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The truths they don't want you to read....

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

How the trickle down effect works. In reality.

The local construction industry met with the Comhairle last week to discuss the projects that were to be put out to tender in the coming 12 months.

The list of £17m of construction works, errrr, not ready for the meeting, so the Council representatives read out parts of the list.  Which, as was vocally pointed out, was largely the same list as last year that never actually emerged.

The very dissatisfied construction representatives were very (to put it mildly) unhappy, and in the absence of the "good news"  they were summoned to hear, they turned their fire on the Council and the new schools project.

"Every Councillor", they were assured, "Wants to see as much work as possible coming to local contractors", said the Leader.

However, practical advice from a Director was rather blunter.  "Concentrate on trying to win work for the 30-year management contract."

As one contractor bluntly put it:
£50 million of capital expenditure yet to be spent on the buildings, and we are being told by the Comhairle not to even bother trying to win this work, as we aren't going to get it.


Anonymous said... much work as possible...

Well how long is that particular piece of string going to be?

Such weasel words.

Anonymous said...

No surprise that the Comhairle isn't fond of giving contracts to local companies. Too expensive and an inability to complete on time.

Anonymous said...

Why should the local contractors be guaranteed contracts? All they do is charge inflated prices and do shoddy work. The same applies to the roads, the quality of road building here would embarrass any decent navvy. I'd rather have decent infratstructure than a load of people enmployed coz its "jobs for the lads".

Anonymous said...

The council is killing this island. I have several friends who have been laid off in the construction industry, with others expecting the same this year if no new tenders appear.

Most don't want to leave the island but what choice do they have? You always hear how keen the council are for young families to move to the island, but why would they bother?

Anonymous said...

The local contractors can't compete with those who come in to do a much better job with much better materials. One mainland firm has been pouring concrete at temperatures around -10 degrees. It must be newly invented, special concrete that will work at these temperatures - not!!

Anonymous said...

re 8.55am not much use in having a decent infrastructure unless there's people living here to use it!

Anonymous said...

You must be an incomer that has no need for an income. Your attitude is a disgrace. We have some very skilled young people on this island who take pride in their work because they would be embarrassed to do otherwise. If you do work up here you have to ensure that you do a good job or else you will never get work again.
The off islanders getting the work at the moment will walk away and not be held responsible when everything starts falling apart in a year or two....

Anonymous said...

6:28 Will partially agreeing with your post, this part:

If you do work up here you have to ensure that you do a good job or else you will never get work again. absurdly laughable nonsense.

Anonymous said...

6.28 Come off it, any excuse to come out with your racist b*ll*cks eh? There are loads of crap tradespeople on the island, and expensive ones, there are also good ones, and people who charge a reasonable price. Just like everywhere else in fact. Get a life!

Anonymous said...

6:28 & 3:18

The point I'm making is that jobs should nt be given to companies because they are local. To do so is simply wrong.
The way roads are built and resurfaced here is a amazing, I've never seen anything like it at all. The patches that have been applied are already pulling out.
Most iof the building companies here charge extortionate amounts for small jobs, don't want them and then they complain someone better comes along.
Whether I'm an incomer or not is irrelevant, local companies should only get work if they can compete for it on cost 7 quality. If they can't, tough!

Anonymous said...

that concrete comment is bollocks as well

Anonymous said...

Superb info. I've absolutely figured out new things at this point! Cheers.

Bob the (yankee) builder said...

Concrete placed during cold weather will develop sufficient strength and durability to satisfy
intended service requirements only if it is properly produced, placed and protected.
ACI 306 “Cold Weather Concreting” defines cold weather concreting as a period when for
more than three (3) consecutive days, the following conditions exist:
• The average daily air temperature is less than 5°C (40°F) and,
• The air temperature is not greater than 10°C (50°F) for more than one-half of any
24 hour period.
Even though not defined as cold weather, protection during Spring and Fall is required during
the first 24 hours to avoid freezing.
What Happens When Concrete Freezes?
• Pore water in concrete starts to freeze around -1°C (30°F)
• As some water freezes the ion concentration in the unfrozen water goes up, further
depressing the freezing point.
• At around -3 to -4°C (25 to 27°F), enough of the pore water will freeze so that hydration
will completely stop, and depending on the extent of hydration, and thus the strength of the
concrete, the forces generated by the expansion of ice (ice occupies ~9% more volume
than water) may be detrimental to the long term integrity of the concrete.
Objectives of Cold Weather Concreting
The objectives of cold weather concreting are to:
• Prevent damage to concrete due to freezing at early ages
• Assure that concrete develops the required strength for the safe removal of forms
• Maintain curing conditions that foster normal strength development without using
excessive heat
• Limit rapid temperature changes in the concrete to prevent thermal cracking
• Provide protection consistent with the intended serviceability of the structure
For every 10°C (18°F) reduction in concrete temperature, the times of setting of the concrete
double, thus increasing the amount of time that the concrete is vulnerable to damage due to
freezing. It should be noted that warm concrete placed on cold sub-grade will lose heat and
its temperature will drop. It is important to understand that having the concrete reach the
specified 28-day strength is irrelevant if the structure is damaged by inadequate curing and
Concrete that is protected from freezing until it has attained a compressive strength of at least
3.45 Mpa (500 psi) will not be damaged by exposure to a single freezing cycle. Concrete that
is protected and properly cured will mature to its potential strength despite subsequent
exposure to cold weather.
Except in heated, protective enclosures, little or no external supply of moisture is required for
curing during cold weather.
Recommended Practices and Basic Principles
Prior to the pour, clearly define the cold weather concreting methods that will be used.
A pre-placement meeting with the contractor, specifier, producer, laboratory and other
interested parties is highly recommended.
Curing and Protection
Where a specified concrete strength must be attained in a few days or weeks, protection at
temperatures above 10°C (50°F) is required.
Temperature Records
Temperature of the concrete determines the effectiveness of protection, regardless of air
temperature. Maintaining temperature records of concrete in place is essential.
Heated Enclosures
Must be strong enough to be windproof and weatherproof. Combustion heaters must be
vented to the outside to prevent carbonation.
Exposure to Freezing and Thawing
Concrete should be properly air entrained if it will be saturated and exposed to freezing and
thawing cycles during construction.
All else being equal, lower slump and/or lower water/cement ratio mixes are particularly
desirable in cold weather for flatwork. This reduces bleeding and decreases setting time.
Truck Travel Time
The distance from the plant to the point of placement can have a severe effect on the
temperature of concrete.

