How to deliver true low carbon housing for the planet

In its 2019 Spring Statement the government said it will aim to end the use of fossil fuel-based heating systems in all new homes from 2025. It’s a bold move, and one that certainly brings even more focus on improving the sustainability credentials of the UK’s new-build housing stock. But what else should be done to make our homes truly low carbon and sustainable?

Going beyond operational efficiency

In the quest to reduce CO2 emissions and produce ‘nearly zero-carbon buildings’, most designers and builders focus on lowering operational emissions – even if it means emitting more CO2 in the construction process. There’s still very little thought put into reducing the CO2 emitted during the build stage and from the materials used in the building fabric itself.

There are, however, pockets of developments appearing across the UK – built by innovative SME builders harbouring a social conscience – that take a more holistic approach to sustainable housebuilding.

One such development currently under construction is Kings Farm Close. A collection of 15 new homes on the outskirts of the Oxfordshire village of Longcot, the development promises affordable, sensitively designed dwellings fit for 21st century living.

More significant, however, is that Kings Farm Close also claims to be the most sustainable housing development in Oxfordshire.

Modern methods of construction

Ian Pritchett, managing director of Oxfordshire-based Greencore Construction, has been championing a fabric-first approach to new home building, using eco-friendly, modern methods of construction for some time. His approach is to build to the highest standards while also delivering comfort and quality at a great price.

Every Greencore home is built offsite in a factory using a timber frame panel system, which is insulated with a mix of hemp, lime and wood fibre. The hemp-lime mix provides exceptional levels of thermal performance – tests carried out by Bath University showed that this system stores nearly four times the amount of heat when compared with traditional insulation materials like mineral wool.

Meeting the double carbon target

This insulated panel system – branded as the Biond Building System – is manufactured almost entirely from natural materials. It means that Greencore’s homes, which are always built to Passivhaus thermal performance standards, can achieve the double carbon target of a low carbon footprint and low operational energy usage.

Ultimately, it means the homes’ occupants won’t need to use their heating as often. This is because the hemp-lime and wood fibre insulation in the superstructure – and a mechanical ventilation and heat recovery unit – help to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature all year round. The heating is provided entirely by underfloor heating, leaving wall spaces clear for furniture and decoration.

So, how is this possible? How does a humble plant-based insulation material like hemp-lime make such an impact on the thermal performance of a home?

Hemp-lime ‘phase change’ properties drive thermal efficiency

It’s all thanks to the natural ‘phase change’ properties of hemp-lime. The moisture naturally present in the cells of the hemp and in the pore spaces of the composite material can change from liquid to vapour and back again. When this change takes place, a lot of energy is either absorbed or released.

This phase change process can take place at a wide range of temperatures and means that energy entering or leaving one face of a wall is very different to the energy entering or leaving the other face. The reality is that the combination of good insulation and exceptional thermal inertia resulting from the natural phase change properties makes hemp-lime an extremely high performing material.

A little hemp-lime history…

Hemp-lime has been used as a building material for hundreds of years in central Europe, but was revived in the 1990s in France as a niche construction technique for new houses and for infilling the panels of historic oak-framed buildings.

The new-build technique involves casting a wet mix of hemp and lime around a timber framed structure to form solid monolithic walls, normally finished with a lime render on the outside and lime plaster on the inside. This form of building has gained popularity in France and spread to the UK in the early 2000s.

Avoiding the delay of drying wet hemp-lime

Despite its rise in popularity, one major limitation hampers the use of wet cast hemp-lime in volume construction projects: it takes a long time to dry. In ideal weather conditions (warm, dry and breezy), drying can take as long as six to 12 months, which clearly isn’t practical for fast-track housebuilding in unpredictable British weather.

To tackle this, Greencore pre-fabricates the superstructure of each home at its factory – ready-filled with hemp-lime and wood fibre insulation – before it’s shipped out to be assembled onsite. This means the drying process can be managed in a controlled, indoor environment. Once on-site, the superstructure of each building can be erected in a matter of days. It’s modern methods of construction with a natural, sustainable twist.

