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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
These two books are the perfect starting place to help you get to grips with one of the most vitally important aspects of our society - our homes and living environment.

PLEASE NOTE: A download link for Volume 1 will be sent to you by email and Volume 2 will be sent to you by post as a book.

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    • CommentAuthorTriassic
    • CommentTimeMay 29th 2013
    Average energy efficiency (SAP) rating of new homes SAP refers to the Government's 'Standard Assessment Procedure' for assessing the energy performance of dwellings. The SAP rating is based on the energy costs associated with space heating, water heating, ventilation and lighting, less cost savings from energy generation
    technologies. It is adjusted for floor area so that it is essentially independent of dwelling size for a given built form. The SAP rating is expressed on a scale of 1 to 100 - the higher the number, the lower the running costs. This release covers quarterly data for the regions of England and Wales for January - March 2013.

    The key points From January to the end of March 2013:
    • The average energy efficiency (SAP rating) of new homes was 79.2 in England and 79.2 in Wales for the quarter January - March 2013. This is a decrease of 0.2 points for England and a decrease of 1.1 points for Wales on the same quarter in 2012.


    So is new build quality going down?
    • CommentAuthorbillt
    • CommentTimeMay 29th 2013
    2 parts in 800 difference! - even if it was accurately measurable that would be in the noise; as the SAP rating appears to be subject to fudge and interpretation it's completely meaningless.
    • CommentTimeMay 29th 2013
    Yep, no significance in that
    • CommentAuthorTriassic
    • CommentTimeMay 29th 2013 edited
    I had this post in mind when asking the question http://www.greenbuildingforum.co.uk/newforum/comments.php?DiscussionID=10716&page=1#Item_6

    In my neck of the woods tradesmen are being laid off as being too expensive and replaced with minimum wage slaves who have just enought skills to get by. My FENSA registered window installer was a butcher (and had never fitted windows into stone mullions before my job), the plumber is a brikkie and the ground/drains worker is a time served fitter.

    Then I read this http://www.greenbuildingforum.co.uk/newforum/comments.php?DiscussionID=10713&page=1#Item_8 and I see even supplier standards are questionable!
    • CommentAuthorbarney
    • CommentTimeMay 30th 2013
    You don't need to analyse fractional pecentage changes is SAP ratings to see where building quality is at - you just need to look.

    I don't care what the rhetoric says, it's a simple fact that we have not invested in construction skills (at all levels) for the last 30 years - typical UK attitde that actually despises artisan skills in my opinion.

    I see it every day at every level - from architects who have no idea to how a window is fitted in terms of detail, to roof structures that are highly questionable, to the installation skills of electricians, plumbers etc having no underpinning basis in the basic theory of what they do, to highly questionable PV and solar thermal set ups - the list goes on and on - and it's not just at a craft level - a lot of so called construction professionals have pretty limited understanding of thier particular discipline as well.

    Little wonder I guess when construction spends several orders of magnitude more on litigation than on training - and big builders want modular approaches with off site fabrication - so site skills get further degraded.


    • CommentTimeMay 30th 2013 edited
    Posted By: barneyand big builders want modular approaches with off site fabrication - so site skills get further degraded.
    My view is that this is a good thing as there is more control at the manufacturing stage. It will require different on site skills, but as our on site skills are pitiful anyway, it is probably cheaper, easier and better to train new people in the skills that are needed. Dump the old people and move on. Worked in the Automotive industry, even cheap cars are better all round than vehicles made in the 1990's.

    How many real qualified engineers are employed in the building industry for site work?
    • CommentAuthorbella
    • CommentTimeMay 30th 2013
    Beware analagy to justify a thesis. Automotive industry - competition +++, 20 years life, simple, centralised systematised maintenence and repair then trash. House building for 100 years +, repairs for every building ever built on evey street in the land. Not sure "Dump the old people and move on" is going to quite do the job unless of course we are all going to live in trailer parks.
    • CommentAuthorbarney
    • CommentTimeMay 30th 2013
    I think I sit between the two extremes - I like modular, off site fabrication for aspects of the building - modular plant rooms, risers, lifts, bathroom or bedroom pods etc - and I have no real issues with modular components in the fabric - off site manufactured panels, cladding etc etc.

    However, I've seen to many modular aproaches go really badly wrong because of the impression you can get just aybody to lash it together on site - the interfaces need planning for example - I used modular cradles carrying horizontal services down a hospital street - build quality was excellent - pipework was flange jointed - fabrication team had plugged the pipes for hygeine at works - site team decided to leave them in - only came to light on pressure testing.

    I also think you need some skilled people at site level - i don't have a problem with a two tier system of skilled, experienced people with good underpinning knowledge partnered by operatives or instalers working to simple rules - ie do this, don't do that.

    In my experience, the former are now in significant decline - in my case I did a formal apprenticeship, moved through part time further and higher education and eventually left the tools into a designers role - but you don't forget the basic skills and it's useful to inform design thinking - in the sense that it has to be buldable without abnormally high skill levels.

    to use your automotive analogy, clients want to buy a BMW - but they want an extra 2" on the headroom, a shorter boot and the steering wheel in the middle in a non standard RAL colour - and they want it yesterday - now even the automotive industry would struggle with that.

    We need both - and from my perspective at the coal face it's the skill level that's missing in both halves of that equation - we are losing both the technical design skills and the installation skills.


