Cruden Group

New Dundee development a first for Cruden Homes

Construction is now underway at Craigie Fields, a new mixed tenure development in Dundee being built by Hart Builders, the East of Scotland building arm of the Cruden Group.

A number of properties within the new development will be for sale through Hart’s sister company, Cruden Homes and these will be the first new homes for sale in Dundee by the award winning house builder.

Craigie Fields is located on the city’s Pitairlie Road on the site of the former Mid Craigie Primary School which closed in 2009 and is both adjacent to Mid Craigie Park and close to the main Kingsway ring road (A972).

The new development will comprise 42 new homes in total of which 12 three-bedroom semi-detached homes will be for sale.

The remaining 30 properties are for rent through Angus Housing Association and will comprise a selection of two and three-bedroom homes and cottage flats. Within the mix is a six-bedroom wheelchair-friendly property, specially designed to allow householders with additional needs to continue living at home. The property layout has been created so that it can easily convert to two separate dwellings in the future if so required.

All the house styles at Craigie Fields have been designed exclusively for the location, with each home benefitting from cost saving renewable energy supplied by pv solar panels.

Hazel Davies, sales and marketing director of Cruden Homes, said: “We’re proud to be bringing new Cruden homes for sale to Dundee for the first time. Craigie Fields is a cracking development in a great location and offers excellent prospects for our first venture in the city.

“As such, it represents an important milestone as part of our ambitious growth strategy for the region.”

Alarm bells over construction output fall, says FMB

Brian Berry

The Beast from the East, rising costs and Brexit are to blame for the sharp drop in construction output, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has said in response to the April 2018 construction output figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Commenting on the construction output figures for April 2018, Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “The UK construction sector declined by 3.4 per cent in the three months from February to April compared with the previous three months. This is the biggest fall since the latter stages of the recession in August 2012. The Beast from the East has certainly played its part as it forced many construction sites to close in March. Indeed, builders were reporting that it was too cold to lay bricks.”

Berry continued: “Alongside the cold snap, the drop in construction output can also be attributed to rising costs for construction firms large and small. While wages are continuing to rise because of the acute skills crisis in our sector, firms are also feeling the pinch thanks to increased material prices. The depreciation of sterling following the EU referendum has meant bricks and insulation in particular have become more expensive. We expect material prices to continue to squeeze the construction industry with recent research by the Federation of Master Builders showing that 84 per cent of builders believe that they will continue to rise in the next six months.”

Berry concluded: “In the medium to longer term, with nine months until Brexit-Day, the future is uncertain for the UK construction sector. The Government is still to confirm what the post-Brexit immigration system will look like. The construction sector is largely reliant on accessing EU workers with more than 8 per cent of construction workers coming from the EU. It is therefore imperative that the sector knows how, and to what extent, it can recruit these workers post-Brexit.”

“The decline in output reflects the recent gloomy news for the construction sector”, said: Allan Callaghan, managing director of Cruden Building. “However, given the challenges being experienced right across the industry, I suspect these figures will fall again if we don’t get on the front foot in fixing some fundamental issues – most recently the updated Scottish Planning Bill. The Stage One report of this crucial legislation shows that the Bill contains no proposals to reform the stumbling blocks of the system, nor make any recommendations, other than asking Ministers to consider the issues further.

“The country is in the grip of a housing shortage and the industry and Government needs to act now to ensure that the Planning Bill delivers all that we need it to and have planning system is collaborative, fully-resourced and able to deliver decisions quickly if we want construction output to flourish in the future.”

Hart Builders appoints new director to Executive Board

Gill Henry is also project director of the Social Bite Village

Cruden Group company Hart Builders has announced the appointment of Gill Henry, business development director, to its Executive Board.

As the construction industry face challenging times, Hart Builders said it has made increasing the number of women in the construction industry a priority.

Colin MacDonald, managing director of Hart Builders, said: “Over the last four years, Gill’s knowledge  and experience in the delivery of new build affordable housing has added significant value to our business.

“Her appointment to the Board of Hart Builders acknowledges her hard work and also her role in several housing related charitable projects, which she has led on behalf of the Cruden Group. This includes the recently launched Social Bite Village in Edinburgh. Gill is also extremely committed to encouraging women into the construction industry, so it is particularly fitting that she is the first female director to achieve this position.”