Taking sustainability to the community

For Greencore and its partners, however, the sustainability focus doesn’t stop with the homes themselves. Back at Kings Farm Close, developer Oxford Advanced Living (OAL) – with support from affordable housing provider Sovereign – has made a concerted effort to build sustainability into the very fabric of the community.

“A fifth of the site’s total area will be shared green space,” says Martin Pike, director of OAL, “planted and managed with native trees to support wildlife under a biodiversity plan. This project has really allowed us to put into practice all our ideas and determination to create a genuinely sustainable community in Oxfordshire.”

With 40% of the development given over to affordable housing, Greencore and OAL are keen to champion a ‘sustainability and quality for all’ approach to housebuilding.

“With these homes, the same high performance standards are available to everyone, regardless of whether you’re renting or buying a home,” says Martin. “We believe that all the residents will be able to enjoy greener and healthier lifestyles at Kings Farm Close, and we intend to work closely with them to help us with future projects.”

Alex Brooks, development manager at Sovereign, agrees. “These new affordable homes will not only be great places to live, they’ll also be good for the environment as well as keeping energy bills low for residents. It’s really important that we build homes and invest in communities that are fit for the future.”

Support from MPs

It’s an approach that hasn’t gone unnoticed in political circles, either. In March this year, Ed Vaizey, the former culture minister and MP for the Oxfordshire constituency of Wantage, took time out of his schedule to visit Kings Farm Close and see the project first hand.

“The vast majority of new-build homes in the UK are of bland design, poor build quality and lack basic sustainability credentials,” he says. “Much of this is to do with national housebuilders refusing to embrace new technologies and construction methods.

“The Kings Farm Close development, however, is a shining example of forward-thinking, modern housebuilding from a team of people who are clearly very committed to bringing sustainable living to everyone – whether you own, part-own or rent your home.”

Recognition from sustainability leaders

In October 2018, Kings Farm Close was recognised by sustainability charity Bioregional for its national leadership in implementing One Planet Living, a comprehensive framework for planning, building and managing greener communities.

Nicole Lazarus, head of Bioregional Oxfordshire, praised the development, saying: “The Kings Farm Close team richly deserve recognition for their leadership in creating the kind of sustainable new housing we need so badly. We particularly love the natural materials used in the build system and the high-quality indoor environment that they make possible.”

There’s a lot to be said for the power of plant-based materials in construction. The fact is the more of these materials we incorporate into buildings, the more carbon we lock up – plain and simple.

Recent industry data shows that the construction of an average house produces 50 tonnes of CO2. On the other hand, construction of a Greencore home, using the hemp-lime timber frame panel system, produces very low or zero CO2 in the construction process.

With construction work at Kings Farm Close expected to complete in the autumn of 2019, it won’t be long before the final residents move in and the claim of ‘Oxfordshire’s most sustainable housing development’ can be put to the test.

Continue Reading

Why a career in construction could be the next step for ex-military

Last year, the number of people employed in the British Armed Forces numbered nearly 150,000. Of those, over 80,000 employed in the British Army and over 30,000 in the Royal Navy.

However, over 14,000 people leave the military every year. This has become somewhat of a blessing for the construction industry, as it has created a sea of potential employees. Over 200,000 extra workers are needed before 2020 and ex-military personnel have highly transferrable skillsets and the potential to reach the top of the industry.

Ryan Latham, Senior Marketing Executive for 3B Training, has experienced firsthand how businesses can benefit from hiring ex-military personnel.

“Construction as an industry is growing, but it’s also is experiencing a gap in skills. An excellent way to fill in the hole for personnel with leadership, project management and teamwork skills is to investigate the pool of military leavers available. These transferable attributes are a valuable resource for the construction industry to help bring in skilled young workers.

Other industries appear to ignore Armed Forces leavers as potential employees, so much so that some leave their service history from their CV. Little do they know that they are missing out on a range of positive personality traits such as courage, discipline, selflessness and respect for others”.

