SPOTLIGHT 

Building & construction magazines

House prices have risen 13 per cent in a year of lockdown leading to more work for the building and construction industry. Alan Geere puts on his hard hat to look at the light reading for the professionals.

By Alan Geere

Building & construction magazines

Building

What’s it about: ‘The UK’s leading magazine for construction professionals featuring the latest industry news, expertise and intelligence’ – description on LinkedIn.

Vital statistics: July 16, 2021 issue: 88 pages of 285mm x 220mm. Gloss paper, heavyweight cover, stitched. £5.00 cover price. States a circulation of 9,302 in the media pack. Published monthly by Assemble Media Group in Wanstead, East London.

Cover: Big picture of a man in a suit with the coverline ‘The Fixer’. Four other ‘also in this issue’ mentions, distinctive white on blue oval masthead and furniture.

Content: A full-page ‘Leader’ from the editor on page 3 and a single page of contents with colour-coded dots on page 5. Ten pages of news before that cover story which is an interview with the boss of construction giant Kier Group. The quality content comes thick and fast: a primer on the Building Safety Bill, five pages of expert opinion, a focus on concrete, another interview with an industry top dog, Kingston’s £32m bike shed. Finished off with stiff homework test of legal and economics.

Digital: Website at building.co.uk has plenty of news and comment, plus links to previous magazine issues with access to all the major content. Click through to Twitter (93.2k followers), LinkedIn with 43.8k followers and 5.4k likes on Facebook.

What they say: “Importantly, for our teams, it means investment, dedicated focus and that we’re going to have a lot of fun along the way” – former editor Tom Broughton, announcing the management buy-out from UBM that established Assemble Media Group, dares to mention the F-word.

Verdict: A lot has happened in the construction world since Joseph Hansom – he of the Hansom cab – started The Builder in 1843. But through it all, the magazine, renamed Builder in 1966, has been there to document every twist and turn of the industry. By turn authoritative, imaginative and forward-thinking, the building world is lucky to have it.

Cranes Today

What’s it about: ‘The independent magazine of the crane industry’ – description on Twitter.

Vital statistics: July 2021 issue: 60 pages of 287mm x 210mm. Matt paper, heavyweight gloss cover, perfect bound. Free. ABC of 4,897 (July 2020-June 2021). Published monthly by Progressive Media International Limited in Dartford, Kent.

Cover: Big picture of cranes lifting a water bridge into place beneath a beautiful blue sky. Masthead at foot of the page with date and three signifiers for inside. Masterful printing job fitting the name and date on the spine in millipoint.

Content: Six items in the well-illustrated contents on page three, before ‘Comment’ from the editor. ‘Job of the Month’ doesn’t come with a six-figure salary but is a run-down on the cranes involved in the construction of a 100-metre-high tower block complex in Berne, Switzerland. An amazing nine pages of ‘news’ before a fact-and-figure packed interview with a supplier. A topical look at the post-pandemic crane market, a fascinating overview of the cranes helping construct HS2 and a piece on battery-powered cranes complete the book before Marketplace at the back with (very big) things to buy.

Digital: Comprehensive website at cranestodaymagazine.com with newsy content. Archived material and links to suppliers. Busy social media has attracted 6.9k followers on Twitter and 4.8k Facebook likes.

What they say: “Accomplished writer, sub editor and brand ambassador who works well with colleagues to convey information clearly and maximise results” – editor Christian Shelton selling himself well on LinkedIn…to his two connections.

Verdict: Mesmerising to look at and a feat of physics to understand, cranes deserve this bountiful homage. Thankfully mostly written by journalists – rather than submitted by industry big cheeses or their PR teams – this magazine reads well and looks good with sharp design. Fine support from advertisers makes it an all-round winner.

Global Cement Magazine

What’s it about: “The world’s most widely-read cement magazine” – according to the editor in ‘Dear Readers’ on page 3.

Vital statistics: July/August 2021 issue: 68 pages of 297mm x 210mm. Gloss paper, heavyweight cover, perfect bound. Free to registered readers although subscription is also available at £110 per year. ABC of 32,176 (July 2020-June 2021). Published monthly by Pro Global Media Ltd in Epsom, Surrey.

Cover: Full-page close-up picture of a ‘forged bucket elevator chain’, with around 100 words of more detailed explanation on page three. One accompanying coverline. Eight items in a strapline, also squeezed onto the 3mm spine. Stylish, understated masthead.

Content: Page 3-4 spread devoted to the contents, which include ‘technical’, ‘concrete’ and ‘products’ among the wares on offer. Expert technical features complete with graphs and tables at the front end followed by news, which is truly global travelling from El Salvador to Burkina Faso and all points in between. A fascinating insight into North Korea’s cement industry with spy-quality satellite images and a detailed run-down of cement activity in the Middle East and North Africa only enhance the ‘global’ credentials. Even room for a photography competition with $500 up for grabs.

Digital: Full-service website at globalcement.com has links to news, conferences etc plus the opportunity to register and download a digital version of the printed magazine. Newsy updates on social media, with 29k likes on Facebook and 6.7k followers on Twitter.

What they say: “15th Global Slag Conference, Vienna, Austria” – an invitation not to be missed from ‘Diary Dates’.

