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    CD Designs Blog

    Concrete; so it’s Modern, Right? Wrong!

    Concrete’s versatility as a building material – from the mighty Hoover Dam to pattern imprinted driveways and flooring – is matched by its long and undeniably interesting history.

    First developed, as so many things seem to have been, by the ancient Romans, concrete was made by mixing quicklime and volcanic ash, using pumice or waste rubble as aggregate. Learning from ancient Egyptian mortaring techniques, the Romans used concrete, known to them as Opus Caementicium, to construct gigantic monuments and impressive public buildings. Many of these massive constructions still stand, a testament to both the durability of concrete and the sophistication of the Roman’s building techniques. The Pantheon in Rome, for example, has not only lasted two thousand years but is still the largest un-reinforced concrete dome in the world.

    The Romans had inventive methods for enhancing the quality of their concrete. They would mix horse hair into it in order to reduce the chance of it cracking, and, in a surprisingly gruesome twist, add blood to their concrete in order to improve its resilience to frost. Thankfully, concrete today no longer relies on these two additives.

    Like many other fantastic technological developments, the end of the Roman Empire saw the loss of the secrets of producing and using concrete. Amazingly, it wasn’t until the 17th and 18th centuries that concrete was re-discovered.

    Concrete was used in 1670 to construct the Canal du Midi in southern France, but didn’t become widespread again until the 1750’s. In 1756 John Smeaton, known as the “father of English civil engineering”, developed a form of lime-based mortar which would set underwater. This mortar proved invaluable in the construction of lighthouses, and was soon applied to other projects. Smeaton’s mortar lead directly to the development of the famous Portland cement in the 1840’s. Since then concrete has become one of the most commonly used materials available to architects and engineers.

    Our aesthetic use of concrete has also grown. Its unique properties have always inspired designers; in the days of Ancient Rome, they relied on overlaying it with a multitude of different tiles, each showing the influence of one of the many cultures ruled over by the Empire. Now, thankfully, after 2,000 years, we can imprint concrete with the designs we desire, in the colour of our choice.

    Book Your Work Now and Avoid the VAT Increase

    The morning of the 1st of January 2010 will bring a number of things; the end of the “noughties”, hangovers for the party animals amongst us, and perhaps some quiet contemplation of New Year’s resolutions for those who prefer clean living.

    It will also see us as a nation returning to a V.A.T rate of 17.5%, up 2.5% from the current 15%.

    With the end of this reduced rate of Value Added Tax on the horizon, it might be time to start thinking about capitalizing on the current state of affairs. Although it’s a little too dark and a little too windy at the moment to justify calling it “making hay while the sun shines”, it may be worth considering moving forward a large expenditure that you would otherwise have put off for a while.

    Obviously, at Christmas budgets can be tight, but it may well make sense in the long run, especially for purchases which are investments in your property. The cost of services which are booked and paid for now, before the tax hike, but which take place after it, will remain subject to the 15% rate of V.A.T despite the increase, unless they are transactions over £100,000.

    It’s something to bear in mind, and after all, what better start to a New Year – and new decade  –  could there be than knowing that you’ve managed to save a bit of money already?

    ADDITION 27/09/10

    Well, as we’re into the final quarter of 2010, it seems the VAT isn’t going to go down. In fact, it’s going up next January. Read this blog post for more information.

    Recent Events in Cumbria

    The devastating effects of the recent severe weather in Cumbria have shocked the UK. Our thoughts and sympathies are with all our Cumbrian customers and all other inhabitants of the area who have been affected by the flooding.

    The floodwaters created by the unforeseen and torrential rains of last week damaged not only the bridges and roads and public and private buildings of Cockermouth, Camerton, Workington and other towns in the area, but also destroyed or damaged huge amounts of business and personal property. It is terrifying to think that a lifetime’s worth of personal possessions, or, for example, the entire stock of an independent retailer, can be taken away in the space of one night. Those affected, who are working to make safe, to salvage and to begin to clean up where possible, deserve both our deepest condolences and our respect.

    It is in times of disaster and disruption that the importance and effectiveness of our emergency services becomes truly apparent. Those members of the uniformed services who have been working day and night to attempt to ensure the safety of the people of Cumbria, and to ease and implement the beginning of the process of dealing with the chaos there, have truly earned the praise that they’ve received.

    Also deserving of recognition are the engineers working to identify unsound structures, those who are helping to run temporary shelters, and numerous others who are helping, including volunteer services such as the RNLI and Mountain Rescue.

    Again, our thoughts and sympathies are with any and all who have felt the effects of this event.

    Hathersage Barn Testimonial

    “…we would have no hesitation in recommending Complete Driveway Designs Ltd to carry out either residential and commercial work, and found Tim and his crew to be accommodating, hard working, conscientious, friendly, and courteous, who communicate, and who maintain a clean, tidy, safe site, and who produce an excellent end product.”
    Mr Zaldats

    To see the testimonial in full please view Mr Zaldats’ Full Letter alternatively you can view the Hathersage Barn case study.

    Winter Re-sealing Of Driveways

    Once again the nights are drawing in, the weather is against us, but most importantly we have lost the air temperature. For re-sealing this is the most important factor to achieve optimum results. While it is achievable to seal a drive and avoid the Blooming of the seal. It is difficult to reseal a drive, without the ambient conditions needed to achieve a satisfactory result. I.e. warm air temperature to allow the seal to dry and dry conditions to apply the seal. At this time of the year we seem to have neither. For this reason it is advisable to postpone resealing until conditions are more favourable.

    Any drives that we fit during the winter months may suffer an element of blooming. It is important for customers to recognise this early and book in a free reseal as soon as possible. Rule of thumb is resealing commences as the clocks go forward or as prevailing weather conditions are deemed suitable.

    As a result of blooming occurring, it is of no detriment to the slab. The seal is designed to protect the concrete, which it does very well. Therefore customers are advised to use the drive, patio etc as normal until conditions allow us to commence resealing.

    Aesthetically, the slab my seem white, colour fade etc. The process of de-bloominging relatively cheap, simple and quick given the correct conditions as described above. The average 60m2 drive would take approx 1 hr to de-bloom.

    To avoid any disappointment it is recommended that anyone considering having their drive resealed should book as early as possible in time for spring sealing.

    Complete Driveway Designs Ltd

    The Yard, Stubbins Lane, Ramsbottom, BL0 0PT
    E:info@northwest-driveways.co.uk
    T: 01706 827180

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