Below, we take a closer look at what it’s like working in the military, what motivates members of the Armed Forces and why transitioning to a career in construction is the ideal next step for a leaver.

Why do people leave the military?

To understand why many people choose to leave the service, we’ve examined data from the 2018 UK Regular Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey Results which look at the impact of decisions affecting personnel.

Life in the Armed Forces requires specific demands that aren’t found in civilian jobs. When deployed, military personnel can find themselves away from their families for long periods of time, often in dangerous situations. Yet despite this, we found that the most common reasons for military personnel to seek a new career path are down to more familiar concerns:

  • Job satisfaction — Only 55% of military personnel claimed they were generally satisfied with their job.
  • Pay satisfaction — There has been a consistent drop in pay satisfaction since 2010, with only 31% currently admitting to being happy with their salary.
  • Life satisfaction — When questioning their happiness and how worthwhile they feel the things they do in life are, at least one in five members of the military rate them as low.

Since 2005, the Royal Marines have also seen a large decrease in the levels of satisfaction with opportunities for professional and personal development. It seems then, that much like civilian jobs, careers in the military are more motivated by personal growth and satisfaction.

This has led to a staggering 42% of military personnel actively searching for a new career outside of the Armed Forces over the past 12 months.

Why choose construction?

The construction industry is currently suffering from a skills shortage, resulting in a need for over 200,000 more workers by 2020. According to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the lack of skilled workers in the UK is the highest level since 2007, meaning the government’s initiative to build 300,000 new homes each year looks optimistic at best.

Former military personnel have a great opportunity to fill the construction skills gap. There are many sectors in the Armed Forces which provide their personnel with a number of highly transferrable skills, whether that’s engineering, mechanics or electronic.

A number of companies recognise the potential of military leavers and provide specialist training programmes to help them adjust to civilian life and a new career in construction. There are specialist courses available that provide Enhanced Learning Credits to enable lifelong learning to ex-members of the military or those looking to leave. These credits cover 80% of course fees and are available to anyone who has served a minimum of 6 years.

Working in construction allows leavers to put their experience to good use in a number of potential opportunities. The industry is not only in desperate need of construction workers but also manager positions, which is perfect for ex-officers who have experience leading teams and getting results in difficult situations.

What makes ex-military personnel a desirable workforce?

When working in the armed forces, you receive a level of training that simply isn’t available in other career paths. Regardless of their previous role, leavers are all highly disciplined and have fantastic teamwork skills.

  • According to the Armed Forces survey results, 82% agree that they have confidence in themselves as a team, plus, 78% believe their team know exactly what their responsibilities are and that their team can be relied upon to help when their job gets difficult. A strong team that can work well together and keep their cool under pressure is exactly what the construction industry needs.
  • Many working in the military are proud of the work they do, with 50% of the Royal Marines claiming that their service inspires them to do the best in their job. With the construction industry looking for a dedicated new workforce, finding employees who take pride in their work is crucial.
  • Leavers are not just job applicants to the construction industry, they’re assets. Due to their experiences in the Armed Forces, they can pick up skills much faster than most people in civilian professions and can help quickly fill the large skills gap. A team of highly trained, dedicated workers and authoritative, respected managers is the solution the industry has been looking for.

Samantha Gregory, Training Coordinator at 3B Training and former Vehicle Mechanic in the REME, knows firsthand what ex-military can offer the construction industry.

“The work ethic for military leavers is completely different from civilians. It is embedded in us to turn up on time (5 minutes before 5 minutes early) and to just get the job done.

Leavers are great at working under pressure and are taught to work through problems ourselves and come up with practical solutions. They can work with anyone and take instruction well.

Plus, if you’re looking for a manager you’re in the right place, as working in the Armed Forces gives leavers some of the best training in some of the worst environments”.

Continue Reading

National winners of ‘Most Considerate Site 2019’ revealed

Considerate Constructors Scheme recognises highest-performing construction sites with top honours

United Kingdom and Ireland, 15 April 2019: The winners of the best performing construction sites across the UK and Ireland have been crowned with the industry’s highest accolade of ‘Considerate Constructors Scheme, Most Considerate Site 2019′ at ceremonies across the country.