Anonymous said...

How cold was it when the concrete was being laid ?

By the way I was there when it was being poured, and I am not Anon 2.09

Anonymous said...

God, this has turned boring. Reading these comments is like watching paint dry.

Or concrete set.

Are there no sex scandals in the Comhairle this week to liven things up.

Dr Evadne said...

At Bob the Yankee builder: so are you saying that it is preferable to concrete in temperatures below 10oC if you want to prevent frost damage? My newly concreted steps (summer(?)) 2010 have started to crumble after the spell of sub-zero temperatures. Is there something that should be put into the mix to prevent this and is there anything I can do to prevent continued damage? Thank you.
As for sex scandals at the council, I think that concrete will win hands down each time in terms of being more intersting/exciting.

Anonymous said...


As for sex scandals at the Comhairle, just the thought of it makes my skin crawl.....

Anon said...

I am concerned that our local authority is not doing enough to keep local contracts for local companies. By way of comparison, has anyone got any idea what percentage of public contracts are won by local firms in Orkney and Shetland?

Anonymous said...

Dr. Evadne, always best to avoid frost altogether when it comes to concrete. If you can wait, do it when all risk of frost has passed, usually May onwards.

No matter that we've had a bad winter, if your steps are crumbling within a year, it must be very poor concrete indeed, as it should have had more than sufficient drying time to harden and dry thoroughly over the summer/autumn (concrete takes roughly a month per inch depth to dry properly).

Well-made concrete steps should last you for decades. If it was a builder wot done it, complain vigorously and get him to do it again. If it was yourself, you're best breaking the steps up and doing it again, as patching shallow holes here and there won't fix the problem.

Mix 1 part ordinary cement with 2 parts sharp sand and 3 parts gravel. Add some mortar plasticiser, which is a good anti-frost measure, but is useful at any time of year as it adds extra strength and hardness to the concrete. Don't use more than the recommended dose though.

Make sure the mix is tamped in hard into the shuttering, shield it from direct sunlight during the day and cover it with a few thicknesses of plastic if there's the slightest risk of frost or rain overnight. After taking the shuttering off, carefully round off any sharp edges/corners with the flat of a pointing trowel when the concrete is hard enough to resist your fingernail. The day after laying the concrete, give it a soak with water for a minute or two a couple of times a day for a few days, and you should soon have concrete that will last for many a year :-)

Anonymous said...

The Trickle Down seems to have stopped at Sir E Scott.
Rumour has it that a main Lewis/Mainland contracor has or is pulling their men of site due to lack of payment for work carried out. As I said it is Rumour but the truth will show in the morning
if Mr Bardon's men & concrete don't show !!

Anonymous said...

Utter sh!te about Bardons and Sir E Scott

Anonymous said...

Sorry to revive this bad-tempered thread but I have some questions that some of the sensible folk might kindly help with.

Re this story on Heb News today.

- and the Daliburgh School contract not having been awarded yet, and the original timetable definitely not possible now.

1. If it is still on the table and not about to be cut, how can WISP be planning something with apparently a much bigger budget than previously anticipated, and for that budget to not be in the public domain, especially at this time of consultations (?) and cuts? Is this in any way normal, even for our lot?

2. Assuming it is still on the table, how is FWP the only possible contractor, when Daliburgh was not part of the bigger contract? Do I read it correctly that the (secret, fair enough) FWP bid was too high but they're still the only contenders, due to some clause in the first contract? How ON EARTH does this ensure value for money and is it within tendering rules?

This isn't rhetorical. Genuine questions - maybe one of the "annoyed councillors" could explain, anonymously?

Anonymous said...


As I understand it (and I emphasise that it's only my understanding) the clause in the first contract is optional/enabling and not compulsory.

Someone has a lot of explaining to do. It's a pity that no one in the Council seems to know how.

Anonymous said...

A lot of explaining to do about what exactly? Why the uninformed and uneducated (Heb News included) continue to trot out endless drivel about things they either don't know or quite possibly could never understand?

Anonymous said...


10.50 here. Fair enough - hence my questions. You seem to know all about it so can you answer them? How are we supposed to become informed if no one will explain?