Building Dreams
for Lifetime Homes

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GCR

Posted Tuesday 09 May 2017 22:33 PM

Global Construction Review

Company Prosecuted

Posted Tuesday 09 May 2017 22:21 PM

Company Prosecuted After Worker Dies On Major London Project

Worker Dies

Posted Tuesday 09 May 2017 22:19 PM

Company Prosecuted After Worker Dies During Construction Work

5 Point Plan

Posted Tuesday 09 May 2017 22:15 PM






Positive start to 2017

Posted Friday 28 Apr 2017 14:39 PM

Positive start to 2017 for small to medium construction companies

Small to medium construction companies experienced strong growth in the first quarter of 2017 according to the Federation of Master Builders

The Federation of Master Builder’s (FMB) ‘State of Trade Q1 2017’ report, released quarterly, is one of the most accurate into the state of the construction industry. The first report of 2017 has been recently published and gives some interesting feedback for construction companies. 


Firstly, UK small to medium (SME) construction enterprises saw workloads increase more significantly than at any time since Q2 2016—the quarter immediately prior to last June’s EU referendum. 

The survey revealed half of all SMEs believed workloads are likely to continue to increase. There was also concern over skills shortages with over half of all construction companies reporting they are finding it difficult to hire carpenters.

Another element to come out of the survey was uncertainty over the supply chain. A significant percentage of builders said they thought it was likely material prices would rise in the next quarter.

Unexpected findings

The news comes despite problems of rising building material cost, investor uncertainty over the economic impact of Brexit and the forthcoming snap general election. 

Brexit has undoubtedly had an impact on the construction sector. Earlier this year construction managers noted they were already seeing an exodus of EU workers, reporting it was becoming increasingly difficult to hire workers from the EU. It is also expected a hard Brexit will cause significant problems within engineering. The ‘Staying on Track’ report , published by infrastructure giant and construction contractor Balfour Beatty in February, revealed more than 10 per cent of its workforce was from the EU. Additionally, 11 per cent of new recruits in 2016 held EU passports. This, the firm said, would cause issues with recruiting skilled engineers. 

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “The first three months of 2017 proved to be very positive for construction SMEs, which reported strong growth, underpinned by continuing resilience in the home improvement sector. 

“Workloads rose in every part of the UK, with particularly positive results in the devolved nations. Given the concerns that wider consumer confidence might be weakening, it’s encouraging that smaller construction firms aren’t sensing any drop-off in demand for their services. 

“Indeed, despite Article 50 being triggered and the growing likelihood of a hard Brexit, these latest results demonstrate that builders are increasingly confident about the immediate future, with one in two forecasting higher workloads during the next quarter.” 

Berry concluded: “The combined effects of rising material costs and the ever-worsening construction skills crisis will therefore be reason enough for SME construction firms to be cautious in their optimism. If growth in real household income remains flat, and if consumer confidence is shaken by the impending snap General Election and the triggering of Article 50, there are plenty of potential pitfalls for builders to navigate. 

“Nevertheless, as of yet, the much anticipated ‘Brexit effect’ has yet to hit what is considered to be the bellwether sector of consumer confidence and wider economic health.”

Analysis Property

Posted Tuesday 07 Feb 2017 14:08 PM

Analysis: will there really be a property crash in 2017?

Britain is among a handful of wealthy countries where house prices are "dangerously high" and liable to crash, according to analysis from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. 


The think tank cited the UK's housing market along with that of Canada and Sweden, warning that prices were now out of alignment with earnings and had reached levels which were unsustainable. 

A collapse in prices would hit household confidence and spending, with likely ramifications spilling out across the economy. 

Research from Nationwide found that house price growth has "flattened" and has fallen to the weakest level in 13 months. 

Prices grew by 4.3pc during the year to January, compared to 4.5pc during the year to December. 

Economists including Samuel Tombs at Pantheon Macroeconomics said that price growth would continue to weaken as the year goes on. 


