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Clippings and Musings – April 2017

With summer on the near horizon many people have their holidays in mind, yet this year with all the unease about the threat of a low pound continuing to make its impact on pockets, a lot of people are choosing to make home improvements instead.

Al fresco has suddenly gone to new heights with balconies becoming the latest hot new choice, particularly as modern glass balustrades provide a much more cost effective solution.

With wallet friendly options now available from manufacturers, there are some beautiful concepts that appear to be catching the eye of the consumer, and these are adding real value and stunning new additions to both traditional and modern properties. As an easy to install option, that provides stunning views, the glass balcony is increasing in popularity with its luxurious finish now being much more affordable for many.

Today there are many modern balcony concepts that are beautifully engineered which offer excellent structural integrity, but which require very few vertical supports; when these are combined together they add to the overall enhancement of the design and bring a fast ROI for the investor.

Glass balconies attract the eye of the architects who seem to love the sleek lines that glass achieves as a material.

Recently, Balconette put the company’s design engineers to work on a pass through glass balustrade ‘that effortlessly complements regular glass balustrading.’ According to the company the frameless glass balconies provide a unique appearance that offers exceptional privacy, safety and protection from the elements.

This new design is made of 10mm thick, toughened and sanitised glass which cuts straight through the aerofoil handrail and is secured by a clamp at the base. (Insert glass balcony shot here)

Furthermore, according to Zoopla, glass walls are extremely popular with around one in ten new urban properties now having a balcony.

Energy Savings

Energy ratings have once again come under the spotlight with the Energy Saving Trust declaring that labels will return to a colour coded lettering system from A- G. As the EU looks to rescale all labelled goods with the idea of making consumers better understand the efficiency rating system. As we look to have cleaner, healthier lifestyles by 2019, it will be interesting to see whether this really has an impact on the consumers and their desire to upgrade to more energy efficient housing. The new database of products is due to be operational from 2019.

This month sees the Materials 2017 exhibition and conference take place in London, which has been launched to bring into focus the latest innovation and technology in a number of materials including, glass, ceramics, concrete, stone, timber, composites and metal.

Eminent figures from the construction materials field have stepped up to show support and will be participating in the event’s conference.

Areas for discussion will include the significance of smart materials in architecture and how naturally-occurring biological phenomena can be mimicked as a practical solution in today’s built environment.

Biobased construction materials and improvements to indoor air quality as well as new methods for timber engineering will all be discussed in detail by leading professors and key figures from the sector. Professor Pete Walker, Director of the BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials and Professor at the University of Bath will be exploring low-carbon materials as well as biobased products, which will be explored in his seminar at the Materials 2017 conference.

Dr Sue Halliwell, Operations Manager of Composites UK, is another speaker who will be taking part in a panel debate on composite materials.

Products will be discussed in great detail pertaining to striking design and alternative functionalities within building structures, envelope, façades and finishes. Key speakers from architecture design and engineering will sit alongside members of industry associations and material manufacturers to look at ways to take the construction industry further forward. With Pilkington, Profile 22 Systems, Guardian and the GGF all planning on attending the show, it will be good to learn about positive moves forward in terms of scope for materials, as more reliance is placed on performance and diversity.

In respect of Business in general, it would seem we are still in the front carriage of the roller coaster as the country now heads up to its fourth major vote in the same amount of years. This would normally give rise to great caution by business owners with investment not high on the list of priorities in an uncertain world.

Yet, according to economists, despite what appears to be considerable political pandemonium, the financial sector seems to be relatively calm and stable.

With Sterling up and the FTSE down the markets seem completely unperturbed by the snap general election that follows on from the Scottish referendum, the 2015 general election and last year’s EU referendum. 

Paul Hollingsworth at Capital Economics recently commented, “This election is probably going to be fairly certain compared with previous general elections – it is just a case of by what margin the Conservative government increased its majority rather than whether it is going to be a hung parliament. It is pretty clear cut.”

Meanwhile Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown was recently quoted as saying, “The pound was the big winner from news that a UK general election is in the pipeline, as currency markets bet on the current government winning a greatter majority.”

Perhaps, the general alacrity within the business and financial sectors can be put down to people getting used to a more unstable market; one that is fluctuating and uncertain but one that is learning to accommodate elections and the unpredictable nature of these events.

As for now, we wait for the promises and pledges that will stoke the fires for big and small businesses alike, as the political starting gun has been fired and the Parties are now vying for pole position.

Helen Duval – April 2017

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