Thursday, 22 October 2009

Federation of Small Business FSB

The FSB is a true friend to SME’s, sole traders and all small business. It is a sleeping giant in the back ground of your day to day activities, but working tirelessly on your behalf at a political and administrative level. Then when you wake it up and invite it in to your business you will be protected by a wealth of expertise and service including:

Business Advice:
Tax, Insurance, Employment.
Personal Service.
Health & Medical, telecom, insurance.
Financial Service.
Credit, Factoring, IFS, Banking.

If you run a small Business this is the best £150.00* per year you will ever spend.
If you are in West Lothian and would like further information give me a call.


Before you build it . . .Plan-It.

* all information is subject to change and is provided here as General Information.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Search Engine Optimisation. SEO

At this morning’s WLCM (16.10.09) I had a good long chat with Paul Doffman on SEO. Paul is advising that whist keywords, key phrases and content are extremely important for the correct working of your web site you can not stop there if your site is to be truly effective. For this you MUST form links with the web sites of relevant external sources. For instance the content of your pages has to include key words and phrases but also read as an expert source of information. You must then provide that information to other experts in your field to refer to. By doing this the other experts will send people from their site to yours via a link, Google will then reward your expertise and make you easier to find.
It does require relationship building and time, but THAT’S THE WAY TO DO IT.

Good Luck,


Before you build it . . .Plan-It.

Marketing and Public Relations.

At this morning’s WLCM (16.10.09) I had a good long chat with Nigel Duncan and Mark Eyre on the principals of Marketing and Public Relations. Nigel is the Editor of FSB Publications and explained that Marketing on its own is a restrictive and expensive process. When coupled with Public Relations it is vastly more effective and far better value for money. He sited the example of a small add in a paper may cost £50 for 3cm x 3cm advert. However a story and better yet a picture will yield far better coverage and will serve to get your advert noticed. This needs to be worked on and relationships formed with editors/journalists but the time invested will be far more effective than any advertising campaign.
If you are not Public relations savvy then take professional advise but you MUST consider this in conjunction with your marketing campaign.
Remember “its not what it costs, but what its worth” that counts.

Good Luck,


Before you build it . . . Plan-It.

Bankruptcy and Receivership.

At this mornings WLCM (9.10.09) Peter Wilson divulged some of the intricacies and even less well know facts of going into receivership and bankruptcy. I am not going to pretend that by listening in I have become any kind of authority on the matter but suffice to say there is a correct and methodical way for a business to go into receivership.

You may have thought it unlikely for any business to want to go into receivership but in fact it can (for big business) be used as a tool for negotiation. For small business I think it is sufficient to know there is a proper way to do it. So if you are considering receivership or bankruptcy seek professional advice, as it will save you a lot of money.

Quote of note “its not what something costs you should be asking rather, What is it worth.”

Good Luck,

Before you build it . . . Plan-It

West Lothian Coffee Morning WLCM

This is a gathering of Small Business Owners and organisations with a Small Business interest in West Lothian. If this is YOU this is a must attend event. It is held each Friday morning at the Winter Garden in the Centre, Livingston. The brain child of Neo Recruitment (Claire Hammond) and Simple HR (Paul Hunter) the WLCM now regularly attracts between 30 – 50 people with such diverse business interests from high finance to knitting, architecture and magic.

The format is very informal, just a chat over a cup of coffee however the benefits are immense for small business and include:
 Development of ideas with like minded people.
 Ad hoc but invaluable mentoring in a diverse range of subjects.
 Free advice and simply blethering.

Its free and open to anyone so if you are interested just come along and join in. If you would prefer an introduction just give me a call.

For an idea of the great topics I have discussed have a look at the WLCM labels on my posts.

Good Luck,

Before you build it . . .Plan-It.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Home Extensions- Engaging a design consultant.

You should invite a Building Surveyor or Architect or someone who has a professional knowledge of the building and design process to discuss your project in your home. This will be someone who can prepare plans and is actively involved in submitting applications to the local authority for home extensions. This consultant has the advantage over all other advisors of being able to offer you a design solution to meet your own needs and also give guidance on what is legally acceptable.

You should avoid consultants who do not carry Professional Indemnity Insurance. This is a sign that they are probably “moon lighting” and as such will not have your best interests first and foremost.
This insurance is mandatory from all the professional institutes and exists to protect you in the event of your consultant making a mistake. Any one offering these services without Professional Indemnity Insurance is telling you that they are already acting in an unprofessional manor.

You should also avoid consultants who do not specialise in this type of work. Many larger practices and some individuals simply can not deal with this type of work efficiently. In construction terms these are small works but in real terms are every bit as demanding of time and resources. As such the fee level does not allow some practices to operate at a profit and they will only accept this work as a last resort.

Having identified your prospective consultants you should invite them to your home.

Before you build it . . . Plan-It

Modern Door Widths

The building regulation now stipulate that all rooms should be accessible through a door with a clear width of 800mm. This can be reduced to 775mm in certain circumstances but not many. The out come of this is wider passage ways, bigger doors and generally less living accommodation or more costs.
The purpose of these doors is a new word "visitability" meaning that anyone may visit any property without being restricted by lack of access.

