Novus Blog

Sharing ideas and successes about Learning and Development

SHARING IDEAS AND SUCCESSES ABOUT LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT

  20 NOVEMBER, 2018      INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
Paul Nixon, our Learning and Development Advisor has been bringing likeminded people together to share their ideas, successes and pains. Here Paul tells us more about the Learning & Development gatherings…     Why do you hold a L&D gathering and who attends? I have been attending a gathering of Learning and Development professionals for the past 12 months.  The group meets every month in Manchester which poses two challenges for me.  Firstly, there is the commute to Manchester which eats up time in my day and, secondly, meeting every month was too much of a commitment.  I’m also a born and bred Stoke lad who wants to see innovation and a sense of community being developed in my city.  There is a quite a varied group of people that attend, all contributing unique and valuable experiences.  We have individuals from ICO, Leek United Building Society, Vodafone and Water Plus along with one or two independent consultants.   What have the group been discussing? When I set up the group, I was very clear about its purpose: sharing the successes we’ve recently had, the challenges we’ve faced and discussing any new trends, ideas or opportunities that may lie ahead.  This means everyone has a story to tell and experience to share.  It’s a relaxed, informal setting where people can speak openly, build relationships and find support.  There are only two major rules: no sales pitches and no touting for business!   What are the benefits to bringing likeminded people together? As the only person in Learning and Development at Novus, the group has provided me with a great opportunity to meet likeminded people who understand my successes and challenges.  Equally, hearing the experiences that other people have had is encouraging and motivating.  Learning about how other people have tackled similar problems helps me to be more creative and innovate in my own workplace.   When do you meet?  We meet every other month, normally on the first Friday of the month, although this is flexible.  We meet in the city centre at The Quarter café, who have kindly allowed us to use a private space for free.  If anyone is interested in attending, please get in touch with Paul via email paul.nixon@novussolutions.co.uk
Have you thought About Becoming a Quantity Surveyor?

HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT BECOMING A QUANTITY SURVEYOR?

  19 NOVEMBER, 2018      CAREERS
Quantity surveying has lots of potential for career progression. Since the recession quantity surveyors are in short supply, and people with the right skills are in high demand. It’s not too late to start your career in quantity surveying and there a number of different ways you can start your journey.   What is a Quantity Surveyor? A quantity surveyor is pivotal to most building projects and is instrumental in keeping costs down, ensuring value for a client. As a quantity surveyor you will be expected to be able to manage costs, calculations and figures and therefore, strong numerical skills are vital. Often acting between the architect and construction team, a quantity surveyor ensures that value is prioritised at every step and that timings and costs are met, whilst abiding to all necessary regulatory standards. Qualifications Required To be a fully qualified quantity surveyor you will need to have either a degree or a professional qualification accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). However there are a few different options in regards to achieving either a degree or receiving a qualification:   Degree Route There are a number of universities across the UK that offer quantity surveying courses, which when completed, will give graduates the ability to work in the field. This option can be flexible like all degrees; they can be completed part-time or full-time, but have the benefit of giving a professional qualification at successful completion.  Postgraduate Conversion If you already have a degree then you do not need to repeat the full process to qualify as a quantity surveyor. Many degrees, such as construction, mathematics and civil engineering lend themselves to being the perfect base for a career as a quantity surveyor. Irrespective of the course studied, postgraduate conversion courses are available for any degree and are a great route for those who have already graduated.  Apprenticeship Route If you haven’t yet got a degree and don’t necessarily want to go down the university route, there are plenty of apprenticeship opportunities for those interested in becoming a quantity surveyor. With a great background of training apprentices at Novus, we know that apprenticeships are a great way to get qualified without the debt associated with university. Quantity Surveyor through Work Not too dissimilar to working through an apprenticeship, one way to work towards the qualification would be to go into a junior role and study alongside this to become fully qualified. Here at Novus we always encourage personal growth and urge employees to pursue qualifications from these positions, so this could be a great way into the industry. Donna McLean, Novus Quantity Surveyor A great example of a quantity surveyor who became qualified from work is current Novus employee Donna McLean. Donna has been qualified as a quantity surveyor for 8 years, 6 years at Novus this month, and she recalls the reasoning for initially wanting to become qualified: “I was actually working as an accounts administrator and was passed up for a promotion that I had been promised, as I didn’t have an accounts qualification. I then approached the director who had rejected my promotion to ask if I could train to become a QS. He thought that was a great idea. I then arranged to go to college on a day release to complete my HND in quantity surveying. I completed this over two years, then joined third year of the BSC QS course at Glasgow Caledonia University, again studying while I was training as a QS.” Why Join Novus? Whether you are currently a qualified quantity surveyor or looking for your next step in your career and considering becoming a quantity surveyor, Novus often have vacancies right across the UK for talented individuals. Here at Novus we offer fantastic career progression alongside a family values-driven environment, which could be the perfect place for you to take your next career step.  
Welcome announcements from the Budget

