An Alternative to Collateral Warranties? – The Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act

On 2 February 2017 Michael Chilton from EMW Law LLP visited our Hemel Hempstead office and delivered an insightful talk on the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 to our team. I am delighted to share with you a summary of this engaging and informative session on our blog.

“The Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 came into force in 2000. The Act enables a third party to a contract to enforce some of the terms (subject to certain rules) and provides an efficient alternative to collateral warranties or assignment.

For example, that could include a right for a vendor to enforce a term of:

  • A professional appointment entered into between the employer and its consultant i.e. architect, engineer, quantity surveyor
  • A building contract entered into between the employer and its contractor

What does the Act say?

Section 1 of the Act provides that a third party to the contract is able to enforce a term of the contract if:

  • The contract expressly provides that the third party has the right to do so
  • The term of the contract purports to confer a benefit on the third party unless, on a proper construction of the contract, it appears that the parties did not intend the contract to be enforceable by the third party
  • The third party is expressly identified in the contract by name, as a member of a class or as answering a particular description. It is worth noting that the specific name of the third party need not necessarily be in existence when a contract is entered into so a class is acceptable at this stage

How are the third party rights created?

The contract or appointment is drafted to include a number of key items. This includes a clause or clauses which confirms that a third party may enforce and either a standalone schedule of third party rights (which is similar to the requirements of a collateral warranty) or a schedule identifying the clauses in the underlying contract which the third party may enforce or standard provisions within the contract.

Items you will typically see within a schedule will include:

  • Assignment rights- Please note if a contract is silent on assignment it can be by default assigned as many times as required, it is therefore usual to specify a limit on this in the schedule
  • Compliance with the underlying contract
  • Duty of skill and care obligations
  • Limitations on liability
  • Deleterious materials
  • Copyright License
  • PI Insurance
  • Step in –Funders/ employers only

Whichever option is adopted the benefits should be consistent with the remainder of the contract i.e.  the schedule should mirror  the clauses that appear in the main contract.

Once finalised a notice is served to the contractor, consultant or sub-contractor confirming that the rights have been created and this form of notice is contained in the underlying contract.

What should I watch out for?

Things to watch when using the Third Party Act are that section 2 of the Act can prevent the parties to a contract from withdrawing or amending its terms once the third party rights are created i.e. nothing can be changed without the permission of the third party. However this obstacle can be easily overcome by adding an additional clause which allows the parties to rescind or vary the contract without the consent of the third party.

The other area which can cause problems is  step in rights.  Third Party Rights can only grant rights to a beneficiary but not create obligations. Most step in rights contain an obligation on the third party to pay any outstanding monies. This can be rectified  by the inclusion of a clause that states that the step in right is only enforceable subject to certain conditions i.e. a funder can only step in and take over a contract  once they have paid  the outstanding costs applicable at the time of the step in. Please note that this solution has not yet been tested in the courts.

So, what are the benefits?

Although Collateral Warranties are still preferred by funders and considered the safer option the use of the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties ) Act does offer some attractive benefits. The use of the act is cheaper than the alterative and expedites time as there is less paperwork. Once the notice has been served no further action is required. It is also equally effective provided the drafting is correct.”

Jenny Howard

Jenny Howard
Synergy Construction and Property Consultants LLP


Physical infrastructure to enable connections to superfast broadband

New Building Regulations Part R1 applies to all projects from January 1st 2017.

All new buildings and major refurbishments must be provided with the physical infrastructure to allow for high-speed internet connection. That means 30 Mbps or faster.

R1 only calls for the physical infrastructure, for example a duct to be run to an access point fixed to the outside of the building. The regulation does not cover any wiring.

There are very few exemptions such as in remote, isolated rural areas and to some historic or listed buildings where the installation would harm the character of the building.


