Specify Magazine Feb 2024

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Editor Tina Calder Editorial Pat Burns Sub Editors Excalibur Press Reporter Jonathan Traynor Manager Shaun Byrne info@specifymagazine.co.uk Subscriptions: UK £18.00 / Outside UK £27.50 SPECIFY is published by SPECIFY Magazine Ltd Design Clark Warden Thunk Creative Design Printed by W&G Baird Tel: +44 (028) 9446 3911 www.specifymagazine.co.uk FEBRUARY 2024

82% of builders deal with work-related mental health problems every year


he construction industry has long been vulnerable to mental health issues due to the stifling crises, strenuous hours, and job insecurity. Fix Radio, a radio station dedicated to builders and the trades, are tackling the stigma surrounding mental health in the construction industry and highlight the dire need to improve support readily available to tradespeople. According to IronmongeryDirect and ElectricalDirect, 82% of builders in the UK grapple with work-related mental health problems every year, with an overwhelming 92% admitting to feeling uncomfortable discussing their mental health, perpetuating the stigma surrounding mental health in the construction industry. The need to improve the support available to employees and business owners in the industry is further highlighted in new research from Fix Radio, which shows that a shocking 38% of tradesmen are now experiencing the worst levels of stress and anxiety in their lifetime.

In search of support, the demand for national helplines highlights the growing desperation among industry professionals. The Big Brew, a national helpline, revealed that over a third of texts were from individual construction workers contemplating suicide, with 16% of those related to depression. Highlighting the urgency of this crisis, the helpline further unveiled that 80%

of their usage occurs during the working week. This comes at a challenging time, where overwhelming work schedules, material shortages and new environmental directives, have left hundreds of thousands of small businesses – equalling 27% of SMEs in the trade – on the verge of breaking point, Fix Radio’s study found.

Where can tradespeople go for help? The Lighthouse Club is 100% focused on improving the welfare and wellbeing of the construction community in the UK and Ireland. They provide a range of free and proactive services to help companies deliver the best possible support to their employees and their families: Their 24/7 Confidential Helpline is available to everyone on your site including subcontractors, agency workers and allied trades. Their Construction Industry Helpline covers all aspects of emotional, physical and financial wellbeing, and is available in many different languages through our partnership with translation services. specifymagazine.co.uk




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2024 Construction Forecast According To Glenigan Report

6 Digest Northern Ireland’s construction sector enjoyed growth of almost 8% despite the lack of an executive, according to a report from consultant’s Aecom.

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Wind power was responsible for saving Northern Ireland £243m, according to Wind Energy Ireland’s annual report and energy specialists Baringa.


Digest NI Chamber unveiled an ambitious set of recommendations designed to reform the region's planning system. CITB NI has announced their ‘The Older Buildings for a Greener Future’ project, a new retrofit training programme supported by Department for Communities Historic Environment Fund.


2023 Review of the Year

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Digest NI commercial property market remained sluggish and lacking momentum in Q4 2023 but there were some improvements on the previous quarter says RICS. CBRE NI warns three quarters of Belfast’s office stock may become obsolete by 2030 due to upcoming EPC legislation.

London Build Show Review

14 Digest A £20 million project at Sprucefield Retail Park is under consideration by Lisburn and Castlereagh Council. Planning permission granted by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council to transform 159-year-old former bank into a hotel. Belfast Region City Deal to pump £20.5m into Ballymena’s i4C Innovation and CleanTech Centre. Development of almost 700 new apartments given green light by Belfast City Council.

16 Digest Next step for AMIC approved after Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council green-lighted a £10m business case. BRM Utility secures national multi-year framework contracts with support from Invest NI.


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17 Digest GRAHAM announces successful completion of the £50m Pall Mall Press project in Liverpool. VIVO Defence Services and Henry Brothers break ground on a £6m scheme to house an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Troop.

35 Women In Construction Senior Quantity Surveyor Trea Crozier discusses her career path and why she would recommend a career in construction.

The Future of Commercial Construction

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42 Directories Discover a range of companies across the construction sector in Northern Ireland and beyond.

58 Specify Talks To... Colin Logan, Design Director of 9yards Property Ltd who discusses what support he believes the construction sector needs from Stormont.

Women in Construction: Trea Crozier

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Bio-based Decorating Paints Launched

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Construction grows despite two years without Executive


orthern Ireland’s construction sector enjoyed growth of almost 8% despite the lack of an executive, according to a report from consultant’s Aecom. The analysis, covering the 12 months up to the end of June 2023, showed that total volume output rose, with the majority of growth in repair and maintenance, which saw a year-on-year growth of 17%. Infrastructure projects saw work increase by 9.3%, despite a slowdown over the last quarter. The overall growth according to Aecom was measured at 7.8%, while tender price inflation in Northern Ireland rose 9% over the course of last year. This was lower than 2022’s figure of 12%. While overall material and labour costs are still rising it is at a much slower rate than over the past two years and at a lower rate than general inflation within the wider economy.

Aecom’s report says that they believe that while the type of projects and the composition in costs between labour and materials will change, tender price inflation will continue to ease over the course of 2024, to an average of 3.1%. They assert that a failure to reinstate a functioning government remains a barrier to growth with the political deadlock in Northern Ireland, preventing key strategic decisions on the country’s infrastructure being made and slowing down the pipeline. Jody Wilkinson, Aecom’s Northern Ireland director, said “While there are signs in the wider UK economy that a slowdown is coming, Northern Ireland’s economy is more closely related to the Republic of Ireland which remains strong. “The Northern Irish construction industry

Savings blowing in the wind as renewable energy surges

continues to adapt to change in supply chains, inflation and shifting demand between public and private sectors. It seems to be holding up, albeit with less optimism than last year. “Until such time as ministers are back to work at Stormont there will be a stalemate in the public sector with the pipeline slowing and in some cases being paused, with no guarantee as to when political stability and leadership will return to provide investment and a clear direction of travel.” the latest figures from the Department for the Economy. Wind accounted for 83.8% of the renewable energy. RenewableNI director and former MLA, Steven Agnew, said investment in renewables over the past 10 years was now slowing as a result of planning issues and the need for updating the grid. The Baringa analysis showed a total of 13.7 terawatt-hours (TWh) of outturn wind. That is generation, around 35% of Ireland's electricity generation over the year, was able to displace a total of almost €1.6 billion worth of fossil gas and carbon in 2023.


ind power was responsible for saving Northern Ireland £243m, according to Wind Energy Ireland’s annual report and energy specialists Baringa. In an indicative figure, without wind power Northern Ireland would have had to spend on gas to generate electricity, plus the additional £70m in carbon credits.

Renewable energy, mainly wind, produces approximately half of the power generated in the country. The reduced emissions totalled almost 0.8m tonnes, which would be the equivalent of the amount of carbon pushed out by 200,000 houses. A total of 57.4% of all electricity in Northern Ireland came from renewable sources in the year up to September 2023, according to


Around 2.2 billion cubic metres (bcm) of fossil gas was displaced in Ireland at a total voided cost of over €900 million. A further £176 million (€201 million) of gas was displaced in Northern Ireland, totalling almost 0.5 bcm in volume. The resulting reduction in emissions equates to 4.2 and 0.9 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions for Ireland and Northern Ireland respectively. In addition, nearly €360 million and almost £70 million (€78 million) worth of carbon credits wereBuildings displaced the wholesale ‘The Older forfrom a market in Future’ Irelandproject and Northern Ireland Greener respectively.

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Pictured from left: Stuart Anderson (Head of Public Affairs, NI Chamber), John Davison (Head of Strategic Communications, Turley) and Suzanne Wylie (Chief Executive, NI Chamber)

NI Chamber Plans to Boost Economy and Achieve Net Zero


he Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry has unveiled an ambitious set of recommendations designed to reform the region's planning system. The reforms aim to accelerate Northern Ireland's advancement towards net zero, stimulate economic growth, and facilitate the provision of affordable housing. At the core of these proposals are system improvements, legislative and regulatory adjustments, and measures to enhance accountability. The recommendations emphasise the importance of adequate funding and resources for the entire planning apparatus, which includes the

Suzanne Wylie, Chief Executive of NI Chamber, highlighted the significance of these reforms: “A well performing planning function is key to instilling confidence in the market for potential investors and to enable the development of the required infrastructure, when it comes to connectivity, services, energy and reducing our carbon emissions. “It is also vital for local businesses, many of whom are eagerly waiting to invest, subject to the planning process which regrettably, has been holding too many of them back. If our planning system is to deliver for them and for our planet, we really need to take action now.

Department of Infrastructure, Councils, Statutory Consultees, and the Planning Appeals Commission. A key suggestion is to allow planning authorities to automatically grant consent if statutory consultees do not meet response deadlines. Additionally, the performance of both statutory consultees and planning authorities is targeted for more effective incentivisation and control. The report calls for the Department of Infrastructure to use its existing legislative authority to appoint independent commissioners for specific tasks, such as independently examining Local

“Reform of the existing system presents an opportunity to enable significant economic growth; particularly in renewable generation with ambitious 2030 climate action targets fast approaching. “Most economic development begins with planning, so getting the foundation stone right is crucial.” Developed with the assistance of independent advisors Turley, the report proposes a strategic approach to reform. The comprehensive ‘Planning and Improvement and Reform Position Paper’ is detailed on the NI Chamber website for further reading.

CITB NI Launches Retrofit Training


ITB NI has announced their ‘The Older Buildings for a Greener Future’ project, a new retrofit training programme aimed at boosting knowledge and awareness of appropriate maintenance, repair and retrofit of older buildings supported by Department for Communities Historic Environment Fund. The project will run January – March 2024, and is part of CITB NI’s ongoing support to the construction industry by providing upskilling opportunities to construction professionals. 19% of UK carbon emissions are related to the running of existing buildings, and when construction and transportation are

also taken into account, the built environment sector is responsible for up to 42% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the UK. The retrofit project will support the net zero priority by raising knowledge and awareness of appropriate maintenance, repair and retrofit of older buildings through upskilling opportunities as well as providing accessible information on retrofit, heating options and appropriate maintenance advice tailored to NI. This will include using appropriate materials, methods and the introduction of new technologies. It will highlight advantages and opportunities of built heritage and how it can improve the

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environment, both through sustainability and aesthetics, but also through connection with our culture, identity, history and sense of place.

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Development Plans. The report also proposes that the NI Audit Office should review the role, methodology, and funding of the Planning Appeals Commission, maintaining its independence.


Slight uptick in sentiment for NI commercial property despite subdued demand says RICS report


Ireland, this continues to weigh on surveyors’ outlooks, with expectations for rents and capital values remaining in negative territory in the latest report. A net balance of -11% of respondents in NI indicated that they expect net capital values to fall across all sectors over the first quarter of 2024.

he NI commercial property market remained sluggish and lacking momentum in Q4 2023, according to the latest Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Commercial Property Monitor. However, there were some improvements on the previous quarter, and forward-looking sentiment for 2024 improved marginally.

However, this figure is up from -33% that was seen the same quarter of the year previous. Capital value expectations for retail space have fallen further to a net balance of -50% of respondents, capital values are expected to fall flat regarding office space, whereas a net balance of +17% of surveyors anticipate a rise in the value of industrial space.

A net balance of -5% of NI respondents reported a fall in overall occupier demand, which was an improvement on -9% in Q3. Demand for office and retail space reduced, with net balances of -14% and -33% respectively. However, the rate of decline in occupier demand for office space was slower than before. When it comes to demand from occupiers for industrial space, the indicator continued to be firmly in positive territory with a net balance of +33% of respondents saying occupier demand for industrial space had risen again. In relation to enquiries from investors, a net balance of -6% of respondents was reported, and although remaining in negative territory, this is up from the -22% that was seen in Q3 2023. Looking at the

Garrett O’Hare, RICS NI spokesman and Managing Director of Bradley NI

sub-sectors, enquiries about office space (-50%) saw a fall, whilst enquiries for retail space were reported to be flat and enquiries for industrial space rose (+33%). As overall demand from occupiers and investors remains subdued in Northern

A similar pattern is seen across rent expectations with a net balance of -10% of respondents in NI expecting a fall in rents over the next three months, up from -17% in the previous report. This is the seventh consecutive quarter this figure has been in negative territory, albeit less so. Broken down by subsector, rents for industrial space are expected to rise (17%), and falls are anticipated in retail and office space (-33% and –14% respectively).

EPC laws may render 75% of Belfast offices obsolete by 2030 warns CBRE


BRE NI has issued a stark warning that three quarters of Belfast’s office stock may become obsolete by 2030 due to upcoming EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) legislation. Speaking to over 500 guests at the firm's annual commercial property Outlook event at the ICC in Belfast, CBRE NI Managing Director, Brian Lavery, said that it is only a matter of time before regulations, already in place in England and Wales, take effect in Northern Ireland. Mr Lavery added: “A seismic shift is looming over Belfast’s commercial real estate sector, as new Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) regulations, prevalent in Great Britain, will require significant

upgrading or repurposing of Belfast office stock.” In April 2023, the minimum EPC rating for commercial buildings was raised to ‘E’, for any commercial building being sold, leased or rented across England and Wales. It is predicted that the next change in EPC legislation, due in 2025, will see the minimum rating increase to ‘B’ by 2030. “With our research indicating only 25% of Belfast’s large office buildings are currently rated EPC ‘A’ or ‘B’, property owners and investors are faced with a stark choice: either make substantial investments to bring properties up to speed with EPC and ESG requirements or contemplate changing the use of these buildings altogether.


“With regulatory change inevitable, it is imperative that landlords of older commercial stock act now to implement ESG strategies or risk being left with properties that are unlettable or difficult to market successfully.”

Sir Timothy Smit KBE (Executive Vice-Chair and co-founder of the Eden Project) and Brian Lavery (CBRE NI Managing Director)

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2024 Construction Forecast: Brighter outlook with rising house prices and booming sectors


he outlook for key construction sectors in 2024 brightened over the Christmas break.

The recent fall in inflation – down to 3.9% in the year to November – has raised the likelihood that the new year will bring lower interest rates, which should give a boost to building activity across the private sector. Meanwhile, the prospect of a general election this year and renewed political focus on housing shortages bodes well for publicly funded construction, particularly social housing. These factors should reinforce the trends highlighted in Glenigan’s recent Construction Industry Forecast 2024-25 which concluded that the industry could look forward to 8% growth in underlying project starts (under £100 million) in

2024 and a further 7% in 2025. Recent developments have bolstered prospects in some of the industry’s bright spots which are identified in the Glenigan Forecasts for 2024, such as office refurbishment, industrial, health, education, and civil engineering. New industrial construction offers another promising source of new work for contractors in 2024. After a tough time for the sector in 2023, the latest Glenigan forecast predicts that the value of underlying industrial project starts will increase by 17% this year and by a further 21% in 2025. Any early reductions in interest rates should bolster the growing demand for warehousing and logistics space which is driving demand in the sector.

