Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Mixed day

Well, yesterday was a day of many parts.

I spent some time providing design and content input for our new website with Mookat.

I designed a single storey side extension for a bungalow, dealt with Local Planning Authority and Building Regulation queries on a couple of other projects, and answered Client enquiries.

I made some serious headway into my application for membership of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists, something I've been wanting to do since gaining my degree last summer (work has taken precedence, that and all the other projects I have been involved in these past 12 months). I have formerly held Associate membership of the Institute however I had to resign when I formed Taylor Tuxford Associates with Rhys and Anne, this coincided with the start of my degree course at Sheffield Hallam University so I decided to wait for my course to end before applying for full membership.

And then, after work, I edited a couple of backing tracks, updated our playing list and took myself and my trusty laptop off to rehearsals with my Blu Crew pals. The lovely people at Tesco in Rotherham very kindly allow us use of their Community Space in Store. They are holding events in store over the coming weeks to celebrate the Rio Olympics and so we are going to be in store on Saturday 13th August 2016 for a couple of hours between 10.30am and 12.30pm, to support their event and to encourage shoppers to get into the spirit of the Olympics whilst raising money for the British Heart Foundation and Diabetes Uk.

After rehearsals finished at 9pm I safely delivered our equipment back to its current home; we really do need to find some form of secure storage for our equipment....can anyone out these help? Blu crew are a not for profit group and so costs need to be kept to an absolute minimum. There must be an empty garage out there that we could rent from you? Or perhaps one of the Storage Companies could help? We'd love to hear from you if you can.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Maltby Miners Welfare Memorial Community Group

We were approached last year by the Maltby Miners Welfare Memorial Community Group to see if we could offer design consultancy services in connection with a planned permanent memorial to be sited in a prominent location on the High Street in Maltby.

Maltby Miners Welfare Memorial Community Group was formed in October 2014 with a simple objective, to erect a memorial for every person that worked or died at the Colliery. They have been tirelessly fundraising ever since, and, inspired by the famous Calendar Girls, they have produced their own ‘glamour’ calendars to raise funds.

On the 28th July 2015 with the help of Lord Scarborough, they erected a memorial stone dedicated to the 27 men who lost their lives in an explosion at the pit in 1923; one of mining's worst disasters. The bodies of most of the victims remain entombed underground, and the memorial stone was placed on land off Limekiln Lane at the spot above the mine where the fallen miners still rest.

Their focus is now on the main memorial proposed for the High Street. The miners have managed to salvage part of a winding wheel from the pit together with some other equipment which will form the basis of the memorial. They have worked with the local schools to encourage the village's children to be involved with the project and they have helped to form the final design.

They are now in a position where they need quotes for the building work for the memorial, as some possible sources of funding require approximate costs before they will fund the project. The Group is therefore on the hunt for any Maltby builders, wrought iron workers, etc, that would be interested in quoting for the work. If you think you could help, please contact Bill Spilsbury on 01709 817390 or 07735220479.

Michelle was raised in Maltby and Rhys’s Mother’s family originally came from Senghenydd (a few miles north of Caerphilly) with strong links to Coal Mining.

It reminds us of one of our past blog posts where Rhys shared his experience at the dedication service and unveiling of the Welsh National Mining Memorial, which had been erected to commemorate all those miners who have lost their lives in the numerous pit disasters within the principality.

The memorial was erected in the village where at 8.10am on 14th October 1913, the single worst pit disaster in UK history, and the third worst in world history occurred.  A massive explosion ripped through the Universal Colliery, claiming the lives of 439 men and boys as young as 14 years old, in the process rendering about 300 women widows and leaving some 500 children in the village without a Father. Rhys’ Great-Grandfather, Edward Gilbert was one of the 439 who perished on that October morning, aged just 55 years.

Senghenydd Miners Memorial

For these reasons we are very pleased to be able to offer to assist in preparing a design for their chosen site free of charge in accordance with our Corporate Social Responsibility, or, to put it simply, it just seemed the right thing to do.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Survey essentials

So I guess we're all feeling the heat today? Stuck in an office wishing you could be outside to enjoy the glorious weather? Well, it's not always as enjoyable as you'd think.

I've just got back in from a site meeting on an undeveloped piece of land on an industrial estate with very little in the way of shelter (although we did manage to find some dappled shade which probably meant that the temperature was a degree or two lower than the 33 that our cars were telling us)!

The sun was brutally hot this afternoon, so my essential surveying equipment today, other than site plans, safety boots, etc, was sun cream (factor 50 no less) and a sun hat, and you can't quite beat air con. in the car for the journey back to the office.

Time to re-hydrate and cool down.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Shiny new website

We're very excited here as we begin the process to revamp our existing website which has served us very well over the last few years; we thought it was about time to refresh the site and to make it more relevant and modern.