Gill Henry added: “Having enjoyed working closely with Hart Builders for many years as a client, joining the business four years ago as Head of Business Development was a natural move for me.

“Hart Builders ethos and genuine commitment to partnering, it’s staff team and the wider Cruden Group support – offer the chance to work with clients in a unique and pro-active way.

“The need for affordable housing of all tenures has never been higher or further up the political agenda. A home is a basic human need but affordability, technological innovation, demographic shifts and regulatory requirements are changing the housing development and construction landscape on an almost daily basis. I am really delighted to be appointed to the Hart Board at such an exciting time and look forward to driving the business forward and responding to the challenges the industry faces.”

Construction output suffers biggest quarterly decrease in six years

Construction output in the UK has continued its recent decline falling by 2.7% in March 2018 on a three-month on three-month basis.

Figures published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest that the decrease, the biggest fall seen in this series since August 2012, was driven by falls in both repair and maintenance, and new work, which fell 2.8% and 2.6% respectively.

Following several months of consistently strong growth, private housing also experienced a slowdown in March 2018, contracting in the three-month on three-month series by 1.6%.

Construction output also fell in the month-on-month series, contracting by 2.3% in March 2018.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the adverse weather conditions during February and March could have potentially contributed to the decline in construction output, although it is difficult to quantify the exact impact on the industry, the ONS said.

The estimate for construction growth in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2018 has been revised up 0.6 percentage points to negative 2.7%, from negative 3.3% in the preliminary estimate of gross domestic product (GDP), which has no impact on quarterly GDP growth to one decimal place.

Responding to the figures, Mark Robinson, Scape Group chief executive, said the industry has a lot of catching up to do if it is to meet targets for this year, whatever the weather.

He said: “Today’s ONS construction data shows that the industry continued to struggle in March, as the unseasonal weather impacted the speed of project delivery and new work commencing. However, we can expect the data to pick up following the CIPS/Markit announcement last week, which shows that activity rebounded in April.

“Over the past decade the UK has benefited from the government’s strong and unwavering commitment to infrastructure investment across the country, and this momentum must continue as we swim in to more austere waters, and edge closer to our exit from the EU. Taking bold decisions now will benefit local communities in the years ahead.

“It is very positive to see that private residential building increased by £6 million on the year – but this growth is still not anywhere near the levels needed to meet housebuilding targets. It is clear that the government needs to think more creatively about housing delivery. A combined effort between the public and private sectors is vital and government needs to equip local authorities with the funding powers to make a real difference in meeting housing need.”

Allan Callaghan

Allan Callaghan, managing director of Cruden Building, added: “While disappointing, these figures come at a period where the housebuilding sector is traditionally at its most productive, with the longer, drier days supporting increased work on the ground.  Furthermore, we’re seeing strong demand for modern and affordable housing across the country and I would expect this trend to continue.

“The ongoing skills shortage remains a crucial challenge for this sector. Without skilled labour we cannot increase output to the levels needed to tackle issues such as the housing gap.

“At Cruden we are proactively addressing this and are currently recruiting this year’s intake of around 15 apprentices across a variety of trades and skills through our Cruden Academy.  These direct apprentices will become part of our 90 strong team of apprentices that we train every year across the group.”

Social Bite Village welcomes its final two ‘Nest Houses’

The Final house is lowered into place at the Social Bite Village, Edinburgh behind Alister Steele (Chairman) , Gill Henry (Cruden Group), Josh Littlejohn (Social Bite)
(Image by Stewart Attwood)

As the countdown begins to the opening of the Social Bite Village in Granton, Edinburgh the final two nest houses have been delivered to the site.

It marks a key milestone for the project team who have worked tirelessly to deliver the vision of Social Bite founder Josh Littlejohn in his mission to eradicate homelessness in Scotland.

The Social Bite Village is delivering  an innovative housing model, within a supported community environment. It aims to break the cycle of homelessness and provides residents with pathways into employment and permanent housing. The design of the nest houses was very carefully considered to provide compact comfortable homes which will be shared by two residents.

Individual bedrooms provide privacy whilst the shared living area offers a practical space to relax and enjoy the company of their buddy. At the centre of the village is the community hub, where residents, staff and volunteers will be encouraged to prepare meals communally, eat together, socialise, develop social and practical skills and benefit from a warm, bright, welcoming environment.

Project director Gill Henry from Cruden Group explained how this challenging project has been pulled together.