Peter BakerPeter Baker
Synergy Construction and Property Consultants LLP



Building Regulations Briefing 2016

img_0675There are two options available for gaining Building Regulation consent, either through the Local Authority or an Approved Inspector. Although Self Certification has been widely proposed and is expected to be introduced with the next update in 2019.

An Approved Inspector quotes a bespoke fee for a project as opposed to Local Authority scale fees. They aim to provide consistency as opposed to differing interpretations.

Building Regulations can be dated back to the 1666 Great Fire of London and are minimum standards of health and safety.

Each regulation is backed up by ‘Approved Documents’ which are guidance and it is also possible to demonstrate compliance by other means.

There have been recent updates to Approved Documents G, L and M.

Part G – Sanitation, Hot water safety and water efficiency

  • Requires a water efficiency calculator to be applied to new dwellings.
  • Proposes that a water softener or re-useable system is provided.
  • Guidance on fittings approach as alternative to water efficiency calculation.

Part L – Conservation of Fuel and Power

  • New buildings must achieve higher U-Values and greater airtightness.
  • SBEM calculations have to use actual installed lighting wattage thus penalising over-lit spaces.
  • There is a new non-domestic building services compliance guide.
  • All new buildings require an analysis of the feasibility of using alternative energy systems.

Part M4 – Access and use of Buildings

  • Three categories of accessibility– Visitable (1), Accessible and Adaptable (2) and Wheelchair (3).

Part M4 (1) – Visitable Dwellings

  • The base standard for all new dwellings.

Part M4 (2) – Accesible and Adaptable Dwellings

  • All residents must be able to access refuse stores.
  • Drainage for all paved areas must be installed with suitable falls.
  • All multi-storey flats are to be provided with a lift.
  • Compulsory provision for houses to have a future stair/lift e.g. a power supply.
  • Principal living areas are to have low level window cills.
  • Bathrooms must have direct route to a window at least 750mm wide.
  • Walls must be built to carry future grab rails in bathrooms/stairs.
  • Drainage must be provided for future level access shower room on ground floor.
  • Window handle locks at the ground storey must be between 850mm -1200mm high.

Part M4(3) – Wheelchair Accessible Dwellings

  • Living spaces including bedrooms have a minimum size.
  • Scooter/wheelchair storage must be provided.
  • A stepped approach must be provided as well as ramps with incline of no more than 1:15.
  • Communal entrances provisions for the future must be installed e.g. a power supply.
  • Bedrooms must have minimum direct route to the window around the furniture at least 1000mm wide.
  • A lifting platform must be provided in houses.
  • Stairs in accordance with the guidance for ‘ambulant’ disabled.
  • Kitchen worktop length depending on the number of persons.
  • Bedroom ceilings must be capable of taking the load of a future hoist.
  • Door entry systems with answering station in the main bedroom and in the lounge.

Building Regulations have continued to expand in scope such as Part Q which deals with security requirements and a new Part R is coming in 2017 relating to internet connection and minimum broadband speed.

We certainly have come a long way since the Great Fire of London!



James Cottle
Synergy Construction and Property Consultants LLP

Are you RF Aware?

This summer we undertook a project to recover several flat roofs at a Surrey school, one of which supported 3 telecommunication masts. Many believe that Radio Frequency (RF) or Electromagnetic Radiation Awareness is primarily for telecommunication industry employees, however there are many other workers that should be made aware of this dangerous hazard.



It is the joint responsibility for persons who control access to roof areas and any principal contractors or subcontractors undertaking works on those roofs, that no person should access a roof with radio antennae without first receiving proper training and information on the risk of RF radiation and the controls needed to avoid over-exposure.

Because of this, new UK legislation (The Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work Regulations 2016, the general provisions of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999) applies to put a responsibility on the employer to assess and if necessary limit, its workers exposure to electromagnetic radiation. Under this new legislation employers could face employee sickness, enforcement action and industrial tribunals.

So what is RF radiation?