We're working hard with our developers at Mookat to bring you a more accessible and user friendly website that will improve your user experience.

Whilst we're very experienced in what we do, we are again realising that there's so much we don't know, especially in the world of website design, we had to google (as you do) UI, UAT, CMS, etc (although we knew what etc meant!)

So what makes a good website? Well, to use a shop analogy, if you see something that you'd like to buy in the window you don't want to have to spend an age looking for it once you go in to the store, and that is what we're trying to achieve with our website.

We'll let you know how the design is going and once we've gone live we hope you like our new 'shop window'.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Company Christmas Cards

Every year Anne designs and hand makes Taylor Tuxford's Christmas cards; she spends a lot of time and effort in making them and we receive lovely feedback each year. We've had lots of really nice comments already so we thought we'd share some of them with you, but before we do let's have a look back at the past cards:-


Edible Reindeer Poo
 "On Christmas morning
When Santa had been
I ran to the window 
and saw quite a scene
There in amongst
the snowy white drifts
Rudolph & Prancer
had left us some gifts!

I shovelled it up
(with a bit of snow too)
Those little 'nuggets'
of Reindeer poo!
To throw them away 
seemed such a waste
So I bagged them up
to give you a taste!"


How the Angel got on top of the Christmas tree
Santa's day was awful
So fed up was he
The Elves had drunk
his Christmas drink
Rudolph had done a wee

Mother-in-law was coming
His presents weren't yet wrapped
he had never been so stressed
he was in a right old flap!

An Angel was a-passing
and knocked upon the door
a bushy spruce was in her hands
you couldn't ask for more!

She asked where she should stick it
So that's where there came to be
A lovely Christmas Angel
on top of the Christmas Tree!


Folding out hanging Snowman Decoration
And this year......

Self Assembly Christmas tree

This year we sent out a 3-D Christmas tree card complete with assembly instructions on a wrist snap pen drive.

Here's what people have had to say about it: -

"Like the tree!

A construction project from Engineers to a building Surveyor. What could go wrong?

It’s got pride of place on our card shelf now

Merry Xmas"


"Good morning, (make that afternoon now as it’s taken me so long to write this!)

Greetings from the other side……

I received your wonderful Christmas greeting last week but only just made time to concentrate fully and assemble said greeting.

I was intrigued by the long usb stick and considered for a short while the reason for its length. Was this to allow display of business details, to use a shoe horn, to scratch ones back or simply so that it is not easily misplaced? I decided to accept whatever the reason might be and move on to reading the instructions I needed to create my master piece of art. BTW, I did assemble the star all on my own initiative before looking at the instructions. I couldn’t wait. Are you impressed?

Anyway, I found your instructions most informative and helpful and the tree was soon complete (well, as soon as was possible, but probably not soon enough! I knew there was a reason for putting it off). Your tips on the difficult bits were most welcome otherwise it might have been made even more not soon enough! Are you liking my logic? J

I have always found your (well Ann & Michelle’s) homemade cards absolutely amazing in the past, however I can’t help but think they had some help with this one. I’m not doubting though that the idea was entirely (collectively) yours and one to be commended for!

I attach a picture of my decorated tree. Hey it looks like the one in the picture. Oh, I’m so good! But not without your help….

In order to stand the tree up straight I used a lump of blu tac stuck in the bottom as suggested (oooooh)  and that worked a treat – eventually. I’ve not modeled play dough or such like for a number of years and am out of practice, although today’s efforts have enhanced my ability to partake in such fun activities more constructively than earlier this morning!

I found several different colours of map pins, which looked perfect for baubles – see attached picture. Unfortunately, the tree card is so thick that I could not easily prick the pins through at the end of the branches without half destroying the tree! It remains baubleless, if that’s a word, although you never know in a moment (or few hours) of boredom (I never get bored!) I may persevere and attach some other decoration, maybe even some snow.

After erecting my tree, I was again thoughtfully considering the long usb stick and running my fingers along the flat bit thinking how rubbery it felt (in fact I had a job to get it out of the cellophane packet because of the texture) and wondering what you could use it for, when suddenly without any notice, it snapped itself vigorously around my hand and frightened me half to death!!

Once I had recovered from the shock of the totally unwarranted attack (after all I was only gently stroking it!) I decided it was a good idea to wear it on my wrist so that I did not lose it, so I now have new personal decoration as well as my tree – see attached photo. ;-) That’s a good thing because my watch broke at the weekend so my wrist was bare.

Well, finally I thought I would send you an email message with thanks and greetings for the season (this is it!) but when I came to enter the recipient in the ‘To’ line, no address was available. I remembered recently I had a blue screen experience with my computer and our IT man had to clean it up and warned me that it may be software add-ons that caused the problem and specifically mentioned that auto fill on emails may not work. He was right!