The 12 new investment zones created in the government’s last Spring Budget could also provide opportunities for new contracts for the manufacturing sector. In a recent report on the industrial & logistics sector, property agent CBRE notes that steps to encourage investment have begun. In July, for example, South Yorkshire was named as the first zone to focus on advanced manufacturing, and having secured an initial £80m investment, the area is set to create more than 8,000 jobs by 2030. One manufacturing-related project set to get underway in the area this year is the £12 million University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing & Testing Facility where Henry Boot is the main contractor and work on the 31,000 sq. m project is due to start this summer.

Eight NI firms ranked in Top 100


valued at £322m, as did McLaughlin & Harvey, with a place at 64, with £136m on seven projects.

orthern Ireland construction companies are among the top 100 listed in the annual review by Glenigan, with Farrans heading the list of local firms over the year January to December 2023.

McAleer & Rushe are listed with Northern Ireland projects such as development of Little Victoria Street and major works from Leeds to Liverpool, and Birmingham to London.

However, despite having 10 projects included worth £496m they slipped in the overall rankings. As well as its Northern Ireland projects such as the A6 dualling between Castledawson and Randalstown, Farrans is involved across the UK from Essex to Aberdeen. Gilbert Ash, rose on their previous place to 25. Glanigan attributed six projects to the company at a total of £482m. As well as UK contracts they are involved in a major refurbishment of the British Chancery Office of the British Embassy in Paris.

McLaughlin & Harvey projects include the World Gateway Port Berth in London, the Deepwater Terminal in Stornoway and the Upper Garnock Valley flood defence.

The sales and marketing leads company Glenigan placed Morgan Sindall as the top UK earner with £2.2bn worth of work with presences on projects across England including several major construction contracts in London. Northern Ireland’s McAleer & Rushe slipped slightly to 35 with five projects

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Other local companies, scoring in the top 100 were MCS Group and Heron Bros. MCS Group placed at 76, a rise on last year with five projects worth £114m. Also rising in the table to 85, Heron Bros, with £102m across nine projects. Glenigan estimates that across the 100 listed nine companies ending 2023 with order books valued at £1bn or more.

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2023 Review: Mixed picture for construction sector as New Year dawns 2023

dawned with the construction sector facing the twin problems of ongoing high interest rates and the lack of a Stormont executive. However, with several major infrastructure projects underway there were glimmers of hope for the new year. At the same time, media attention on the cost of living has been, rightly, on household budgets without due attention to the increased costs and supply chain issues that hit public and private developments. However, with major infrastructure schemes visible, it is clear that any gloom that the sector may have experienced there have been the signs of the green shoots.

The investment in the new transport hub, Grand Central Station, will see continuing employment. 10 I SPECIFY

The work to complete the York Gate train station infrastructure is matching the influx of students to Belfast’s Ulster University and associated housing for those students the face of the city could be seen as hopeful. Combined with this, November saw Belfast City Council approve four new hotels, with three in Cathedral Quarter. While many major works have been much trumpeted, they are among several multimillion pound construction projects, with the children’s hospital development on the Royal Victoria Hospital site one of the most significant. The Lakelands Retail and Leisure Park is nearing completion and occupancy of units is anchored by The Range and Brunswick Moviebowl, with work on the hotel still to be added on the former Unipork site. A number of residential projects, such as in Dungannon and Antrim, might have been seen as signs of confidence in housing, but it has been a year of mixed signals. The increased mortgage rates

that matched the Bank of England’s statements on interest, had a chilling effect on new buyers. The first nine months of 2023 saw house sales down by 18%, according to figures released by HMRC. The reduced figure of 71,400 transactions compared to 21,300 in the same period in 2022 should be offset by a busier than anticipated second quarter, including a slight increase in sales value. Given the 30% reduction in new housing starts at the beginning of the year there are those who anticipate a demand-led price increase. Matched by a number of public sector housing plans, not least the news in December that the Housing Executive has started building for the first time since the mid-1990s. The north Belfast site, delivered by GEDA, will see six new homes built with energy efficient profiles is the outworking of the announcement of the then Housing Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín, in 2020. Evidence of how a functioning Assembly can provide the impetus for development, albeit that it can take significant time to see their fruition.

Housing associations will still dominate the new public sector housing. In May Choice Housing, one of Northern Ireland's largest housing associations, announced an investment of £14m to deliver affordable housing and private rental units at the iconic King’s Hall site among several new projects they specifymagazine.co.uk

that customer demand is in place, and across 2023 a number of high-profile installations took place such as the Ramada Hotel at Shaw’s Bridge. Similarly property developer Fraser Miller announced that the current phase released in its £70m Lancaster Park housing development has been built to ‘Passivehaus’ standards of low energy building practices and reduced energy costs for homeowners. As businesses look forward to 2024, much like January of 2023, they are faced with the proverbial curate’s egg; partly optimism and partly pessimism. announced in 2023. However, planning was the crux, with approvals stymied by issues such as inadequate sewage infrastructure. There has been indicative planning permission, not least the approval of 1,300 new homes near Lisburn and the M1 motorway. Including a hotel and riverside park the plan includes improved public transport, linked park and ride scheme. It comes at a time when Translink is investigating improvements and extension of rail lines in the area, and links to the International Airport.

Mid-year came the announcement that preparatory construction had started on almost all waterfront homes on the banks of the River Lagan, as part of ongoing development in the Titanic Quarter, with £105m of the total of £174m already in place. The Loft Lines plan eventually leading to it will comprise 627 build-to-rent units and 151 affordable homes across three buildings of between 11 and 17 storeys in three multi-storey buildings around a shared square. A skilled workforce for major projects such as this, and SME’s in all parts of the sector is an ever-present issue. The new Assured Skills welding course at South West College, and the Construction Industry Training Board’s collaboration with W5 is an indication that it is being taken seriously. This is especially important given the stark warning in April from the Construction Skills Network that there is a need for an additional 217,000 workers by 2025 to fulfil the industry’s ambitions. specifymagazine.co.uk

New skills were becoming increasingly relevant across 2023, as innovative technology became more prevalent, from improved data collection and analysis through to the application of AI and 3D manufacturing. The pace of such developments, and the training needs that come with them were notably recognised by the construction sector and were being matched by courses and curriculum considerations by the further and higher education institutions. As COP28 wound to its controversial end, companies from small to large were conscious of the need to drive forward, despite the inconclusiveness of regional, national, and international agreements. The much-vaunted Northern Ireland Climate Action Plan set targets of a 48% reduction in net emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2050 was not a driver for the construction sector in 2023, given that many of the actions will long be in fruition. What was significant was the industry's need to consider energy costs and the ever-growing public desire and awareness of the climate crises. The factor that had been hampering sustainable energy generation was being constrained by the ageing infrastructure. The announcement formally in June of £3bn investment in the electricity network between 2023 and 2050 will address the barriers in the way to link sustainable energy generation including wind, solar and heat pumps. Highlighted a number of times by numerous companies throughout 2023, the current network is a barrier to linking Northern Ireland’s 910,000 businesses and homes to a modern generation system that is a crucial part of the future. The wider sector is responding as part of how it addresses the customer demand and the inclusion of sustainability in tender documents. The figures revealed in September that installations of Solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels at UK properties has risen by 40% over the last five years, and by 15% in the last year alone, showed

The Federation of Master Builders has urged caution saying that economic growth across the UK has been stymied by a fall in the overall number of construction and residential output. At the same time, it appears that interest rates have stabilised. While there is no indication of a reduction, more certainty on the interest will lead to greater confidence from investors and mortgage borrowers. Of course there was prospect of a return of the Assembly and Executive as the old year drew to its end. Secretary of State, Chris Heaton-Harris, may have announced an increased budget if the institutions returned.

The restoration of an executive and ministers would be a considerable boon for every part of the construction sector, so the year will end with wishes from all to have politicians in post to approve new policies and project investments. Indeed, all parts of Northern Ireland's economy needs movement on all parts of its infrastructure that can be progressed. The plans in the pipeline announced this year include, water treatment, multiple road improvements, and the consultation and report on the NI Railways network. At least the seemingly endless struggles to restore the Assembly are pale in comparison to the woes of sports. While the stadium development initiatives have petered out into incoherence they are nothing compared to naming Casement Park as a venue for games in football’s Euro 2028 tournament. Maybe that will be an easier project for the Secretary of State. SPECIFY I 11

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The site's owners, NewRiver, a real estate investment trust, acquired the property in 2019 for £40 million. They believe that this new investment, pending planning approval, will fully realise Sprucefield's potential. A retail statement accompanying the planning application emphasised the current shortcomings of the park: “The existing park is not adequately providing for the needs of its customers or fulfilling its role. The owner wants to ensure that the retail park remains a vibrant shopping location in the future providing for the needs of the communities it serves.”

£20m expansion plan for Sprucefield Retail Park £20 million expansion project for Sprucefield Retail Park is currently under consideration by Lisburn and Castlereagh Council planners. The proposed development, adjacent to the Sainsbury’s superstore, includes new retail units, a hotel, and restaurants.


this development is the creation of over 20 jobs in the retail and hospitality sectors.

The plan features an 87-room, four-storey hotel, complemented by a retail 'parade', a restaurant, and a smaller retail pod, as detailed in the December 22 planning application. The anticipated outcome of

The retail parade is designed to offer approximately 8,362 square metres of space, with the restaurant retail pod covering 250 square metres, and the larger restaurant extending to 324 square metres.

Architects and planners, Ostick and Williams, who submitted the plans following a public consultation, have also included provisions for sufficient car parking to accommodate the proposed expansion.

The statement also highlighted the regional need for additional hotel accommodation: “There is a need for more hotel accommodation in this area to meet the objectives of the tourism strategy for Northern Ireland. The provision of the hotel at Sprucefield Park will help meet this need.” It added that there are no suitable sites within Lisburn city centre to accommodate the proposed hotel. The detailed location for the development is described as: "Lands at Sprucefield Park, 100m southwest of Sprucefield Roundabout, to the south and west of Sainsbury’s Petrol Station, 120m north east and 20m south east of Sainsbury’s Supermarket, Sprucefield Park, Lisburn.”

Planning permission granted for Omagh’s only boutique hotel


lanning permission has been granted by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council to transform a 159-year-old former bank into a 22-bed boutique hotel. The brainchild of two local businessmen, the £5m redevelopment will create between 50 and 60 permanent and temporary local jobs on Omagh’s High Street and will answer the demand for accommodation in the town centre.

Planning approval was granted by the local council Planning Committee on 14th December 2022 with unanimous approval from all council members and construction on the new hotel is expected to begin in Autumn 2024 and will take 18months until completion. The old bank building on High Street was originally built in 1864 and has been unused since 1998.

The Foundry, named based upon the former Henderson’s Iron Foundry, will offer all day dining and an exclusive basement whiskey bar. Carrickmore native, James McCallan CoFounder and Director of the building remediation specialists, Anamore – is behind the new concept along with his business partner Anthony Marley. Peter Dolan, Chartered Architect at ADP Architects has been appointed to the project.




he Belfast Region City Deal is pumping £20.5 million into Ballymena’s new i4C Innovation and CleanTech Centre as part of a deal that will meet the majority of the costs of the project. Designed to support local business and industry to innovate and help them transition to net zero, I4C will be located on the regeneration site at the former St Patrick’s army site. Already housing has been provided in the transformation of the 15-hectare site, which is within walking distance of the town centre and the ECOS nature reserve. Work on the state-of-the-art i4C Centre will begin in 2024. It is designed to provide a physical base offering a range of accommodation types and programmes to support businesses and entrepreneurs with innovation and commercialisation. The Mid and East Antrim council website said this level of practical support will be vital in helping businesses launch ideas or improve their existing product and service offering. The i4C Centre will focus on the development and adoption of clean technology (CleanTech) as part of the

transition to net carbon zero and the creation of solutions in response to the challenges of climate change. The i4C Centre will offer ‘Grade A’ standard office accommodation available to rent by corporate clients that want to establish an office footprint in the area close to clients or customers. The labs and co-working space for rental at i4C will target the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by providing facilities to support their innovation and growth journeys. The heart of i4C will be a manufacturing makerspace and innovation laboratory called the iLab; the base for a team of technicians using specialist equipment to provide technical innovation support to SMEs. Specialists will also provide bespoke skills training in key areas such as the emerging hydrogen economy and build on initiatives like the award-winning Hydrogen Training Academy that Council developed and delivered over the past year. The i4C building will be located beside the new Northern Regional College campus and with work set to begin onsite next year, the competition to appoint the design team to oversee the planning

and construction phases is currently underway. Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, said: “The Mid and East Antrim area has a proud tradition of enterprise and innovation and has been a hub for manufacturing and power generation in Northern Ireland for many decades. “The new i4C Centre is very timely as local businesses need to continue to invest in skills and innovation if they are to grow or even survive in increasingly competitive markets. “The i4C concept has been developed to not only meet the needs of local entrepreneurs and businesses, but also to attract potential new investors, developers and businesses to establish a base in our Borough. “It will play a key role in cementing the Borough’s reputation as a centre for innovation and in driving and supporting the CleanTech sector across Northern Ireland. We are so proud of the worldleading achievements and innovation of our local companies in this sector, most notably Wrightbus, and are confident that this will support and enable further growth and prosperity.”

New apartments approved on four Belfast sites


evelopment of almost 700 new apartments have been given the green light by Belfast City Council planners.

City Quays, Pilot Street, Tomb Street, and May Street are the sites that passed the council, with the largest development at the quays. The Belfast Harbour application will see a 23-storey tower block that will have a total of 256 apartments. The Pilot Street development In Sailortown of 69 apartments and townhouses will include affordable housing. The homes will be on two sites specifymagazine.co.uk

between the American Bar and the Dockers’ Club.