RF radiation, also known as Electromagnetic Radiation, is any of the electromagnetic wave frequencies that lie in the range extending from around 3 kHz to 300 GHz, which include those frequencies used for communications or radar signals.

RF just doesn’t just get omitted from transmission antennae but also from faulty connectors and damaged feeder cabling anywhere around the transmission antennas. Workers may apparently feel they are safe if they are a long way from the antennas but could still be stood next to a cable run that is leaking RF!

The major sources of RF radiation are radio, television, and mobile telephone transmission antennae but workers also need to be made aware that a simple vertical ‘whip’ antenna is radiating 360 degrees with the strength of RF fields being greatest at its source, but diminishing quickly with distance.

Health effects

The RF current does not penetrate deeply into electrical conductors but tends to flow along their surfaces; this is known as the skin effect. For this reason, when the human body comes in contact with high power RF currents it can cause superficial, but serious burns called RF burns; usually in the form of a “pin prick” in appearance but which can run deep into the tissue and take a long time to heal.  Other effects can be:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting

Currently there is no known link between exposure to RF radiation and an increased risk of cancer.

Hazard identification

Rooftops housing radio transmission antennas must have signage from the provider explaining the risks; the signage should identify the radiation source and list the contact numbers of all companies controlling transmissions from the roof or work location.

Signage should have a message panel advising the following three key safety facts:

  1. What is the hazard
  2. What is the potential consequence of the hazard
  3. What action to take to avoid the hazard

There are four colours which identify the levels of severity:

Red: background colour for  the single word DANGER signage indicate an immediate hazardous situation

Orange:  background colour for the single word WARNING signs indicate a potentially hazardous situation.

Yellow: background colour for the single word on CAUTION signs indicate a potentially hazardous situation.

Blue: background colour for the single word NOTICE signs indicating a statement of company policy.

blue   red








Should the transmitter not be visible, a telephone call to the provider should be made
to determine the location of the device. Please note that some transmitters can
be hidden from view, e.g. within church steeples or false chimneys.

Control measures

The preferred method of controlling exposure to RF radiation is to cease transmissions. However, as control over the transmission signal is usually remote from the worksite, employers need to ensure that they are able to continually verify the strength of the signal during any works.

Persons working on or near to telecoms transmitters should be issued with a body worn field monitor which can monitor field levels in real time and over a broad frequency range. RF monitors, must be calibrated and worn to be seen.

Should the field monitor be activated, the works should be immediately halted and the workforce moved to a safe area.

The actions of hazard identification and risk assessment needs to be taken prior to workers accessing any area where RF radiation is likely. “NO GO” areas where maximum exposure levels may be exceeded should be clearly determined, identified and documented prior to commencement of the proposed works. This may be by measurement, or on the advice of a competent person or from the warning notices.

Safe Work Procedures should be developed giving consideration to all identified risks, including RF radiation with all workers inducted and trained. Where workers have a need to enter a “NO GO” area, they should be directly supervised by a competent person who has undergone training in safely managing an RF radiation environment.


Eric Anderson
Senior Building Surveyor
Synergy Construction and Property Consultants LLP



RICS & SPAB Building Conservation Summer School


Synergy were again delighted to sponsor the RICS & SPAB Building Conservation Summer School. The event, now in its 12th year, was held between 6-10 September at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester. The course offers Building Surveying and APC candidate’s unprecedented access to leading professionals in the field covering subject matters including building conservation philosophy, stone conservation, and timber decay amongst other topics.

David Cameron, an Assistant Building Surveyor based in our Guildford office, attended the event as a delegate and has provided a day by day account of his experience of this informative event.

Synergy are committed to the training and development of all our staff and we have an RICS Approved APC Training Agreement. If you are interested in joining our team please see our careers page for more information.


Arrived at the Agricultural University in Cirencester on a particularly warm Sunday afternoon in plenty of time to register and grab a cuppa before the day’s proceedings. The talks began with an introduction from Stephen Boniface and a friendly warning to the delegates about the intensity of the course; apparently they cram a lot of information into a few days!

