And finally…

A (sometimes) light hearted look at the weird and wonderful world of construction

And finally…mummified monkey found during shop revamp

Builders carrying out the redevelopment of an old department store the American state of Minnesota have been shocked to discover the mummified remains of a monkey in the process.

Workers found the carcass last week in an air duct on the seventh floor of the century-old Dayton’s building in Minneapolis.

A spokeswoman for the Dayton’s Project, an office, retail and restaurant complex going into the building, said the developers were at a loss as to where the monkey came from, or how it ended up in the air duct.

But a local historical Facebook page posted a picture of the bizarre find in a bid to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Alan Freed, as co-administrator for the Old Minneapolis page, said one of the more likely answers to come from the appeal came from someone who posted up to say a longtime Dayton’s employee had told him a monkey escaped from an eighth-floor pet store into the air conditioning ductwork in the 1960s.

And finally…Scottish homebuilder develops new site manager app

A new initiative by Miller Homes is helping drive home efficiencies in its business following the introduction of a new, tailor made site manager app.

The app has been designed by the housebuilder’s in-house IT and production teams to create a more streamlined process for the recording, accessing and sharing of data between site teams and office-based staff.

Site managers can use the app on site via a smart phone or tablet to input information relating to build programmes and also access relevant customer, plot and development information.

As the app is synced with Miller Homes IT systems, office-based procurement teams can more carefully monitor and manage material supplies to ensure greater certainty around build programmes.

Graeme Stirling, IT Director at Miller Homes, said: “We are continually seeking to identify ways in which we can operate more efficiently as a business and to ensure we maximise our time spent on site building high-quality homes.

“This new app not only means our site managers can spend more time on site as they no longer have the burden of paperwork to deal with when they get back to their desk, but our procurement teams can ensure more certainty around the delivery of construction programmes through increased visibility of build progress. Our customer journey is also enhanced by providing a more innovative experience for buyers whilst their new home is under construction.”

The app helps keep customers informed about how their new home is progressing and ensures greater accuracy of data being recorded.  Site managers can also scan barcodes of utilities and white goods, using a tablet or phone’s camera, along with viewing and updating build programmes, plot build status, energy readings, snagging items, health and safety records as well as plans and customer options.

The site manager’s app is the latest in a raft of new innovations from Miller Homes, which last year became the first major UK housebuilder to develop an online reservations service for buyers looking to secure their dream property.

And finally…the pothole repairing machine of the future revealed


And finally… Developers uncover historic slaughterhouse under Grassmarket

How the completed King’s Stables Road development will look

Remains of Edinburgh’s historic cattle market have been discovered buried beneath a development site in the Grassmarket area of Edinburgh.

Archaeologists have found evidence of a slaughterhouse and well dating back to the 19th century at King’s Stables Road.

The former Silk nightclub has been knocked down to make way for a hotel, a student housing complex and dozens of new private homes.

The area became popular for cattle and horse markets between the 15th and 19th century because the sale of animals was forbidden within the city walls.

Bruce Glendinning, project manager at CFA Archaeology, which is carrying out work on site for developer Bowmer and Kirkland, told The Scotsman: “We’ve been on-site since November, undertaking archaeological excavations and watching briefs in advance of the ongoing construction work. Given the sensitivity of the site, including its location in the heart of the Old Town, we undertook prior evaluation works, which identified potential medieval deposits at a depth of two metres below the surface.

“The development has been designed to allow archaeological investigation to take place during the construction programme. We’ve found the remains of the mid-19th century slaughterhouse that formerly occupied the site. The wall lines and cobbled floors were buried below the more recent structure that was demolished in advance of construction. The Silk nightclub appears to have incorporated parts of 19th century buildings, so what we’ve found seem to be associated with them.”

Donald Wilson, culture convener at the city council, said: “In an ancient city like Edinburgh, sometimes it can feel like a new archaeological discovery is made every time a spade is dug into the ground.

“This latest finding gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘watering hole’ since the remains of an old well were found under what used to be a nightclub. It is believed it could have been used to water cattle at the slaughterhouse, which once stood on the site.