The 2019 winners of this prestigious title are:

  • Carlisle Gas Holder Demolition Project – Northern Gas Networks (project value under £500k)
  • Columbia Threadneedle Property Investments – Overbury plc (project value £500k to <£1m)
  • Camden FRA Works – Mulalley (project value £1m to <£5m)
  • University Centre, Rotherham – Willmott Dixon Construction (project value £5m to <£10m)
  • Woodmansterne Secondary School – Willmott Dixon Construction (project value £10m to <£50m)
  • One Blackfriars – St George City Ltd (project value £50m and over)

The glamorous awards ceremonies welcomed thousands of guests and took place at iconic venues in Edinburgh, London and Manchester from 25 March – 12 April.

The Considerate Constructors Scheme National Site Awards recognise the highest-performing construction sites against the Scheme’s Code of Considerate Practice which monitors how considerate the site is being towards their local community, environment and workforce.

This year’s awards were for registered sites that completed in 2018. Sites were eligible to win the ‘Most Considerate Site’ within the following six ‘project value bands’: Under £500k; £500k to <£1m; £1m to <£5m; £5m to <£10m; £10m to <£50m; and £50m and over.

The Scheme presented only 764 National Site Awards from a total of over 6700 eligible sites. In addition to the six Most Considerate Site Award winners, there were 336 Bronze, 252 Silver and 152 Gold, as well as 18 Most Considerate Site Runners-Up.

For the second year running, Ultra Sites, the Scheme’s highest attainment of registration, were also recognised for their outstanding commitment in collaborating with their supply chains, during the awards ceremonies. The highest performing Ultra Sites and their supply chain partners will receive recognition and a separate awards ceremony held in July.

Considerate Constructors Scheme Chief Executive Edward Hardy said: “Congratulations to all the 2019 National Site Award winners. Each award winning site should be extremely proud of receiving this prestigious industry accolade, which recognises their invaluable contribution to improving the image of construction.

“Special congratulations must go to the highest performing construction sites winning the coveted title of ‘Most Considerate Site 2019′, which represent the very best of the construction industry in how they have raised their standards of considerate construction to the highest levels.

“Year-on-year, the Scheme places a higher level of expectation for the 7000 plus construction sites typically registered with the Scheme at any time. We work with sites to push the boundaries of what is achievable and this year’s accomplishments by sites have certainly not disappointed, with over 764 sites receiving National Site Award recognition.

“We are always amazed by the increasing levels of performance on site across the country, and we look forward to performance continuing to increase through next year and beyond.”

All award winners are available to view on the Construction Map here.

Continue Reading

Reporting Minor Incidents to Prevent Future Catastrophe

Recording data on all workplace incidents and near misses, from seemingly insignificant events to serious injury, is essential for all organisations. Whilst some may deem it unnecessary or tedious to report every minor accident in the workplace, such as an employee tripping or narrowly avoiding injury caused by faulty equipment, recording these instances can be an effective strategy to prevent major incidents from occurring in the future.

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) requires employers to report and keep records of incidents on site from ‘dangerous occurrences’ that include near-misses, to work-related accidents that cause death. However, there are a number of other types of incidents that are not required to be reported under RIDDOR that could be key to mitigating dangerous events.

For example, small fires on construction sites are not legally required to be reported, but this has led to a significant number of fires being underreported and a subsequent data void. With an industry-wide lack of data for near-misses and fires, there is no way to analyse why these instances might be occurring in the first place and put mitigation efforts in place to prevent them and more catastrophic occurrences in the future. As a result, there has been a notable rise in the number of devastating fires on construction sites, such as the recent Belfast Bank Primark fire, or Glasgow School of Art which has caught fire twice in the last four years.

