Monthly Archives: March 2011

Buy your new home now and pay later with Shapps’ new housing scheme

Buy now, pay next year. It’s something you usually hear when you buy a new sofa or TV, not a new house. Now Grant Shapps is introducing a “build now, pay later” scheme for new homes.

The Housing Minister is leading a new government scheme to help boost the struggling house building industry and allow house builders to build and sell new homes before having to pay for the land that they are built on.

This “buy now, pay later” scheme is being backed by the Homes and Communities Agency and will have a big effect on the construction industry.

The initiative is expected to create 18,000 construction jobs and will see an estimated 3,000 new homes built this year. The scheme is expected to deliver 60,000 new homes over the next decade.

Six sites have been chosen for the wave of new homes. Dave Wilson Homes, Keepmoat and Swan and Countryside have been named as the main contractors and the sites in question are in Basingstoke, Northampton, Telford, Hemel Hempstead, Tower Hamlets and Nottingham.

This new scheme by Grant Shapps and the government will be a huge boost for the housing industry, and will help first-time buyers get on the property ladder, which the government set out to do in their Budget for 2011. It will also create thousands of jobs for plumbing, electrical and gas contractors around the country.

What do you think of Shapps’ new scheme? Let us know on the comments section below or on the Train4Tradeskills Facebook and Twitter pages.


Forget the recession: Construction trio record big profits

Isn’t there supposed to be a recession on? Isn’t the construction industry set to be in some sort of economic meltdown? Apparently not, as three giants of the construction world have just announced big profits.

Construction firms Belway, Kier and John Sisk have all announced big profits over the last few months, which can only be good for the industry, in terms of creating jobs and helping the UK dig itself out of the financial mess it found itself in.

Bellway Homes have announced they have profits of £24 million and are looking to expand their projects by around 5% this year. The housebuilder is planning to build 2,000 new homes between now and the summer and have planning permission for over 18,000 homes around the UK.

Bellway’s surge in the amount of new homes they can build is promising for contractors around the UK, as the more homes built, means more jobs for plumbing, electrical and gas contractors.

Kier today announced that they have won £95 million of new construction contracts in the last month, and are set for new projects in Northamptonshire, Gosport and the East Midlands.

And to top it all off, contractors John Sisk & Son have increased their turnover by 73% for 2010, they revealed today.

Just goes to show that it’s not all doom and gloom in construction. Some firms are struggling, but new jobs are being created all the time as some companies flourish in the difficult economic times.

What do you think about this? Let us know at all the usual places, on here or join us on the Train4TradeSkills Facebook and Twitter pages.

Government believe smart meters way forward for energy savings

Saving energy and creating a low-carbon future. That’s the purpose of the government’s Green Deal. And now the government are promoting the use of smart meters in their push for a low-carbon Britain.

The government are set to roll out the use of smart meters in UK homes so owners can measure their energy use in real time.

53 million smart meters will be installed in 30 million homes and businesses across Britain. This will start in 2014 and take five years to complete. It is the biggest scheme of its kind happening in the world.

The move will save households an estimated £7.3 billion over the next twenty years, which is the equivalent of £23 per household each year.

The way smart meters work is that they show energy usage in real time, which will give you an indication of how much energy are using, so you can switch off lights or appliances which are not being used, which will then save you money.

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne, is a fan of the smart meter idea, saying:

“Smart meters are a key part of giving us all more control over how we use energy at home and at work, helping us to cut out waste and save money.”

What do you think about the government unveiling smart meters? Let us know on here or on the Train4TradeSkills Facebook and Twitter pages.

T4TS Radio: Mark Steadman talks about his plumbing course with Train4TradeSkills

Mark Steadman is training to become a plumber with Train4TradeSkills. The Walthamstow-based ex-butcher tells T4TS Radio how he is finding his course.

You can listen to Mark’s story at or via AudioBoo at

Former sparky swaps electrics for bright lights of Premier League

A year ago he was rewiring properties and working as an electrician, now he is playing with the likes of Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton and pulling on the famous black and white stripes of Newcastle.

That’s the story of Michael Richardson. The 19 year old was working as a sparky right up until July 2010, before he was spotted by football scouts and the midfielder is now on the fringes of the Newcastle first team.

Michael left school at 16 and was working as an apprentice electrician for Newcastle City Council rewiring houses and fixing faulty electrics in council homes, whilst playing for his local team, Walker Central, who are ten leagues below the Premiership.

After scouts got him a trial with Newcastle United, Michael has progressed enough to be named in the senior squad by Newcastle boss Alan Pardew.

The former electrician is yet to make a senior appearance for Newcastle, but was on the bench for the thrilling 4-4 draw with Arsenal last month, and the defeat to Everton at the start of March.

Michael told the BBC: “I never thought I would get this far in six months, but I was just going out and enjoying my football, playing well, playing hard and seeing what happens.”

Michael Jeffels, his former boss at non-league Walker Central, says his former player has a bright future:

“He has the vision of a Paul Scholes and the engine of a Steven Gerrard. I think he is one of the young lads who could possibly go all the way.”

What do you think about this – do you excel at any sports alongside your training? Let us know on the Train4TradeSkills Facebook and Twitter pages.

Green Building chief prescribes “an energy diet” for bloated property industry

“If you want to go on a diet, you first find out how much you weigh. The property sector urgently needs to go on an energy diet.”