Analysis Property

Posted Tuesday 07 Feb 2017 14:08 PM

Analysis: will there really be a property crash in 2017?

Britain is among a handful of wealthy countries where house prices are "dangerously high" and liable to crash, according to analysis from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. 


The think tank cited the UK's housing market along with that of Canada and Sweden, warning that prices were now out of alignment with earnings and had reached levels which were unsustainable. 

A collapse in prices would hit household confidence and spending, with likely ramifications spilling out across the economy. 

Research from Nationwide found that house price growth has "flattened" and has fallen to the weakest level in 13 months. 

Prices grew by 4.3pc during the year to January, compared to 4.5pc during the year to December. 

Economists including Samuel Tombs at Pantheon Macroeconomics said that price growth would continue to weaken as the year goes on. 


EVENTS

Posted Wednesday 01 Feb 2017 21:31 PM


Be inspired: free tickets to Build it Live

4th & 5th February, Kent Event Centre 
18th & 19th February, Event City, Manchester 

Build it Live is back for 2017 and the FMB will be there to help you take your first steps towards your dream home! Grab yourself a pair of free tickets to the upcoming shows in Kent and Manchester using the code FCFM17. Come along to pick up some top tips and learn how to manage your dream project without running out of time or budget.

Free tickets to the Homebuilding & Renovating Shows 

The Homebuilding &Renovating Shows are back and promise to be better than ever! You will find inspiration, advice, seminars and Masterclasses as well as the opportunity to see the newest, most innovative products on the market at discounted prices. The FMB will be there to give you expert advice on choosing a builder, take advantage of our free tickets to shows across the UK and pop in to see us!


The Adobe

Posted Wednesday 01 Feb 2017 21:16 PM

TRANSFORM YOUR SPARE ROOM INTO A USEFUL SPACE

Struggling to decide what to do with a spare room? We've come up with some ideas to help you make the most of your extra space. 




Office/ studio: Whether it’s for working from home or a sanctuary for life admin and creative thinking, a study is a traditional favourite use for a spare room. It needn’t be a room with a computer, if you are a painter set an easel up, if you’re a musician have it sound proofed. This is where you earn your keep and hone your craft! 

Themed guest bedroom: We don’t suggest going overboard with this, but it’s always a bit of a novelty staying in a themed hotel room. Why not set your guest room up in a similar manner? 

Library: If you’re a lover of literature then a library is a novel idea for a spare room, set up a pair of comfy chairs and line your wall with book shelves. There’s nothing more relaxing than settling down amongst your books on a lazy afternoon, curled up with a classic and a cup of tea.

Playroom / Games-room: Whether your kids are toddlers or young-adults they can always benefit from a playroom! For small children, fill this with games and toys, whilst teenagers may prefer a TV and games consoles. Keep the mess from the living room and allow your children to have fun hosting friends without taking over the living room. 

Movie room: This can double up as your games room. Have some comfy chairs, a big TV and a thick curtain. If you get it set up quickly, this could be where you finish watching Euro 2016!

Walk in wardrobe/ dressing room: Many girls grew up dreaming of luxurious walk-in wardrobes lined with shoes! If you have the luxury of excess space, what’s stopping you from fulfilling this dream? Fix some clothing rails and shelves around the outside of the room, with a mirrored dressing table in front of the window. This is a great idea for a house with smaller bedrooms as you’ll free up space in the master by removing the wardrobes. 

Bar: Many of us dream of a bar in the home. If you’re one of the growing number of people who enjoys making their own alcohol then this can double up as a distillery. Just remember – you can’t actually sell drinks without a license! If you’ve got space then why not look in to getting some pub games and a pool table? 

Gym: Converting your spare room in to a gym could do wonders for your health. You’ll have no excuses for avoiding it anymore! There are many set ups to choose from – from yoga mats and dumbbells to exercise equipment. Install some speakers for music and a TV for mid workout entertainment and exercise videos.


Choosing a Builder

Posted Wednesday 01 Feb 2017 21:04 PM


Finding a builder doesn't need to be difficult. Here are some handy hints for finding the right builder for your project.

