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Tag Archives: Construction and Maintenance

How to Set up a Business and Save Money

I get a lot of people ask me how I was able to afford setting up my own business. It’s true that it’s not an easy time to make any business successful right now, but there are ways. Just because the economy is in trouble doesn’t mean you have to let your ideas linger until the time is right. There may never be the perfect time to go it alone, so why hold back? I have to admit it hasn’t been easy, but it is possible if you are frugal with money, are careful with each and every penny and look for ways to save money.

If you are starting a business I have a few tips that should help you get off on the right foot:

  1. There is nothing wrong with second hand, or third hand for that matter. I set up my business with used machinery, used IT equipment and even used furniture. I didn’t buy anything brand new unless I really had to. You can find brilliant suppliers that will sell you decent equipment that costs far less compared with buying brand new. You can save a fortune this way so that’s why this is my number one tip.
  2. Choose your suppliers carefully. I am not only talking about parts and products here, I am talking about all supplies from paper to packing materials. Always seek out the most competitive prices from companies that provide a quality service.
  3. Don’t waste energy or water. Look at ways of reducing heating costs, such as reducing the thermostat by one degree. You can also reduce water use by asking your water company for a water displacement bag to put in the cisterns of your toilets. Remember to open the blinds in the day so the sun can help to heat the rooms and close them at night to stop heat escaping. It’s also useful to set the heating to come on just twenty minutes before your employees arrive, any earlier is just a waste.
  4. Sell your unused equipment on. Don’t leave items unused in your stock room for months. If you no longer need the item find someone to buy it off you and put the money back in the business.

Providing you implement sensible spending you should find that you make every penny count. It has certainly helped me stay in business so far and it’s something I plan to continue doing even as the business expands.

Buy the best used equipment and save a fortune. Electro Motion supply quality stock for less, suitable for all types of businesses and ventures.

 

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Fall Building Maintenance Tips – Prepare for the Cold Weather to Come

It’s been a long, hot summer for most of the country, but as the calendar gradually turns to September, fall is almost here and before you know it, the cold winter weather will be here, too.  Here are a few things you can do as a building Owner or Director of Facilities to ensure you and your buildings are ready for the change in seasons:

  • Perform Roof Inspections – Get your ladder and check out the roofs around your campus – or hire a qualified roofing contractor to inspect your low-sloped built-up and membrane roofs as well as the higher sloped shingled roofs.  Look for areas of loose shingles, especially around the building eaves where ice dams can form during winter, which allow moisture to enter under the shingles.  In addition, check flashings at vertical wall intersections, chimneys, and plumbing vent boots to confirm there are no holes or other damage that can allow water to enter the building during heavy rain or snow.  Adequate roof maintenance not only reduces leaks, but extends the life of your roofing systems.  It is important to check low-sloped roofs weekly during the leaf falling season to ensure that roof drains are not clogged with leaves and debris.  Higher sloped shingled roofs should be checked at the end of the season to ensure that gutters, valleys, and other areas are not clogged with leaves and debris as well.
  • Clean Gutters and Downspouts – Ensure all gutters and downspouts are clear from debris so that they adequately drain water away.  This continues to be important as the season progresses and leaves begin to fall.  Consider pruning overhanging trees at this time to keep the leaves and debris off the roof.  Clogged gutters can cause water to back up, which will damage the roof and the trim around the roof and soffits, as well as siding.  During cold winter weather, standing and backed-up water in gutters can freeze and cause ice dams that will damage your roof and sheathing, and lead to leaks.  Downspouts should discharge into underground storm drain leaders or empty onto splash blocks that adequately divert the water away from the exterior of the building.
  • Inspect All Exterior Doors and Windows – Check to make sure that caulking is still flexible and is sealing any gaps between window/door frames and exterior walls.  This ensures the warm air stays inside the building during the winter and seals the exterior building envelope from water penetration and leaks.  For added energy savings, check the weather stripping at all exterior door frames to make sure it’s still in place and serving its intended purpose.
  • Check Exterior Faucets and Service Irrigation System – Install frost-proof exterior hose bib faucets or drain older non-frost-proof faucets to keep them from freezing and breaking during the winter.  This is also a good time to have the underground irrigation system serviced and prepared for winter by a qualified irrigation contractor.
  • Exterior Site Concrete  and Asphalt Pavement – Perform regular sealing of exterior cracks in sidewalks and paved areas during the fall.  Water that freezes inside these cracks can cause the concrete to spall and deteriorate, leading to more costly repairs later.  The water penetration can also cause the subgrade to soften, leading to settlement and potholes.  It is critical to ensure that all expansion joints are adequately sealed with a high-quality joint sealer to prevent water from getting below the pavement surface and softening the structural base course materials.  Routine and periodic sealing of the asphalt pavement with a liquid asphalt sealer will help seal small hairline cracks in the asphalt pavement, which also protects the structural base course from softening and degradation due to water intrusion.
  • Tune Up Your Heating System – Inspect all the furnaces and heat pumps to ensure they are clean and operating properly with clean filters.  Clogged and dirty filters cause the heating system to waste energy while heating the building to your desired set point temperatures.  Check carbon monoxide and smoke detectors to make sure they are operational.  Clean chimneys to ensure they are clear and not clogged with soot and other debris, which can cause gases to build up inside your buildings.  A qualified HVAC contractor will not only perform a visual inspection of your heating system, but will also remove covers and check filters, check blowers, ensure flues are clear and operating properly, and perform other safety checks that will assure a safe and warm environment for your residents this winter.
  • Check Attics – Check the insulation in your attics to confirm it’s the proper thickness and is distributed evenly.  Lack of proper attic insulation is a major cause of heat loss in a building, which will increase your heating costs.  You should also check to see that all vents are operating properly and there is no insulation blocking the continuous soffit vents around the attic perimeter.  This is also a good time to ensure that fire sprinkler lines located in unheated attics are adequately insulated to prevent freezing and breaking of these lines.
 