Day 1

Building Conservation – What’s it all about? John Dorrington Ward gives us the low down on his experiences working in Building Conservation. John started out as a Building Surveyor, but went on to become a Main Contractor specialising in Building conservation. He delivered a fantastic introduction to the subject and covered the origins and overarching philosophy of SPAB. John draws from his experience to explain the conservation process making us think about the following questions:

Why do we want to conserve?
What are we trying to conserve?
How should it be conserved?
Who should be consulted? “

David Hardwick was up next to discuss the importance of Historic Building Recording. In an engaging talk he asked the question.

“Why is recording of such importance that it is elevated into a Conservation Principle”.  

Delegates were guided through explorations of both why we record buildings, and how we do so. Hardwick explored the processes, techniques and when they might be appropriately employed which generated an interesting discussion from participants.

The final lecture of the day was conducted by Geoff Hunt, creator of the ‘Architectural Timeline’. His timeline is a history of building in the UK from the 15th century to the present day. Geoff Hunt uses the timeline as a basis to identify common defects from different eras in Britain’s architectural history.  He gives delegates a few things to remember, including highlighting that water is the worse agent of decay and is not to be underestimated by Surveyors.

Day 2

The second day is packed with lectures that will benefit both practitioners and students and concentrates on the repair of old buildings.

Stephen Bonniface delivers the first lecture in which he introduces surveying of historic buildings. He explains the importance of understanding the building you are surveying. Using the acronym KISS, he also reminds the audience to ‘keep it simple stupid’!

The director of SPAB, Matthew Slocombe, then delivers a presentation of building conservation philosophy and design. He explains what the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings is all about, from its origins in the 1800’s. How its early principals shaped modern building conservation philosophy and how the SPAB manifesto is still relevant for today’s conservation. SPAB is a very important voice in conservation, they must be notified of any application to demolish or partly demolish a listed building in England and Wales. They also provide training, technical advice, information and research.

Our next lecture is from Marianne Suhr who talks about solid wall construction and the need to allow old buildings to breathe. She begins by discussing the thermal elements in older buildings. She introduces the class to some innovative design solutions which improve energy efficiency of traditional buildings, improve tired interiors, but do not compromise the historic fabric.

Bob Child then discusses in depth, timber decay and repair which is especially useful for both building pathology and inspection. This is followed by a presentation on specification and schedule writing from Adrian Stenning.

The afternoon starts with Marianne Suhr going into more depth regarding the energy efficiency of older buildings. Research from SPAB in this area has revealed that many traditional building elements have much better thermal properties than government guidelines would suggest. The sustainability industry solutions such as external insulation have not been considering its effect on traditional construction. This was a very interesting talk encouraging us to think about how best to approach the restoration of solid wall structures in a way that meets the contemporary expectations without compromising the integrity of the building.

It was then great to hear how Building Conservation is approached from a Structural Engineers point of view. Sinclair Johnston did this marvellously by showing a Structural Engineers approach to diagnosis and repair and some innovative engineering solutions.

The final lecture was delivered by Duncan Ball from Synergy Construction and Property Consultants LLP on the subject of Building Conservation Cost Control. It was interesting seeing this subject from the point of view of a Quantity Surveyor. Duncan gave some invaluable tips on how to control the finances on a building restoration project. I was fascinated to learn that he had been involved with the relocation of Clavell tower in Dorset. I saw this project on a coastal walk over the summer and was impressed how they had carefully taken the structure down brick by brick and rebuilt it further inland, preserving this landmark from coastal erosion. This must have been a fantastic project to be involved with and was a very informative lecture.

Duncan Ball from Synergy

Duncan Ball from Synergy

Day 3.