“The remains will add to our understanding of what life was like hundreds of years ago. They remind us how names like King’s Stables Road, Cowgate and the Grassmarket weren’t given by chance. They very specifically relate to the history of this area. This is a part of the city where cattle were once fed and watered before being sold and slaughtered at market. This is another interesting glimpse into the story of our Old Town.”

Philip Bates, senior project manager at Bowmer and Kirkland, said: “We knew there was potential for something to be uncovered because of the site’s location and the history of the area.”

And finally… UK property industry’s first in-house drone service launched

Edinburgh-based independent building and project consultancy Paragon has launched what is believed to be the UK property industry’s first in-house drone service following the recruitment of a highly experienced aerial surveyor.

Elliott Garrett joins the business following nine years’ experience working for Formula One Management. In his previous role, he travelled the world planning Grands Prix infrastructure and conducting precision GPS surveys of racing circuits using Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), laser scanners and drones.

The innovative new service sits within Paragon’s building consultancy department and is already being used to produce condition reports on commercial and retail buildings in industrial estates, city centres and high streets. It provides Paragon’s clients with faster, richer and more cost-effective data compared to traditional models, and easier access to properties than access hoists.

Drone surveying works by combining high resolution GPS-tagged photographs, 4k video and photogrammetry software to create 3D models, site mapping, fly-over videos and roof surveys.

David Philip, Paragon director and head of the firm’s Edinburgh office

Paragon director and head of the Edinburgh office, David Philip, said: “When it comes to surveying, the property industry is a dinosaur that still uses slow, archaic processes. Embracing drone technology will be to the benefit of surveyors, developers, property funds and contractors alike.

“We have collaborated closely with Elliott on a number of projects, so we know just how transformational, impressive and effective his approach is. Drone technology is a game-changer for surveying, so we are very pleased to be leading the way and collaborating with our clients to benefit their assets and create commercial advantage.”

Paragon also expects footage from drones to be used by clients to create impactful marketing videos, giving them a commercial advantage when selling or letting an asset. During construction projects, drones will also be used instead of time-lapse cameras to give accurate and real-time measurements of the mass of the site, helping avoid disputes about progress.

Paragon aerial surveyor, Elliott Garrett, said: “Having worked closely with Paragon, I know it is a business brimming with innovation and ambition.

“Everyone here is always looking for new and better ways to work together with clients to provide them with the best outcomes. The drone surveying service has got off to a great start, and I’m looking forward to expanding our reach and its applications with the support of my colleagues and our clients.”

Elliott is fully insured and has all relevant permissions from the Civil Aviation Authority.

And finally… Fully rotating house completed in Italy

An architect has completed a house in northern Italy that can rotate 360 degrees.

Balanced on a central pillar, the octagonal house can be mechanically rotated in both directions to give its owner varied views. The rotation is also used to direct the house’s solar panels towards the sun.

“The ability of the house to rotate was requested by the client from the very beginning, on one hand to be able to change the point of view on the landscape, but also because of his passion for machines and mechanisms,” architect Roberto Rossi told Dezeen.

Located near the city of Rimini, Rossi’s house was constructed by Italian building contractor ProTek. The challenge was to keep the building lightweight and to allow it withstand traumas caused by its rotation.

The structure has a steel frame, with walls made of wooden strips, and insulation panels of hemp and wood fibre.

According to the architect, the house generates all of its own energy. The solar panels are fitted on the roof, so are able to take full advantage of the sun at all times of the day.

Images are courtesy of ProTek.

And finally… World’s smallest three-storey house arrives in UK

A three-storey house the size of a parking space will arrive in the centre of Birmingham to showcase the grand launch of a new integrated journey app.

Often dubbed as the Spotify or Netflix of the transport world, Whim integrates journey planning, reservations, payments and subscriptions into one app.

The three-storey house is arriving to underline its message of what can be achieved when you take cars off the streets.