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Small Portions of Hope for the Construction Industry

For building firms and their suppliers this week’s “Government Construction Summit” has offered some mixed messages for the future.  The summit focussed closely on government procurement policies and efficiency savings; but amidst a rash of cuts in government spending, what do these efficiencies amount to?  Both the cabinet office minister Francis Maude and his chief construction advisor Paul Morrell outlined the current position for the construction industry and their own thinking on government building contracts, strategy and procurement.  The summit had a keen focus on both saving money, with some suggestions of possible opportunities for the building industry.

Government Streamlining

Building firms, however, may be less interested in how the government proposes to streamline its processes and more on the availability of construction contracts.  The summit showed that last year the number of contracts for new schools fell by thirty per cent while for roads the figure was nearly fifty per cent.  For many this is no surprise as the government’s austerity measures begin to bite and the effect on the construction industry has been clear with big names such as John Doyle going into administration last month and the subsequent loss of 290 jobs.  Like many other suppliers to the construction industry Doyle’s disappearance from the industry is a significant indicator of the effect that the lack of large scale projects is having on the industry.

Future PFI Contracts?

The Private Finance Initiative (PFI) sector has provided a good market for construction firms in the past, however, at the summit the Treasury’s Infrastructure Unit could only announce that plans for the successor to the initiative will be made clear well before the autumn, and could be available in the next few weeks.  If this raised hopes for construction firms the statement was qualified by the statement that ‘we have had the largest successful investment in s social infrastructure since the Second World War already.  That “already” may be one that suggests there may not be much more on the PFI front planned for the near future.

It’s taking part that matters (if you’ve paid your entry fee)

Despite a cast of thousands in construction terms, the Olympian task of constructing the facilities for the Games Atkins remains the only construction company permitted to use its involvement in the project for marketing purposes.  This was confirmed at the summit, although smaller contractors were advised they could always tell prospective clients that they had been involved.  Sort of along the lines of “It was this big. Honest”.  Having paid for the privilege, it seems that Atkins intend to hold onto their exclusivity, while the smaller firms who have helped to make the Games possible will receive marginally less recognition than your average torch bearer.

Good Tsunamis

Tsunamis are not normally considered a great idea, but Terry Fuller the Homes and Communities Executive director promised one is on its way for construction firms, as housing finances are handed back to local councils.  This particular mega-wave is expected to come in the form of a flood of building contracts, according to Fuller, as councils rush to spend their new found rental income.  On the same theme Fuller disclosed that social housing landlords who fail to meet construction targets may have their funding removed and passed onto others, to ensure enough homes are built on time.

Mixed Messages

Overall the summit provided a glum picture of the construction industry at present, despite the major construction projects promised in the form of nuclear power plants and at least one high speed rail link in coming years.  While the government’s plans to rationalise its spending may not be of much interest to building firms, the changes to funding for housing could offer some hope, as could changes in the way grants are administered to social housing.  For construction firms, large or small, finding their own efficiency savings seems to be the order of the day.

For all sectors in the construction industry, from concrete batch plants suppliers to scaffolding firms, the governments summit this week has provide small portions of hope and some very mixed messages.

 

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