The day begins with Stephen Bonniface talking through the evolution of roof coverings, from their origins in ancient structures through to more contemporary buildings. He explains how outside influences such as the Grand Tour brought more classical architecture to the UK. This influenced the design of roofs; features such as shallow roofs, centre valleys and parapet walls. Bonniface explains the basic function of roofs as rainwater dispensers and discusses the common defects found and how to remedy these.

David Odgers, a conservation consultant specialising in stone repair, talks us through the uses of stone, properties of stone and the repair of stone. The UK is rich in geology, with a wide variety of stone and this explains why we have such an interesting regional building stock. Odgers covers a lot of ground in the allocated hour, considering this is such a vast subject. I was reassured to hear that he shares my opinion of the Southgate shopping centre in Bath. I certainly have always felt that the shopping centre is a soulless attempt to imitate the architecture of Bath. Odgers explains that the way they detailed the stone panels in the façade, has meant that the shopping centre has not aged well. We are told about the BURRA charter and English Heritages Conservation Principals. We discuss how words are meaningless on their own and that Conservation needs to be supported by detailed assessment and consideration within the context of heritage values.

Charley Brentell then talks to us about timber framed buildings. Charley is recognised as a leader in the oak framing industry and he manages a great introduction to the subject. He starts by discussing the ‘Itinerant Journeymen’, these skilled craftsmen travel from job to job for many years to master their trade. I can remember seeing Journeymen walking along the highway on a road trip to Copenhagen some years ago, recognisable from their traditional uniforms. They are a visible emblem of the continuation of traditional crafts in modern times. Brentell’s lecture covers technical aspects of timber framing; he explains the methods of assembly, setting and laying out, and the traditional joints and pegs used. He also goes into depth about the typical defects found in timber framed buildings. He also shares his knowledge of conservation repair techniques for timber framing, particularly useful to us as Building Surveyors.

Thatched roofs were in the spotlight next. Stephen Bonniface shares his knowledge of thatching. Thatching it seems, uses three principle materials water reed, long straw and combed wheat reed. Houses are thatched in an appropriate style for that area. I hadn’t realised that there is a lot of creative rivalry between tradesmen that use the different materials.

The afternoon is all about glass and brick. Two very knowledgeable gentlemen share their passion for their chosen specialism. First up is Kevin Stubbs, a historic brickwork consultant. What this man doesn’t know about brick isn’t worth knowing! Kevin has set out a table with bricks of all shapes, sizes and colours. He runs through the history of the brick and terracotta, and explains how manufacturing techniques produce different glazes and finishes. This is a very interesting and comprehensive introduction to the subject of historic brick work.


Kevin Stubbs- What this man doesn’t know about brick isn’t worth knowing!

Ben Sinclair is equally passionate about glass and glazing, Sinclair is a second generation glazier and has brought with him a comprehensive selection of glass samples. We learn that historically, there were two main ways of producing glass and this produced Crown Glass and Cylinder glass. We also learn that there was a glass tax which meant glass was produced thinner and thinner. Apparently of the two, Crown glass is much more difficult and expensive to produce and modern reproductions are impossible to obtain.

Sinclair takes the delegates to the University Chapel to show us the difference between properly restored windows and windows that have been glazed with float glass and over leaded. There is a huge difference in quality and I start to understand why he is so passionate about restoring windows respectfully. He also assures us that if we were surveying a building and were unsure of whether a window was worth restoring or not, to take a photo and send it to him, and he would provide specialist advice.


University Chapel

John Avent finishes the day by going through the latest innovations in conservation surveying. He explains how the use of technology can help the surveyor to accurately measure and record what is happening in historic buildings.

Wednesday is Lime day.

