of 2017.

NIC deputy chair Sir John Armitt responded: “From electric vehicles to the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence‎, the technologies of the future could have an enormous impact on the UK’s economic infrastructure and the ways in which rely upon it.

“As new technologies develop, Britain must do everything it can to ensure that we are best placed to reap the benefits – and that includes incorporating innovative new systems and practices into the infrastructure that keeps our country moving.

“Britain should seek to lead the world in harnessing the emerging technologies that can make our lives easier and our economy more productive. This study will consider how we make that happen.”

Infrastructure Commission tasked with technology study

US investor moves into UK concrete pumping market

Three UK concrete pumping specialists have now come under American ownership.

Camfaud's 55 mobile pumps on parade in 2014
Above: Camfaud’s 55 mobile pumps on parade in 2014

Denver-based Brundage-Bone Concrete Pumping Inc has acquired Camfaud Concrete Pumps, Premier Concrete Pumping (PCP) and South Coast Concrete Pumping.

Terms of the transactions were not disclosed.

They claim that the combination creates “the world’s leading concrete pumping business”.

Tony Faud, managing director of Camfaud, will become the managing director of Brundage-Bone’s UK operations and will be supported by all of the existing senior managers of the UK businesses, including Peter Faud, Brendan Murphy and Damian Shepherd. Mr Faud has also joined the Brundage-Bone board of directors.

The three acquired UK businesses are interconnected: until this transaction, Damien Shepherd owned PCP and co-owned South Coast with Camfaud; Brendan Murphy was a director of both PCP and Camfaud, and is Tony Faud’s brother-in-law.

Camfaud is substantially the largest of the three UK businesses, making a pre-tax profit of £4.6m in the year to 30th September 2015 on a turnover of £14.0m.

“Brundage-Bone is proud to welcome these outstanding businesses, which are known for excellent customer service, technical excellence across a multitude of complex concrete pumping applications and strong leadership teams,” said Brundage-Bone president and chief executive Bruce Young.

Brundage-Bone was founded in 1983 and has been majority owned by venture capital firm Peninsula Pacific Strategic Partners since 2014. In the USA last year it bought out Action Concrete Pumping, AJ Concrete Pumping and Kenyon Concrete Pumping. It now operates from 60 locations across 19 states of the USA.

Bruce Young said: “The addition of Camfaud, Premier and South Coast fit well with our own business model, and together we can leverage our capabilities on a multinational basis to best serve our customers. Moreover, with the financial support of Peninsula Pacific behind us, we have the right foundation to continue to prudently expand as conditions warrant.”

Tony Faud said that Camfaud, PCP and South Coast would continue to trade under their own names, adding: “We’re highly enthusiastic to partner with Brundage-Bone to create a premium international concrete pumping enterprise. Brundage-Bone is a natural fit for the UK businesses given our shared values and strengths.”

Peninsula Pacific managing director Matt Homme said: “Like Brundage-Bone, the UK businesses are centres of excellence in their country and form an outstanding platform for growth in the highly fragmented concrete pumping industry. Peninsula Pacific looks forward to continuing to support the multinational Brundage-Bone team as it provides a highly differentiated construction services offering to its expanding customer base in both the United States and now in the United Kingdom.”

US investor moves into UK concrete pumping market

SCX to install retracting roof on Wimbledon Court One

The Wimbledon tennis championships already have a giant retracting roof over Centre Court – now Number 1 Court is to get one as well.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) has awarded the contract to Sheffield-based engineering company SCX has been to build a second retractable at its Wimbledon home.

AELTC is redeveloping Number 1 Court to increase its seating capacity and guarantee play in all weather conditions. Its main contractor for the project is Sir Robert McAlpine, which began work in August on removing the existing fixed roof over the stands.

SCX, originally the projects and maintenance division of overhead travelling crane producer Street Crane, installed the centre court roof 10 years ago and upgraded it in 2011. It is also responsible for its routine maintenance.

SCX managing director Simon Eastwood said: “We are very proud to have built the original retractable roof on Centre Court, so to be chosen by the AELTC to work on Number 1 Court is a real honour. SCX is now one of the leading builders of kinetic architecture in the UK and this contract has taken our order book to record levels.”

The roof is made up of 11 trusses and weighs around 1,100 tonnes. Severfield has the contract for the steelwork.

When closed, the roof will cover an area of about 5,500m². It is based on a concertina design with two main sections that meet in the middle. It will be made of transparent Gore Tenara (a type of Gore-Tex fabric) that is stretched between the steel trusses.

The retractable roof is divided into two sections with a total of 10 bays. Each of the bays is clamped on either side by prismatic steel trusses. The ends of each truss are supported on a wheeled bogie that moves along rails that are fixed to the new superstructure of Number 1 Court. It will be able to be deployed or retracted in around 8 minutes, driven by around 220 electro-mechanical devices (including motors).

SCX is responsible for design and supply of all the mechanical and electrical equipment, and also for the construction of all the components that make up the moving sections of the roof. Much of the construction, assembly and testing work will be carried out at SCX’s new Tyler Street facility in Sheffield.

Completion is scheduled for 2019.

One of the challenges solved by SCX when building the Centre Court roof was to ensure the fabric roof remained in tension when it was closed. The company created an innovative design that ensured the Gore Tenara material is tensioned by a mechanical system.

SCX was founded in Sheffield in 1972 by Keith Eastwood when he was boss of Street Crane. Today SCX is run by Keith’s son, Simon Eastwood and employs 150 people across its three businesses: SCX Special Projects, Street CraneXpress and Burnand XH.


Sir Robert McAlpine bought four new Potain MR 608 luffing jib tower cranes for this project back in August. “We chose the Potain MR 608s for their strong capacity and long reach, and to allow for more flexibility on the court during the construction process,” said Steve Wright, commercial plant manager at Sir Robert McAlpine. Maximum capacity for this crane is 32 tonnes and the maximum jib length is 60 metres.



SCX to install retracting roof on Wimbledon Court One