Survey says UK Construction firms already feeling impact of Brexit

One third of UK construction firms are already feeling the effects of Brexit, according to new data, but most companies have not yet taken any action to deal with it.

Research shows that the number of construction employers feeling the impact of Brexit has increased by 9 per cent compared with last year.

Almost half the employers in the sector are concerned that recruitment is going to become more difficult over the next two years, while 4 per cent expect hiring to become easier. Research shows that the number of migrant workers in unskilled, general labouring roles has doubled in the last year, rising from 22 per cent to 40 per cent. Within the sector, Romanians have “risen rapidly” to becoming the largest national group working in construction, up from 27 per cent in 2015 to 64 per cent in 2017.

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However, the data also shows that less than a third of firms have taken action “or plan on doing” so as Brexit approaches.

In a survey of more than 400 firms, respondents said keeping hold of the workers they currently employ is the most important aim to employers in the run-up to Brexit. Steve Radley, policy director at Construction Industry Training Board, said: “With Brexit approaching, construction employers are expecting the recruitment of skilled workers to get harder as they anticipate restrictions on access to migrant workers. However, few employers are making firm plans to address this and instead are focusing on retaining their existing migrant workforce.”

He added that the research highlighted a need for a “twin-track strategy” of investing in the domestic workforce while enabling employers to “continue to secure the vital talent of migrant workers”.

Mr Radley said: “With an estimated 158,000 construction jobs to be created between now and 2022, it is critical that industry works together to deliver its part of this strategy.”

The most recent industry data showed construction activity picked up in June, with the latest Purchasing Managers’ Index showing a figure of 53.1, up from 52.5 in May, indicating the fastest growth in seven months.

However, analysts warned the the industry is still under a “cloud of uncertainty” because of Brexit.

Earlier this year, research carried out by the federation of Master Builders revealed that construction firms were facing more than year-long waits for materials such as bricks due to the devaluation of sterling

Talks over construction of $20b new Egyptian capital stalls

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s dream of a gleaming new capital in the desert east of Cairo has been dealt a blow by the failure of negotiations with a Chinese developer that was going to invest $20bn in the scheme.

Officials in charge of delivering the vast New Administrative Capital said two years of talks with China Fortune Land Development (CFLD) fell through over how to share out revenue from the real estate element of the project.

Egypt wanted 40% but CFLD offered only 33%, said Khaled Elhusseiny, spokesman for the military-controlled company in charge of the scheme, the New Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD).

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“We found that to be unacceptable especially they were going to have a premium plot,” Elhusseiny said.

Talks were deemed at an end after the Egyptian side responded to CFLD’s final proposal on developing 6,070 hectares over 25 years in the new capital, and received no answer.

“We didn’t hear back,” ACUD chairman Ahmed Zaki Abdeen said. “The talks have stopped.”

CFLD signed a memorandum of understanding on the development deal in October 2016.

The apparent failure of the negotiations will fuel doubts over the commercial viability of Sisi’s grand vision, which he announced at an investment conference in March 2015.

Worried by overpopulation and congestion in Cairo, Sisi’s plan is to move the entirety of Egypt’s legendarily huge state apparatus, including 34 ministries and many foreign embassies, to the as-yet unnamed site marked out over 725-sq-km of desert 35km east of Cairo.

Officials imagine 6.5 million people will eventually be drawn out of the capital to inhabit the city, which they hope will be developed through a Dubai-style real estate business model.

However, critics of the plan point out that dozens of new desert cities launched in Egypt over the last 50 years now sit as ghost towns, and that the speculative real estate model creates dysfunctional spaces where ordinary Egyptians cannot afford to live.

Initially, Egypt counted on Gulf property investors to take the new capital plan forward but, when that did not materialise, Chinese builders and developers entered the scene.

In October last year, state-owned contracting giant CSCEC signed a $3bn deal to build a central business district in the new capital, featuring Africa’s tallest building.

Despite doubts in some quarters, the Egyptian military is pressing on with constructing the new capital.

Early this month, ACUD’s Ahmed Zaki Abdeen said 45 local companies and 180,000 workers are building infrastructure there, and that $7.8bn (140 billion Egyptian pounds) is currently allocated for sewerage and other utilities.

Abdeen, a retired general, said the new capital would be ready to receive 34 ministries and 50,000 employees, as well as the presidency and parliament, by the end of 2020.

He added that an electrified railway would be built from Cairo to the new capital within two years, financed by a loan from China.