On Tomb Street a multi-storey car park, facing the Royal Mail building, will be demolished to make way for the development. The plans were by McAleer and Rushe. Various low-rise buildings will also be demolished at the junction with Victoria Street on the May Street plans. Banbridgebased Vinder Capital with Endeavour Investments. The Tomb Street and May Street schemes will have a combined total of 298 new apartments. SPECIFY I 15


£20.5m green light for Ballymena Innovation and CleanTech Centre


Next steps for AMIC factory of the future approved


he next step in the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (AMIC) has been approved, after Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council greenlighted a £10m business case for the ‘factory of the future’ at Global Point, near Glengormley. Planning approval had been given earlier in the year for the construction of the 10,500 sq metre project.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring, with AMIC becoming fully operational in 2026. The council’s £10m is part of the construction costs. Queen’s University, Belfast, appointed Henry Brothers to deliver the £30m construction. When completed it is anticipated that it will see 1,500 permanent jobs, as well as support for 300 apprentices. AMIC is a £100m project which is being

delivered and led by Queen’s University, alongside industry, Ulster University and Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council as part of the Belfast Region City Deal. The business case has already been approved by the AMIC Project Board, the Belfast Region City Deal Executive and QUB Senate and will be forwarded to the Department for Economy for approval. The report approved by councillors said: “AMIC will provide high quality innovation support to the manufacturing and advanced engineering industry by bringing together world class academic expertise, advanced industrial practice from commercial partners and the specialist facilities needed to execute innovation research and development projects to target industry sectors.”

Pictured from left Stephen Kealey (Director, BRM Utility Services) and Mel Chittock (Interim CEO, Invest NI)

BRM Utility Services secures multiyear framework contracts across the UK


erry/Londonderry based utilities company, BRM Utility Services has secured national multi-year framework contracts with support from Invest Northern Ireland. The contracts encompass the design, build, connection and maintenance services across several UK Fibre and Power networks. Established in 2016 to deliver civil engineering and specialist utility maintenance services for fibre optic and power network clients, the company has expanded to provide additional services including feasibility studies, design services, EV Charger installations, customer connections and 24/7 emergency response services. 16 I SPECIFY

Stephen Kealey, Director of BRM Utility Services said: “Over the last seven years, we have experienced significant sales growth. The support from Invest NI was instrumental, enabling us to expand our management team and improve our financial management and cost control. It has also aided in developing new business opportunities and investing more focus into our key customer relationships. “Our business model has been a substantial factor in achieving this growth. We have created a Supply Chain Cluster of local North West businesses, coupled with a larger national supply chain that shares our ethos and values, facilitating rapid scaling.” Reflecting on the company’s first national

contract win, Stephen Kealey added: “Securing these national framework contracts represents a significant step for our company as we continue to build on our past successes. AsDirector, the newPaul year Ciaran Fox, RSUA RSUA President, Markour begins,McAllister we are excited to enhance Simpson Host of Architecture Night. order book and explore further opportunities to secure additional contracts. “The success of BRM Utility Services is not just a reflection of strategic partnerships and management acumen, but also a testament to the exceptional dedication and skill of our professional workforce. The team’s expertise and unwavering commitment to quality have been pivotal in the achievement of our recent milestones.”



County Down firm completes £50m Pall Mall residential tower in Liverpool


ounty Down company GRAHAM has announced the successful completion of the £50m Pall Mall Press project, a new 22-storey residential tower in Liverpool. The development, led by Ridgeback Group and designed by Falconer Chester Hall, signifies a transformative addition to Liverpool's skyline, delivering 336 apartments for the build-to-rent (BTR) sector. Spanning 282,617 sq ft, Pall Mall Press is a striking 22-storey tower with a mix of studio, one, two, and three-bedroom apartments. The design, characterised by a concrete frame and brick façade with punch windows, seamlessly integrates into the existing urban environment. The development boasts sustainable

elements, including green roofs for rainwater recycling, solar panels, and well-lit interiors to minimise reliance on electric lighting. In addition to addressing the demand for local housing, the development also features retail space and a private garden terrace for residents. GRAHAM was appointed in April 2021. Peter Reavey, Regional Director at GRAHAM, said: "GRAHAM is delighted to have successfully completed the Pall Mall Press project for our client, Ridgeback Group. The project is a testament to the dedication and expertise of the entire team.

Seamus Keane, Development Director at Ridgeback, added: “We are delighted with the progress GRAHAM and the wider team have achieved in reaching this milestone. It is a testament to all the hard work by the project team in delivering 336 new homes for our residents, as part of the vibrant community of Liverpool.” The development is managed by Ridgeback’s in-house operating platform, ila.

“This prestigious development not only enhances Liverpool's skyline but also provides modern and sustainable living spaces within a thriving new community. It has further expanded the BTR offering that we have provided in Liverpool City.”

Henry Brothers begin working on £6m project at Gamecock Barracks


IVO Defence Services and its tier one supply chain partner, Northern Irish construction company Henry Brothers, have broken ground on a £6m scheme to house an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Troop at Gamecock Barracks near Nuneaton. The troop is relocating from Chetwynd Barracks, Nottingham, to Gamecock Barracks, in Warwickshire, under the Defence Estate Optimisation (DEO) Army Programme. Henry Brothers has been selected by client VIVO Defence Services to deliver the new building for the troop. It will feature space for offices, garages and stores, and will be built at the Southern edge of the base. Joined by representatives from the DEO Army Programme, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), specifymagazine.co.uk

Gamecock Barracks and construction partners William Gough, VIVO and Henry Brothers have now broken ground on the scheme. Managing Director of Henry Brothers, Ian Taylor, said: “Henry Brothers is very pleased to be continuing the successful relationship with VIVO Defence, which follows delivery of a new dye pod facility recently at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.

military resources, and we are delighted to have now broken ground and started work on this latest development.” The scheme for EOD Troop at Gamecock Barracks is due to be completed by the end of the year.

“This development at Gamecock Barracks will rehome an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Troop – giving them modern, purpose-built, secure facilities as part of the MOD’s investment into the armed forces. “Henry Brothers has significant experience of working within MOD sites across the UK, helping to improve and upgrade key SPECIFY I 17

Major refurbishment at Wilplas Belfast A major refurbishment at Wilplas in Belfast was recently completed. Along with a brand-new website (www.wilplas.com), there is a new showroom for the company’s range of decorative wall panelling at their Stockman’s Lane premises which showcases the wide range of products that the company has to offer. Wilplas is a provider and stockist of high quality uPVC products. Established in 1983, Wilplas offers one of the widest ranges of uPVC, PVC-UE Roofline and Cladding Products, Window Trims, Hygienic Wall Cladding and Rainwater Materials. Wilplas also have a comprehensive range of decorative PVC waterproof wall panelling and supply PVC materials to both the general public and construction industry throughout N. Ireland.



Products available from Wilplas include: ROOFLINE The range includes: fascias, soffits, soffit ventilation and rainwater goods together with a complete system of jointing and ventilation accessories.

WINDOWLINE These interior products have been specially designed to be tough, strong and aesthetically pleasing.

CLADDING The Wilplas cladding products provide two practical and attractive cladding systems suitable for internal and external use. Wilplas also offers a range of rainwater goods and vinyl flooring. The company also has branches in Ballymena, Cookstown and Newry. Robert McDowell is the General Manager at Wilplas Belfast and he reported that many customers have remarked on the impressive new showroom. “We have had a number of customers commenting on how well the showroom looks and I would like to invite everyone to come and visit us and see the ranges we have on offer and on display in our premises.”



was at the



DucoBox Silent Connect is a centralized mechanical extract ventilation unit (CMEV), upgradable with a humidity and/or CO2 sensor. The unit’s thoughtful design, coupled with high-quality components, guarantees a remarkably quiet operation. With a sleek and flatdesign the DucoBox Silent Connect stands at a mere 19.4 cm in height, fitting seamlessly into false ceilings for a discreet aesthetic. User controls, whether integrated with sensors or not, effortlessly interface with the unit through RF or Wired communication.

DucoBox Energy Premium is a mechanical ventilation unit with heat recovery (MVHR), designed with an integrated 2-zone principle. This innovative system targets specific zones, ventilating the day zone (kitchen, dining, and living areas) during the day and the night zone (bedroom and bathroom) during the night. By measuring humidity and CO2 levels in each zone, the DucoBox Energy Premium optimizes ventilation, resulting in a remarkable 30% reduction in noise and up to 40% energy savings. This passive house certified MVHR unit is ideal for medium to high-end residential projects, delivering unparalleled energy efficiency and top-notch acoustic performance.

DUCO develops and manufactures a complete range of residential mechanical ventilation solutions: CMEV, MVHR, user controls and sensors, ducting, valves, … allowing to provide a qualitative ventilation solution for every residential ventilation project. More information via duco.eu or info@duco.eu


Knotwood were thrilled to showcase our stunning products at London Build, Olympia. Our A2 fire rated batten and cladding products are supplied to architects and specifiers, specialising in commercial, retail & residential markets, worldwide. Our UK team demonstrated how Knotwood can elevate your architectural dreams, & through our range of modular profiles, combine the beauty of wood with the benefits of aluminium.

'Building Beautiful Forever'

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ommercial construction is one of the sectors of our work that evolves regularly responding to ever changing market demands and predicting the trends of the future. Most notably in recent years we have seen major changes in the way office space is used following the Covid-19 pandemic, with priorities going on low-touch accessibility solutions and the ability to have spacious, well-ventilated areas for people to work in. As more of us are called back from remote working and into the office, our workplace environments will need to be inviting and safe places for people to graciously give up the comfort of home for a daily commute.

Aviation bounces back This year we can see that aviation has bounced back dramatically following the impact of the 2020 lockdowns. We are ramping up activity to begin two new projects, one at Leeds Bradford Airport and the other at Bristol Airport, while we have another project underway at Stansted Airport. We are aware that major investments are also planned for Belfast International Airport in Northern Ireland which will

Exeter and Bournemouth. Developers are using new funding models to increase the viability of schemes and we are seeing package deals for land purchase, design and construction appearing more regularly. In Belfast, Queen’s University and Ulster University continue to drive a steady demand for accommodation in the city, with private developers also snapping up opportunities. We recently completed Aster House on Botanic Avenue and Alma Place in the city centre for our client CA Ventures, bringing over 500 new bed spaces to the market.

The Future of

Change and evolution is an inherent part of the commercial landscape. Our commercial work takes us all over the UK and Ireland, delivering everything from Grade A office spaces, to hotels, hospitals, schools, senior living villages, recycling centres, student accommodation buildings, airports and warehouses.

Commercial Construction By Warren Wright, Regional Director for Ireland Building Division, Farrans Construction

We recently completed City Quays 3 for Belfast Harbour, Lambeth Community Resource Centre in London, Barnfield College in Luton and a new warehouse for the Wine Society in Hertfordshire. We will be completing the largest student accommodation in Ireland in Cork in the coming weeks as well as Keynsham Recycling Hub outside Bristol. We know that there are plenty of opportunities in this sector at the moment, with regional variations across the UK creating a complex landscape. Our approach has always been to establish a diverse portfolio so that we are agile in our ability to compete for many different types of construction projects.

include the construction of a new £25m security building with screening technology that means passengers will no longer have to remove liquids or electronics from luggage. In Ireland improvements are planned for Dublin Airport within the new Infrastructure Application which include an expansion of both the North and South Aprons, improvements to Terminal 1 security, new aircraft stands on the West end of the airfield and enhanced drainage Infrastructure.

Student accommodation Student accommodation remains buoyant in the south of England, particularly around

Frameworks growing in Northern Ireland It has been positive to see frameworks being used more often by local councils in the Northern Ireland market, particularly for the delivery of leisure facilities. These innovative partnerships often allow clients to proceed quickly with procurement by reaching out to long-term relationships with suppliers.

Frameworks create a commercial environment that is more conducive to sustainable investment and employment in local construction businesses, while also maximising resources and reducing waste. We now offer clients a range of frameworks including PAGABO, Procurement Hub Major Projects 2 and Crown Commercial in Northern Ireland and in England we are on Crown Commercial and LHC-PB2. We delivered South Lake Leisure Centre on the Scape framework for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, which was one of the largest capital development projects in the ABC region. The business case for the redevelopment of The Forum in Enniskillen, a state of the art leisure centre and wellbeing hub, will be put forward in 2024, and it is anticipated that they will utilise a framework if a decision is made to proceed.

Warren Wright, Regional Director for Ireland Building Division, Farrans Construction 22 I SPECIFY


Senior living market demand Senior living is another sub-sector of commercial spaces which continues to perform very strongly. The provision of this type of accommodation is a major priority for local councils across England as they race to cope with the challenges of an aging population. We are on-site on two projects for Central Bedfordshire Council at the moment, Marigold House and Steppingley Road Senior Living Village.

see in Dublin that this regeneration of dated assets is already underway. We have seen companies like PWC thinking outside the box when it came to identifying a city centre location to

Private developers are also very active at the moment. We have recently completed Hendon Hall for Signature Living and have just started work on Widmore Park Village in Sonning Common, a retirement living concept catering for the 65+ age group by Inspired Villages.

Logistics and warehousing Warehousing is a growing market for us. In 2023 we completed construction on a £10m technically complex warehouse in Hertfordshire for our client, The Wine Society. The new warehouse is 70m long and 23m high, with over 6,000m of floor space, equivalent to the size of a football pitch. It has been specially designed using the latest in temperature moderating technology and includes facilities for solar panels as well as electric charging stations. The space is already being put to work with wines from the 2019 Bordeaux En Primeur campaign amongst the first bottles to settle into their new home.

There are common themes in each of these developments. Sustainability and energy efficiency is critical. Steppingly Road Senior Living Village is one of the first care homes in the UK to seek to achieve Passivhaus accreditation by incorporating the highest standards of sustainability and we are proud to be delivering it.

The technical requirements of specialist warehouses means that they are not your average construction project and we have developed a USP in being able to successfully respond to these client briefs.

The sense of community and continuing active lifestyles are also gaining in importance for our senior living clients. The desire of providers is that people will remain as connected, social and independent as possible by visiting hair salons, cafes, cinemas and taking part in exercise classes, which are all available on our sites. When the time comes that independent living is no longer possible, specialist care in purpose built spaces will also be available, usually in different sections of the same location.

Across the UK we can see differences in the requirements in each region. For England there is a spike in demand for data centres, while in Northern Ireland we are seeing demand coming from universities for laboratory buildings, life sciences environments and manufacturing hubs for home-grown pharmaceutical companies.

Opportunity areas in Northern Ireland When market conditions normalise further, Belfast will still be an attractive option for developers and investors to grow the inner city living sector as Belfast currently lags significantly behind other cities in the UK in this regard. The public sector in Northern Ireland also offers a strong pipeline of opportunities both in healthcare and individual large projects for various government departments, which require the re-establishment of the Northern Ireland government in order to proceed.