    • CommentTimeMay 30th 2013
    Posted By: bella20 years life
    If that was the design criteria then I cannot see a problem. Some housing needs major work in that time and we spend very very little on maintaining our housing stock let alone simple improvements.
    Posted By: bellaNot sure "Dump the old people and move on" is going to quite do the job unless of course we are all going to live in trailer parks.
    Why should we live in caravans because we change the way housing in constructed, modular housing does not mean 'all the same'.

    Posted By: barneyto use your automotive analogy, clients want to buy a BMW - but they want an extra 2" on the headroom, a shorter boot and the steering wheel in the middle in a non standard RAL colour - and they want it yesterday - now even the automotive industry would struggle with that.
    This happens in the USA. People by a stock car and then get it 'modded', sure it costs a lot, but they can get what they want.

    Posted By: barneyWe need both
    Yes, qualified engineers on site with a workforce that can take directions. We tend to suffer from too many Chiefs and not enough Indians at work plus not letting/rewarding good people do what they are good at. Much of this is to do with our education system that allows 'everyone to be a winner' and our compartmentalised working systems caused by strong unionisation in the 1960's and 1970's.
    • CommentAuthorbarney
    • CommentTimeMay 30th 2013
    Actually I think we suffer from incompetent chiefs and incompetent indians - there is no getting away from the fact that UK Plc has totally under invested in "skills" over the last 30 years - and it accelerated during the Blair regime, when it became popular to send everyone and his dog to university.

    In my experience, we've sent some total dummies to Uni over the last decade or so - frankly, people who had no business being there. They are not material for chiefs despite what people say (or tell you) - and that's even accounting for the radically dumbed down technical content of many degree courses.

    The consequence of this is that they were also not available to learn artisan skills to which they would be better suited - thus incompetent indians. Compounded by the fact that we then tried to put real dimwits into technical trades and thereby downskilled the technical pool.

    Basically, we now have no real alternative to increasing off site fabrication - we don't have the skill base to do anything else - and much of the design of that off site system is actually undertaken overseas.

    I don't mind admitting it, but I see far better design thinking and design quality coming from our Indian design centre than I see arising in the UK offices - once you get over the hurdle of relevant codes, standards etc it's high quality stuff at bargain basement cost - our principal thinking though is having enough competent resource to operate - low cost just gilds the lily

    Right, where's me tin snips and gas axe - I fancy a roof chop on the company auto !!


    • CommentTimeMay 30th 2013
    Posted By: barneyI fancy a roof chop on the company auto !!
    Low bridge, high speed, lots of nerve, or send the Indian with your sat nav ready programmed:bigsmile:
    • CommentAuthorbarney
    • CommentTimeMay 30th 2013
    It was much easier before the elf n safety brigade put crash bars on artics - - you just needed to duck at the right time :cool:

    • CommentAuthorPeterW
    • CommentTimeMay 30th 2013
    In one sense the self build market has created some problems, and fixed others...

    We now demand higher standards in a market that is governed by a set of bare minimum standards (B/Regs) which in some areas is enforced by people with slightly more skill than an office administrator...!

    I was pretty hands on during our last build, and had the joy of a decent BCO from the council who has since left and gone freelance ! Some of my problems he fixed by being creative, and I returned the favour by making sure stuff was done in excess of the standards. For example all my rigid insulation joints in the roof were taped with foil tape - not a requirement but something I did to improve the building as we have to live in it. The roofers said the cut roof was the most solid they had worked on in years, and in return I got full leaded dormers with some lovely detailing.

    My architect had designed to a minimum spec (the regs again) and had said that he specced GRP dormers as'no-one knows how to do lead anymore'.... That's my problem to solve, not his to create..! There are skills out there, but the trades are not trained as with most industries.

    My electrician is the only trade I know that regularly keeps up with industry and he is a one man band. New things such as wire joiners etc that have come from aero and auto industries he now uses as it cuts down his install times and is more profitable. But they need skill to install and he makes sure he's up to date.

    The brickie on the other hand was a lovely guy but when it came to anything more complicated than cavity walls he was lost - I've tried to get quotes for brick skins on SIPs and given up !! Apparently its new technology....

    The manufacturers don't help either, as their quotes about 'we can train you in a day to use our system' are based upon a level of knowledge of an engineer, not a tradesman. Like all training, its great if you use it straight away, but leave it a few months and its gone....

    I've seen various trade bodies moaning that 'traditional methods' won't be able to meet the new standards needed in the next set of regs - the question is so what...??? While the dinosaurs at NHBC are still in existence (don't get me started on cavities...) with their regulations based on 1980's building technologies, then development of new methods will stall - their warranties are insurance policies, and insurance is based on risk. And to make their profit then they need to either keep claims low by only warrantying what they know or premiums high to cover the perceived increase in failures and claims...

    It would be interesting to see who has claimed on their NHBC / Zurich / architects certificate in the 10 years after the house was built and what for...?

    Chances are its for poor quality workmanship that was covered up before the nice BCO stepped foot on site....


    • CommentAuthorJonti
    • CommentTimeMay 30th 2013
    The problem is not so much the ability of the trades men but the lack of precision and pride in their work. There is an attitude of slap it up and as long as it holds that good enough. Attention to detail is almost zero and most trades men don't do as instructed unless you stand over them and watch. Even then they will moan that it is over the top as once the plastering is done you won't see it.

    The construction industry in the UK is expensive and crap quality on the whole. I wonder if that is because there is no guarantee or warrantee on new houses.

    rant over:wink:,

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