However, my mind turned to my new bracelet that had Taylor Tuxford emblazoned on it and I figured I was saved and would find the details I needed right there on my left arm. Alas, it bears only the name. L Perhaps on the accompanying signed card? No. So I had to phone the office and ask for it. Yes that was me just now!!

Many thanks for thinking of me again at this time of year and providing some amusement and thought provoking fun.

Please send details please of your chosen charity as I would like to make a donation, inspired by your continual efforts. It may be a kind of time saving cop out, but I’ll donate to the charity what I might otherwise have spent on making or buying and posting a card.

Merry Christmas and A Very Happy New Year to you all!"


"Thanks for the tree/ pen drive as usual brute force and ignorance meant that we all struggled with the tree then read the card to discover the pen drive DOH!!!!"


"We always look forward to receiving your Christmas card; can't wait for next year!"


So all in all a really positive response, all thanks to Anne's hard work; she's having a rest now as all that card embossing and punching has strained her wrist! 

She's already got some ideas for next year and has raised the bar high this time, so no pressure then!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Taylor Tuxford Volunteer - Michelle Tuxford

Michelle, as well as being the Principal Architectural Designer at Taylor Tuxford Associates, volunteers for an independent fundraising group named Blucrew, who primarily raise money for the Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice located in Dinnington.  

Christmas is their busiest time for fundraising and this year has been no exception, with three full stage shows, three separate carol singing events in Meadowhall Shopping Centre, Carol singing at the Wickersley Lights switch on event, Carol singing at Crystal Peaks, Waitrose in Sheffield and at a care home in Sheffield, as well as several other supporting functions (eg. assisting in setting up a grotto for the Bluebell Wood Children) all within the space of 5 weeks in the run up to Christmas!

Michelle has just had a very busy weekend supporting Blucrew and so we thought we’d tell you how it went: -

Saturday night saw Michelle at Silverwood WMC by 6.45pm to find the room looking very festive thanks to the efforts of other members of the Crew in readiness for their second full Christmas variety show of the season.

It can be a very nervy 5 minutes in the changing room as they wait for the introduction music, then they’re on with the show! There’s no time to sit back and relax between acts either as they are constantly checking what’s coming up next, what should they be wearing, what order do we need to go on stage, etc, etc? It certainly keeps you on your toes. Although they very nearly had one cast member singing O Holy night in a grass skirt and coconut bra!!!
Blucrew mini panto cast Dec 2015
The performance was over by 10.30pm and everyone seemed to have had a really good night, the Audience joined in with the fun and games there were lots of smiling faces, a very good result all round.

Of course, now the show was over (and once comfy shoes were on sore feet) they set about dismantling the stage set, lighting, sound equipment, tables, etc. There really is no one specific role for individuals in Blucrew, everyone mucks in, and so, ten minutes after taking their final bow the team were busy carefully packing away.

Sunday morning saw Michelle up bright and early (well, maybe just early) as she had offered to help set up the backdrop and up-lighters at a Hotel in Sheffield, where Bluebell Wood were holding a Christmas Party for the Children, she arrived there for 8am and after a quick set up was away by 9.30am. She then travelled to Meadowhall Shopping Centre to set up for carol singing on the Mall outside Next and was ready for action by 10.30am (ish!)

It was a lovely atmosphere in the Mall and the Centre Management was very accommodating assisting with cordoning off the cables runs so no-one could trip over them. Although, during a song where one of the singers was performing a solo (so she has stepped forward out of line) two shoppers walked straight through the back of the performance area and through the line of singers, completely oblivious to what they were doing!
Blucrew carol Singing at Meadowhall Shopping Centre Dec 2015
Blucrew carolled until the mid afternoon to a very appreciative crowd and were congratulated by the staff at the adjoining Love Koffee who had had to listen to their songs at least 3 times!

They then dismantled the set again and loaded the car back up. Michelle then jumped back in her car and returned to the Hotel to dismantle the backdrop and lights after the Children’s party and so didn’t arrive home until 6.30pm feeling very happy that they’d had such an enjoyable, if not tiring, couple of days. Later that evening the team received an e-mail advising that the Elves had counted the takings from the previous night’s show and the donations from the carol singing that day, and that the two events had raised approximately £3000! It all makes the hard work so worthwhile to have a result like that, which is one of the reasons Michelle volunteers, and they’re all completely blown away by everyone’s generosity.

In closing we’d like to take this opportunity of wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, whatever you are doing, and we hope that you all have a happy and prosperous New Year!

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Remembering John Ruskin

From time to time one is reminded of the sage words of the 18th century English writer and poet John Ruskin. 