There is a large portfolio of out of date senior living accommodation in the UK and our fit out company FADO is providing support to clients who need to reconfigure spaces to meet the new demands of clients. There is more choice coming to the market for retirement and senior living. Typically these would have been built in suburban environments with limited connections available. Now there is the option to reside in an urban, peri urban or rural landscape, with access to public transport, nearby shops and facilities if you want them.

High-quality office space


Belfast’s hospitality sector will expand following permission being granted for four new hotels — three in the Cathedral Quarter - adding almost 400 new rooms to the city. The biggest of the hotel projects to receive approval from Belfast’s planning committee was for the construction of 135 hotel beds and 93 aparthotel beds directly south of Titanic Belfast. It will have a restaurant, café and bar, gym, public realm, car and cycle parking. In general hotel and leisure remains buoyant across the UK and, with inflation falling, we hope that this will increase the viability of more schemes.

The idea of retirement villages, specifically curated for the 65+ age groups, is one which is relatively new to the UK but well established in Australia and New Zealand. It is positive to see that the UK is embracing these trends and attempting to think about its offering in a new way.

The office market has had a challenging couple of years. Demand for high quality office space is still there and accreditations such as BREEAM Outstanding are still important to tenants. There is a lot of stock which is in need of investment to bring it up to top quality standard. We can

Hotels and tourism

develop for their workforce. Select clients are also choosing to manage their own construction project delivery, such as Kainos in its Dublin Road office development.

This year will continue to present challenges for the construction industry as we regain equilibrium from the pandemic and unprecedented inflation increases, however the reality of the commercial sector is that there are many projects in the pipeline with progress anticipated across the UK and Ireland. While it will be driven forward by senior living, aviation, logistics and warehousing and the refurbishment of original stock, there will also be significant opportunities in leisure and hospitality to keep pipelines steady. SPECIFY I 23

Pioneering Growth in Renewable Heating for Northern Ireland's Construction Sector


technology, with a particular emphasis on renewables.

assetts, an award-winning plumbers' merchant with over 40 years of experience, is Northern Ireland's largest heating and plumbing merchant.

Heat pumps have emerged as a focal point amid the ongoing discourse on sustainable heating. Bassetts has observed a growing trend in large new build developments adopting this technology in recent months. The Bassetts renewables team actively specify heat pump technologies to empower construction projects with efficient and eco-friendly heating solutions as part of their tailored solutions.

Originating in Armagh, the company has expanded to 12 retail bathroom stores and 15 Plumbers' merchants across Northern Ireland. The feature delves into Bassetts' role in steering the heating and plumbing industry towards a sustainable future, particularly with the surge in renewable heating technology.

The Rise of Renewable Heating in Northern Ireland: With recent amendments to building regulations in Northern Ireland, there is a noticeable uptick in adopting renewable heating solutions across construction sites. Bassetts, at the forefront of this movement, is witnessing and actively leading this transformative trend. The focus is on future-proofing homes and enhancing energy and emissions performance standards in compliance with updated regulations and technical guidance.

Neil Collins, Managing Director's Perspective: Neil Collins, the Managing Director of Bassetts, said, "The introduction of renewable heating technology has brought about a significant paradigm 24 I SPECIFY

Tailored Solutions and Compliance Expertise:

Andrew Murray, Bassetts Renewables Team.

shift in the construction sector. At Bassetts we are proud to be instrumental in driving this growth, ensuring that homes in Northern Ireland are equipped with cutting-edge, sustainable heating solutions."

Innovative Facilities for Construction Professionals: Bassetts Heating Innovation Centre, Clady, is an innovative facility dedicated to professionals in the construction industry. This centre serves as a hub for exploring the latest plumbing and heating

The company's renewables specialists collaborate closely with all parties involved in projects. By designing systems that align with the fabric and efficiency needs of construction projects, Bassetts ensures compliance with building regulations. The increasing interest in heat pumps is a significant step towards the electrification of heating and an attitudinal shift in how we view our domestic heating in this region. Bassetts is committed and eager to support developers in delivering the critical transition to low-carbon heating in Northern Ireland.

For more information go to bassettsonline.com specifymagazine.co.uk

It’s better with

Pioneering growth in renewable heating with tailored solutions for Northern Ireland’s construction sector


Find out more

Head O ce Bassetts, 3–4 Mahon Ind Estate, Mahon Road, Portadown, Armagh, BT62 3EH | 028 3839 5252 | info@bassettsonline.com | Branches | Bangor | East Belfast | Clady | Coleraine | L’Derry | Downpatrick | Dungannon | Enniskillen | Greencastle | Lisburn | Mallusk | Newry | Omagh | Portadown

Wilson Power & Energy applies its in-depth experience to new sectors as the company plans for continued growth in 2024.

(L to R) Wilson Power & Energy Owners and Directors Andrew Wilson and Peter Watson


ollowing significant growth and milestones including an impressive 47% increase in solar projects over 250 kWp, and a 300% growth rate for their team, the duo behind the Dromore, County Downbased business Wilson Power & Energy, Andrew Wilson and Peter Watson, are looking forward to continued success in 2024 including additional recruitment to facilitate continued growth.

Commenting on the success of the past year and his outlook for 2024 Owner and Director Andrew Wilson said, “Growth across sectors including manufacturing, technology, hospitality, healthcare and agriculture, combined with our over 35 years inhouse experience in 26 I SPECIFY

the UPS and battery (secure power) industry, have contributed to our continued strength as we continue to develop solutions that enable energy independence and business continuity for our clients.”

This is quickly becoming a specialist area for the company with several microgrids lined up for completion this year for a well-known developer along with a strong pipeline of direct clients.

With thanks to their strong skillset originating in data centre UPS installation and maintenance, the Wilson Power & Energy team continues to see constant growth in this area. Due to the extremely high standards and demands dictated by the data centre industry, this sector has been an ideal area to strengthen Wilson Power & Energy’s offering, delivering these same high standards to clients across all sectors where they work.

Wilson Power is also seeing growth in the hospitality and healthcare sectors, with several solar PV installations at varied hospitality venues currently pending NIEN approvals. The team recently secured a 5 + 2-year UPS and battery maintenance contract with the Northern Ireland Health Trust and are currently installing Several Schneider UPS (uninterrupted power supply) and 23 IPS (isolated power supplies) at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital. These projects highlight the company's technical prowess and underscore its dedication to creating a greener future for the local community as they work to help organisations enhance their energy performance.

In 2024 more businesses and large organisations are likely to seek out energy independence and futureproofing their operations, particularly following the System Operator NI (SONI)’s recent indication of a higher risk to supply due to the closure of Kilroot power station here in Northern Ireland.

“More businesses are reviewing their continuity plans and seeking to establish energy independence, regardless of their sector.” says Peter Watson. “We are seeing increased interest in onsite microgrids to help organisations stabilise their costs and maintain competition within their markets. They also offer a great solution to help ensure business continuity in moments of uncertain power supply such as the recent winter storms.”

Supporting their work in sustainable specifymagazine.co.uk

energy, EV charging continues to grow amongst Wilson Power & Energy’s clients, with options to integrate charge points with solar PV installations. “The UK government’s roll-out of new EV charging legislation to enhance the EV charging industry standard and build driver confidence in November shows muchneeded commitment to EV adoption by government, but has also put pressure on EV charge point owners to ensure their equipment meets a certain standard,” says Andrew Wilson. The legislation – which applies to all organisations in the UK offering public EV charge points 8kW or above – includes regulations and guidelines including offering increased price transparency and visibility at charge points, offering contactless payment options and network roaming for charge points, and ensuring 99% reliability for each individual charge point throughout a calendar year and charge point owners could face fines of up to £10,000 per non-compliant charge point.

“The new regulations are requiring charge point owners to be more actively involved in the ongoing monitoring specifymagazine.co.uk

and maintenance of their infrastructure,” added Peter Watson.

to another successful year working across the UK and Ireland.” Visit www.wilsonpowerandenergy.com or contact hello@wilsonpowerandenergy.com

“Whilst all this new legislation could feel like a burden for independent charge point owners, our team are delighted to be supporting clients with installation and support including back-office management systems which can manage usage for employees, the public, or as a service and help suppliers comply with new legislation.” Recently a returning customer for Wilson Power & Energy has ordered a further 12 Rapid DC EV Charging points, bringing their total to 32 for private company use throughout Ireland. Their continued partnership with Wilson Power reflects on the team’s deep knowledge and wraparound support for EV charging installations of all sizes. Reflecting on Wilson Power & Energy’s continued success Andrew Wilson added, “Our team continues to set standards locally and internationally, driven by its specialisation in renewable energy systems, exclusive supplier relationships, and commitment to innovation and sustainable practices. We are proud that our expertise continues to be recognised through new client wins and continued work with existing clients as their requirements evolve, and we look forward SPECIFY I 27

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The Future with

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*according to EN 13501-2 specifymagazine.co.uk


15.01.24 18:11

construction work due to commence, the tax laws relating to ownership of a vacant site, and the potential for vesting. I think this development will remain in the public eye for some time to come.

Increase in Community Hubs: I notice there are increasingly more ‘community hubs’ being planned for local towns and villages. Fine examples include New Gate Arts & Culture Centre in L’Derry which was recently redeveloped by QMAC Construction Ltd to provide space for a new theatre, cafe, dance studio, and multipurpose rooms. In Bushmills, a former listed courthouse is currently being brought back to life by Martin & Hamilton Ltd as a new community hub. It will provide visitor facilities, retail space, a café, shared community space, and meeting rooms. Most importantly, it will become a new focal point for the community in that locality. I believe the pandemic prompted people to spend more time in their local communities and value community life. The new coffee culture in society has resulted in a coffee bar becoming the meeting place in such buildings, which is great to see. In towns and villages there are so many old buildings that would be perfect for regeneration. My home village of Dundrum has a disused former schoolhouse along Main Steet. It would make an ideal new community space for the villagers to enjoy. There are many grants available for projects which involve the restoration and reuse of old listed buildings. We are going to see a lot more regeneration in the years ahead. I think such initiatives should be welcomed and fully embraced.

A second development is the Bangor waterfront redevelopment project, which represents an investment of over £70m in a two-mile stretch of coastline. Bangor’s seafront is urgently needing this project to commence. It will undoubtedly be the catalyst for the regeneration of the city. Just like the people of Bangor, I also drive through it wondering if it will ever happen. Time will tell...

The Requirements to be an Expert Witness:



by Gerard Graham She referred to how Paragraphs 11 and 12

reference some external materials of interest. Paragraph 30.a references having the ‘appropriate expertise and experience’. Lisa also highlighted how paragraph 7 states, ‘Ordinarily, the Court will expect an Expert Witness to have obtained a form of accreditation as an Expert Witness.’

Old School House in Dundrum

Lisa’s opinion is that, in addition to such accreditation, it would be of benefit to any potential construction expert to hold a qualification, such as chartered, or ideally fellow chartered membership of a professional body, so that their appointment and expertise cannot be challenged by opposing counsel, and equally to give them a foundation for the role. This is interesting and noteworthy for anyone contemplating applying for membership of a professional body, such as the CIOB, RICS, or ICE, or anyone planning to upgrade to fellow chartered membership.

Progress Needed on Two Major Local Developments: Two developments are currently attracting attention for the wrong reasons. The Tribeca Belfast development, formerly known as North East Quarter and previously Royal Exchange, is a planned £500m development based in the north east of Belfast city centre. People are questioning why Castlebrooke Investments has failed to produce any work four years after receiving the green light from councillors. This development is making people question how one developer can be allowed to control such a large area within a city (12 acres) without any sign of

I recently met with Lisa Boyd, Partner at Eversheds Sutherland NI. Lisa specialises in construction and procurement. During our conservation I asked Lisa what qualifications are needed to be an Expert Witness. She provided me the link to the practice direction on expert evidence in the High Court.

Enquiries: New Gate Arts & Culture Centre in L’Derry

Gerard Graham FCIOB, is Principal of Gerard Graham Consulting. www.gerardgraham.co.uk

QMAC starts work at Springhill Tyrone-based QMAC Construction Ltd, has commenced work on a heritage project at Springhill House in Moneymore, which is a 17th-century plantation house owned by the National Trust. The restoration work involves the refurbishment of a Grade A listed building, including: • Mechanical & electrical upgrades, and associated builder’s works. • External drainage works. • Repair of rainwater goods. • Removal of sanitary facilities. Sean Mullen, Contracts Director at QMAC Construction, commented, “We are delighted to have a secured a contract with the National Trust, which is widely recognised as the leading organisation for managing heritage conservation buildings. As a recognised heritage contractor, we have successfully carried out many restoration projects in recent years.” Work commenced on site on 8th January. The client’s key consultants involved in the project include Consarc as Architect, and Semple & McKillop as Mechanical & Electrical Engineer. 32 I SPECIFY

Springhill House, Moneymore


Encouraging Young People into the Construction Industry by Emma Gilmore CMIOSH CMaPS SIIRSM MCABE - Safety & Health Professional Secretary of IOSH NI Branch, CITB Construction Ambassador


have worked in the construction industry for over 20 years, seen many changes and been involved in some amazing projects all over the UK. One thing that has never changed is the ongoing need for young people into our industry. As a CITB Construction Ambassador and Chartered Safety & Health Professional I am passionate about encouraging our young people into construction, without their interest our trades and skills (the life blood of the industry) will basically dry up. Anyone currently working in construction will no doubt have experience of trying to recruit skilled workers, trades and plant operators. So, are we doing enough to encourage our young people to come and work with us? What are the barriers? The legal requirements? Indeed, what exactly is a young person? So, let’s start with the basics as defined in the law. A young person is anyone between 16-18 and a child is anyone under minimum school leaving age. The legal requirements are quite clearly set out in Health and Safety (Young Persons) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1997 and as a Safety & Health Professional this should always be your starting point! This is backed up by the HSEni guidance document ‘Employing Young People In

The Workplace ‘ 2008. There are also work situations and workplace hazards that a child should not be exposed to, so please always check the legislation. Whilst there are no general age restrictions in legislation relating to the use of work equipment, there are specific requirements that must be taken into account when working with power presses, woodworking machinery and lifting equipment for example. As an employer there are key things to address when employing any young person on a construction site, It is key that organisations manage these potential risks, these include: • Vulnerability – young workers will face unfamiliar risks in new environments and may not yet have reached their full physical or psychological capability. • Risk assessment – this will be specific to the young person and must address their inexperience, capabilities and general understanding of workplace hazards. Always share the findings of the risk assessment with the young person’s parent or guardian. • Supervision – This is key. All young people must be supervised by a competent person to ensure they are not exposed to workplace hazards they would otherwise not be aware of. Direct supervision is important when learning on the job and offers the young person a degree of protection. • The work is necessary for their training and development and is part of a recognised training scheme. Once again competent supervision and an agreed training plan should be in place. It is good to assign the young person a dedicated mentor. • Working hours - Under the Working Time Directive young people and children have different employment rights from adult workers and are protected in relation to the hours they can work. Always ensure you are familiar with the permitted working hours and set an agreed start and finish time for them.


