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Top 10 Kitchen Design Tips by Robert’s 21st Century Design

The way in which we use our kitchens has changed dramatically. We lead much less formal lives and cook more informal meals, so many homes incorporate an everyday dining area in the kitchen. The kitchen has become the centre of family life and as a result it is probably the one area of the house where we spend the most money.

1 Consult a kitchen design company to sketch out the units and layout so you can make the most of the space you have. But it is your family and lifestyle, so stick to your guns and never let anyone talk you into the latest fashion or concept for the sake of it.

2 Where space is an issue, it is worth considering a separate utility space, where you can store all your bulky items, oversized crockery and appliances. It is essential that kitchen workspaces are kept clean, clutter-free and ready-for-use. A kitchen should be, above all, accessible and easy to use.

3 If you do have a dining area with a smaller kitchen – as I do – it is worth installing sliding doors or some form of screen between your kitchen and dining areas. You can then reveal a beautifully laid table to guests and close the door on any after-dinner mess. Open-plan space can lead to a lack of surprise, which is a key element of good design and entertaining. With the sliding door open, the integrated dining and kitchen space will adapt perfectly to informal entertaining and weeknight family dinners. When closed, you can hide the kitchen away to create a more relaxed dinner party.

4 In any well-thought-out property, it makes sense for your kitchen to be on the same level as your dining or entertaining space. Whether you are entertaining formally or having a casual dinner, you won’t want to be running up and down stairs to serve the meal, deserting your family and guests in the process. Organisation and forward-planning are key where eating is involved. In an ideal property, your dining, living and kitchen spaces would all be on the same floor, so you don’t have to go from one to another.

5 If space allows, a proper kitchen table is wonderful. It must be chosen carefully, as you will need to use it all the time and for different types of occasions. If opting for a rectangular table, you should keep in mind that it should be narrow enough to allow people to talk across it.

6 The kitchen has taken over from the dining room as the place to relax and socialise. A bar with stools offers extra kitchen workspace and acts as a barrier between the kitchen proper and its dining area. It is sometimes good to install the sink in an island unit, as it keeps it hidden from view in a kitchen/dining space. All family members need something different from a kitchen – whether it is an Aga, somewhere to do homework, or watch TV.

7 I love combining contemporary and traditional influences in a design and the kitchen is one room where you can go to town with technology. Chic new appliances, a good-quality oven and practical storage units that look sleek are essential. For character, add a chandelier.

8 Before designing your kitchen, plan how you will use the space. If you are a keen cook, excessive soft furnishings and detail will only take up precious work space and collect dirt. However, if you are more interested in the entertaining side, rather than hands-on cooking, you can afford to be more decorative. For those who are going to add a sofa, make sure the upholstery wears well.

9 If you are happy with the existing layout of your kitchen but want a facelift, change your work surfaces. This will instantly transform and modernise a kitchen. Replacing cupboard doors or handles, substituting small round knobs for longer, brushed steel handles will also bring your kitchen up to date.

10 Plan the lighting carefully, so there is a degree of flexibility. Low level lighting is useful if you are going to eat in the kitchen.


How To Choose A Commercial General Contractor

Commercial general contractors are used to build nonresidential structures such as schools, restaurants, office buildings and shopping centers. In order to choose a commercial general contractor, there are many things need to be taken into consideration.

There are a number of things you should consider: the reputation of the firm, their past history, financial records and pricing. These particular items are very important when choosing a commercial general contractor. Depending on the project that they will be taking on, the contractor should have a history in that field. If they’re constructing an office building, having a history in office buildings will help you build your trust in their work.

There are many online sites that rate commercial general contractors. Finding the ratings for a contractor is necessary so you can see the positive and negative feedback on the person that you give the project to. Along with online sites, people you know will also be able to give you a review of the contractor if they have hired one before. Word of mouth is a great referral system that should be taken advantage of.