The final day is presented by Marrianne Suhr, Cliff Blundell, and Sean Wheatley. We begin with an enjoyable demonstration into making quick lime and lime putty. Blundell manages to boil an egg in the boiling lime mixture, which he even manages to eat. We are shown the science behind the process and are given a go at mixing up a mortar and doing a bit of pointing. Sean Wheatley is an award winning plastering specialist; he gives us a demonstration into lime plasterwork and forming cornices in situ. It’s a great interactive workshop; he lets us have a go at plastering and forming the cornices. It was a privilege to have such a skilled practitioner share his knowledge with the group. This also goes for Marriane Suhr and Clive Blundell who were extremely knowledgeable about their subjects and were happy to impart their knowledge with enthusiasm.

Wednesday is Lime day

Wednesday is Lime day





CDM Regulations 2015 – The Impact on the Client

The proposed Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, herein after referred to as the CDM Regulations 2015, came into force on 6th April 2015. On this date, the CDM Regulations 2007 were revoked with immediate effect, thus requiring the client to prepare in advance, for the duty holder changes required under the new Regulations. The CDM Regulations 2015 enforce the most significant changes required of the construction industry as a whole in 20 years, in that additional duties shall be required for all construction work, regardless of size, duration and complexity.

The Objectives of the CDM Regulations 2015:

The new CDM Regulations 2015 have introduced more rigorous controls on to all construction projects to address the growing disparity between well run and controlled large scale projects, (which have a lower accident rate), and those which currently fall under the radar, where construction work takes less than 30 days to complete, (where there is a noticeable increase in accidents and ill-health issues).  The HSE has identified that the smaller projects are often not well planned and management do not adequately manage, monitor and control safety in design or construction.

The Impact of the CDM Regulations 2015:

Notification Requirements

The HSE has significantly reduced the requirement for Clients to notify them of construction projects by modifying the criteria to 30 working days, plus 20 persons working simultaneously at one time on the construction project.  The 500 person day rule still applies.  It is expected that the majority of the construction work presently undertaken, will fall outside of the former criteria and therefore not be notifiable to the HSE as a construction project.

It is most likely that the 500 person day rule will be a greater consideration for many clients, in future, when planning the work on their premises, as to whether the HSE need to be notified.

Single Contractor Projects

The CDM Regulations 2015 shall require all contractors to provide a specific Construction Phase Health and Safety Plan for the proposed work, regardless of size, duration or complexity.

The Plan shall address and record the health and safety arrangements, site rules, communication channels as well as specific measures for managing high risk activities contained within Schedule 3 of the new Regulations.  The particular risks include working at height, chemical or biological hazards, electricity, earthworks and erecting or dismantling of prefabricated components.

The Plan should be relevant to the work and should not include generic risk assessments which may cloud the understanding of what is needed to properly manage the construction phase of the project.

The impact on Clients where they themselves are the single contractor undertaking construction work, will be that on every project, a Construction Phase Health and Safety Plan must be completed prior to the commencement of any works.

Where the Client appoints a single Contractor to carry out the work on their behalf, it shall be the duty of the Client to ensure that the Contractor has properly completed a Construction Phase Health and Safety Plan, ensuring that the minimum standard of the Regulations has been satisfied.

Where the Client contracts itself, or another department within its organisation and appoints another contractor to work on their behalf in carrying out and completing construction works, then the rule, Appointing of Two or More Contractors, applies.

Appointment of Two or More Contractors

Where it is reasonable to assume, at the conception of the project, more than one contractor is required to carry out the works, the CDM Regulations 2015 shall require the Client to formally appoint two duty holders.

When confirming the number of contractors working on each project, consideration should be given to those contractors employed by the client, who sub-contract their work through their own supply chain networks.  This should be confirmed at the outset in order to ensure that the Regulations are satisfied.  The two duty holders are:

  • Principal Designer
  • Principal Contractor

The role of the Principal Designer is essentially to oversee the pre-construction and design process, with the objective to remove or reduce the foreseeable risks of ill health and safety of all persons likely to be affected by the construction work as a whole.

The Principal Designer must consider those persons who construct, use, maintain, repair and ultimately decommission or demolish the building or structure.  The duty holder must also consider the persons not directly involved, but who may be at risk for the life-cycle of the project.