Some of the scenarios I have personal experience of include: • ‘Our insurance won’t cover us’ – always check with your insurance company and ensure the young person is covered by your company's public liability and employer's liability insurance, in most cases they will be. • ‘The Client does not allow young people on site’ – Is this the case? Do not be afraid to discuss this with the client or simply find out why this would be the case. • ‘They’re not yet 16 so not allowed on site’ – This is a scenario I am coming across more often, and I suggest anyone under 16 is on a recognised work experience scheme. Indeed, the official line from HSEni is Children below the MSLA must not be employed in industrial workplaces such as factories, construction sites, except on work experience. Consultation with the school is key to draw up an agreed work experience plan and all requirements within the guidance document above should be followed. Industry wide there are various schemes to encourage our young people into the industry. If you are an employer I encourage you to Look to local technical colleges, the Construction Industry Training Board, Education Authorities and Apprentice schemes. Young workers can be a key asset to any business, bringing innovation, ideas and helping to sustain business growth. In summary, lets give them opportunities to work in our industry, provide them with a safe working environment and allow them to gain vital experience. SPECIFY I 33

Why construction employers must plan ahead for future workforce needs by Mark Wade, Hays


t the start of every year, I’m often asked by clients, colleagues and candidates what my outlook is for the construction industry. Anyone in the industry will be aware of the challenges facing the sector, from high inflation to skills shortages, to the slow pipeline of public sector projects coming through and new legislation and regulation, to name a few. But I’m also encouraged by the reports from many of the companies Hays works with that they anticipate growth in key segments of the market to meet demand – for example in education, warehousing & logistics and housing. In terms of what 2024 holds for construction firms as employers, the annual Hays UK Salary & Recruiting Guide shows a number of trends which are very relevant for the industry. Year-on-year we always look at skills shortages, hiring plans, employee movement plans and how salaries are changing. Nearly all employers in our UKwide survey (92%) encountered skills shortages last year and yet 21% of employers said their organisation is not undertaking workforce planning and analysis for the future. It’s clear that certain skills are in demand and we found employers more open to the idea of not just hiring for the skills they need today, but also the skills they need for the future. Employees with the ability to learn and upskill have become more important to employers this year (52% compared to 44% last year) while 73% of employers now believe an employee’s willingness to learn is more important than their existing skillset. Across all sectors, 80% of employers would be likely to hire a professional who does not possess all the required skills, with the intention of upskilling them.


Of course, many of NI’s construction businesses already invest significant amounts in apprenticeships and on-the-job training schemes, but to generate opportunities for undiscovered talent also means investing in training for existing staff and creating a culture of continuous learning. When it comes to pay, it is also clear that the conversation around salaries and bonuses changed last year due to the impact of the rising cost of living on how far the average employee was able to make his or her wages go. In our survey of over 15,000 employers and employees across the UK, 85% of employers said they had increased pay over the past year and 70% said this was a direct result of the rise in the cost of living. Interestingly, 42% of employees said the current cost of living is making them more inclined to move job to cover their living expenses or get greater job security, while 17% said they were less likely to move job because they were concerned job security would be worse in a new position. Our recommendation to companies with concerns around pay is to use our salary benchmarking service to ensure they are competitive with peers in the industry. Despite the rise in costs, getting candidates to apply for jobs it is not just about money – employee experience continues to be very important. Our survey showed 64% of employees have been deterred from continuing with a job application process due to a poor first impression of an organisation – an overly long process, people and culture not being as expected, lack of communication during the process and interviewers being unprepared.

because it didn’t match their expectations gained during the application and interview process. People said the top things that make an organisation appealing are job security (67%), an engaging and supportive team culture (62%), and tailored flexible working practices (52%) – the latter of which isn’t always an option in construction. When helping employers evaluate their Employer Value Propositions we often look at how they can speed up and streamline hiring processes, focus on their organisation’s purpose and commitment to sustainability and use these as a talent attraction tool. While it’s clear the construction industry is evolving, so too is the way that Hays is working with construction employers. We’re not just delivering against immediate hiring needs in permanent, temporary and executive recruitment, we are partnering with companies to shape their future talent strategies through a portfolio of staffing, advisory and skills & learning services. Our consultancy services include talent planning, talent assessments and talent insights, and on the skills & learning side we are working with organisations to help them identify a more diverse talent pool, providing bespoke coaching, mentoring and training programmes, and helping them optimise their talent creation and retention potential. For more information on how we can support your talent and workforce solutions needs go to hays.co.uk/offices

A further 57% of employees said they have decided to leave a job


women in construction Name: Trea Crozier Job title: Senior Quantity Surveyor What made you want to work in the construction industry?

Would you recommend a career in construction?

I’ve had an interest in construction and architecture from a very young age. I had no construction role models growing up, so I can only attribute my interest to my love of building huts and dens and being outdoors. I was a mini architect, site engineer and project manager all rolled into one!

Without a doubt. The industry is quite unique in that there’s a role for almost everyone. The fact there are so many different jobs in the construction industry means you don’t have to have it all figured out straight away. You have the possibility of moving into different roles until you find your ideal fit.

Architecture was the path I started down, but I wanted to know more about the technical side of construction, so I changed degrees from Architecture to Construction Engineering & Management. After working as a site engineer for a few years I moved into quantity surveying as a temporary measure, but I ended up really enjoying it and have been here ever since.

How has the industry changed since you started?

What does your current role involve? I’m the Commercial Manager for IF105 a Capital Delivery Integrated Partnership Framework with NI Water. I oversee the commercial performance of all the projects Farrans delivers. I lead the commercial team in their day-to-day management of the projects, which include trunk mains and WwTW upgrades, ensuring both Farrans and NI waters targets are successfully met.

What do you enjoy most about your job? The most enjoyable thing about my job is that there is so much variety in it. I get bored easily and I don’t enjoy doing repetitive tasks or work where there are no challenges. I thrive working in teams and love building relationships, and having a laugh along the way. I get to do so many of those things daily.


As a woman in the industry diversity and inclusion is close to my heart. There is definitely more diversity in the industry

now, but the pace of growth has been slower than I would like. I think the benefits of having a more diverse workforce aren’t fully recognised, even though that data has shown that more diverse workplaces are nicer places to work, and increased diversity grows the bottom line.

What is the demand like at the moment for commercial skills like yours? There is a massive demand for commercial managers and quantity surveyors at the minute. Which means the industry needs to grow and diversify if we are going to make it appealing to the younger generations and fill the gaps.

What are your plans for the future? I’ve recently started a masters degree, so that will keep me busy for the foreseeable future. I’m passionate about continued growth and learning and want to continue to enhance my skillset. I also want to continue to build relationships with NI Water and deliver strategically important works which will bring many benefits to the people of Northern Ireland.

What are your hobbies outside of work? My three kids keep me very busy outside of work, but any other spare time is used keeping active or travelling. Last year saw my return to running and camogie after a twenty-year gap, and I’m loving the challenge and the social side. I try and travel as much as possible and love exploring new places and their cuisines. Podcasts are a bit of an obsession, especially true crime, behavioural psychology, and personal development, which are great for the work commute.


How do we solve the skills shortage crisis in construction? Asks Jonathan Payne, Chair of the CIOB Northern Ireland Hub, and founder of specialist construction consultancy and training company, Incrementum (Europe) Ltd.


he construction industry continually talks about the skills shortage. However, I would classify it as more of a people shortage as we have the systems and structures in place to train and upskill our people with a great depth of training providers and academies, all supported by the CITBNI. I have spoken to numerous construction companies who have said, get us the people and we will train them. Whether it is a people shortage or a skills shortage, what has caused this crisis? There is no single answer to this, rather a series of events that have caused something of a perfect storm.

The 2008 Credit Crunch It may have been almost 16 years ago, but the credit crunch had a devastating impact on the Northern Ireland construction industry, particularly as our housing market was already in freefall from the greatly overheated market bubble crash from the previous year. The result of this was felt for many years, and even by 2013, construction output was still 45% down on the peak of 2007. This resulted in significant unemployment in the sector, with the number of construction jobs in the same period reducing by 37%. Hence, many of our skilled workforce had no choice but to seek alternative employment in other sectors, and a large portion of them unfortunately never returned to the construction sector. So why is this causing a labour shortage some 16 years later? Well, we are an industry that historically new entrants are more often than not related to someone in the industry. They so often come into the sector because their father, uncle, mother, brother etc, are already working in the industry. Most of us are the same, my father was in the construction industry, and it was he who inspired me. Hence, with many people leaving their career in 36 I SPECIFY

construction in 2008 and the intervening period, the effect is still being felt many years later with the younger generation not following in the family footsteps into the construction industry. It is, in essence, an entire lost generation!

Brexit! Construction is one of the sectors that Brexit had the biggest detrimental impact upon. With a reliance upon EU nationals for a significant portion of our skilled workforce, Brexit’s restrictive immigration policies have limited the supply of skilled workers from other countries, thereby exacerbating the shortage of skilled labour in the industry.

The Political Landscape Political instability and the lack of a working Northern Ireland Assembly has resulted in many construction projects being delayed or cancelled, and with inadequate budgets, in particular the lack of multi-year budgets, it is impossible for the construction sector to properly plan and invest in the future, resulting in a lack of confidence and growth being hampered. It is difficult for companies to invest in long term recruitment drives and skills training when the future is so uncertain.

COVID 19 It often seems that covid is to blame for everything, but again, when lockdown happened, the industry ground to a halt, and as happens when projects get delayed or cancelled, there is a decrease in the demand for skilled labour. With so many of our construction workers being self-employed, a significant portion of our skilled trades sought employment opportunities in other sectors, and many decided not to return to construction as they wanted the security of direct employment.

Jonathan Payne

Perception Challenges The construction industry is struggling with an image problem, with many people viewing it as physically demanding and less attractive compared to other career options. People often associate the industry wrongly as having with poor working conditions, with many people still perceiving it as dirty welfare containers with tea bags stuck to the ceiling! This has led to a reduced interest in constructionrelated careers among today’s younger generation.

Technological Advancements As an industry, we have been slow to adopt to new technologies compared to many other sectors. The introduction of advanced construction methods and technologies requires workers with updated skills. The lag in embracing, adopting and training for these new technologies has contributed to the skills gap.

The Education System Challenges We have a fantastic education system in Northern Ireland, however there are some challenges, with a lack of emphasis on vocational and technical training within mainstream education. There is also a very significant problem in that the Construction Industry has changed and evolved so much in recent years, with some many new roles being created, that often careers teachers within the school environment are not aware of the many and diverse career pathways available in specifymagazine.co.uk

the sector. In fact, it is often unfortunately the case that construction is only seen within the educational system as a viable career for those for whom no other career is suitable.

So how do we solve this Crisis? Addressing the skills shortage in the construction industry will take many years, and will involve a combination of strategies and solutions from a wide spectrum of the industry stakeholders, educational institutions, and policymakers. We have many stakeholders in the industry all saying the same thing, so we must combine our efforts into one force to work together constructively to try and solve the issues at hand with one strong and consistent voice. We have to continue to lobby to get our Executive back to work and fully functioning, ensuring our political representatives understand the importance of construction to the Northern Ireland economy, and the importance of setting sufficient multi-year capital budgets to give the construction industry a long term visible pipeline so that companies can have the business confidence to invest inwardly to promote growth, and to showcase this fantastic industry. We as an industry are evolving rapidly, we are finally embracing new technology, we are leading the way in the green revolution and embracing renewable technologies, minimising our carbon footprint, and reusing and recycling material at levels we thought impossible only a few years ago. What we are not very good at is promoting the industry to our target audience in a way that showcases what we do, how we are making a difference, and how we are using and embracing technology. Certainly we showcase the industry in our trade press and on our social media platforms, however this is not getting the message beyond those specifymagazine.co.uk

already embedded in the industry. The challenge is getting this message to a different demographic, which is school children of all ages. Construction is such an exciting, dynamic and diverse industry, with endless amazing career opportunities, and roles to suit everyone, and I would greatly encourage anyone to be part of this exciting industry that is helping to shape the future. This is also an industry with amazing career prospects and opportunities, with numerous and varied pathways for career development. We are an industry where you can start at the bottom sweeping floors as a general labour, and with drive, energy and determination, become a Managing Director. From my own perspective in my role as Chair of the Chartered Institute of Building in Northern Ireland, I have taken this challenge of the skills crisis head on, and during my tenure I want to use my position to change the perception of construction so that we can encourage and inspire more of our youth into the industry. So, how do we do this? I was recently told by an industry colleague, that in a survey of schoolchildren, the overwhelming answer to what type of career the children wanted to pursue was, “a career that will have a positive impact on the lives of others.” This is such a powerful and thought provoking statement, and when I think about it, a career in construction is one where you can make a huge and significant positive impact on people’s lives, as everything we do relies on the

T: 07824 708012

construction industry, be it providing the buildings, the roads, or the infrastructure, every day our lives are impacted by the built environment. To quote Winston Churchill, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” The challenge therefore is to get this positive message across to the target audience, school children. I have therefore tasked the CIOB’s Tomorrow’s Leaders, a cross-membership community within the CIOB who focus on building professionalism and enhancing the pipeline of high-quality construction talent, to embrace this challenge. They are making significant progress by visiting schools, sports clubs and youth clubs to give presentations on The Construction Industry to school children which will hopefully inspire them when they are making their future career choices. They are also engaging with the careers officers within the schools to help them understand the industry better, particularly in relation to the diverse career opportunities that are available. There is no one solution that will fix the problem, and it will take time to make an impact that will lead to real change. What I would conclude by saying is that each and every one of us can make a difference, and I would reach out to ask you all to help. The next time you are talking to your son or daughter’s friends, or your neighbour’s son or daughter, your niece or nephew, etc, take a few minutes and tell them about this wonderful industry, how it is a fantastic and rewarding career, and how being part of it can help them to make a difference to the lives of others.

E: jonathan@incrementum.ltd SPECIFY I 37

Gormley Motors 028 8772 2939 www.gormleymotors-isuzu.co.uk 17/25 Ballygawley Road, Dungannon, County Tyrone BT70 1TY.


n the world of construction, efficiency and reliability are non-negotiable. Your choice of tools and equipment can make or break a project. And when it comes to transportation, a vehicle that not only stands up to the demands of the job but also offers remarkable tax benefits is a game-changer. With the help of Gormley Motors, enter Isuzu, the brand that's driving tax-savvy construction businesses forward.