ASK AROUND

There’s nothing better than a recommendation from a friend or family member who’s had building work done. If family and friends can’t help, use our Find A Builder service search for professional builders in your local area. FMB Members are checked and inspected at the point of joining, and can offer you a warranty on your work through FMB Insurance Services.

PREPARE A BRIEF 

This is your project so make sure you get exactly what you want. Produce a written brief, including detailed drawings where possible, and give a copy to each builder who quotes. 

GET QUOTES IN 

Ask at least 3 builders to quote on your job and don’t just go with the cheapest. Look at the breakdown of costs, if some seem a lot cheaper than others ask how they will achieve it for the price without cutting corners. 

CHECK WHAT’S INCLUDED 

Read the quotes carefully and check that they include everything you would like done including the removal of rubbish, site waste and the specification of any fixtures and fittings. 

TALK TO PREVIOUS CUSTOMERS 

Go and visit some of the builders’ previous jobs. Most reputable traders will be more than happy to show off their previous work and while you’re there you can get a personal reference from a satisfied customer.


The Abode

Posted Wednesday 01 Feb 2017 14:03 PM


Stay warm & cosy at home with Hygge



How is it that the Danish are amongst the happiest people in the world despite facing 17 hours of darkness during winter months, whilst in the UK we want to curl up into a ball and hibernate the moment the days start to draw in? 

Recently it’s been suggested that it’s the concept of “Hygge” (pronounced hoo-gah), a uniquely Danish feeling which has been taking the world by storm, with over 20 books on the subject having been released in quick succession. It’s difficult to translate into English but it’s at heart the feeling of cosiness, but at a psychological rather than physical level. 

Although designers suggest hygge is not something you can buy, but a state of mind or feeling, there are ways that you can introduce this concept into your home and make it cosier. 

So with reports suggesting that snow’s on its way, how can you incorporate this cosy Danish concept into your home? 

Keep it simple 

This trend is not about making your home look like it belongs on the pages of an interior design magazine. Keep the colours muted, and rely on simple furniture and accessories. White walls are particularly popular in Denmark. This understated background will help you incorporate hygge into your home without it starting to feel busy and cluttered. 

Celebrate your heritage 

Antiques, old photographs and sentimental objects will all make your home feel cosier! Incorporate your history into your interior design.

Use texture 

Avoid plastics and acrylics; fill your home with candles, cashmere throws, faux fur, woods and soft, natural coloured rugs. Cover your sofa in textured, cosy blankets and cushions - how better to stay warm and cosy on a cold day? 

Mood lighting 

The harsh light of an overhead lamp can quickly take away that cosy feeling, however comfortable the room is. Place lamps where they’re needed, ensuring they’re sufficient for your needs (think reading lamp, table centrepieces) without being overbearing. The Danish are thought to buy more candles than anywhere else in the world, so take a lesson and light some in your house – cosy and energy saving! 

Taking it further 

Creating your own reading nook or a window seat could bring you to a new level of cosiness and the ultimate hygge centrepiece is a log fire!

Stamp Duty

Posted Thursday 26 Jan 2017 23:37 PM

Stamp Duty Fuelling Housing Crisis

Stamp duty is making the UK’s housing crisis worse by distorting the market and harming long-term development, the head of one of the world’s biggest property groups has warned. Christian Ulbrich, global chief executive of Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), said homebuyers were “paying for nothing” in a system that penalised landlords and second homeowners while doing little to address a lack of housing supply. Britain has the highest property taxes of any developed country, figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development show. Mr Ulbrich said the current system, where stamp duty jumps from 5pc to 10pc of a property’s value above £925,000, was “politically motivated”. While the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, cut the rate of tax for the vast majority of house purchases with a big overhaul of the system in 2014, Mr Ulbrich said, the policy still made it “prohibitive” to build more houses.