Survey reveals UK Construction workers cut corners on Fridays

A survey of UK construction workers has found that three quarters of tradespeople admit to doing at least one “Friday job” – in which they cut corners in order to steal a march on the weekend.

The study, which surveyed 500 workers, showed that 76% admitted to rushing work, as opposed to 15% who said they never had.

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One worker commented: “It was Friday afternoon – I knew that light switch was upside down, and shame on me, but it was time to go to the pub.”

Another, who confessed to rushing interior decorating jobs in the run-up to the weekend, said: “It’s almost traditional now. Friday afternoon jobs get done quickly so you can have an early finish for the weekend. Everybody does it.”

A decorator from London commented “I didn’t use masking tape and let’s just say I hope that customer is blind as those lines are not straight.”

Chris Hall, spokesperson for, said: “Not only do these ‘Friday jobs’ tend to result in problems which can cost consumers dearly further down the line, they also open up a can of worms when it comes to health and safety. If the correct precautions aren’t taken due to workers being preoccupied, trade businesses could be liable for much more than just complaints and money spent fixing botched jobs.”

He added that firms could introduce “early finish Fridays” to reduce the temptation to speed through jobs.



Report says China built 88 skyscrapers in 2018

A total of 88 buildings measuring 200 meters (656 feet) or above were completed in cities across China this year,according to a report released by the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH).
The figure sets a new benchmark for annual skyscraper construction in a single country, and is almost seven times higher than the 13 completions recorded in the US, which ranked a distant second.
The country accounted for 61.5% of new buildings recorded in the CTBUH’s 2018 figures. Of those, 14 were built in the southern city of Shenzhen, which topped the city rankings for the third consecutive year ahead of Dubai, Beijing, New York and the northern Chinese city of Shenyang.
Asian cities dominated the rest of the list of the year’s tallest completions, with Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Changsha, China, also finishing structures taller than 400 meters (1312 feet) in the last 12 months.
Elsewhere, the South American capitals of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Bogota, Colombia, finished their biggest towers to date. San Francisco and Miami also completed their tallest ever skyscrapers: the 326-meter (1,070-foot) Salesforce Tower and the 252-meter (827-foot) Panorama Tower, respectively.
The Comcast Technology Center in Philadelphia is, at 342 meters (1,121 feet), the tallest building to be completed outside of Asia this year, and the tallest in the city.
The CTBUH estimates that the world could see anywhere from 120 to 150 new skyscrapers measuring 200 meters or above completed in 2019. But its annual report also acknowledges that China’s race to build upwards may soon be hampered by domestic economic conditions.
“Although 2018 was a banner year for skyscraper projects in the country, it is likely that coming years will register the effects of increased financial controls and more conservative debt financing policies,” the report said. “If these policies continue, China’s seemingly limitless dominance of the tall building world may begin to falter.
“It can also be expected that any tariffs imposed against China would lead to disruptions in the global construction industry, particularly concerning steel, as well as in China itself.”
A slowdown would not only affect construction within the country, but also overseas developments that rely on private or state funding from China, the report said.
“The ability of Chinese banks and developers to fund overseas projects could be further reduced,” the report said. “Overseas investment has already been strongly curtailed during 2018, resulting in the cessation, sale, or interruption of Chinese investor-driven projects in Australia, the United States, and elsewhere.”

EX US President Lives In A Modest $167,000 House

Former President Jimmy Carter might have once called the white mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue his home, but now, he lives in a much,more modest abode.

Carter, the nation’s 39th president, lives a fairly normal — and frugal — life, according to The Washington Post.In fact, Carter, 93, still lives in the ranch house he built himself in 1961.

The home, in rural Plains, Georgia (about a 2½-hour drive south of Atlanta) is a two-bedroom ranch assessed at just $167,000, which is “less than the value of the armored Secret Service vehicles parked outside,”. It’s also less than the median home price in Georgia, which is about $175,300,.In addition to his affordable home, Carter’s frugal tendencies include spending weekends dining with neighbors on paper plates with bargain-brand wine,.

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In addition, it says he and wife Rosalynn make their own yogurt. In recent years, Carter has made much of his income from writing books,he has published at least 33, including a children’s book and reflections on his presidency.

Carter also receives a $210,700 annual pension, as do all former presidents, plus the federal government gives all ex-presidents an allowance for things like travel and office space. In 2017, Carter got more than $230,000 in such allowances, according to the National Taxpayers Union Foundation,a conservative advocacy group.