The Hidden Tax Advantage of Isuzu While the sheer power and performance of an Isuzu vehicle are well-known in the construction industry, what often remains underappreciated are the incredible tax perks that come with it. Here's a closer look at how choosing an Isuzu as a company car can give your construction business a financial edge:

Understanding LCVs for Tax Efficiency To make the most of tax benefits, it's crucial that your company car is classified as a Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV). The good news is that all Isuzu single cab pickup trucks automatically fall under this classification. For those preferring other cab styles, an essential requirement is a payload of at least 1 tonne. This LCV status sets the stage for substantial tax advantages, ensuring that your Isuzu is not just a workhorse but a tax-savvy choice.

Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) Rates that Make Sense Construction company owners and employees are no strangers to 'benefits in kind' (BIK). It's the perk or fringe benefit offered by employers, often in the form of a company car. These benefits, however, come with a tax burden. But not for Isuzu owners. Here's the kicker: Isuzu's BIK tax rate is fixed at £3,960 for the 2023/24 tax year. This means that, unlike traditional


Elevate your construction business with

Gormley Motors & Isuzu: The tax-savvy company car choice company cars, your annual tax isn't determined by CO2 emissions or other complex calculations. It's simply a percentage of your list price, based on your tax bracket. For instance, a 20% taxpayer pays just £792 in BIK tax (£66 per month), while a 40% taxpayer forks out £1,584 (£132 per month). It's clear and predictable, making your Isuzu an attractive choice for those looking to keep their tax liability in check. Plus add as many accessories as you like & need AT NO EXTRA BIK COST.

Capital Allowances that Supercharge Your Profits Isuzu goes a step further by classifying LCVs as 'plant and machinery.' This classification allows you to write off the purchase cost through Capital Allowances, reducing your business tax liability. Furthermore, you still enjoy the Annual Investment Allowance, allowing you to offset the entire Isuzu cost in the first year. This stands in stark contrast to company cars, which depreciate at a snail's pace, with some as low as 6% annually. Isuzu's Capital Allowances offer a faster route to boosting your business's financial health. Your purchase options can be cash/ contract hire/hire purchase/bank loan... Just ask your accountant for their advice.

Isuzu: The Tax-Savvy Choice for Your Construction Business In the world of construction, where every penny counts and reliability is paramount, Isuzu stands tall as a brand that not only meets your rugged demands but also elevates your financial standing. The tax benefits that come with Isuzu vehicles can be a game-changer for construction companies. By choosing Isuzu as your company car, you're not just investing in a dependable workhorse but also making a savvy financial move that sets your business on the path to prosperity. Isuzu: It's more than a vehicle; it's a strategic choice for success.

VAT Refunds That Favour Your Business

Isuzu Highlights • Warranty 5 years/125K from date of registration • 5 year UK & EU Roadside Assistance • 3.5 Tonne towing capacity • NO Speed restrictions.

For VAT-registered businesses, there's more good news. All Isuzu LCVs qualify for full VAT reclaims, plus you can claim your business expenses at 100%

Gormley Motors are here to help and offer advice. Contact Noel on 028 87722939 or email noel@gormleymotors.co.uk

Effectively a pay rise without asking for one


Toyota GR Hilux Toyota Racing’s tuned-up Hilux


he Toyota Hilux needs no introduction to readers of Specify. It’s well known as the ultimate go anywhere, do anything workhorse. To celebrate the Hilux’ success on the likes of the Dakar cross desert rallies, Toyota Gazoo Racing has produced a special edition model. The new model has dedicated suspension features to deliver a livelier driving experience, with increased control, responsiveness and grip feel. A series of GR-themed exterior and interior design features reinforce the vehicle’s special quality and appeal. The GR Sport further benefits from the significant advances. Its world-famous off-road capabilities have reached new heights, aided by an automatic limited-slip differential and Active Traction Control. At the same time, great handling and comfort in on-road driving have been secured with suspension upgrades and noise and vibration countermeasures.

retuned rear leaf springs and new bushes. The result is confidence-inspiring reliability in demanding driving conditions. Compared to the standard Hilux, these upgrades deliver significant improvements in handling characteristics, including steering effort and steering angle response, straight-line performance, a flat ride and rear grip feel. The new set-up also contributes significantly to ride comfort, with fast response to highfrequency vibrations and increased damping capability to control body movement and eliminate shock.

The GR Sport is powered by Hilux’s more powerful 2.8-litre engine, introduced to the range in 2020. This delivers 201hp and 500Nm of torque and is matched to a sixspeed automatic transmission.

The key feature in the upgraded suspension system is the introduction of new monotube shock absorbers and new front springs. The monotube design creates a larger piston area to give better damping performance, with faster response and better heat dissipation. It also helps maintain the performance quality of the oil inside the unit when driving in tough conditions.

Exclusively a Double Cab version, the GR Sport maintains Hilux’s impressive loadcarrying capabilities that are among the best in its class: it can take a payloads of one tonne and tow braked trailers up to 3.5 tonnes.

The front coil springs have been stiffened and both these and the new shocks are painted red to make a stand-out statement of the Hilux GR Sport’s special character. These changes are in addition to suspension upgrades previously introduced for new Hilux, including

The black front grille has a dedicated Gpattern mesh and gains a prominent central horizontal bar with the Toyota name, in place of the brand emblem. This heritage-inspired touch references the badging on the fourth generation Hilux of the early 1980s.


The frontal design is amplified by new, larger front fog light surrounds. The 17inch alloy wheels have a contrast black and machined finish and are fitted with all-terrain tyres. The black theme is carried through in the door mirror casings, side steps, over-fenders and tailgate handle, plus a sports bar, fitted as standard. These elements throw the bright red of the new shocks and springs into sharp contrast. Discreet GR Sport badging is also featured. In the cabin there are new sports front seats in a combination of black leather and synthetic suede with red perforations and contrast stitching. The GR Sport branding is featured on the seatbacks, carpet mats, starter button and the information display animation graphic. The driver can use paddle controls for manual shift selection and aluminium sports pedals are fitted. The look is enhanced with carbon fibre-style trim inserts, a red deco line across the width of the instrument panel and blue door panel illumination. Equipment specifications are based on the Hilux Invincible and include a premium JBL sound system, navigation system, heated front and rear seats and a Panoramic View Monitor which provides an all-round view of the vehicle’s location for precise manoeuvring over rough terrain and in tight spaces. LED headlights and combination lamps, smart entry and push-button start, dual-zone air conditioning, Downhill Assist Control and an automatic limited-slip differential are also included. The commercial vehicle on-the-road price (not including VAT) is £41,508. specifymagazine.co.uk

New Amarok ready for action


ompletely redesigned, the new Volkswagen Amarok is designed to take on anything the construction trade can throw at it. Built on a new platform with a longer wheelbase, the new Amarok fully utilises its available space without compromising on practicality. The cargo bed can accommodate a sideways loaded Euro pallet while a payload of up to 1.113 tonnes can be accommodated. At the same time, the cabin has increased in size with the second row of seats benefiting from a significant improvement in legroom. The Amarok’s interior has also been redesigned to make life on the road even simpler. The dashboard and driver controls combine digital displays while new seats improve comfort on longer journeys. Many of the Amarok’s key features, including the all-wheel drive system settings and the infotainment volume, are controlled by physical switches. Customers can choose from four engine and gearbox combinations. Power outputs range from 170 PS for the 2.0litre TDI unit to 240 PS for the range-topping 3.0-litre TDI V6. The 2.0litre TDI 170 PS is offered with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with all other engine variants equipped with a 10speed automatic as standard. All Amarok models come equipped with 4Motion allwheel drive with either three or four drive system modes, while a limited-slip differential is standard on PanAmericana models and optional on other trim grades.


The new Amarok offers a towing capacity of up to 3,500 kg with all models coming with a dynamic roof load capacity of 85 kg, rising to 350 kg for stationary loads. The permissible total weight of vehicle and trailer has increased from 6.0 to 6.5 tonnes. And, thanks to shorter overhangs, the latest-generation Amarok also offers improved off-road ability. Wading depth, for example, has increased by 300 mm to 800 mm.

The Amarok comes with more than 20 new driver assistance systems that make driving easier and safer. These include ACC+ Adaptive Cruise Control with Intelligent Speed Assist, Park Assist and Area View. A limited-slip differential is standard on PanAmericana models (optional on other trim grades) and can distribute the drive power equally to both wheels of the axle. This means that the Amarok can still move forward off-road even if only one of the rear wheels is in contact with the ground. The new Amarok comes as standard with a ‘Drive Mode Control’

system. Depending on the pick-up’s configuration, there are up to six of these drive modes: ‘ECO’, ‘Normal’, ‘Mud/track’, ‘Sand’, ‘Slippery’ and ‘Load/trailer’. The new Amarok is equipped with an electromechanical power steering system for the first time. The new set-up works in a more fuel-efficient and intelligent way than the previous hydraulic system. The new system also facilitates the integration of assistance systems such as Park Assist and Lane Assist. The new Amarok is available in 4 trim level options: Life, Style, PanAmericana and Aventura. Customers choosing the Life model have the option of two powertrains; a 2.0-litre TDI 170 PS with a six-speed manual gearbox or a 2.0-litre TDI 205 PS unit with a 10-speed automatic gearbox as standard. The Amarok Style is the only model available with a manual gearbox. Style models come with an additional 3.0-litre TDI 240 PS engine option, while PanAmericana and Aventura models are only available with the 3.0-litre TDI 240 PS unit. All Style, PanAmericana and Aventura models are equipped with a 10speed automatic gearbox as standard. Buyers can fine-tune the specification of the new Amarok via a new range of factory and aftermarket accessories. These include trailer mounts, a bike holder, a multifunction carrier system, a manual version of the roll cover and a diverse range of styling bars. Customers can additionally specify a hardtop for the cargo bed, which effectively transforms the Amarok into an SUV with the load capacity of a van.












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Northern Ireland Material Costs November 2023 Costs are based on a list prices and where possible reflect an average between suppliers; it should be noted that actual quantities of materials determine the final price; individual contractor's trade discounts will have to be applied; prices listed have been based on a Greater Belfast area and therefore delivery charges will need to be applied for other location. Base date: November 2023. Material costs (excluding VAT). Unit


3mm dust Blinding 6mm aggregate including Type 3 10mm aggregate including Type 3 14mm aggregate including Type 3 20mm aggregate including Type 3 32mm aggregate including Type 3 25mm crusher run 40mm crusher run 50mm crusher run 65mm crusher run 100mm crusher run 150mm crusher run Recycled fill – uncrushed Recycled fill – crushed Building sand Washed sand Kiln dried sand

Tonne Tonne Tonne Tonne Tonne Tonne Tonne Tonne Tonne Tonne Tonne Tonne Tonne Tonne Tonne Tonne Tonne Tonne

£13.65 £13.75 £14.00 £16.00 £14.50 £15.00 £14.25 £13.00 £13.00 £13.00 £13.00 £13.00 £13.00 £9.00 £10.50 £25.00 £25.00 £25.00

READY MIX CONCRETE: (Based a full lorry load) C8/10 C12/15 C16/20 C20/25 C25/30 C28/35 C32/40 C40/50

M3 M3 M3 M3 M3 M3 M3 M3

£90.50 £92.50 £94.50 £96.50 £98.50 £100.50 £102.50 £113.00

CEMENT: (bagged) Ordinary Portland Cement

25 kg bag


CONCRETE BLOCKS: Commons: 440 x 215 x 100 7N/mm2 solid block 440 x 215 x 100 10N/mm2 solid block 440 x 215 x 150 7N/mm2 solid block 440 x 215 x 150 10N/mm2 solid block 440 x 300 x 100 7N/mm2 solid block 440 x 300 x 100 10N/mm2 solid block 440 x 100 x 100 7N/mm2 soap bar block 440 x 150 x 100 7N/mm2 soap bar block

1000 1000 1000 1000 1000 1000 1000 1000

£600.00 £630.00 £860.00 £900.00 £860.00 £900.00 £550.00 £520.00

Fair Faced concrete blocks: 440 x 215 x 100 10N/mm2 solid blocks



Thermal Lightweight block 440 x 215 x 100 7N/mm2 block; thermal density 0.320W/m2C



Commons: Concrete brick 215 x 100 x 65 15N/mm2



Facings: Concrete facing bricks: (average mid-range price) Red rustic brick Red smooth brick Blue engineering brick

1000 1000 1000

£394.00 £338.00 £358.00

Clay bricks: (average mid-range price) Red brick Multi red brick Buff brick Blue engineering brick

1000 1000 1000 1000

£780.00 £780.00 £880.00 £1,100.00


MORTAR: Ready mix mortar M4 Ready mix mortar M6 Ready mix mortar M6 Coloured (dark colour)




Roll Roll

£42.50 £50.00







Tonne Tonne Tonne Tonne Tonne Tonne Tonne

£780.00 £780.00 £780.00 £780.00 £780.00 £780.00 £780.00

sheet sheet sheet sheet

£18.00 £24.50 £32.00 £50.00

Length Length Length Length Length Length Length Length

£6.09 £8.19 £9.69 £13.35 £15.17 £17.34 £19.51 £31.14

Length Length Length Length

£4.59 £6.48 £7.55 £9.72

Length Length

£2.21 £3.64

Metre Metre Metre Metre Metre Metre Metre Metre Metre Metre Metre Metre Metre Metre Metre Metre Metre

£2.18 £3.05 £3.50 £3.91 £7.52 £0.63 £1.02 £1.02 £1.41 £1.06 £1.53 £1.98 £1.42 £1.75 £2.05 £2.53 £2.59

Metre Metre Metre

£2.55 £2.53 £0.50

Metre Metre Metre Metre

£5.78 £2.40 £2.78 £1.44





m3 m3 m3

£124.00 £184.00 £164.00

1000g sheet; 100m2 per roll 1200g sheet; 100m2 per roll 100mm wide High Performance Damp Proof Course (30m per roll) 150mm wide High Performance Damp Proof Course; (30m per roll) 215mm wide High Performance Damp Proof Course; (30m per roll)

STEEL REINFORCEMENT: Mild steel: 8mm diameter 10mm diameter 12mm diameter 20mm diameter 25mm diameter 32mm diameter 40mm diameter Mesh fabric; 4.8m x 2.40m sheets A142 A193 A252 A393

