Recently in Construction Category
I recently attended an intensive two-week Senior Executive Programme at the London Business School.
One of the outcomes was I am now 7lbs lighter! It wasn't that the food was bad - quite the contrary - it's just that whilst the purpose of the course was to introduce new and emerging management techniques, it was as much about taking a long hard look at oneself.
Your own brand is of equal importance to your company's. Keeping yourself mentally, physically and - if you are that way inclined - spiritually fit - is fundamental.
The construction trade press is starting to report signs of a recovery for the industry.
They point to various indicators, even though output - the usual yardstick by which our sector is measured - remains at record lows.
Among the encouraging signs is an upturn in business at the front end of the project cycle. Specifically, the Royal Institute of British Architect's monthly survey of the profession is reporting an increase in workloads.
It's been a gloomy start to 2013 for the construction industry, particularly for contractors based in the West Midlands.
According to the Construction Skills Network (CSN) report by training organisation CITB-ConstructionSkills, the region will see a decline in construction output of 1.4 per cent annually between now and 2017, the worst outlook in the country.
The decline is even steeper, some 10.9 per cent, for those working outside the public housing sector.
The Green Deal is the coalition government's latest initiative to encourage more businesses and homeowners to employ green technologies in their properties.
That's the 'green' bit. The 'deal' is there are no up front costs involved in installing the energy efficient measures, as they are recouped through energy bills over a period of time.
There are various aims for the initiative: to improve energy efficiency, slash carbon emissions, create jobs and tackle fuel poverty. The Government has boasted that the initiative is the biggest national improvement programme since World War II.
The Government is also predicting that the Green Deal programme could kick-start £14billion of investment over the next decade, and support around 65,000 jobs.
I suspect - and hope - that housing will be high on the agenda at this week's Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.
There have been a number of recent announcements from the government that suggest new homes remain a key priority. And at its conference last week, the Labour Party said housing would be at the centre of its economic strategy.
We're all aware of the targets the current and previous governments set themselves, and we are starting to see some concrete initiatives which could mean new homes coming off the drawing board and on to site.
The Olympic Games are now about much more than a few weeks of sporting competition: they are intended to have a lasting legacy.
The construction sector has benefited massively from the Olympics: the Olympic Park has provided work for some 800 firms at a time when the industry was poised on the brink of recession. The build, completed on time and (largely) to budget, has been a triumph for our industry.
But we are also hoping to benefit in the longer term.
One sport that has enjoyed a surge in interest as a result of the Olympics, and our recent successes in the sport, is swimming.
Nine Days is an American rock band; it's also the time it took the Chinese to erect a three-storey office block in the country's central Hunan province.
Not that the builders were satisfied with this timescale. They were aiming for just one day, but heavy rain, a delivery problem and a national holiday set them back.
The building was created using a system of prefabricated modules, manufactured off site. In fact, more than 90 per cent of the work was done in advance in two factories.
"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics". The oft-quoted phrase describes the persuasive power of numbers to bolster a weak argument.
In the last few weeks two conflicting sets of statistics have been released about the construction sector.
First out was the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI). The index, which measures new business and employment levels in the construction sector, came in at 55.8 - any figure over 50 demonstrates growth in the sector.
In contrast, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) claimed construction output had contracted by 4.8 per cent in the first three months of this year, helping to push the economy into recession and double-dip.
Both surveys are closely watched economic indicators, so which one is out-of-step?
Experience tells me the truth lies somewhere in between.
I read an article recently that highlighted the plight of smaller regional construction contractors and their inability to win new work in these straitened economic times.
The article was based on a survey conducted by Constructionline - a pre-qualification certification scheme for contractors and consultants - which revealed that of the 115 SME contractors surveyed 54 per cent had seen a decrease in their workload in the last three months. One of the biggest challenges, according to 42 per cent of SMEs, is winning new work, while cashflow was also cited as another major worry.
As the Olympic Park in London nears completion, the last of the big-ticket construction projects is coming to an end.
According to Glenigan, the economic research consultancy, the number of large scale projects worth in excess of £100m has halved since the start of the downturn.
The average value of individual projects for the top 50 contractors fell from £10.3m in 2010, to £8.7m in 2011, the lowest level for three years. Outside London, values are even lower.
What's more, contract values are expected to deteriorate further once work on the Olympics has ended.