“For long-term development, stamp duty is definitely harmful, because the stamp duty in itself doesn’t create any value. It’s an additional cost that makes development more unattractive and it has to be considered in the pricing,” he said. r Ulbrich also hit out at the 3 percentage point surcharge that landlords and families pay when buying second homes, which he said had “a very strong dampening impact on the market”. He said he understood aims to reduce the influx of foreign money into the British property market, which Mr Ulbrich said would remain a haven for overseas investors, even after the Brexit vote. However, he said, increasing supply would help to “create an environment where that demand finds a home”. “We need more building,” he said. “That is good for the economy”.

Mr Ulbrich cited the Crossrail scheme in London as an example where “focus on building the right infrastructure” helped to “enlarge the spectrum of commutable areas around London where people can still live and come to work every morning. “Stamp duty doesn’t help to build one single apartment, it just makes it more expensive.” Mr Ulbrich also warned that JLL would be hit by a “double whammy” this year from rising business rates and the subdued commercial property market. Research shows that business rate bills in London are likely to soar by £9.4bn over the next five years. The JLL chief criticised the system as counter-cyclical, as he suggested that more frequent revaluations were necessary. “The [commercial property] market is currently cooling down, at the same time, business rates are going up because they were reflective of values before the Brexit vote. But the impact is happening after the Brexit vote,” he said. “We were very much hit by the overall loss in sentiment in the property market in London, and then we got the increase in business rates, so it’s a real double whammy.”

10 Golden Rules

Posted Wednesday 18 Jan 2017 14:51 PM


10 Golden Rooms about Extending Your Home



People extend their houses for many reasons and to achieve many aspirations. Invariably the desire to extend is a need for more space to accommodate a family, or to create a work zone in the home as work/living arrangements become more fused.

So what are the key points to ensure success? And what can go wrong? If you’ve never undertaken an extension before, or want to learn how to make your next one a success, these 10 key points will help steer you in the right direction.

1. Extend or Move

Some clients seem amazed when I visit them and say that they should move and not extend. Do you not want the work? I hear them say. In reality, some houses look best as they are and could be spoilt. 

It’s also possible to overdevelop a house, making the extension not economic. I am often asked: “Will I get my money back on the build?” So if the result is not worth adding, then one option is to sell up and find a better house to develop, extend and enjoy. 

2. Getting the Brief Right 

Start by defining what the new space should achieve and what problems the extension should solve. Unless you can tell your architect what is missing, then they won’t be able to make the extension more than a simple addition of rooms. This description should be more than ‘add a bedroom and bathroom’ or ‘make the ground floor bigger’. 

These statements are not wrong but it helps to think more about the added benefits, for example if you are extending a kitchen: 

Where does the light come in? 
Can I eat my breakfast with the morning sun? 
Do I want to sit and enjoy a view or see my garden? 

The architect will solve and come up with ideas, but the best solutions come from being set the best questions from a client with challenging thoughts. 

3. Materials 

Sometimes the materials to be used are obvious and the existing house demands the extension should follow suit with a subservient extension. If the house has no overriding character or style, then a contrast can improve both parts. The skill and challenge of the architect is to decide, with you as their client, what will work best. If you are going to contrast an existing house with materials that vary, then the solution has to be of high quality and well thought through.

A bland extension on an ordinary house is simply bland; if it also stands out because the materials look wrong, then the whole effect is ruined.

The materials are an intrinsic part of the architectural style so don’t pick materials at the end as an afterthought, or because they were ‘on offer’. Remember, you have to live with this for many years.



4. Size 

Getting the right size for an extension is probably the biggest challenge to the owner and the designer. There is no set rule, but many times I have seen extensions added to buildings that have spoilt the original house because they are too big and dominant. The pressure comes when too much accommodation is added. Think about the additional spaces and how they can combine or improve existing spaces, rather than simply adding more.

5. Architectural Style 

Every house has a style, built in a certain period or with particular materials. So the architectural style that the extension takes on is important to the combined result. A Georgian house can have an extension that matches or contrasts. If you are going to match a building, then the proportions, details and materials must be very good to make it work. The challenge for the designer and builder is to create authenticity and make the new building work. 