It shall be the Principal Designer’s duty to ensure that he prepares and provides all of the pre-construction information to the designers and contractors, including the design risk assessment for the works; the communication of this information provided in sufficient time to enable the other duty holders to plan and prepare their work.

The Principal Designer must commence the Health and Safety File, right at the start of the project, incorporating all of the relevant information required for the project, to satisfy the minimum standard set out in Appendix 4 of the CDM Regulations 2015.

The Health and Safety File should be updated as the project progresses, providing such information, current at the time of the construction phase, ready and available for inspection and where required handed over to the Client in its most up-to date condition at any time.

The role of the Principal Contractor is much the same as it is under CDM Regulations 2007, but shall be required to take on the role of Principal Designer, should the pre-construction Principal Designer, originally appointed be disengaged from his duty by the Client – as an example this is likely to occur on design and build projects.

It shall be the duty of the appointed Principal Designer, whoever holds the duty at the end of the project, to complete the Health and Safety File and hand over to the Client.

The impact on the Client shall be that they shall formally appoint a Principal Designer for any construction work where there will be more than one contractor working.  The appointment shall be made at the conception of the project, or where scope creep requires another contractor on the project.  The Principal Designer is required to be appointed after 6th April 2015, when the Regulations came into force.

 Transitional Arrangements:

 The CDM Regulations 2015 have defined transitional provisions for adopting the new Regulations.

  • Where the project is likely to have two or more contractors working and the construction phase has not started by 6th April 2015, the Client must appoint a Principal Designer as soon as possible to undertake their duties.
  • Where the project is likely to have two or more contractors working on a project and the construction phase has started prior to 6th April 2015, the Client must appoint a Principal Contractor as soon as possible after this date.  The Principal Contractor shall take on the responsibility of producing and handing over the Health and Safety File.
  • Any designer undertaking design work, during the construction phase of the project shall bring to the attention any residual risks in the designs to the Principal Contractor.  Essentially, the Principal Contractor assumes the role of the Principal Designer, until the end of the project.
  • Where a CDM Co-ordinator has been appointed prior to 6th April 2015, the Client must appoint a Principal Designer before 6th October 2015, unless the project is completed prior to this date, in which the CDM Co-ordinator can carry on and complete his duty.
  • Where a single contractor is working on a project prior to 6th April 2015, the contractor shall be required to provide a suitable and sufficient Construction Phase Health and Safety Plan as soon as practicable, (regardless of time, money and effort), after this date.

New dwellings accessibility soon to be determined by planning condition

There are some changes coming to the building regulations in October 2015.

Interestingly, connection between building regs and planning is merging as planners will determine which of three levels of ‘accessibility’ new dwellings will have to achieve in relation to disabled access. The requirement will be stated in a planning condition and the planning permission  will have to be to shown to the building inspector who then ensures compliance.

These are in changes to ‘Approved Document M’ which affect new dwellings.

The three categories of new dwellings are

  1. Visitable and adaptable (‘visitable’ is an interesting new word!)
  2. Accessible and adaptable
  3. Wheelchair accessible.

Approved Document M is unchanged in respect of commercial / non dwellings.

There is also a new section of regulations altogether – Approved Document Q requiring security standards for doors and windows installed in a new dwelling.

Author- Peter Baker – Partner at Synergy Construction and Property Consultants LLP

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A perspective on Ecobuild 2015- Sustainability, Energy and BIM

Our roving reporter Ernest Badu (Architect) from Synergy reports on some of the highlights of this years Ecobuild Conference.

I can barely feel my legs today! The Ecobuild exhibition was massive!!!