Although reporting near miss incidents such as small fires is not required under RIDDOR, there is a growing data gap forming which is impeding efforts to manage and mitigate risk. Reporting minor incidents can help to identify patterns within a business that may be as a result of health and safety procedures being ignored or the early stages of faulty machinery, for example. Is the same machine frequently leaking water? Are minor incidents happening in the same area? Are the incidents occurring within the same department or is there a trend in when the incidents occur? Without capturing this data, there is no way to analyse and identify the root cause.

For example, reporting a small water leak could seem trivial, but if it is left unaddressed it could cause an employee to slip and injure themselves, or it could be the first sign of an equipment malfunction. The ramifications of these examples could be significant – the employee may need time off work due to injury, or the equipment malfunction could result in product loss or the machine needing to be shut down for a length of time for a fix to be performed.

If the water leak had been reported when it was first spotted, the cause could have been identified and rectified quickly, avoiding an ongoing slip hazard and if a fix was required, preventing the faulty machine getting any worse. Recording incidents of this type could also highlight similar faults with other machinery which may not have been previously identified.

It is crucial that a culture of reporting every incident is encouraged, to identify safety system weaknesses and put in place proactive measures to prevent these minor incidents becoming major catastrophes. So how can organisations make safety reporting part of the workforce’s everyday role? Streamlined apps
integrated into smartphone handsets are one way to address the problem. If the workforce can quickly
and easily document incidents – no matter how small – and escalate this to the appropriate department,
incidents can not only be addressed quickly but the level of underreporting can also be reduced.

Continue Reading

ANC workshop sets out best practice approach in sound insulation testing

Acoustic professionals shared best practice in sound insulation testing at a workshop organised by the Association of Noise Consultants (ANC).

Almost 100 testers from ANC member companies attended the event, held in Birmingham.

The ANC launched their Approved Document E Registration Scheme in 2003 to provide independent verification of pre-completion sound insulation testing.

Since then the scheme has gone from strength-to-strength, recording over 450,000 tests over the years.

Latest figures reveal a pass rate of 97.4 per cent from approximately 30,000 tests carried out in 2018.

Part of this success stems from the commitment of ANC testers to share experiences gained across the industry.

Dan Saunders, Chairman of the ANC, said: “What makes the difference with the Association’s registration scheme is the fact that it enables the building industry to tap into the expertise of 300 registered testers, all qualified in acoustics, who are able to deliver the Approved Document E testing nationwide.

“This means the testing service comes with reassurance of consultancy advice from member firms, backed up by the know-how of some of the most highly qualified and experienced acoustic experts in the country.

“The workshop provided a very useful opportunity to continue to drive forward best practice and keep the scheme in pole position within the housebuilding sector.

“The number of successful projects and the results achieved to date is testimony to the scheme’s ability to deliver compliance in this important area.

“This is particularly important when you consider these tests come at the end of the construction phase and getting it wrong and then having to address the issue can be a very costly process.”

To find out more about the ANC and search for members registered to carry out pre-completion testing please visit

A video from the workshop can be found at

Continue Reading

Lock Out Tag Out Essentials

As part of a safe system of work, lock out tag out should be employed to ensure hazardous energy has been safely isolated. When conducting maintenance, repairs or cleaning work on any machinery and equipment, a safe procedure should be in place to ensure stored energy has been safely dispelled, and re-energisation does not accidentally occur. Here we have highlighted the essentials for a lock out tag out procedure.

What is Lock Out Tag Out

When correctly implemented and followed, a lock out tag out procedure ensures that machinery or equipment is completely shut off, stored energy safely isolated and re-energisation cannot occur accidentally. Recognised as a safety standard, lock out tag out is widely implemented as part of safety regulations and used across a variety of machinery and equipment.

Stages of Lock Out Tag Out

The lock out tag out procedure begins with the preparation of the equipment and the area. Workers should be made aware a lock out procedure is about to take place to ensure they don’t accidentally attempt to restart the equipment. The equipment is then shut down using the manufacturers procedure.

After shut down has occurred, all energy sources should now be isolated and devices applied to the equipment. At this point lock out devices can be implemented by utilising padlocks from Reece Safety and identifier tags. Stored energy should now be isolated by blocking moving parts and inspecting for any remaining movement.

