Monday 22 December 2008

it's been a while

Feck ! I didn't think its been that long since I last posted over 5 months. Alot has happened in the meantime. There's been major downsizing in the practice where i work. I'm now the only AT in the practice. Many other practices in the area too have down sized, I will be in the minority rather than the majority, when I return to work after Christmas, as unfortunately many AT's will not be returning to work. Many of our clients too have down sized their staff. It's not been an easy year and some say worse is yet to come.
In our practice, we have refocused abit, looked at costs and methods of saving money and how we are going to survive. By the looks of things, we have managed to get one or two lucrative projects for the new year, which should see us through until September or so. We're alos back doing insurance assessment's and Fire Safety Certificate Applications, in addition to the run of the mill stuff we have been doing.
Positive news brings back confidence and that appears to be alot of the problem at the moment, lack of confidence.

On a personal front, I have failed to complete my CIAT POP Record, mind you I am nearly there and will have it done early in the new year. The events that occurred in the office attributed to me failing my goal, but other things, like moving house, attending the scout jamboree all had to take priority. Early next year and I should be sorted.... Well actually I need to be as a Professional Qualification will become more important.

I have been developing my skills with AUTODESK's Impression 2 and think is a great package for preparing sketch drawings.I'm using it quiet a bit of late. Sketchup 7 has arrived too , although I haven't used it that much yet.

Thursday 17 July 2008

Making the best of time.

With things not as busy as they were , it has allowed me look at various methods of presentation and hopefully develop new skills. .. maybe I might now have time to learn revit or even complete that POP record which will allow me apply for CIAT Chartered-ship. In the last few weeks I've been doing some work with AutoDesk's Impression 2. In the past I've use the original version for one or two things, but not to the extent of recent weeks. Its great for presentations as it allows dwg drawings to be transformed into what looks like a hand sketches. And whats better is you can update the cad drawing and with a clip of a button the impression file updates as well... so all the work done is not lost. I have found a few bugs, with times not updating properly, but its still faster than redoing a hand sketch. The smaller fills seem to export better to pdf and jpeg for printing and distribution. So far with the larger files i've found the best results by printing through the software itself. I recently competed a set of plans which looked like a traditional set of blueprints (in blue and all).

Its all about upskilling now.

Wednesday 16 July 2008

The downturn

The last few weeks has seen a major sudden down turn resulting in a significant rationalisation plan been put in place in work. Unfortunately most of the staff have received their notice, as work has pretty much dried up and little prospect of anything like the volume of work we had. Getting in fees for work done isn't helping either, as clients are slow to come up with the money. We're not the only one's in the same boat: speaking with many fellow technologists the trend is common, throughout the country. The construction industry as a whole is taking a big hit.

Despite the downturn, my work of late has been varied from doing feasibility studies, planning applications for warehousing and even the odd fire cert application... something I haven't done in about 6 years.

Where will it end, I don't quiet know, however one thing is we need to be positive and look to the challenges of the future and not the good times of the past.

Saturday 12 April 2008

Nerves, Nerves ,Nerves.

On Thursday night last I make a presentation to 60 odd potential self builders. It formed part of the EBS self build seminar, which was run by the local EBS branch. I had one or two moments when I lost my train of thought but this was down to nerves, I think. I definitely had too much ground to cover, in terms of topics, so I ended up running over on time. My presentation covered the design brief, selection of a designer, site selection, planning permission, routes of construction of dwelling, and certification . It would have been much better if it had only focuses on the first 3 items. I properly had too much detail too, in some areas. I'll know better next time ( if there is a next time ). Overall the night went well, not sure if we'll get any work out of it, but you'll never know.

Anyway I intend using the presentation as part of my POP record, hopefully it will be acceptable and have made the night useful for me.

Next week sees me heading SEI's Energy Show in Dublin, with where I'll attend two presentations, one which will really interest me, relates to the passive house, some which will become more and more common. Another couple of hours on the CPD count as well. Well over my minimum 35 hours are required to do by the Code of Conduct in CIAT.

Sunday 6 April 2008

Slow down ..... not from where I am !

Its been a while since I was last on blogging. I've been very busy of late. So much for a slowdown in construction. we have picked up a number odd jobs of late, nothing large, just enough to keep us ticking over, but nobody is prepared to wait, they all have to be done immediately.

Last week was a busy week, spent all Tuesday traveling the South West viewing sites, in the hope that we would be in the running for a large job. Friday was a very intense day, as I had to write a number of reports on the sites and make relevant recommendations on their suitability. Not an easy task in a few cases.