Held at Excel 87,328m2 of column free space (divided into North & South Event Halls). With at least 600+ stalls to cover (on foot) you need more than a day to properly sift through each one. There were loads to see. The key buzz word was sustainability. Then came energy. Tying all this together was the expansive variety of methods of new modern forms of construction. Items on show ranged from roof tiles, a new series of efficient environmentally friendly boilers (some wood burners too), high performance low U value insulation (including sheeps wool); Kingspan and Celotex were there, a huge range of PVs and solar panels, floor screeds (Flowcrete by Isocrete amongst others), lighting, hidden High-Fi speakers (actually fitted within the wall fabric!), a variety of slick sliding/bi-fold doors, high performance triple glazed windows to striking Green Living walls. And even more that I have missed out.

Striking Green Living walls

Striking Green Living walls

A good point of interest was the BIM corner where there were half hourly introductory seminars on the new software that worked alongside the NBS. This software enables the BIM model to incorporate at early stages of a design all the specific individual elements required for that building (eg, windows, boilers, floor finishes, vent systems, green roofs etc.) and you could select these from the models produced specifically from the manufacturer direct.

BIM corner

BIM corner

The magic  in this is that these items inserted into the model are tagged and loaded with relevant information relating to that item. Basically you could obtain a full spec from each inserted building element by simply double clicking on it and a full read out is presented to you on the screen in table form. From performance, required maintenance, fitting, ownership, to costing. There is also the flexibility to transfer the specification information onto a Word document for publishing for tender purposes. Other functions within the software includes a hyperlink to BCIS (Building Cost Information Service‎) and also a search engine that searches for specific building elements giving a list of possible manufactures. All the information relating to managing the fitted systems within the finished building (eg, boilers, air con), is brought together in one accessible document ready to be used by the Facilities/Assets manager. The benefits of this software speaks for itself in terms of time saving and reduction of confusion as to the expected capability/maintenance of each item selected in the design.

For more information of this software visit web sites: and also

Author – Ernest Badu – Synergy Construction and Property Consultants LLP




Will it be Feast or Famine for Governments Free School Meal Pledge?

With less than five months before all infant children are to be provided with free school meals, figures obtained by the BBC suggest that one in three schools still require improvements to their catering facilities.

The figures show that more than 1700 schools have no kitchens at all and many of these will have to rely on hot meals delivered from external caterers or neighbouring schools.

The Governments Autumn statement pledged an extra £150 million to pay for the upgrade of school kitchens to allow the implementation of free school meals for all children under seven from September 2014.

Stainless steel fabricators are warning of increasing lead-in times.

With funding slow to filter through to schools and the complications caused in trying to work on kitchens in term time, there is a real concern that the improvements will not be completed ahead of the new academic year.

Stainless steel fabricators are warning of increasing lead-in times for purpose made equipment and fears of 16 week delivery periods have been mentioned in the industry.

Parents may find that their children return to school in September to sandwiches and rolls whilst contractors are still at work completing these projects.

Tony Luff


Tell us your views on this blog? Leave us a reply above.

Important Planning Law Developments will be good news for many


Partner at Synergy

There are very important planning law developments effecting farm / agricultural buildings, residential property developers, shop owners and state funded schools in rural areas or with agricultural land and buildings. Further changes to permitted development rights were published last week and come into force on 6th April 2014. That is things you can do to your property without requiring planning permission either automatically or using a far simpler application process called prior notification. For those, the planning authority can only refuse if specific technical objections exist such as flood or highway risk or it is a specifically undesirable or impractical location. The new Order may be read by following this link.

Unlike the current temporary relaxation to changes of use from offices to residential, which have to be completed before May 2016, these new range of freedoms are permanent. The changes, which apply only in England, are significant.

  • An agricultural building or buildings up to 450sq.m may be converted to up to 3 dwellings, and the building operations reasonably necessary for the conversion.
  • Up to 500sq.m of agricultural building and land around it to state funded school.
  • Shop to residential use up to 150sq.m
  • Shop to bank / building society

There are of course exceptions and limitations but the relaxations are more extensive than we were expecting from my earlier blog.

Peter Baker