The procedure now requires the try out phase, whereby you safely attempt to restart the equipment. If the procedure has been implemented correctly this should not occur. After safely shutting back down, you may now complete the desired work. After work has complete, the lock out devices can be removed and the equipment safely restarted.

Lock Out Tag Out Essentials

As part of the lock out procedure, there are a few essential pieces of equipment required to ensure safe isolation. These include the following:

Safety Padlock: A highly important aspect of lock out tag out is having the correct locks to place on your equipment. By choosing the correct safety padlock, specifically designed for lock out tag out, will help to ensure a safe system of work.

Identifier Tag: Tags allow for a visual method of identifying who applied the lock, as this is the only person during a lock out procedure permitted to remove it. The tags often include information such as name, type of isolation and the date of the lock out. These tags will sometimes include photographs for easy identification.

Lockout Hasp: Vital for multi-person lock out procedures, lock out hasps allow energy sources to be isolated by more than one worker for a safe system of work. This means the equipment cannot be re-energised until every worker has removed their lock from the hasp.

Key Cabinets: For padlocks with individual keys, storing these within a key cabinet will ensure only authorised personnel can access them. Key cabinets are also especially useful for storing the equipment keys to prevent accidental re-energisation.

Lock Out Stations: These are highly beneficial for storing all of your lock out equipment in one place. As lock out equipment should not be used for any other procedures in the workplace, keeping them all together in a secure environment can ensure they don’t become misplaced or misused.

When implementing a lock out tag out procedure in the workplace it is vital that employees have been trained to a high standard and that the correct equipment is on hand. Without this safety procedure, or a high level of training, accidents in the workplace are far more likely to occur.

Continue Reading

The Definitive Guide to Self-Build Structural Warranties

The world of Structural Warranties can be complicated for self-builders. From choosing the right provider to fully understanding what your Structural Warranty does, there is so much to consider. But, understanding exactly what a Structural Warranty is and why you need one, will help you to choose the right cover for your self-build project.

To help you, the experts at Self-Build Zone have put together a definitive guide to Structural Warranties that covers everything you need to know so that you can make an informed decision. This information should also help make sure that your project is fully covered, should the worst happen.

What is a Structural Warranty?

Simply put, a Structural Warranty is an insurance policy that covers any defects in building work, design or materials used in the construction process. Usually lasting 10-Years. This arrangement ensures that any defects that are discovered in a given time frame within the agreement will be covered if they lie within the builder’s responsibility.

Each policy will be slightly different, so it is always important to read the fine print. Generally, the more expensive the policy, the wider the cover is.

What does a Structural Warranty cover?

Typically, a Structural Warranty is split into two periods. The first period is the defects insurance period. This lasts for the first two years of the policy, which begins when the building receives its certificate of completion. Within these first two years, the developer is responsible for amending any issues that arise from their work or fail to comply with the provider’s standards. Faults of this kind need to be reported as soon as possible.

The second period of cover is the Structural insurance period. During this period, it becomes the responsibility of the Structural Warranty provider to deal directly with valid claims. This 8-year time frame involves defects being reported directly to the provider of the Warranty, and if the defect is valid and you’re covered, the provider is responsible for organising and paying for repairs etc.

Who needs a Self-Build Structural Warranty?

If you’re self-building, it is not required to have a Structural Warranty, but most lenders will need one. Structural Warranties are required for mortgages, so you will struggle to sell a self-built home within the 10-Year period, without taking out a policy.

If you purchase a Warranty and you sell your self-build property within the 10-Year period, the Warranty can be transferred to the new owner, for the remainder of the warranty period.

What is the Structural Warranty process?

Your experience with a Structural Warranty policy will differ depending on the provider. However, the process usually begins with the self-builder applying for the policy by registering with a provider and submitting plans, specifications and any application forms, plus an application fee if applicable. Then, the Structural Warranty provider will review the plans and calculate a quote.