TIMBER: Structural/Carcassing:4.80m lengths Carcassing Regularised C16; 100 x 35 100 x 47 150 x 35 150 x 47 175 x 47 200 x 47 225 x 47 225 x 75 Cacassing; Treated 100 x 22 150 x 22 175 x 22 225 x 22 Roof battens; Treated 50 x 22 50 x 35 Whitewood; PAR sizes 110 x 19 169 x 19 194 x 19 219 x 19 269 x 32 44 x 19 44 x 25 44 x 32 44 x 44 69 x 12 69 x 32 69 x 44 94 x 12 94 x 19 94 x 32 94 x 44 144 x 19 Whitewood door framing/lining: 119 x 32 132 x 32 32 x 12 door stop Redwood Door frame 97 x 57; rebated Architrave/skirting 119 x 19; bevelled/moulded Architrave/skirting 144 x 19; bevelled/moulded Architrave/skirting 69 x 19; moulded/moulded Hardwood Mahogany Door frame 97 x 57; rebated




SHEETING: Malaysian Plywood; 2440 x 1220 sheets 5.5mm thick Sheet 9mm thick Sheet 12mm thick Sheet 18mm thick Sheet 25mm thick Sheet Marine Plywood; 2440 x 1220 sheets 12mm thick Sheet 18mm thick Sheet OSB 3 SE Board; 2440mm x 1220mm 9mm thick Sheet 11mm thick Sheet 18mm thick Sheet Chipboard Flooring T&G 4 Edge P4; 2400mm x 600mm 18mm thick Sheet 22mm thick Sheet MDF; 2440mm x 1220mm Sheet 12mm thick Sheet 18mm thick Sheet MDF Moisture Resistant; 2440 x 1220 Sheet 12mm thick Sheet 18mm thick Sheet Fibre Cement Board; 2400 x 1200 sheet 9mm thick Sheet 12mm thick; Sheet

£14.60 £19.38 £21.45 £31.40 £47.86 £34.94 £49.65 £10.09 £11.79 £15.98 £11.18 £13.72 £19.19 £23.43 £24.71 £31.68 £31.74 £39.66

FENCING: Timber Square Fencing Post 75mm x 75mm; 2.4m long Timber Square Fencing Post 100mm x 100mm; 2.4m long Timber rails; 75 x 44 splayed; m long 4.20m long Timber Fencing 150mm x 22mm Bevelled Top & Bottom; 2.10m long



each each

£9.42 £5.31



m m m m2 m2 m2 m2 m2 m2 m2 m2 Box Box Box Box sausage Tube Roll Roll Bag Bag

£2.18 £2.20 £2.29 £4.67 £3.05 £6.74 £7.18 £6.74 £4.09 £6.28 £6.79 £10.41 £19.58 £16.00 £18.00 £13.60 £8.81 £6.00 £13.50 £11.30 £14.40

METAL PARTITIONING: 72mm C channel 70 vertical stud; 3600mm long 50 top hat channel; 3600mm long 9.5mm plasterboard; (1800 x 900 sheets) 12.5mm plasterboard 12.5mm fireline board 12.5mm moisture resistant plasterboard 12.5mm soundblock board 15mm plasterboard 15mm moisture resistant plasterboard 15mm soundblock board 8mm x 100mm Hammer fixings; 100 per box Wafer Head Jack-Point Screws 13mm; 1000 per box 25mm drywall screws; 1000 per box 35mm drywall screws; 1000 per box Sealant; 600 ml Intumescent and acoustic Mastic; Class F; 310 ml Paper joint tape 51mm wide x 150m per roll Corner tape; 240mm wide x 300m per roll Joint filler; 10kg/bag Esi-fill 60; 25kg/bag

INSULATION: 100mm roofspace insulation m2 150mm roofspace insulation m2 70mm slab insulation for internal metal stud partitions £6.25 50mm PIR insulation; 2400 x 1200 sheets Sheet 75mm PIR insulation; 2400 x 1200 sheets Sheet 100mm PIR insulation; 2400 x 1200 sheets Sheet 50mm floor insulation; 2400 x 1200 sheets Sheet 75mm floor insulation; 2400 x 1200 sheets Sheet 100mm floor insulation; 2400 x 1200 sheets Sheet





£3.80 £5.70 m2 £22.00 £31.00 £42.00 £24.00 £36.00 £41.00

Bonding Coat; 25kg/bag Carlite finish; 25kg/bag Skim Coat; 25kg/bag Angle Bead Galvanised; 3m long Plaster Stop Bead 10mm; 3m long Movement Bead Galvanised; 3m long Plastop Galvanised; 3mm; 2.40m long PVC Angle Bead; white; 10mm; 2.50m long Plaster Stop PVC; white; 10mm; 2.50m long

Bag Bag Bag Length Length Length Length Length Length

£13.49 £10.65 £11.77 £2.20 £3.86 £19.28 £2.69 £2.73 £2.88

RENDER: Ready mixed render; sand:cement (1:3) with waterproofing additive M3 £125.00 PVC angle bead; 2.5m long Length £2.10 PVC stop bead; 13mm; 2.5m long Length £2.10 PVC bellcast bead; 2.5m long Length £3.00

MF CEILINGS: Framing MF6A (perimeter channel); 3600 mm lengths MF7 (primary channel); 3600 mm lengths MF5 (top hat); 3600 mm lengths MF9 (clips) ; 200 per box GA2 (strap hanger angle) Boarding

m m m Box m

£1.53 £2.03 £2.29 £56.90 £1.44

12.5mm plasterboard 25mm drywall screws; 1000 per box

m2 Box

£6.74 £16.00

m2 m2 each each m2 each m2 each

£11.00 £11.00 £4.50 £4.50 £25.00 £4.50 £125.00 £8.00





110mm diameter pipe; 6m length D/S Pipe Coupler Short Radius Bends – 87.5º

Length nr nr

£20.00 £3.50 £3.50

A R P/E Long Radius Bend – 90º D/S Long Radius Rest Bend – 87.5º Equal Junction – 87.5º Equal Junction – 45º A B S/S Universal Gully Trap P/E Vertical Inlet Hopper 160mm diameter pipe; 6m length D/S Pipe Coupler Short Radius Bends – 87.5º A R P/E Long Radius Bend – 90º D/S Long Radius Rest Bend – 87.5º Equal Junction – 87.5º Equal Junction – 45º

nr nr nr nr nr nr Length nr nr nr nr nr nr

£18.00 £18.00 £10.00 £10.00 £20.00 £26.00 £40.00 £7.00 £14.00 £28.00 £28.00 £21.00 £21.00

ROOF COVERINGS: Concrete tiles 420 x 330 plain tiles; (average mid-price) 419 x 330 double roll tiles; (average mid-price) Half round ridge; 455mm long Angle ridge tile; 455mm long Fibre cement slates; 600 x 300 Angle ridge tile; 525mm long Bangor blue natural slate 500 x 300 Angle ridge tile; 455mm long Water resistant membrane reinforced roofing underlay; 75m2/roll

FLOOR SCREEDS: Semi-dry concrete screed mix; full lorry load


19B Weavers Court Business Park, Linfield Road, Belfast BT12 5GH Tel: +44(0)2890 249330 E-mail: mail@mccarthy-lilburn.co.uk SPECIFY I 47


Builder And Construction Suppliers Show Strong Performance


uilder and construction suppliers are set to grow in 2024 according to a new report from inventory software company Unleashed. The quarterly Manufacturers’ Health Index showed that small and medium sized companies scored 82 out of 100 in the detailed index. It is calculated across a series of metrics that include purchasing, and internal efficiencies that impact stocking levels and lead times across 16 manufacturing categories.

are SMEs that make a critical contribution to both the industry and the UK economy,” he explained. “It’s clear from our index that firms have recovered well from the supply chain disruption – and high cost of materials – seen during the pandemic and its aftermath.

Unleashed said a score of 50 points or more indicates that a sector is performing well against these metrics.

“The tough economic climate doesn’t appear to have dampened homeowners’ appetite for renovations because they recognise the long-term value they can have.

Jarrod Adam, Head of Product at Unleashed, said that all manufacturers had faced challenges 2023 including rising inflation and high borrowing costs.

“Our index also shows that lead times have dropped for building and construction, down to 17 days – below the national average of 20.”

“The UK is home to over 98,000 construction companies, many of which

Adam said that while the outlook for 2024 did contain challenges despite the

favourable outlook. “However, the industry is facing high overstock levels at £364,502 – the highest of any industry, and well over double the average level of £141,397. This reflects the slowdown in bigger house building projects due to high borrowing costs and economic uncertainty. “While the building and construction sector work to overcome costs and reduce their overstock levels, our analysis suggests that they are in a strong position to meet this demand because they have finely-tuned their inventory management processes. “Of course, any improvements they make would put them on an even stronger footing in this highly-competitive and fast-moving sector.”

ProjectPay’s payments solution for small build firms and contractors wins public funding


rojectPay, a new construction project payment platform, has received public funding to provide small businesses and contractors with easy access to affordable working capital, addressing a critical gap in existing financial products. ProjectPay provides payment protection for construction industry projects, securing funds and guaranteeing prompt payment for contractors across the building supply chain. 48 I SPECIFY

The business has been awarded over £700,000 in grants by Innovate UK to scale up its offering. The patented ProjectPay platform, which is backed by Lloyds Bank, aims to address endemic issues within the industry by targeting cash flow shortages, a primary cause of delayed payments in the construction sector, and mitigating payment default risks for small businesses and debt providers. ProjectPay's mission is to revolutionise the financial landscape of the

construction sector, providing fast and guaranteed payments, eliminating the need for contractors to waste time chasing late payments. The company's solution, based on embedded payments, will prevent big contractors using payments that belong to subcontractors as free working capital, instead of passing on those payments. It removes payment default risks from the construction industry, making it more attractive to banks, lenders and investors.



eyfix's Non-Combustible Cavity Tray System has been instrumental in the construction of a new high-end student accommodation complex at the University of Nottingham. The Vantage, designed by AXIS Architecture and built by McAleer & Rushe, developed by Future Generation, offers luxurious living spaces, including studios and apartments with amenities like an on-site gym, dining room, cinema, and a sky lounge. The project required 1,500 metres of Keyfix's Non-Combustible Cavity Tray (NCCT), 200 metres of Non-Combustible Cavity Tray Lintels (NCCTL), 1025 preformed Corner Units, and 5,854 Weep Vents. These components were chosen to ensure compliance with the stringent 2019 Building Regulations Document B (Fire Safety), which mandates non-combustible materials.

The unique architectural design of The Vantage posed a challenge with its nonstandard corner units. Keyfix, in response, offered comprehensive technical support. This included participating in design meetings, reviewing architectural drawings, and maintaining consistent communication with the site. Their preformed corner units allowed for efficient installation, aligning with the project's tight schedule. In collaboration with IG Masonry Support, Keyfix ensured a seamless integration of services, providing a cost-effective

solution while avoiding client involvement or delays. This collaboration was vital in addressing the congested slab edge, a complex aspect of the building's design. According to Keyfix, McAleer & Rushe were particularly impressed with the NCCT's self-supporting nature, which eliminated the need for fixing to the internal frame. The system's components clip together easily, simplifying the installation process. This approach not only sped up construction but also negated the need for additional fixings, sealants, or on-site fabrication.

The client's focus was on future-proofing the building against potential regulatory changes, and Keyfix's NCCT, with its A1 Fire Rating and over 125 years lifespan, provided an ideal solution.

AG launches new durable & affordable flagstones


has launched a new range of practical and affordable

flagstones that have been specifically engineered to be accessible without compromising AG’s premium quality. AG’s Crescent and Lastra flagstones are the first of several cost-effective products that will complement AG’s wellestablished, premium offering across paving, walling, kerbing and brick, highlighting their ability to cater to ‘Every Project, Every Time’. Crescent is a robust and durable flagstone, with a finely textured, hardwearing surface finish with a chamfered edge, which makes it the perfect choice for patios and paths as it reduces the risk of slipping. specifymagazine.co.uk

The flagstone is available in three hardwearing colours: natural grey, charcoal and buff, and comes in three size formats – 600mm x 600mm x 40mm, 400mm x 400mm x 40mm, and 450mm x 450mm x 40mm, which is ideal for paths.

ideal for patios, pathways and balconies.

The new product uses 100% AG aggregates sourced from Fivemiletown Quarry, contributing to a lower production cost that the company can pass on to customers.

Lastra uses 55% recycled and reclaimed materials in the face mix and is manufactured with Enduur 1 advanced concrete technology. Enduur is the most advanced concrete technology ever created by AG, delivering an impressive range of product enhancements, from increased strength, durability, and UV resistance to a lower carbon footprint and advanced hydrophobic performance.

Lastra is a pressed and ground flagstone with finer aggregates and provides a more modern finish while still being affordable. Its excellent surface finish is rated ‘low potential for slip/skid’, making it

This flagstone contains high-quality granite, offering a great natural finish. Lastra is available in one size format – 600mm x 400mm x 40mm – in three stylish colours: silver, slate and sahara.