A commercial general contractor will have financial records available for evaluation. Keep in mind tax records, as they could create problems during the job to delay the project if there are any tax concerns. Credit history, capital and liquidity are essential as you will want to ensure that the contractor is able to buy the materials and pay subcontractors and suppliers.

Along with financial records, check that the contractor has insurance. Proof of insurance, license and certifications, and the company’s tax ID number will help verify the contractor. Workers’ compensation is almost always required with their insurance for all of their employees. This will protect you if any of the workers are injured while on the job.

Most importantly, knowing exactly what the plan is for your project will help you get the right commercial general contractor. When you know what you need you can scope the project and the level of service and quality you want. You never want to select a contractor based on their price if you want a quality level of service and work done for your commercial project.

Ask for estimates from the general contractor. Once you have an estimate you can compare and asses the estimate with other general contractors. Looking at the materials they will use, the length of time it will take to complete the project, number of people involved in working on the project, and the conditions that the general contractor has will help you decide what contractor you should go with.


How Do You Get Construction Management Work?

Construction managers control and co-ordinate activities on site to ensure that construction work is completed on time and to budget. They schedule when work is done and complete quality control checks to ensure that all operatives on site adhere to high standards of work. They have to consider logistics, health and safety, environmental concerns, sustainable development, and the impact on close neighbours and the general public. They typically work for contractors, who provide different services including construction management specific or design-and-build offerings. Their employers tend to be hired directly by the initial client or the consultancy that is acting as the client’s representative.

Construction managers typically get involved with a project right from day one on site when ground is broken and they carry right through until the building is completed, usually handing over to facilities managers. The chance to liaise with a great variety of professionals, both within and outside of their organisation, is one of the advantages of working in this area: construction managers typically work closely with project managers; project planners; commercial managers and quantity surveyors, who look after project costs; subcontractors and trade professionals; local government representatives; the design team; and the client.

Which areas of construction management can graduates specialise in?

Many construction managers are generalists and good employers will ensure you work on a range of projects to gain a broad level of experience in different technical areas. However, over time it is possible to specialise in an aspect of construction such as mechanical and electrical, structural or sub-structural work.

The importance of safety in site management careers

Safety rules on site are set and implemented by construction managers and take into account the unique aspects of the project as well as industry-wide standards. There has been a big move over the past few years to ensure even higher standards of safety. It’s a huge part of the construction management job and one of the first things graduates on training schemes will learn about. It’s easy for job applicants to overlook health and safety but showing an awareness of the issue in interviews and applications will be looked on very favourably.

Sustainable development in construction

Sustainability is a key concern for construction managers. They have a role in advising the client and design team on best practice. They have to be aware of sustainable practices when selecting the best materials to use. In their quality control work they have to ensure that sustainable systems work effectively. They also ensure that workers operate in the most environmentally friendly ways on site.

Graduate career routes in construction management

You can get into construction management with any degree but if you haven’t got a construction-related background you will need to do a postgraduate conversion course. Some employers will sponsor you through this while you work.

When you start out, you will usually assist a more experienced construction manager on site and be encouraged to complete a range of tasks such as quality checks. As you gain more experience, you will often be assigned a particular part of the project to manage, such as mechanical and electrical. You should also be given the opportunity to do a professional qualification with an appropriate professional body such as the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).

Progression can be rapid in this career area as initiative is rewarded. After your training scheme, you may be given a smaller project to manage on your own or be responsible for a large part of a more complex project. Construction management is a typical route into project management and executive positions.

Skills required by graduate recruiters

Although you won’t be expected to know a great deal of technical knowledge when you start, you should be able to pick things up quickly. You should also have:

  • excellent organisational skills
  • strong communication skills so that you can liaise with all parties on site
  • great problem-solving skills to resolve issues on site quickly

Highs and lows of life as a graduate site manager

Although you have a set schedule of what should happen each day, there’s always a surprise to keep you on your toes and the atmosphere on site is good fun. Hours can be long with early starts and occasional night or weekend shifts if time on a project is running out, but most firms offer time in lieu and allocate shifts fairly.