Once the Structural Warranty is issued, documents are signed, and any necessary appraisal meetings have taken place, you will be provided with a technical manual and any other necessary documentation. When the building work begins, the warranty provider will carry out regular site inspections to ensure that the building work complies with their standards. As mentioned earlier, the policy will begin after completion of the build, when a certificate is issued.

How much does a Structural Warranty cost?

The cost of a Structural Warranty varies hugely project by project. It will all depend on the size and type of property, amongst other factors. Your warranty provider will carefully calculate you a quote, once you have filled in all the necessary details.

What are the benefits of a Structural Warranty?

There are many benefits that come with a Structural Warranty. The most obvious one is that a Structural Warranty gives you peace of mind. Of course, the hope is that nothing will go wrong, but a policy in place ensures you are covered should the worst happen, saving you stress and money.

When you purchase a Structural Warranty, the provider will carry out frequent inspections to ensure the building work meets Building Standards. Therefore, obtaining a Structural Warranty will help ensure your building work is of a high standard.

Also, as mentioned earlier, most mortgage lenders will not lend money for a building without a Structural Warranty, so having one in place will help you to sell what you have built more easily. During a self-build project, it can be tempting to try and save money where you can, but a Structural Warranty worth the investment.

Where can you get a Structural Warranty?

Obtaining a quality Structural Warranty is vital for protecting your building work, should you need it. With so many options available, you can get comprehensive cover for your project, no matter the scale. But, knowing all you can about this insurance policy could help things run a little smoother.

Self-Build Zone provides structural warranties for all self-build projects and developments.

Continue Reading

Cheapest and Most Expensive UK Cities for Aspiring Self-builders

Thanks to aspirational TV programmes like Grand Designs, it’s no surprise that 1 in 7 Brits are currently researching the self-build process.

The government are even getting on board by introducing more incentives in the hope of boosting the number of self-builds by 35% year-on-year.

To help, Insulation Express have uncovered the biggest opportunities in the UK for aspiring self-build homeowners, property investors and SME builders. The results have been collated into a map which highlights the top 30 cities; the data also includes the number of available plots and the average plot price for each city:

Stand out stats include:

  • 1 million Brits plan on building a self-build within the next year.
  • The average self-build homeowner makes a profit of 29% when selling their home.
  • 49% of Brits dislike standard new builds making the flexibility of a self-build more appealing.
  • The average price of a plot in Liverpool (£817,000) is seven times more expensive than in Manchester (£91,062).

Top 10 Most Expensive Cities for Self-Build Plots

Insulation Express have also used their ‘self-build opportunities’ data to expose the most expensive cities for aspiring self-builders.

Place City Average Price of Plot
1 Liverpool £817,000
2 Oxford £508,333
3 Leeds £388,000
4 Portsmouth £371,250
5 Derby £356,428
6 Peterborough £328,741
7 Cambridge £323,333
8 Cardiff £303,750
9 Birmingham £274,714
10 Edinburgh £256,000

Top 10 Cheapest Cities for Self-Build Plots

Insulation Express’ have also uncovered the cheapest cities for self-build plot prices.

Place City Average Price of Plot
1 Inverness £91,062
2 Dundee £95,000
3 Manchester £112,090
4 Salford £119,833
5 Durham £128,684
6 Wolverhampton £146,666
7 Southampton £156,666
8 Plymouth £170,000
9 Lincoln £173,316
10 Newport £195,500

Top 30 Cities with the Biggest Self-build Potential

Continue Reading


TIMco, one of the UK’s largest, independent and fastest growing wholesalers to the construction industry, has further expanded their VETO Security & Ironmongery range with the official launch of the innovative Fantom Doorstop, as well as the unveiling of a new range of Quality Steel Hinges. These new extensions follow the recent successful launch of the TAURUS range of external fence and gate hardware, whilst also helping to deliver on the company’s strategy of being a ‘one stop shop’ for builders’ merchants.

