Structural Survey

ISSN: 0263-080X

Article publication date: 8 November 2011



(2011), "Newsbriefs", Structural Survey, Vol. 29 No. 5.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited



Article Type: Editorial From: Structural Survey, Volume 29, Issue 5.

UK economy

Keywords: Commercial property, Construction, Economy, Housing, Trends

RICS reported in August 2011 that in the financial markets although concerns are growing over the stuttering UK recovery, the commitment of the government to its austerity plan has enabled the gilt market to shrug off the tremors being felt in some bond markets in the Euro area. Meanwhile, gold continues to hit new highs as US policymakers struggle to reach agreement on lifting the debt ceiling. Poor economic data have led to suggestions that a further round of quantitative easing may be necessary to kick start activity. However, with inflation continuing to run way above target RICS think it improbable that the Bank of England will be in any rush to sanction such a strategy. For the time being, the employment picture is still painting a brighter picture with jobs continuing to be created in the private sector. Preliminary GDP data suggest that construction output rose by 0.5 per cent in the second quarter following a drop of around 5.5 per cent over the previous half year. Some improvement in sentiment had been signalled by the last RICS Construction Market Survey. Predictably, insufficient demand remains the key factor restricting output. On the housing front activity remains flat in the residential sector with most indices indicating that prices are lower than where they were a year earlier. The one part of the country where this is not the case is London. The latest RICS Housing Market Survey suggests that prices are likely to continue rising in the capital. A very striking regional divide is evident in commercial property according to the results of the Q2 RICS Commercial Property Survey. While rent expectations generally remain negative, for London offices they are strongly positive.

Land registry, met office and ordnance survey to become part of the BIS

Keywords: Government, Land, Mapping, Reorganization

The Prime Minister has announced that responsibility for the Land Registry, the Met Office and Ordnance Survey will pass to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). This marks a step towards the establishment of a Public Data Corporation.

JCT 2011

Keywords: Building contracts, Construction Act, Standard forms

Following amendments to Part 8 of the Construction Act 2009, JCT has launched a new suite of contracts which will came into effect from 1 October 2011. JCT 2005 contracts will be withdrawn nine months after this date. JCT 2011 will be updated to cover the new payment legislation and also include:

  • A revised insolvency definition in the termination section.

  • The revised terrorism cover provisions that were included in JCT's December 2009 update.

  • The provision for appointment of the principal contractor under CDM Regulations has been extended to cover that function under the Site Waste Management Plans Regulations 2008.

  • Statutory reference to the Bribery Act 2010.

  • Entries in respect of PI insurance relating to asbestos and fungal mould have been removed.

  • Revised retention provisions in the sub-contracts.

To ensure a smooth crossover, JCT has published a series of special tracked changes documents, showing the tracked changes in red between JCT 05 – Revision 2 and JCT 2011 contracts.

Adoption of private drains and sewers by water and sewerage companies

Keywords: Drains, Sewers, Transfer, Water companies

The Water Industry (Schemes for Adoption of Private Sewers) Regulations 2011 came into force on 1 July 2011. Virtually all private drains and sewers will be transferred under this legislation to the water and sewage companies on either 1 October 2011 or 1 April 2012. They will then be responsible for any repairs.

EPC changes postponed

Keywords: Certificates, Energy

The Department for Communities and Local Government has announced that the changes to the EPB Regulations scheduled for 1 July 2011 have now been postponed. They were aiming to bring most of the proposed changes into force on 1 July, with the remainder taking effect for properties marketed after 1 October 2011. It has not been possible for DCLG to introduce the changes in time for 1 July 2011 but no new date have been announced.

Expert witnesses lose protection

Keywords: Experts, Litigation, Negligence, Insurance

In the case of Jones v Kaney, the Supreme Court has ruled that an expert witness can be sued for negligence. For over 400 years expert witnesses have enjoyed immunity. Whilst this particular case concerned a road traffic accident, it will have ramifications for all professionals acting as expert witnesses. Professional bodies are emphasising the need for their members engaged in this activity to ensure that they have professional indemnity insurance in place.

Award for Sir Michael Latham

Keywords: Award, Sir Michael Latham

The Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) has presented its inaugural Lifetime Achievement award to Sir Michael Latham. The award was presented at the annual ACE Engineering Excellence Awards gala dinner, which were held on 25 May 2011 at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London, UK. Over a long and distinguished career Sir Michael has helped to redefine attitudes to procurement and efficiency in the industry. His ground breaking 1993 report “Constructing the Team” has been the genesis of new thinking through the Egan review, the Movement for Innovation, Constructing Excellence and chief construction adviser Paul Morrell's Innovation and Growth Team report.

Sales and marketing top concerns for small engineering firms

Keywords: Business, Engineering, SMEs

Sales and marketing are currently the top business issues facing small engineering companies in the UK, a new survey has discovered. Research carried out by not-for-profit small business support group the Forum of Private Business found sales and marketing strategy is a priority for over one in five (26.1 per cent) smaller firms in the engineering industry. The second most common priority among small engineering firms was operations management, highlighted as an issue by 14.6 per cent of respondents. HR-related issues, such as recruitment, training and employment law, were the third (13.4 per cent). Credit control was also a concern for many smaller engineers surveyed, with business owners citing chasing overdue payment as a major problem. The financial loss small engineers suffer when other companies go bust owing them money also emerged as a worry.

SPAB's latest Lethaby scholars announced

Keywords: Awards, Conservation, SPAB

The newest recruits to a unique training scheme for young architectural and building professionals have set off on a journey of discovery that will take them the length and breadth of the country as they gain first-hand experience of conservation skills and building crafts. Architects Boris Bogdanovic, 26, Jo Kelly, 31 and Engineer Harry Wardill, 30, have been selected as the 2011 SPAB (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) Lethaby Scholars. For the next six months they will travel throughout the country together meeting fellow architects, building specialists and craftspeople working on historic sites and in workshops and studios throughout the British Isles. The aim is for the Scholars to gain direct hands-on experience guided by experts in the field. This highly regarded scheme, now running for more than 80 years, has no parallel in the world of conservation. Since 1930 it has set 145 young architecture and building professionals on the road to positions of great responsibility in the sector. Today former Scholars care for some of the most significant buildings in Britain. Boris, Jo and Harry are, in no particular order, the 146th, 147th and 148th SPAB Lethaby Scholar to hit the conservation trail.

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