Verdict: As confident and competent business magazine as you could wish to find. Detailed insight plus well-written and clearly displayed newsy snippets from around the world. Complementary advertising and promos for virtual seminars complete the package.

Inside Housing

What’s it about: ‘The leading weekly (sic) magazine for the UK social housing sector’ – explainer on Twitter.

Vital statistics: July 2021 issue: 76 pages of 275mm x 210mm. Gloss paper, matt cover, stitched. One year subscription £201. ABC of 13,123 (July 2019 - June 2020). Published monthly by Ocean Media Group in London.

Cover: Main coverline ‘Are we building the wrong homes?’ over a colourful full-page illustration. ‘In this issue’ contains five other cross-refs. Interesting all-caps masthead with small dateline and website URL.

Content: Two pages of contents with BIG numbers and natty illustrations of two men, one woman, a building and a cat (see verdict below). Five pages of news is a skilfully curated digest, the 218-page Building Safety Bill (post Grenfell) is presented as two readable pages. Five pages of expert comment before the ‘Sustainability Special’ which should be required reading in classrooms and the smallest room at No 10. Even some recruitment ads (remember them?) to chew on at the back.

Digital: Website insidehousing.co.uk is as comprehensive as the magazine with newsy updates. Opportunities for subscribers to read the mag online plus links to Twitter (59.2k followers) Facebook (3.7k likes) and nearly 30k followers on LinkedIn.

What they say: “Imagine having a – well, unimaginable – amount of money, and not having a home where your children can come and stay, even if they're not living with you. WTF.” – Leader writer Jess McCabe’s take on Twitter about the decision of Elon Musk, Tesla’s billionaire CEO, to sell his mansions and move into a studio apartment.

Verdict: Inside Housing gained plaudits for how it led the way in covering the Grenfell fire aftermath and continues to garner accolades for its journalists. And it’s easy to see why. Combines clear explanation of complex issues with expert opinion and a little levity thrown in, hence that cat in ‘Pets of #UKhousing’.

Professional Builder

What’s it about: ‘The business magazine for the building industry’ – strapline under masthead.

Vital statistics: July/August 2021 issue: 84 pages of 285mm x 210mm. Matt paper, gloss cover, stitched. ‘Free to the trade’ and available in over 2,000 builders merchant branches across the UK. ABC of 112,725 (July 2020-June 2021). Published monthly by Hamerville Media Group in Watford.

Cover: Big picture of men at work, two main coverlines, dominant masthead and straplines outlining what’s inside from building to painting.

Content: Colour-coded contents on page three, easily leading to the sections inside. Three busy news pages plus letters followed by a slew of ‘Special reports’. One of the cover stories is about new build, which has eight sections featuring a different supplier’s view. The other is kitchens and bathrooms, which has similar detailed content. Technical tips is about installing solar tiles, and builders’ vehicles at the back has two comprehensive road tests.

Digital: Lots to take in at probuildermag.co.uk including a section called ‘DI-WHY?’ bemoaning the cack-handed amateur, which works better online than in the magazine. Has all the bases covered on social media with 36.5k likes on Facebook, 18.6k followers on Twitter plus YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn. Digital version of the magazine also available via issuu.

What they say: “How did cavemen cut their toenails? (Think about it – although maybe not for too long).” – columnist Jeff Howell wonders how our ancestors did things without modern tools and materials.

Verdict: With that healthy distribution number, tons of advertisers know they are on to a good thing, with everyone from Dulux to Tesco Mobile keeping the book busy between the carefully crafted editorials. As a free pick-up, it’s a quality complement to all those essential supplies from the builders merchant.

selfbuilder + homemaker

What’s it about: ‘Planning | Finance | Design | Construction | Products | Interiors’ – strapline above masthead.

Vital statistics: July/August 2021 issue: 84 pages of 283mm x 200mm. Matt paper, heavyweight gloss cover, perfect bound. ABC of 9,984 (July 2020 to June 2021), all free. Published bi-monthly by netMAGmedia Ltd in Heathfield, East Sussex.

Cover: Big picture of an amazing house built on an airfield, with coverline ‘Runway to Heaven’. Three other well-crafted coverlines plus generous masthead and strapline popping out of the white background.

Content: Double-page spread of contents on pages 4-5 neatly divided into Regulars, Product features and Case studies, with accompanying pictures. That cover story on a new-build at a Scottish airfield is a six-page triumph of bold design and clever entry points. Expert advice (sewage, flatpack homes, cladding etc) as well as those case studies which showcase projects in an enthusiastic and approachable way.

Digital: Website sbhonline.co.uk is promoted from the folio line and has content from the printed magazine plus newsy product updates and Audible versions of the main pieces. Archive of magazine issues in an easy-to-read low-res pdf format. Links to Twitter (8.2k followers), LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram.

What they say: “We are soon to send out a survey which will ask you not only what you think of our content – including your views on the advertisements we run – but also your experiences of issues such as delays onsite in recent months.” – Managing editor James Parker boldly goes where others fear to tread in his page three editorial.

Verdict: Proudly claiming a ‘focused readership of genuine self-builders, renovators and agents’, this lively magazine manages to combine the rigour the building professional demands with an approachability many newsstand magazines would envy. Packed with on-message advertising and a well-maintained digital offering, this is another triumph for its specialist publisher.

This article was first published in InPublishing magazine. If you would like to be added to the free mailing list, please register here.