The Fantom Doorstop is the world’s first fully concealed, flush finish and trip hazard free doorstop like no other in the market. The flagship product from the Fantom Hardware range was invented in order to solve two problems; to reduce trip hazards and improve aesthetics. Unlike conventional door stops today, the Fantom Doorstop poses no trip hazard due to its innovative design. The doorstop uses a powerful rare earth magnet to activate a pin that is recessed into the floor to stop the door and hold it in place.

The magnet is so powerful that even fast-swinging doors can be stopped in their tracks. When the door is open in a controlled manner, the Fantom Doorstop will also act as a door hold open device making it ideal for preventing doors from slamming.

Because of its clean flush finish, the Fantom Doorstop can be fitted to all floor surfaces including wooden floors, tiles, polished concrete and even carpet. The product is available in six different finishes: Clear, White, Black, Chrome, Brass and Brushed Alloy, and all finishes come with a stainless-steel striker plate.

The new range of Quality Steel Hinges, also launching under the VETO Security & Ironmongery range, have been designed and manufactured to meet the high standards associated with TIMco. The range comprises of 116 hinges in total and is set for further expansion over the coming year.

The VETO Security & Ironmongery range can be merchandised on the existing TIMco stands in dedicated trays, along with supporting POS. The products will be individually packed in polybags with a bespoke label and barcode, making the merchandising an easy task for the merchant, whilst also improving both the ease and navigation of the shopping experience for the end user.

Paul White, Ironmongery Product Manager for TIMco, comments: “We are excited to be further developing our ironmongery range with the additions of the Fantom Doorstop and the Quality Steel Hinges. We are committed to providing everyday products with the signature ‘TIMco quality’ to our customers, but with added POS solutions to make the merchandising an easy task for our merchants. Introducing new and innovative products to the market like the Fantom Doorstop gives our customers new and unique solutions for problems and outlines our company mission to be that ‘one-stop-shop’ for builders’ merchants.”

The Fantom Doorstop and Quality Steel Hinges will be available to purchase from April 2019 and will sit amongst TIMco’s VETO Security & Ironmongery range, as well as featuring in the updated VETO Specialist Product Guide.

TIMco, one of the UK’s largest independent wholesale suppliers of screws, fasteners, fixings, nails, building chemicals and adhesives, power tool accessories, building hardware, site protection and ironmongery, is headquartered in Nantwich, Cheshire and imports and supplies more than 6,500 product lines from around the world to distributors throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe. The company was established in 1972 and now employs 160+ members of staff from its offices in the UK, Ireland and Taiwan. For more information, visit

Continue Reading

Lucideon partnership enables seamless certification service for the construction industry in Brexit times

Construction testing and certification company Lucideon has forged a new partnership in Europe to enable UK construction product manufacturers to retain access to EU markets.

Lucideon has joined forces with Czech Republic-based certification body TZUS to ensure companies can seamlessly achieve a wide-range of product certifications for the EU, whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

Offering one of the largest construction products testing and certification services in the UK, Lucideon has a large-scale construction laboratory on site at its headquarters in Stoke-on-Trent, with state-of-the art testing facilities including a significant strong-floor, heavy load lifting capabilities, 900 tonne compression loading rigs, large capacity hygrothermal testing chambers and an indoor dynamic wind loading and wind uplifting rig.

Under the new partnership, manufacturers can continue to deliver their products to Lucideon’s UK site, with the company taking control of all the administration to ensure compliance with EU requirements.

Tony Kinsella, CEO of Lucideon, said: “We might be facing uncertain times, but we’ve been working to ensure continuity for clients, through a cost-effective and flexible service that will enable product certifications for the EU to be continued.

“TZUS is a large and well-respected certification body and the partnership will provide a seamless service for UK construction manufacturers wanting to place products on the EU market, regardless of a Brexit deal or no deal situation.”

Continue Reading

Bespoke Surveying


We utilise technology extensively to provide clients with bespoke surveying solutions that deliver on reporting requirements whilst improving overall time and cost efficiency.

A National Service

country-wide surveys

Our unique multi skilled national service allows clients to avoid duplication of expensive professional roles. Maximising efficiency and improving report delivery times.