So is a contrast easier? Not necessarily so. A contrasting extension to a Georgian house requires different ideas and the new extension needs to be sensitive to the existing house rather than dominate or spoil it. If you want a modern extension on an older property, the same rules of proportion apply but the new extension must add something. This could be more glass in contrast to a solid form, or a flash of colour in contrast to a neutral palette. 

6. Relationship to Neighbouring Buildings 

One of the biggest questions on a semi or a terrace property is the effect that the extension or alteration has on its neighbour’s property. Try to design your new extension with respect and awareness to neighbouring houses. Can you avoid overlooking or overcrowding? Many extensions become so large that they appear to join up separate houses, creating terraces where they were never intended. 

7. Quality vs.Quantity 

So, how much will it cost to build? It is always better to build with better materials and better design than build more space of less quality. If you are going to build large and can’t afford everything, then plan to fit out the space later rather than cheapen everything. 

8. Extend or Replace 

Many people now alter a house so significantly that the question is not “Should we extend?” but “ Should we knock it down and replace?” There is a point when you are extending when it might be easier. However, I find that reusing existing buildings, where possible, is more environmentally friendly and can provide a great base to create the dream home. 

Bear in mind, though, that an extension attracts VAT at 20 per cent whereas a new build is 0 per cent, so do the sums on the costs at the beginning when you can make the right choice.


9. Prepare to Live Through the Mess 

If you are extending and living in the house then prepare for disruption, mess and dust. Many clients have said they will live in the house and come to regret it. If you can move out and leave the builders to get on, there are real advantages: 

The build can be faster and a shorter programme also saves money. 
The builders can turn power, water and heat off. 
They don’t have to tidy up all the time, and there are fewer arguments over the toilet. 

Most people have to stay while building goes on, so agree ground rules on access and use of the toilet. Seal up as many rooms as possible and invest in dustsheets to protect furniture, as plaster dust seems to get everywhere. 

Above all, keep smiling throughout the process and think about why you started. 

Supply tea and biscuits constantly and remember it will be worth it at the end. When the builders have left and you can sit, sleep and live in your new space, just think what an improvement you have made to your home and lifestyle. 

10. Cost/Value 

When you are planning your build, work through the costs at the beginning. Only you can decide what constitutes good value. The cost can be determined by the quantity surveyor or the builder but only you, the client, can say if that is worth it in monetary, enjoyment or usefulness terms.

House of the Year

Posted Wednesday 28 Dec 2016 15:08 PM

This striking building has been named 'House of the Year'

A five-storey Edinburgh house built inside half a garden has won the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) award for house of the year. Architect Richard Murphy spent nine years planning and building his house as he was initially told it would have an ‘adverse impact’ on the surrounding conservation area and rejected planning permission.




“The Murphy House is this year’s best example of how to overcome challenging constraints – from planning restrictions and an awkward site in an urban location – to build a stunning house,” RIBA President Jane Duncan said. “Nearly a decade in the making, this house is a true labour of love for Richard,” she added.



Located at the end of a Georgian terrace in Edinburgh’s historic city centre, the house is like a jigsaw puzzle with hidden spaces, moving pieces and folding walls. The judging panel for the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) award complimented the building’s quirky features, which include a folding corner wall and sliding bookshelf ladders.



The house also has a ‘hidden bath,’ which has a view out over the chimneys but cannot be seen by neighbours. “One lodger said it was like a Rubik’s cube, because as soon as you move one lever, everything moves. There are lots of moving gadgets, it’s not a prototype house,” Murphy told Channel 4.



Murphy explained that the unusual shape of the house was actually to ‘resolve’ the street layout. “My aim was to resolve a planning mess-up in the 1820s, which should never have happened. The shape of the house is to try to bookend the terrace that comes up the street,” he said.