Ruskin was well known for making what in our modern world might be referred to as “one-liners” but whereas the modern 21st Century version is commonly made by entertainers of the comedic variety, Ruskin’s were more often than not attuned to the mindset of the (as we might view it) typically staid, God-fearing Victorian – possibly as a result of Ruskin’s upbringing which was largely influenced by his Mother, a devout evangelical Protestant.

I was reminded recently of one of John Ruskin’s more frequently-repeated quotations which was:-

There is scarcely anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse, and sell a little more cheaply.  The person who buys on price alone is this man's lawful prey

Applications for approval under the Building Regulations may be made either under:-

§         A “Full Plans Submission”:  Where detailed architectural drawings are submitted for checking and approval before the work commences – this can take up to 8 weeks in some cases, or;

§         A “Building Notice”:  Where the works can potentially commence on site two working days after submission of the “Building Notice” and detailed plans are commonly not required 

NB: The Building Notice was brought in as a means of enabling householders to have minor alterations (new door openings and the like) carried out without the need to incur the disproportionate cost of architectural plans and specifications being prepared beforehand. 

The case which brought this to our mind was in regard to a loft conversion project at a domestic property where, in order to “save costs” the householder had agreed to the builder’s suggestion that the work be carried out under a “Building Notice” application to the Local Authority rather than making a Full Plans Submission for Building Regulations Approval.  The builder had proposed this method as a means of saving the cost of the architectural plan-drawing service (which he told the client was “unnecessary” anyway) and also presumably, to cut out the 3-6 weeks that it would probably take to have the plans checked and approved. 

This was all well and good, except that:-

o        There was no agreed scope for the works – either in the form of a detailed specification or even drawings depicting what the finished conversion would look like

o        The builder had provided a “quote”, but because there were no drawings or specification documents, there was no means of establishing precisely what had been included and perhaps just as importantly, what had been excluded from the price the builder quoted to the Client (the builder’s quotation letter was pretty vague in that regard, also)

o        There was no “pre-agreed” detailed specification that was expected would comply in all respects with the Building Regulations

The whole project ground to a halt when the builder presented the client with a quotation for the additional cost of materials and labour due to “improvements” in certain aspects of the work.  These “improvements” turned out in fact to be necessary only because the builder was not aware that the part of the Building Regulations dealing with thermal insulation had been superseded by a new document some months prior to the work commencing.  Thus, all of the thermal insulation that had been installed to the ceiling and walls of the loft rooms – much of which had already been covered over by plasterboard and skim finish – was of insufficient thickness to satisfy the then-current requirements.  The claim was not just for the extra thickness of insulation, but for renewing the plasterboard and skim finishes and, for re-installing all the other fittings (door/window architraves, radiators, electrical sockets, light fittings and so on).

The client thought that he had agreed a fixed price with the builder for “the project” and so one can imagine his response when the builder presented him with a further quotation for in excess of £1,600.00!  In fact, we calculated that the additional cost of using the correct thickness of insulation materials in the first place would have amounted to just £70.00 for the whole project.

Not surprisingly, the client refused to pay this extra £1,600 to the builder – who promptly “downed tools” and vacated the site stating that the client was being “unreasonable”.  The client was then left with a partially-finished attic room that remained non-habitable and with the prospect of either kow-towing to the builder’s demands for extra money or else, paying another builder to step in and finish the job – probably at similar cost to that quoted by the first builder.  Alternatively, the client could of course sue the builder for this cost, but without a pre-agreed drawing or specification determining the precise scope and extent of the works, such legal action could potentially prove to be fruitless and expensive.

We were asked (by the client’s solicitors) to provide a professional opinion on the situation and upon inspecting the work completed thus far, we identified in addition to the thermal insulation issues, a number of other items of defective workmanship that we could not in all honesty advise the client should be left untreated.  In all, we estimated that the total cost of rectification works to bring the project to satisfactory completion would be in the range £4,000 to £5,000 or thereabouts (dependant upon what other defects might be uncovered as the rectification works progressed).

At this stage, the client had paid the builder all but the final £1,500 of the agreed sum for the whole project and so he was likely to be considerably out of pocket.

The problem as we see it is that in our modern age there is an ever-increasing emphasis (for example via price comparison websites and the like) upon getting “the best price” for a product or service.  Too many people however, still confuse “best value” with “lowest price” and in some instances, the two are mutually incompatible.

We took the view that at that stage that it might be rather cruel to repeat John Ruskin’s “words of wisdom” to this particular client, but they nevertheless ring true and in a similar vein, the same author also wrote:-

“It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money - that's all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you
bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot - it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well
to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.” 

Wise words, indeed……

John Ruskin (1819-1900)