Classifying A Shop

Classifying A Shop

Can I sell food and drink from any shop? If only it were that simple!

In the UK properties are classified by “Use Classes” – “A1, A2, A3, A4, A5” or “Sui Generis”. These classes determine the intended purpose for which the property is to be used by its lawful occupants.

Use Classes Blog

The classifications are primarily used by Planning Law to control that buildings are used appropriately according to the area they’re in, what’s more to manage the mix of outlets within an area.

So you want to sell food and drink in, for example, a restaurant – you find a location with the appropriate “use class”, A3, and Bob’s Your Uncle, you can go straight ahead (but don’t forget to check out the rules relating to the sale of alcohol, which would need to be complied with too, known as a premises license).

If however the property you find is currently classed as either A1 or A2, you must seek and receive planning approval before starting to trade. Be warned though, these (and all planning approvals) are subject to a whole array of government and local authority laws and guidelines so there are no guarantees!

One more thing – all ‘use classes’ are subject to UK Health & Safety laws, regardless of the shops classification.

Who What How Where Why When

Who What How Where Why When


BHW are a team of experienced property and facilities management professionals who are combining years of industry knowledge and expertise to create a range of innovative commercial property solutions that are accessible to everyone.


The objective of BHW is to provide innovative solutions using technology to reduce costs, increase efficiencies, reduce exposure, provide more valuable and usable management information, and where ever possible increase awareness in key subject areas.


Removing expensive ‘management’ contracts Big Hand Works intend to provide technologies that can be accessed by any individual or company. We do not intend on being employed by anyone but wish to provide a solution that provides all the tools to run maintenance processes.


We aim to create mobile applications that bring expert property solutions to everyone. Any shop owner or manager should have access to the same technologies that a large retail chain for example would have. If you are responsible for the upkeep of equipment at a site then we intend to provide all the expert knowledge and procedures you require via an app on your mobile device.


The simple reason being that we feel that we can offer new innovative technologies that will help business owners and managers run processes more efficiently. But also provide a mobile application that reduces liability and risk.


Currently we are focusing our attention on an app specifically built for individuals who run SMEs that own/operate assets which require servicing and maintenance. The app will help schedule these requirements and then select an engineer from a list of recommended Tradesmen. Developments are well underway and it shouldn’t be long before our app is in your local app store.

Does carrying out regular maintenance matter?

Does carrying out regular maintenance matter?

Wouldn’t it be great if you bought a new car and it never needed servicing? If you could drive it forever, at no further cost, and it never broke down. Well clearly that’s not a reality. You need to maintain your car for a number of reasons;

  • Stop your vehicle from breaking down
  • Ensure that it’s safe for; the driver, passengers and other road users
  • You have a legal obligation to ensure your car is checked by an expert every year, once its three years old, in the form of the MOT test


Now think of all the equipment you use and operate in your shop. The same applies. You initially buy it to carry out a defined task, maybe it’s a boiler to keep you warm in the winter or a fire extinguisher, just in case the worst happens and a fire breaks out. You’d like to think that’s the end of it. The equipment will just do “its thing” when required, but it’s not that simple. Just like the car analogy above, if you don’t service that boiler how do you know it will keep working? How do you know it’s safe unless you get an expert to check it out periodically? What’s more if you don’t get it regularly checked out, you could be prosecuted under Health & Safety legislation for putting people and property at risk.

So it’s worth remembering that as a retailer you have a legal duty of care to ensure that all your employees and customers are kept safe and this includes ensuring that all of the equipment in your shop is safe.

Unfortunately unlike the MOT test there is no unified go to examination for all your equipment, publicly available, but help is here. Keep following BigHandWorks to hear about a tool that will help you track everything within your commercial premises that legally requires regular maintenance checks.

Penalties to be increased for health and safety failures

Penalties to be increased for health and safety failures

In the UK the Sentencing Council is the body responsible for setting the guidelines used by the courts when sentencing individuals or organisations who fail to comply with the law. They recently announced stiffer penalties for individuals and companies found guilty of health and safety offences including corporate manslaughter. New health and safety fines could be issued to a tariff system which will identify likely fine ranges for small, medium and large organisations.
What does this mean to you, a small business shop owner? In summary you are required by law to ensure that anyone entering on to your premises, can do so safely, without risk of injury to person or property.
So you think that you already deliver a safe shop environment? But how do you know? Are you maintaining the premises and the equipment within it to a safe standard? Do you keep records to prove this, if the worst should happen?
As a small business shop owner, you will be aware of what seems to be a “mountain of red tape” to ensure you operate legally from a financial perspective, but what about health and safety? This is just as important and the penalties for failure are equally high. You may use an accountant to help you with the financial aspects of running your business, but who do you turn to for assistance with health and safety matters.
We are working on a tool that will provide you with an easier way to get the health and safety support you need without spending a “king’s ransom”. This innovative tool will be freely available to all small business owners who need help maintaining a commercial premises so keep following BigHandWorks for details about our upcoming release.

Five Sprinkler System Myths Doused

Five Sprinkler System Myths Doused

Have you got Sprinklers in your property? Here’s some interesting facts to help clear up some of the common misconceptions.

Fire sprinklers myth vs fact
myth.    A smoke detector is all you need for fire protection
fact.Smoke Detectors alert you to smoke/fire but sprinklers can put the fire out. Sprinkler systems are credited with reducing deaths and loss of property by more than 65%.

myth.    Sprinkler systems use lots of water
fact.    Sprinklers use about six times less water than a fire hose, they’re actually less harmful to your property than a visit from the fire brigade.

myth.    Sprinklers are activated by smoke
fact.    They’re actually activated by heat. A good job really, if the myth was true and you burned a piece of toast, every sprinkler would go off.

myth.    All the sprinklers in a property go off at once
fact.    They go off one or two at a time

myth.    You can maintain the sprinkler systems yourself
fact.    It is a mandatory requirement that sprinkler system are maintained by authorised and approved engineers. You can do regular sprinkler tests yourselves, but you must also have them maintained on a regular basis. This is to ensure that they are clean, not blocked and that there is an adequate water supply/pressure to allow your sprinklers to work as they are supposed to.

…  the most important fact of all is that they protect you, your staff, your customers and your property.

Quite an important assets to your property aren’t they, but do you look after them properly?

Keep following BigHandWorks to hear about a tool that will help you track when your sprinklers need testing and how.


Summers’ boiling point

At this time of year, when we can finally enjoy some lovely warm weather, the last thing we think about is our heating. This means we probably won’t give our poor boiler a second thought.  But don’t forget not only does your boiler look after your heating, it also keeps your water hot and we need that no matter what the weather is doing.

Forgetting about your boiler over the summer or generally not keeping up with the maintenance can create issues. Some being minor annoyances through to some pretty serious consequences.

Such as:Bolier Blog

  • Increased time to heat water
  • Waste water
  • Leaks that you can’t see – water/gas leaks
  • Even worse exhaust gas leaks – such as carbon monoxide
  • Frequent breakdowns
  • No hot water or heating

And the final consequence will be your boiler being condemned.


What can help to prevent these things happening?

Regular maintenance will catch the issues long before they start to cost you a lot of time and money.  It can even extend the life of your system.

Boiler safety devices are designed to prevent dangerous conditions from turning into disasters, yet only proper maintenance prevents the dangerous operating conditions from developing in the first place.