Carter’s modest lifestyle is sharply different from those of other living former presidents.In 2017, former President Barack Obama purchased an $8.1 million mansion  in Washington, and is well known for his family’s tradition of taking a summer vacation to the picturesque (and pricey) Martha’s Vineyard. The secluded property they would rent out for those vacations just sold for $15 million.

And while Bill Clinton said he left the White House $16 million in debt, that was swiftly erased thanks to his lucrative paid speeches and book deals. It’s been reported by NPR that his first year out of office, Clinton gave 57 speeches and raked in a whopping $13.7 million from his “speaking and writing business,” according to a 2001 tax return.

Clinton’s real estate portfolio includes a $1.7 million home in Chappaqua, New York, and a $2.85 million home in D.C.

In 2015,it was reported  that George W. Bush had given at least 200 paid speeches since 2009, typically making around $100,000 to $175,000 per appearance.

But fancy living is not Carter’s style. Instead, the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner says, “It just never had been my ambition to be rich.”

31 construction workers shot dead in Indonesia

In one of the worst separatist attacks in Indonesia’s restive province of Papua, 31 construction workers and a soldier were shot dead on Sunday and Monday.

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The men worked for state-owned contractor Istaka Karya, building bridges and roads in the impoverished region.

Twenty-four were killed when gunmen stormed a bridge construction site in a remote mountainous village in Nduga district, on the western half of New Guinea island.

Eight fled to the house of a local politician, but the gunmen came and killed seven of them on Monday,reports South China Morning Post.

Security forces were trying to recover the bodies today, but they were being guarded by the separatists.

After Dutch colonial rule, Papua declared itself an independent nation in 1961 but Indonesia took control of the region by force in 1963.


Trumps tariffs: US infrastructure schemes stagger under rising cost burden

Steeply rising inflation in the construction sector caused by President Donald Trump’s tariffs is hampering America’s ability to renovate its infrastructure, according to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

The paper says this puts two of the Trump administration’s flagship policies – an aggressively mercantile approach to overseas trade, and a desire to invest in domestic infrastructure – in conflict with each other.

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According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the price of diesel was 27% higher than it was on October 2017, asphalt-paving mixtures were up 12%, and steel-mill products rose 18%.

The rise in steel prices was partly due to tariffs of 25% on steel imported from China and other countries, imposed in June. This has lowered competitive pressure on domestic mills, allowing them to raise their prices.

Among the victims of the inflation is the Foothill Gold Line, a 20km light rail extension outside Los Angeles.It will cost an extra $570m than expected, bringing the project’s total cost to $2.1bn and triggering a retendering of the work, the WSJ found.

Elsewhere, in Dover, New Hampshire, the winning bid on a flood-control project came in $1.5m higher than the city’s $3.3m estimate, a hike of just over 45%, which means the city may have to cancel other planned projects. The New Hampshire Department of Transportation said there had been a 30% surge in steel prices since the summer.

In West Virginia, a works programme that included repairing 25 bridges on Interstate 70 came in more than $100m higher than a state estimate. A spokesman told the WSJ that the state plans to put the project out to bid again. And a ferry terminal in Mukilteo, Washington, will be delayed after the lowest bid received was $12m above the state’s $65m budget.

Factors outside Trump’s tariffs are pushing up costs, however. Construction inflation has been exacerbated by the tightening labour market, as well.

Analysis by employers’ body the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) shows that construction added 30,000 jobs in the last two months and 330,000 jobs over the past year, topping 7.3 million for the first time since April 2008. Meanwhile, average pay jumped and unemployment decreased to a historic low.

“Despite the steep gains in employment and pay, a recent survey by the association finds contractors continue to struggle to find qualified workers,” the AGC said.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration had promised to put in place a $1.5 trillion renewal programme but, by March 2018, Congress had allotted just $21bn to it, slightly more than 1% of the total.



Scaffolders earn more than architects – UK body

The annual average salary of a scaffolder is now £40,942, according to a survey of smaller building companies, whereas that of a university-trained architect is just £38,228, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

In fact, plasterers, bricklayers, plumbers and electricians are all taking home more in pay a year than architects now, and not just architects but other professionals including teachers, veterinarians, nurses, and accountants, the FMB says.

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The highest reported annual salary for bricklayers in London was £90,000 a year.

The FMB used its findings to urge young people to enter the construction industry through paid apprenticeships rather than rack up debt getting a degree.

“Money talks and when it comes to annual salaries, a career in construction trumps many university graduate roles,” said FMB chief executive Brian Berry.