The futuristic house boasts a series of optical illusions that make the small 36 foot by 20 foot house appear bigger. “It seems a lot bigger than it actually is, and it’s very complex inside,” Murphy said.




Merry Christmas

Posted Friday 23 Dec 2016 16:36 PM

To build the homes we need

Posted Saturday 17 Dec 2016 11:19 AM




New Research Report

Posted Wednesday 14 Dec 2016 21:30 PM

Launch of an exciting new research report by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) and the Local Government InformationUnit (LGiU)

SPEECHES
We expect that the speeches will take place between 5 and 5.30pm and the speakers will be as follows:

Brian Berry, Chief Executive, Federation of Master Builders
Barbara Brownlee, Director of Housing and Regeneration, Westminster City Council
John McDonnell MP, Shadow Chancellor
Gavin Barwell MP, Housing and Planning Minister

http://www.lgiu.org.uk/report/small-is-beautiful-delivering-more-homes-on-small-sites/


Zaha Hadid remembered

Posted Monday 12 Dec 2016 22:06 PM

Zaha Hadid remembered by Rana Hadid
31 October 1950 - 31 March 2016
The architect's niece, also an architect, recalls her aunt's warm presence, her great drive, and the inspiration of her work.

Zaha walked into our lives in the late 60s when my brother Hussein and I were five and six. She had come to Beirut to study mathematics at the American University there. Our parents had just divorced, which was a relatively rare occurrence back then. From the minute Zaha appeared, we felt loved and protected. She brought Zaha magic with her: love, laughter, fun, music, dance and close friends who remain her friends to this day. She would spend hours teaching us how to draw, how to use the colouring pencils – tilt them to colour in, how you could blunt the tip to shade in or sharpen it to have a bold, razor-sharp edge. That was long before she became an architect.

With Zaha, everything started with a drawing. I am an architect myself now – though with none of Zaha’s genius – and I often could not understand her architectural drawings. I’d think: how is she going to do this curved facade? But the first time I walked into a Zaha building – the Maxxi in Rome – I saw that her buildings are peaceful: nothing upsets the eye, there are no edges. The flow of energy goes on for ever.

Whenever my father, Haytham, my uncle Foulath and Zaha – who was the youngest of the three – got together and had done their hugging and kissing, their exchanges quickly became charged. Voices were raised, the Iraqi dialect prevailed. All three of them were highly opinionated, very bright and passionate. We younger Hadids would watch quietly, baffled, not allowed to participate, let alone take sides. It was years later that my best friend, who had often been present, explained it to me: “Rana, they are so passionate, this is how they express and communicate their love to one another.” Hadids have a special way of showing love. Zaha’s way often took the form of criticism and outbursts, pushing and pushing even more those she loved and cared for. She simply wanted us to be the best she thought we could be, something she applied to herself relentlessly. She had a brutal honesty. But she saw in us much more than we saw in ourselves.


Zaha and Rana Hadid together.

Zaha loved life and was a master at bringing together people across all nations, cultures and religions, bridging differences and forging solid bonds. A bit like her spaces. The minute you stepped into a Zaha space, whether it was her home, her bedroom, her gallery, Studio 9, or her public buildings, you instantly felt a harmony with your surroundings. I think this was because of her deep understanding of people. She taught us that life is best when you build bridges between people, and not walls.

There are many sides to Zaha I shall miss terribly. The Zaha who made us laugh until we cried. Zaha the brilliant mimic who did the best impressions. Zaha who came up with the best nicknames (Sinkapoo, Yes But No But, Melo, Happy Ending, Kermit), Zaha who rooted for the underdog, Zaha who set standards, Zaha who believed in the power of education. Zaha who loved her Sunday lunches at the River Cafe, Zaha who challenged us to think differently and do what was not always easy, Zaha who would call me at 5pm Beirut time from China or Miami to tell me off for not having visited my father (yet) that day, Zaha who made every minute matter, Zaha who would text out of the blue at that right moment when you were feeling sad or vulnerable, Zaha who you could talk to about anything: architecture, the latest nail polish, your love life. But mostly, the incredibly warm and generous Zaha who showed us we could do anything we wanted if we worked at it hard enough.