In between that I had to complete a planning application submission and prepare a preliminary design for two warehouses. I meant to do attend to two other jobs as well, but I didn't get time to. Next week will be another hard week. There will be at least 3 guys on the phone first thing Monday morning !!!

On top of that I have tpo prepare a presentation for an information evening orgainsed by a local firm. The presentation is meant to be completed by Monday evening, so tomorrow or should I say later today will be busy. No rest at all for me....

Friday 1 February 2008

And more work.

They say Time flies when you're having fun.. seeing as this week flew I must be having fun ! I didn't think beginning rushed off one's feet was the definition of fun.

Another very busy week which didn't seem to produce much in the was of significant progress on anything, a few sketch proposals for jobs here and there, a few letters and then there was a few mapping issues to be sorted out. Boy do I hate clients who decide to change maps and boundaries and then never think of the long term effects. I spent the afternoon checking maps prepared over 3 years ago.... :(

This week saw the latest Technical Guidance Document L relating to dwellings published. It brings with it many new changes, both in terms of design and how we will construct dwellings. Air tightness beginning the major new element for the builders. The publication was timely, as on Wednesday night I was in Limerick to attend Homebond's Right on the Site seminar. As always it was very informative and well worth making the effort attending. It covered many of the new technologies associated with Part L, Air tightness, Sustainable Energy and BER (Building Energy Rating). My conclusions are that it will be worthwhile doing the BER assessor training, as I design houses in the future.

CIAT have started a weekly email effort with information for members, which is great, hopefully some Irish news will make its way into it. Speaking of CIAT, its time I went and done some more of my POP record.

Thursday 17 January 2008

Where does the time go!

Another week almost down and I'm wondering where it when to? I had loads of work to do and it sees as if I have as much to do at the end of the week as I had at the start !

Well I suppose the best part of a day was spend revising the house plans for one client.... revisions and further revisions had to be made to the internal layout. Then there was the revisions to the scheme in Ardfinnan, I suppose I did make progress on this project, now that I think of it, seeing has I have the amended house type designed, just a few elevations to tidy up.... Hopefully I'll be finished tomorrow, as the programme is to have the planning application lodged on 15th February and the engineering consultants have yet to receive the revised site layout to commence their works. The drawings also have to go to the landscape architects for their design proposals.

Then there was a very letters and a review of a RSA undertaken during the week as well so I suppose it hasn't been a bad week's work so far on reflection

Friday 11 January 2008

The week's events at work

First full week of the year and what a one it was ! Early in the week I received, instructions to hold off on preparing tender documentation on a mixed development , in Cashel. I think the client is getting a little anxious that the development will be over budget. I have a bad feeling that it may be the first of many jobs to be put on hold/not go ahead in the coming year.... hope I'm wrong.

On Thursday I had a meeting with one of our developer clients , and a potential purcasher of a new large house((image above). Apart from wanting some major changes internally to the ground floor, the main issue was energy efficiency and how the house will achieve a BER A rating. At least most of the fenestration is located to capitailise on the solar gain. One for the energy consultants.

Just as we are getting our head around the current elements of the energy building regulations, a new lot are coming into effect in July of this year and with air tightness the new focus. And further amendments to the same element are planned for 2010.

We arrived into the office this morning with 100mm of surface water on the street. The heavy rain over the last year meant that the River Suir burst its banks yesterday and the water is starting to back up on the neighbouring streets. The ground floor of the office has been flooded badly twice in the last 8 years. With more rain forecast over the weekend, we decided as a precaution, to lift everything off the ground floor of our offices, include taking the doors off the hings. Exterme actions, possibly but its better to be safe than sorry. So Monday next the morning will be spend putting things back to normal, assuming the office is not flooded and is accessable.

Tomorrow sees me travel to Dublin for the first CIAT Centre meeting of 2008.

Friday 4 January 2008

Recent Project

The above is a light industrial/warehousing unit which I was working on last year. We were ready to lodge the proposal with the planning authority, when it was discovered that there was a problem with the title of the site. The issue is now, almost resolved (thankfully) and we will be lodging the planning application in the near future.Planning should be straight forward so I expect that we will be starting on site in early summer... but you can never tell.

I expect "the world and its mother" will be wanting to price the construction of the project, as slowdown in the construction industry continues here. We have an average of one new guy a day ringing up to price projects, many of whom we have never heard of.... no hope of them getting any work from us I'm afraid.