“The average university graduate in England earns £32,000 a year whereas our latest research shows that your average bricky or roofer is earning £42,000 a year across the UK. In London, a bricklayer is commanding wages of up to £90,000 a year,” said Berry.

“Pursuing a career in construction is therefore becoming an increasingly savvy move. University students in England will graduate with an average £50,800 of debt, according to The Institute for Fiscal Studies, while apprentices pass the finish line completely debt-free.

“Not only that, apprentices earn while they learn, taking home around £17,000 a year. We are therefore calling on all parents, teachers and young people, who too-often favour academic education, to give a career in construction serious consideration.”

Berry concluded: “The construction industry is in the midst of an acute skills crisis and we are in dire need of more young people, including women and ethnic minorities, to join us. Our latest research shows that more than two-thirds of construction SMEs are struggling to hire bricklayers and 63 per cent are having problems hiring carpenters.

“This is a stark reminder of how the Government’s housing targets could be scuppered by a lack of skilled workers. The FMB is committed to working with the Government to improve the quality and quantity of apprenticeships because the only way we will build a sustainable skills base is by training more young people, and to a high standard.”

Architects name Brazil children school’s timber complex best building in the world


Children Village, a new school complex on the edge of the rainforest in northern Brazil, has won the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) International Prize 2018.

The complex, designed by Brazilian architects Aleph Zero and Rosenbaum, was chosen from a shortlist of four exceptional new buildings by a grand jury chaired by renowned architect Elizabeth Diller (DS+R).

The RIBA International Prize is awarded every two years to a building that exemplifies design excellence and architectural ambition, while also delivering meaningful social impact.

It is one of the world’s most rigorously judged architecture awards, with every longlisted building visited by a group of international experts.

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Covering an area of almost 25,000 m2, Children Village is organised into two identical complexes: one for girls and one for boys. Residences are centered around three large, open and well-shaded courtyards at ground level, where dormitory accommodation is located.

On the first floor, there are flexible communal spaces ranging from reading spaces and television rooms, to balconies and hammocks, where the children can relax and play.


Combining a contemporary aesthetic with traditional techniques, Children Village has been described by the judges as “reinventing Brazilian vernacular”. The building is constructed with local resources and based on local techniques.

Earth blocks handmade on site were used to construct the walls and latticework, chosen for their thermal, technical and aesthetic properties.

As well as being cost effective and environmentally sustainable, this approach creates a building with strong connections to its surroundings and with the community that it serves.

“Children Village provides an exceptional environment designed to improve the lives and wellbeing of the school’s children,” said RIBA President Ben Derbyshire. “It illustrates the immeasurable value of good educational design.”

Children Village provides boarding accommodation for 540 children aged 13 to 18 attending the Canuanã School.

Pupils come from remote areas of the country, some travelling many hours by boat. Funded by the Bradesco Foundation, Children Village is one of 40 schools run by the foundation providing education for children in rural communities across Brazil.

For the architects, Gustavo Utrabo and Petro Duschenes from Aleph Zero and Marcelo Rosenbaum and Adriana Benguela from Rosenbaum, the project shows how architecture can be a tool for social transformation. They worked closely with the children to identity their needs and desires for their school. They wanted to create an environment that could be a home away from home, where children could develop a strong sense of both individuality and belonging.

“It has been a joy to see the children making the building their own and adapting the space to fit their needs,” said Utrabo and Duschenes. “We wanted to be prescriptive without being overbearing, to be supportive without being patronising, and to encourage growth and development without cosseting it.”

For Rosenbaum and Benguela, “The space facilitates the interaction between public and private, and socialising between the collective, nature and the individual, reconnecting children and young people to their origins and with their surrounding ecosystem.”

About 20 new buildings in 16 countries ranging from large urban infrastructure schemes to private homes; cultural destinations to civic spaces; educational buildings to places of worship have received a RIBA Award for International Excellence”.

Source: Chinedum Uwaegbulam

US-Mexico Border Wall: Texas Firm Awarded $145Million Contract

Texas firm, SLS, has been awarded a $145 million contract to build a section of the US-Mexico border wall.

The contract, referred to as RGV-03, for the 9.6km stretch in the Rio Grande Valley area in the US state of Texas was awarded by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

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The project includes the construction and installation of a reinforced concrete levee wall to the height of the existing levee, with 5m-tall bollards installed on top, and vegetation removal along a 45m enforcement zone along the length of the wall.

The enforcement zone will also include detection technology, lighting, video surveillance and an all-weather patrol road running parallel to the levee wall.

Construction is scheduled to begin in February 2019.


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