I was at the Royal Institute of British Architects award dinner when she received her gold medal . I had not been going to come. I had rung from Lebanon and told her: “I can’t keep coming to all your openings and awards.” She said: “You have to come, you’re family.” I told her my father was not well and she said, “OK.” The night before the award, she called again: “Are you here yet, in London?” I said, “I told you I wasn’t coming.” She said “You’d better be on that plane.” I am so glad now that I came. She had her back to me at an adjoining table during dinner and I thought: thank God she cannot see if I’m misbehaving. But then, only 10 minutes before Zaha was due to do a television interview, Jane Duncan, president of Riba, tapped me on the shoulder and said: “Zaha is asking about you. She sent me over to see if you were all right.” That is how she was. And that was the last time I saw her.

Pears familybacked

Posted Wednesday 30 Nov 2016 12:32 PM

Pears family-backed Masthaven Bank challenges high street giants



A challenger bank that counts one of the country’s richest families as an investor has become the latest lender to attempt to shake-up the banking sector with the launch of savings and loan products tailored to its customers' needs.

Online-focused Masthaven Bank, which counts the billionaire Pears family as shareholders, announced that it had opened its "digital doors" for business and will offer personalised savings accounts and plans to sell mortgage products early next year.

The business was founded by chief executive and majority shareholder Andrew Bloom as bridging loans firm Masthaven Finance and secured its retail banking licence in April.

Since then, it has built a team of nearly 100 staff and developed its technology platform in preparation for its attempt to take on the big five lenders of Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander UK, which currently dominate UK retail banking.

“We are determined to help more people access financial products that will truly meet their needs,” said Mr Bloom, a former KPMG accountant and merchant banker who set up Masthaven Finance 12 years ago. “We are now very much looking forward to working with customers and brokers to show them what we have created.” 


Philip Hammond, the chancellor, tweeted that it was “great to see” the digital lender“challenging traditional banks". He said it was “proof” the Government’s drive “for a diverse financial sector is working”.

Masthaven’s backers the Pears family made their fortune through a vast property empire. Led by brothers Mark, Trevor and David, the family is worth £3bn, according to The Sunday Times Rich List.

Masthaven is competing with a host of other challenger banks , including Virgin Money and smartphone app-focused Atom, to tempt customers away from the leading high street lenders.

Modernise or die

Posted Wednesday 30 Nov 2016 12:21 PM

Time to decide the future of the construction industry

A new report written by Mark Farmer, CEO of Cast Consultancy on behalf of the Construction Leadership Council provides a stark review of the problems within the construction industry.

From an ageing workforce to under investment, from lack of incentives to alignment between industry and client interests, it’s a hard hitting document.



The challenge the report sets is for us to do things differently - to stop building in the same way as we have for decades/centuries, which has a heavy demand for on-site labour. 

The review says that the construction industry in the UK is chronically underinvested due to a combination of economic, market and behavioural factors. Long-term productivity is stagnant. On top of this, the industry faces a major threat from declining workforce numbers. 

This is a challenge for all - the industry, its clients, and government. 

“This is not just another ’must do better’ school report where the industry and its clients shrug their shoulders and carry on as normal.”

The solution? 

In its recommendations the report concludes that “The vision should be of a UK construction sector where traditional skills needs are efficiently met, with looming labour shortages at least partially offset by a greater and more focused investment in the appropriate skills that industry will require in the future. 

"Alongside this, purposeful and strategic industry leadership is needed, driving investment in new technology and manufacturing capability that will grow over time to boost capacity and productivity and reduce the reliance on labour in-line with the likely future labour shortages." 

The report focuses in particular on housing.

It is suggested that the residential sector will lend itself more easily to a large scale move to a manufacturing led approach, paving the way for future uptake in other sectors. 

“If this review does only one thing, it must be to bring the likely reality into greater focus.”

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