Before you build it . . .Plan-It


FIN is a network of Voluntary, Local Authority and Business organisations who have come together to assist all citizens of West Lothian with various financial matters. There objective is to ensure that all residents are aware of there financial choices and to promote access to financial advise, financial products and other services particularly for the most excluded social groups. Over 60 organisations are involved with FIN including Credit Unions, employability, welfare, health and financial literacies and Small Business Groups

For Further information contact The FIN secretary Janet Munday on 01506 633222

Monday, 29 June 2009

Fire escape windows

Although Fire escape is not usually a concern for most two storey houses the regulations were changed in 2005 to introduce a means of escape from every room at first floor level.
A window ( nick named a dreep window) must now be installed to allow occupants to (dreep) escape in the event of a fire.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Down stairs loos.

The Building regulations do not permit the removal of a down stairs toilet. These are installed in the current regulations to facilitate people with mobility issues. They were installed in the past for convenience. Either way you can no longer remove them.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Corporate Manslaughter. YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS


For the first time in the UK, a company has been charged under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. The company, Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings, is accused of the criminal offence of corporate manslaughter following the death of one of its employees, who was killed whilst taking soil samples from a pit in September last year. The company's director has also been charged with gross negligence manslaughter and could face life imprisonment if convicted. Both the company and the director have also been charged with breaches of health and safety legislation.

This is the first prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, which was brought in to make it easier to hold companies accountable for the death of their employees. A company will be guilty of corporate manslaughter if the way its activities are managed or organised causes a death, and amounts to a gross breach of the duty of care to the person who died. A substantial part of the breach must have been in the way its activities were organised by senior management. If convicted, the company will face an unlimited fine.

It is expected that this will be the first of many such prosecutions – since the Act came into force in April 2008, many other work-related fatalities are under investigation for corporate manslaughter. Commentators have also speculated that the construction and engineering sectors are particularly vulnerable, because of the number of workplace deaths that occur in them each year. In view of this, it has never been more important to ensure that your organisation is aware of the scope of its health and safety obligations and what it must do to comply with them.

Courtesy of MacRoberts solicitors e update of 30.4.09
Note: This is not legal advise and may not be relied on for any reason.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Where do I start

"I want to extend my house but where do I start."

Many people start by bringing in a builder because they want to know the cost first and foremost. The trouble with that is builders can't usually tell you what you will be permitted to do, nor can they give advise on cost without the plans being prepared. The correct place to start is with an experienced design consultant. This may be an Architect or Building Surveyor. They will be able to give an immediate reaction to any obvious problems that you may be heading for, initial advice on the procedures the council will make you go through and usually some budget guidance as well.

before you build it... Plan-it.

What is a letter of comfort

Letters of Comfort were introduced in the 1990's to provide a kind of amnesty to people who had carried out unauthorised alterations prior to the Building Regulation update of 1990. It was meant as a temporary measure and essentially was a letter from the local authority which confirmed they would not be prosecuting you for the unauthorised alteration. Thus giving comfort and allowing a house sale to proceed. This temporary measure still exists some 19 years later. This has allowed some unscrupulous individuals to simply build without a building warrant and then apply for a cheap letter of comfort to allow house sales to proceed. Unfortunately, some local authorities now find LoCs to be so lucrative that they are very unwilling to stop the process. There is however a new procedure on the horizon "a completion certificate where no warrant was issued" this is more robust in terms of compiance with Building Regulation, more intrusive in terms of inspection and more expensive, so will not be popular with the public. It is coming though and should see the demise of the LoC. So if you have any unauthorized alterations to your home you would be wise to sort it out now whilst we still have the cheap and easy option.

before you build it . . .Plan-it

Friday, 17 April 2009

How to succeed

"If you don't know where your going, any road will get you there" anon.

Pick your destination and choose it early, stick to the path come what may, its a long way but it's the road to success.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Letters of Comfort- prepare to say goodbye

The "letter of comfort" that the councils have become very used to issuing to regularise unwarranted works are soon to be a thing of the past. A new procedure called " a completion certificate where no warrant was issued" has been introduced and will be the replacement. It is much more robust and requires full drawings as if a warrant were being issued. The drawing must represent "today's" regulations and the works can be opened up for inspection at the behest of Building Control.
Look out rogue developers!

Friday, 20 March 2009


"Never pass up the chance to tell someone how good they are"
George Harrison

Monday, 16 March 2009


Plan-It is currently working on its 1068th project and has 33 live projects at various stages of Planning, Construction or completion.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Garage Conversions

This is a very popular way for families to increase their living space in a very cost effective way. The alteration always requires a Building Warrant but usually will not require Planning Permission. One thing to watch for is that the developers very often omit the foundation below the garage door. If this is the case a foundation will need to be formed to infill the garage door. It is not good practice to simply build off the garage floor slab.
Floor levels can sometimes be an issue especially in modern homes built after 2005. Houses since this time need to have a level access which has brought floor levels closer to ground level than in the past. The new floor will usually need 100mm Kingspan insulation and a chipboard floor finish. In some cases the concrete floor may need to be removed to fit it all in.
The conversion cost will range from about 7,000 to £10,000 +VAT (2009)
For further information give us a call, see our website

Scottish Building Regulations

The building regulation now stipulate that all rooms should be accessible through a door with a clear width of 800mm. This can be reduced to 775mm in certain circumstances but not many. The out come of this is wider passage ways, bigger doors and generally less living accommodation or more costs.
The purpose of these doors is a new word "visitability" meaning that anyone may visit any property without being restricted by lack of access.