WELCOME ANNOUNCEMENTS FROM THE BUDGET

  31 OCTOBER, 2018      INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
In light of the Brexit challenge and the deficit, big changes to the UK’s taxation system were not expected. That said, there have been a number of announcements that will be welcomed by working people, businesses and the construction industry. First, the increase in the personal allowance and higher rate bands to £12,500 and £50,000 respectively have been brought forward to April 2019. Combined with the increase in the Living Wage, this will give millions of people a boost to their net income just as the UK leaves the EU, providing a degree of stimulus to consumer spending power. Second, the two year increase in the Annual Investment Allowance as of 2019 from £200,000 to £1m per annum will encourage people to invest in fixed assets. This will reduce their tax bill by allowing 100% writing down allowances in the year of purchase on the additional £800k. Third, there’s finally a tax incentive to invest in new non-residential property with the announcement of a new structures and buildings allowance. This will allow a 2% per annum writing down allowance for non-residential construction contracted on or after the 29th October.   For Novus, this means we’ll be looking at further fixed asset investments to drive productivity. We’ll also be speaking to our clients to ensure they’re aware of the opportunity to get tax relief on non-residential property construction. In addition, the personal allowance increase will reward our hard working staff with more post tax income, which is great news.   Neil Washington, Novus Finance Director
Fire Sprinkler Systems, Misting Systems and Retrofitting into Residential Properties

FIRE SPRINKLER SYSTEMS, MISTING SYSTEMS AND RETROFITTING INTO RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES

  23 OCTOBER, 2018      INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
Fire safety is a topic which all businesses should be considering and always needs to be revisited to ensure that the latest fire safety practices are being taken into account. Within the following article, we discuss the different types of Automatic Water Suppression System (AWSS) that can be implemented and whether retrofitting should be considered for residential properties, including residential care and social housing. The Benefits of AWSS In the 2017/18 financial year, the Fire and Rescue Service attended 167,150 fires in the UK, which accounts to about 3214 fires attended a week*. When looking at the statistics of AWSS one key point stands out. In fires where sprinkler systems have been implemented no-one has ever died*. Sprinkler systems will also help in protecting a building’s assets as they will only activate in the vicinity of the fire, ensuring that the spread of fire is limited, which will limit the damage caused to the property. Water damage from a fire is also reduced when using a sprinkler system, as manned fire services often use 15 times more water from hoses, to do the same job as a sprinkler. According to data from the Home Office, the difference in time taken to extinguish a fire with an AWSS is around 60 seconds, in comparison to the 7 minutes and 41 seconds average response time of the fire service in England for dwellings*. The video below shows the dramatic difference this time can make: Different Types of Fire Sprinkler System Installation While having a sprinkler system has proven to save lives and reduce water and smoke damage to properties, there are differing options when it comes to fire sprinkler system installations. There are three main installations which all have their individual benefits and drawbacks: Mains Pressure Systems A mains pressure system works using the water provided by the mains supply. This system benefits from having lower capital installation costs and no need to store water; as water is taken from the utility supplied mains. The drawback to a mains pressure system is that there will never be a guarantee of water pressure, or flows supplied by the mains. Equally pipework size may require a noticeable profile of ‘boxing in’ (the process of adding a larger plastic cover, that to some would look unsightly within a room). Boosted Mains Systems Similar to the mains pressure system but boosted, via a pump, these systems use an overhead piping array inside the building, avoiding issues around pressures and flow compared to mains pressure supplied systems. Again, these systems don’t require a storage tank and less investment is also needed. While these systems don’t overcome all of the issues of the mains pressure system, it is more expensive and also intrudes into internal spaces, which can be unsightly and require extensive decorative work to hide unsightly pipework. Storage Tank Systems The main benefit of the storage tank system is that the water must be held on site. Storage tank systems have a number of benefits such as knowing that there will be a guaranteed pressure and flow of water at all times. The system’s pumps also perform automatic weekly tests, giving further reassurance of the system. This is also the most comprehensive sprinkler system for a similar cost to the boosted mains system. The main drawback of this system is that the tank would have to be stored somewhere so would require either loft, or basement space.   Fire Sprinkler Systems vs Misting Systems The three options above all operate the tried and tested sprinkler system, which has been a proven technology for over 100 years. One criticism of the traditional sprinkler system is that they use too much water, leading to unnecessary water damage. One option that has solved this problem is the high-pressure misting systems, which can target fires much more specifically and use much less water. Using only one-tenth of the water of a sprinkler system, misting systems are proving that water damage can be avoided while still providing effective fire protection. Though fire misting systems offer some real positives, they are currently an un-adopted standard. They also haven’t had the same 100 years of rigorous testing that sprinkler systems have endured. Cost is another factor, with misting systems being a new technology and at the cutting edge of fire safety, they are currently more expensive to install, than retrofitting sprinklers. Retrofitting AWSS Whilst the regulations on fire safety in the UK differ between England, Scotland and Wales. Within Wales all domestic new builds require sprinklers in: new houses and flats, care homes, rooms for residential purposes and sheltered housing. Scotland requires sprinklers in new build care homes and high-rise buildings, whereas England only require new build high rise buildings over 30m to have sprinklers. However, while regulations are focussed on new builds, retrofitting sprinkler or misting systems is something every property owner should be considering. The safety benefits that the system presents and the peace of mind for occupiers is something that people are beginning to believe outweighs the initial financial cost. Since many people are now considering it, retrofitting AWSS presents its own challenges when comparing to fitting systems in new buildings, this is where a company like Novus Property Solutions can really help. Retrofitting means working in occupied homes and ensuring as little disruption as possible. Therefore, having a proven track record of being able to work with residents in an efficient and trustworthy manner is essential.
PRESS OFFICE
Sophie Seddon-Hall
Telephone: 07973 345873
Email: sophie.seddon@novussolutions.co.uk
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