Transforming the way people use public transport in the region and backed by organisations including Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), Mayor Andy Street and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), Whim will offer Midlanders three options:

  • pay as you go;
  • Whim Everyday for £99 per month which includes unlimited public transport with taxis and best-price car hire;
  • Whim Unlimited for £349 per month which includes unlimited public transport, all taxi rides within a three-mile radius of your location and up to 30 days car hire per month.

Whim founder Sampo Hietanen said he was excited to be bringing Whim to the West Midlands.

“We want to challenge the way people start to think about their journeys and let them see that vehicle ownership doesn’t have to be the only way forward. Whim offers a smart alternative for smart people,” said Mr Hietanen.

“On average, cars are parked up unused for about 96 per cent of their lifetime – but we still have pay for them, sometimes in conjunction with other transport options too. Owning a car is actually a burden for many people but there’s been no realistic alternative until now.”

And finally… Shed of the Year finalist given retrospective planning permission

A glamping bothy which was up for a national award last year has been given retrospective planning permission.

The Sheep Shed is owned by James and Jane Foad, and was a finalist for Shed of the Year in 2017.

The couple bought their 100-acre holding at Newton of Begshill, Drumblade, near Huntly in 2011 and built two self-catering bothys.

However, the couple did not have consent for the structures, and had to seek retrospective permission – which was approved this week by Aberdeenshire Council.

After the decision, Mrs Foad explained that they didn’t think they would need consent before building.

She told the Press & Journal: “We are delighted with the decision and very relieved. We have had so many visitors; many are returning again and again and have written letters of support for the application.

“We really had not realised that the two sheds would require planning permission as they are completely moveable – if we ever sell up – they will be coming with us.”

Councillors agreed to grant permission for the two sheds despite it being a departure from the Local Development Plan in that it is “not related to a settlement”.

Huntly councillor Robbie Withey said: “I live under the theory that rules are there to be broken. This development is of particular social and economic benefit to the area, which is need of economic improvement.

“This type of venture would not work if it were related to a settlement; the idea is to get away from it all.”

VisitScotland had written in support of the application and said glamping was one of the most popular searches on their website and there was a limited amount of that type of accommodation within Aberdeenshire.

The winner of the Shed of the Year competition in 2015 also had to apply for retrospective planning permission after failing to get approval for its conversion from an old hen house into a gin distillery.

And finally… Worker rescues fox cubs from building site rubble

Image courtesy of Scottish SPCA

Three fox cubs have been rescued by a construction worker after being discovered under rubble at a building site.

The cubs, named Ethan, Frank and Bourne, were discovered at a site in Edinburgh last week and are currently being cared for by staff at the Scottish SPCA.

This rescue comes as Scotland’s animal welfare charity is launching its #FoxFiles campaign to urge people to contact them if they see an injured or orphaned fox cub before approaching or moving it themselves.

Centre manager Colin Seddon said, “Although these cubs needed our help, we would advise people living in more rural locations to leave cubs alone and check on them after a couple of hours as their mother may return for them.

“Vixens will often move their cubs from one earth to another and if they are disturbed they’ll leave the cubs and come back for them later.

“Often, vixens will not live in the same earth as her cubs and will only return at night to feed them.

“If anyone thinks a cub is injured, ill or has been orphaned and needs our help they should call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999 for advice.”

Ethan, Frank and Bourne will be cared for at the Scottish SPCA’s Wildlife Rescue Centre until they are fully fit, feeding themselves and healthy enough to be released.

And finally… Elon Musk to sell ‘Lego-like’ kits of excavated rock

US entrepreneur Elon Musk is to turn his hand to selling giant interlocking bricks made from rock – Lego style.

Produced by his recently formed tunnelling business, the Boring Company, Musk will sell “kits” of bricks, starting with one that makes it easy to build things from “ancient Egypt,” like replicas of the pyramids, the Sphinx, or the Temple of Horus.

Announcing the venture on Twitter, Musk said the bricks will be “lifesize” and they’ll be bored through the middle, to save some weight, but still rated to withstand California’s earthquakes.

The Boring Company has long stated its ambition to find ways to recycle the bedrock it will be removing from its tunnels, with an emphasis on turning them “into useful bricks to be used to build structures”.