That was Paul King, the chief executive of the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC).

The UKGBC wants to see all non-residential buildings in the UK display their energy efficiency ratings and are campaigning to make Display Energy Certificates mandatory, starting in 2012.

Display Energy Certificates show how energy efficient buildings are, and are based on an A-G rating, A being the most efficient and G the least.

The certificates, or DEC’s as they are known, will cut costs, drive efficiency and the UKGBC want them included as part of the Energy Bill, which is currently going through Parliament.

British Land’s Justin Snoxall said: “DEC’s can play a significant role for the carbon agenda in non-domestic buildings.”

What do you think of these plans? Let us know and comment below or on the Train4TradeSkills Facebook and Twitter pages.

House-building boom sweeping the UK

House building in the UK has had a good start to 2011 and last month saw nearly 15% more homes built, with the figures expected to grow even more in the next few months.

New statistics from the National House Building Council (NHBC) indicate that the amount of new homes built last month grew by 14.5% compared to January. 8,917 new homes were built in February and social housing also increased to its highest peak in nine months, with 3,289 properties being built.

These figures are reassuring for the construction industry in these strained financial times, as the more new homes being built means that more new construction jobs are created.

Last week’s Budget for 2011 gave the housing industry a much-needed boost, as some of the new changes include introducing a £250 million shared equity fund, which will help first-time buyers get onto the property ladder. This will in turn create a bigger demand for new housing, which will then lead to new construction projects in the UK and new jobs for contractors to satisfy the demand.

NHBC’s Chief Executive said that, “the recent Budget delivered a welcome boost to the housing industry, with first time buyers given incentive to buy and house-builders given incentive to build.”

What do you think about the state of the housing industry – is it on the way up? Let us know on here or on the Train4TradeSkills Facebook and Twitter pages.

McLaren wins race to secure £23m plans in Aldershot

Train4TradeSkills Blog Westgate AldershotPlans to redevelop Aldershot town centre are going ahead as McLaren construction have secured pole position and won a £23 million contract to develop Westgate shopping centre in the town.

McLaren reportedly beat strong competition from construction competitors like John Sisk, Willmott Dixon and Bowmer &Kirkland to lead the mixed-use scheme, which is due to begin next month.

The plans, which are being delivered by developer Citygrove, will see a new multi-screen Cineworld cinema built, along with 8 restaurants, which include a Pizza Express, Prezzo and Frankie & Benny’s. A new hotel, supermarket and car parking facilities will also be built.

The work will take around a year to complete and demolition work is expected to take place next month.

The project is likely to create new construction jobs in the Aldershot area for plumbing, electrical and gas contractors.

Do you live in Aldershot – what do you think of these plans? Let us know at all the usual places – on here or on the Train4TradeSkills Facebook and Twitter pages.

UK to go green with America

The UK is still focused on its low-carbon mission and a group of energy experts are trying to break America and earn new construction contracts in the States.

Climate Change minister Greg Barker is leading the group of UK delegates, who will be taking their Green energy tour to four US cities in five days.

Renewable developers RES Group, the Mark Group and Jupiter Asset Management are some of the companies going to America, where they will meet US construction firms and try and win new work, and advertise the low-carbon work they are doing, to try and export the same ideas to the US.

The five day trade mission will involve trips to Washington D.C, Philadelphia, Charlotte and Columbia and will also aim to secure additional investment for the government’s Green Deal, which aims to make the UK more low-carbon.

Mr Barker, who is the MP for Bexhill and Battle in East Sussex as well as being responsible for Climate Change, said:

“I am proud to be a cheerleader for Britain’s green businesses and am in America this week flying the flag for those firms that are breaking into the US market. I’ll be telling the people I meet about the transformation of the UK economy that we are delivering through the green deal.”

The UK construction industry has already tried to break into countries like Qatar and the Middle East, in a bid to gain construction work ahead of events like the 2022 World Cup.

The USA are one of the leading powers in the global construction industry (alongside the likes of C hina and India) and if the UK can manage to secure work over there, then it could create plenty of new construction jobs and give the industry a much-needed boost.

What do you think about the UK construction industry’s plans to break into America? Let us know on here or on the Train4TradeSkills Facebook and Twitter pages.

Stephen talks tutor assignments, plumbing work and fitting bathrooms in latest blog

Stephen Marlor is training to become a plumber with Train4TradeSkills and blogs about his course and how he is finding it. In his latest blog, Stephen was talking about his latest plumbing assignments and how the new laws in Wales for sprinklers will affect him.

Here’s Stephen’s latest blog:

It’s been a very busy couple of days. I’m in the process of clearing my flat and getting rid of all my utensils in the kitchen and then later on today I will be doing the bathroom. It’s all in aide of the council coming in on Tuesday doing a rewire, a full bathroom and a full kitchen revamp for the next 6 weeks. It is really good, but very stressful and tiring at the same time.

Some good news on the horizon, TMA 23 has been submitted and I got 68% to begin with then resubmitted and scored 100%. I’m not going to be submitting unit 24 now for at least 6 weeks as I won’t be able to concentrate with the workmen being around.

Have a great weekend! My weekend is going to be dedicated to cleaning 😦

You can read Stephen’s blog at  and follow him on Twitter at