Keyfix futureproofs luxury student accommodation for next generation

RESTORING THE BALANCE Over the last 昀ve decades, Elta Fans has evolved far beyond its origins as specialised fan engineers and manufacturers. It has expanded its portfolio to now include a comprehensive range of ventilation solutions that consists of air handling units, acoustic equipment, and controls, as well as the highest quality range of industrial, commercial, and residential fans. Previously known as Duct Products, our rebrand re昀ects our commitment to providing our customers with complete solutions, while better aligning ourselves with the wider Elta Group. We are committed to reshaping the world’s understanding of air quality by restoring the balance, for healthier, cleaner, and safer indoor spaces internationally. We are Air Movement and Air Quality. We are Elta.

eltauk.com/ni Kingswinford | Fareham | Colchester | Northern Ireland | Ireland

Duct Products rebrands to Elta and embarks on new ‘Air Movement, Air Quality’ era


eading manufacturers and distributors of ventilation equipment in Northern Ireland, Duct Products, has rebranded to join forces with its sister company Elta, marking a significant move in the HVAC industry. The rebrand heralds a new era for Elta as it celebrates 50 years in business and accelerates its agenda to move the dial on indoor air quality. Major investment will be made into the company’s manufacturing capabilities this year and as of this month, the business previously known as Elta Fans will be repositioned as Elta. Alongside Duct Products, sister company Fantech Ventilation in Ireland will also be unified under the Elta brand to create a cohesive presence across the industry and geographically. This is a poignant branding transition for the company as it signifies an identity that better represents the company’s full capability beyond fan manufacturing. ‘Air Movement, Air Quality’ is the company’s new mantra which will encapsulate its

Damian Buxton, CEO of Elta in England, Scotland and Wales specifymagazine.co.uk

vision, mission and comprehensive range of solutions. As well as its industry leading fan technology, Elta will continue to invest in its air handling units, noise control equipment and controls to provide markets with holistic solutions that futureproof against the demanding challenges of modern society. Elta’s engineering expertise and bespoke manufacturing approach are both fundamental to this and will therefore see a significant investment into its factories which will help meet increased demand for full system specifications. Mark Rickard, CEO at Elta Group comments: “This strapline underscores two pivotal aspects that are at the heart of our business. ‘Air Movement’ signifies our commitment to engineering excellence, innovation, and precision in every aspect of our products. Meanwhile, ‘Air Quality’ emphasises the role we play in ensuring cleaner, healthier and safer indoor environments.” Mark Rickard will be supported by his senior leadership team in embedding this

Chris Schofield, Managing Director in Northern Ireland

new vision across the business. They include Damian Buxton, CEO and Vikrant Bhatt, Director for England, Wales and Scotland, Mark Russell, Managing Director for Ireland, and Chris Schofield, Managing Director for Northern Ireland. Commenting on the rebrand and structure of the business, Chris Schofield said: “Between Duct Products, Fantech Ventilation, and Elta Fans, we have been sharing knowledge and collaborating for many years already, so this move to unify all three brands under Elta is the next logical step and we are excited about the future. Ultimately, with this move, we can build any type of fan or ventilation system required which people sometimes don’t realise. We often see a simple enquiry evolve into us delivering a full solution and that’s what this investment into the business is all about. “We are well known for our industryleading fans – a critical element of any ventilation system. However, industry professionals know that there is so much more to ventilation specification and our business is well-equipped with a wide suite of solutions and technical expertise to lead the charge on improving air quality throughout the built environment.” For more information, visit www.eltauk.com/ni

Vikrant Bhatt, Director of Elta in England, Scotland and Wales

Mark Russell, Managing Director in Ireland SPECIFY I 51


Bio-based decorating paints launched to market


milestone in sustainable construction has been reached recently with the launch of PAINT ZERO, a cutting-edge plant-based coating. Developed by an eco innovator, the product is not just a sustainable option for decorating and protecting interiors, but it also plays a crucial role in improving indoor air quality and generating carbon credits for architects, constructors, developers, and property management companies. This product is made entirely from 100% sustainable plant extracts, natural minerals, and salts. One of the key features of PAINT ZERO is its composition in small, lightweight powder packs. These packs contain nontoxic pigments, and their use drastically reduces the weight, size, and waste associated with traditional liquid paints by about 75%. To prepare the paint, users simply need to mix the powder with tap

water for 90 seconds, resulting in durable paint that comes in a choice of over 80 colours. PAINT ZERO aligns with the construction industry’s drive towards net-zero targets for all new and refurbished buildings by 2030. The product's bio-science breakthrough and low-energy production process significantly cut down on the Greenhouse Gas emissions commonly associated with liquid paints, and it also eliminates the need for single-use containers. The design of PAINT ZERO offers several benefits in the construction process. Its compact packaging is less bulky and lighter than conventional liquid paints, which simplifies logistics and storage. The ability to mix only the needed amount of paint ensures fresh, consistent colour and makes it easy to adjust the viscosity for different surfaces and application methods.

Glyde reinvents bathroom elegance with bespoke concrete basin collection


The Glyde collection boasts a variety of shapes, colours, and sizes to suit diverse tastes and requirements. The August Basin, for instance, is available in two height options and features a gentle curve that exudes elegance and sophistication. For more compact spaces, The Joseph sink is an optimal choice. This spacesaving design includes a flat surface beside the sink, providing versatility either for mounting a tap or placing everyday items like soap.

The durability and sealed nature of these basins make them ideal for high-traffic and busy bathroom environments. Glyde's innovative design allows for a seamless integration of the basin with the vanity top, or alternatively, as a standalone pedestal, making the basin a focal point in bathroom decor.

Speaking of the product, Richie McCarthy of Glyde said: “Working with concrete in the home allows your home to have a personality in rooms that sometimes can be overlooked. We spend a lot of time in our bathrooms, and it's where some of our most peaceful and relaxing moments of the day are.

lyde is setting new standards in bathroom design with its concrete basin range, combining the traditional strength and adaptability of concrete with a modern twist of colour. Handmade and hand-finished in Ireland, each Glyde basin is a unique, bespoke creation, offering both style and substance for any bathroom setting.


“Glyde's designs pay homage to Ireland's long-standing concrete traditions, dating back to 1850 with the foundations of a bridge over the River Glyde in Dundalk. The material’s flexibility in colour change and hard-wearing properties are now being harnessed in our basin designs.” In addition to their innovative designs, Glyde is committed to environmental sustainability. The company has partnered with Carbon Offset Ireland to plant a tree for each basin sold, ensuring that more carbon is sequestered than is emitted during their production process. The Glyde Concrete Basins, a blend of historical material and contemporary design, are available for purchase. For more information or to place an order, interested individuals can visit the Glyde website or follow them on Instagram for design inspiration. specifymagazine.co.uk


Heidelberg unveils evoZero first net-zero carbon cement in Europe

Dr Dominik von Achten, Chairman of the Managing Board of Heidelberg Materials, highlighted the launch's significance: “The evoZero products represent a major step in our sector’s decarbonisation, utilising carbon capture and storage technology at scale. It's an innovative solution for environmentally conscious construction projects.” evoZero will be available in two forms. The Brevik variant is produced directly at the Brevik CCS plant, ensuring a net-zero footprint throughout its lifecycle. For other European customers, evoZero Carbon Captured offers a similar net-zero footprint upon delivery, leveraging Brevik’s carbon-saving attributes. Both variants of evoZero utilise blockchain technology for transparent and traceable carbon capture attributes, providing customers with verifiable carbon proof of purchase. These features have been independently reviewed and verified. Jon Morrish, Member of the Managing Board, added: “evoZero presents a

unique, innovative solution, enabling customers to engage in environmentally forward construction projects and aiding in the Green Transformation.” Despite its advanced attributes, evoZero retains the chemical composition and performance of traditional cement, suitable for all kinds of applications and weather conditions.

Currently in its pre-selling phase, evoZero is available for order, promising to be a key player in sustainable building. The Brevik CCS plant is set to complete by the end of 2024 and will capture and store 400,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. Heidelberg Materials aims to save 10 million tonnes of CO2 cumulatively by 2030 through innovations like evoZero and large-scale CCUS projects.

Recycled tyre rubber to be transformed into sustainable concrete


he construction industry is witnessing an innovative shift towards environmental sustainability with the introduction of a new material that incorporates recycled elements from discarded vehicle tyres. In an article for UK Construction Media, Mark Sugden, partner and patent attorney at Withers & Rogers, discusses the potential of this new material in tackling environmental challenges associated with conventional concrete. Sugden explains that traditional concrete, reliant on aggregates like sand and crushed stone, contributes to environmental issues due to the energyintensive mining and transportation processes. To address these concerns, a novel solution using recycled tyre elements has been developed.


While tyre recycling is commonly used for applications like asphalt or playground surfaces, a significant amount of tyre byproduct, approximately three billion kilogrammes annually, still ends up in landfills. Sugden highlights the concept of 'rubbercrete', which integrates rubber from vehicle tyres into concrete. However, the complexity of tyres, consisting of materials like natural and synthetic rubber, fibre, and metal, presents recycling challenges. The current recycling method involves shredding tyres and separating rubber from metal and fibre using magnets and screens. This process, however, results in some rubber wastage, prompting the need for a more efficient multi-stage separation technique. Recently, Utilities & Civils Solutions has been granted a UK Patent GB2600448B

for a concrete material that uses recycled tyre material as a partial replacement for traditional stone aggregates. This new concrete comprises two aggregate materials: traditional mineral elements and elements derived from the rubber polymer found in spent tyres. The tyrederived elements, obtained from shredded tyres, match the diameter of the mineral elements and contain metal subelements from the tyre structure. This development represents a significant stride towards more sustainable construction practices, offering a resilient and effective concrete product while reducing environmental impact. SPECIFY I 55



eidelberg Materials has introduced evoZero, the world’s first carbon-captured net-zero cement in Europe. Produced under the evoZero brand, this product attains its net-zero status via carbon capture and storage technology at the Brevik plant in Norway, independent of external credits.

Grant’s Aerona3 R32 heat pump range continues to drive sustainability within the industry Aerona3 works well when combined with Grant’s Uflex underfloor heating system or Grant’s Afinia radiator range, as all of these technologies can run at lower temperatures, therefore providing significant carbon and financial savings for the property owner. The technical specialists at Grant can design the full heating solution for a property, free of charge, on receipt of house plans. This includes sizing and specifying the correct technologies for the individual property’s needs based on heat loss calculations and the owners’ preference of heat emitters. The result is a fully integrated heating package featuring technologies from the Grant portfolio, which are designed to work together, and can take the property to new levels of efficiency.

Grant new build home


o achieve compliance and meet or indeed exceed energy efficiency standards within new builds, more and more property developers across the country are opting for sustainable heating technologies like the Grant Aerona3 R32 air to water air source heat pump to drive heating systems and future proof properties. Available in outputs of 6kW, 10kW, 13kW and 17kW the Grant Aerona3 R32 air to water air source heat pump range is a popular choice due to its cleaner, environmentally friendly performance. In addition, the range has the ability to lower a property’s overall carbon footprint. Reinforcing Grant’s commitment to providing market-leading heating solutions, units within the range have achieved an A+++ energy rating. All four models also boast superior seasonal coefficient of performance (SCOP) and depending on climate conditions and demand on the heating system at the time, can deliver 4kW of heat energy for every 1kW of electricity used. Even if external temperatures were to drop, the heat pumps output will modulate up or down depending on the exact climate 56 I SPECIFY

conditions to ensure ultimate energy efficiency for the property. The 13kW and 17kW models within the range have also been recognised by an international award programme Quiet Mark for their low noise qualities. The Aerona3 R32 heat pump range has been developed by Grant to work in tandem with other innovative heating technologies within the manufacturer’s product portfolio. In particular, the Grant

Manufactured with both the property owner and engineer, installer and architect in mind, Grant’s bespoke heating packages offer a complete solution that includes the main heat source, hot water storage, heat emitters and smart heating controls. For further information on Grant’s integrated heating packages for new builds visit the Grant website.

Think Heat Pumps. Think Grant. Visit www.grantni.com for more information on Grant’s range of innovative heating packages. Follow Grant on Facebook and Twitter @myGrantNI or Instagram @mygrantni.

Grant Aerona3 R32 air to water air source heat pump


Build warmth with Grant Our complete integrated heating packages provide everything needed to build a highly efficient, warm and comfortable home. Tailored to suit the homeowners’requirements, each Grant heating package is correctly sized and specified, free of charge, to achieve compliance, maximise efficiencies and provide long-term savings. Packages feature the Grant Aerona3 air to water, air source heat pump, Grant hot water cylinders, Grant Afinia aluminium radiators and the Grant Uflex underfloor heating system. Smart controls are also available.

Trust Grant on the journey to warmth and comfort by sending house plans to


SPECIFY talks to...

Gerard McClelland, FCIOB: Director, Ganson UK


erard has had 30-years’ experience in the construction industry working on sites initially as a joiner and, then as Site Manager progressing to Contracts Manager. In 2016, in recognition of his dedication to the pursuit of excellence and leadership, he was awarded FCIOB, one of the highest achievements one can acquire within the construction industry, and a directorship position within Ganson UK Limited. Gerard has extensive experience as a Contracts Manager both in the Republic of Ireland and in the UK. He has experience on various sectors of the industry including education, retail, technology, industrial etc., varying in complexity and size such as the Dundalk Institute of Technology, Adamstown Primary School, Stranmillis College, Belfast etc. Gerard also has extensive experience in sustainability, multi-storey buildings, ground works, reinforced concrete structures, structural steel frames, cladding, internal finishes and temporary traffic systems as well as the management of a diverse range of subcontractors and suppliers including mechanical and electrical subcontractors, civil engineering contractors, structural steelwork subcontractors etc. he also has extensive experience and expertise in stakeholder management and interfacing with the public and statutory bodies including utility providers and local authorities (Panning Service and consultees, Building Control etc.) He fulfilled the role of Contracts Manager successfully on a number of large projects in the UK and Republic of Ireland employing both traditional and design and build procurement with his exceptional communication skills to enable the construction, commercial and professional teams to work together to produce best value, high quality outcomes, proactively solving problems through innovation and best industry 58 I SPECIFY

practice by utilising the diversity of experience and expertise within the project team. Since being appointed a Director of Ganson UK Limited, Gerard has developed the size, range and reach of the company, securing new clients in both the private and the public sector with repeat commissions testimony to the quality of service that he consistently provides. He has completed prestigious projects for Queens University, Methodist College Belfast, state of the art primary schools such as St Bronagh’s PS, Millington PS, Cedar Lodge Special School, Malone Integrated College etc. as well as various new stores for Home Bargains and Lidl NI and various community centres/youth clubs. Within the company, Gerard has been the primary mover in developing a professional team to best meet client requirements for various complex projects, promoting task ownership within new and established members of his team. Gerard is a keen advocate for offering work experience to young academics in all disciplines within the construction industry, setting aside time to encourage their development by offering invaluable experience and tireless mentoring to future generations of construction professionals that will underpin sustainability of the industry.

Q: What have been the highlights of your career so far? Receiving my FCIOB felowship and Directorship with Ganson UK Ltd.

Q: What was the best piece of advice you’ve been given? My father always said to gain a trade, it’s something you will always have to fall back on.

Q: What would you say to any students considering a career in construction? The construction industry is an important part of our landscapes development,

providing society with better infrastructure and buildings, it has a variety of sectors within from building bridges to new schools, it is a great starting point and allows many opportunities to gain new skills and move into different roles, it is a highly competitive industry which mean salaries can also be competitive.

Q: Do you think the Construction Sector needs more support from Stormont? All industries need support from Stormont, as key strategic decisions on the regions infrastructures are not being made, this could lead to a downturn within the industry.

Q: What needs to be done to help the Construction Sector? The construction industry is one of the largest industries in the global economy, in recent years there has been an evergrowing skill shortage. Education courses need to be developed, promoting this type of work to our young people.

Q: Tell us something surprising about yourself… I obviously have to work hard as a director and in my spare time, I breed pedigree Blonde cattle which I show around Northern Ireland. This is a great joy and interest to me, it’s how I like to unwind after a very busy day at work. specifymagazine.co.uk

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