She said: “The Cruden Group is delighted to have led the development of the Village on behalf of Social Bite Communities.  It is really exciting today to see the final two nesthouses being dropped into position.  With only the landscaping to finish, the project has been delivered in an incredibly short space of time from our initial meeting in February 2017 -and it will be with a great sense of achievement that we hand the village over shortly.  We look forward to seeing how the community develops and encourages many who have experienced homelessness to find confidence and security while they live in this great place. It could not have been achieved without the pro-bono contributions, sheer dedication and financial support of so many.”

Josh Littlejohn MBE, co-founder of Social Bite, said: “I can’t thank Gill and Cruden Group enough for their support and involvement in this project. The Social Bite Village has been a hugely ambitious undertaking, and Gill has ensured that the project has run without a hitch in such a tight time frame.”

Alister Steele, chairman of Social Bite Communities, said: “Today sees the last piece of the village jigsaw slotting into place. The project is a remarkable testimony to the generosity of so many people and business who have given time, money and materials to bring Josh’s vision to a reality. The cornerstone of this achievement has undoubtedly been Gill who has co-ordinated and cajoled the project team to get us to this point.”

Construction output continues to slip

Construction output in the UK has continued its recent decline with February Office for National Statistics figures showing that the sector suffered a 1.6 per cent month-on-month fall, and compared with February 2017, construction output fell 3.0 per cent; the biggest month-on-year fall since March 2013.

The three-month on three-month decrease in construction output was driven predominantly by the continued decline in repair and maintenance work, which fell by 2.6 per cent in February.

The construction output decrease in the month-on-month series, contracting by 1.6 per cent in February, stemmed from a 9.4 per cent decrease in infrastructure new work.

The ONS also said it had received some anecdotal information from a small number of its survey respondents regarding the effect of the snow on their businesses in the final week of February 2018.

It said the adverse weather conditions across Great Britain could have potentially contributed to the decline in construction output, although it is difficult to quantify the exact impact on the industry.

Allan Callaghan, managing director of Cruden Building, said: “While I’m glad to report that Cruden is bucking market trends and performing strongly, it’s true to say that right now is a tough time forconstruction.

“With less than a year to go until Brexit, the twin pressures of rising material costs and a decreasing workforce are only being exacerbated. Although Cruden and many others in the Scottish construction industry have been working to plug the current skills gaps for some time, the spectre of Brexit is casting a shadow of uncertainty over what it will mean for materials costs and the ability to retain skilled labour.

“We need decisive action from Government to secure trade and labour agreements that will support the construction industry in delivering on Scotland’s housebuilding and wider infrastructure targets.”

Gordon Reidregional business development manager, Kier Construction Scotland, said: “These figures reflect ongoing challenges for the industry and output has been down for a long while. However, in contrast, Kier has recently announced a solid set of half-year financial results where we have grown our business, expanded our order book and secured a robust pipeline of activity.

“Heritage is a particular growth sector for Kier Construction Scotland. We have just been appointed as the contractor to support Glasgow Life in their refurbishment of The Burrell Collection.  Returning iconic buildings to their former glory is hugely rewarding and provides plenty of opportunities to attract a diverse range of new talent to the industry. We will continue to focus on showcasing the breadth of career opportunities that the construction industry has to offer, and highlight the significant boost that our sector delivers to the Scottish economy.”

Blog: Changing the face of a career in construction

Allan Callaghan

As the construction sector becomes more diverse and lucrative, there is still more work needed to ensure it is viewed as a genuine career option for those seeking an aspirational career, says Allan Callaghan.

As industries continue to change and evolve, construction is going through its own transformation – shifting from a male-dominated, traditional profession to a much more innovative, diverse and collaborative industry with wider career horizons than ever before.

This bodes well, as much for the Scottish economy as the construction industry itself, because without change and diversity, construction will be at risk of becoming as solid and unmoving as the buildings we create.

The positive ripple effect on the rest of the country – in addition to the £7.1 billion Gross Value Added (GVA) contribution construction makes to the economy, will affect countless other businesses, from small to large, which serve the sector.

However it’s not all good news. There are increasing challenges in recruiting skilled employees and the public face of construction is still suffering from an image problem. The industry is incredibly diverse and significantly more professional and technical than is referred to anecdotally. Construction is not a career for those struggling academically or mostly consisting of the hard hat brigade. It needs to be viewed as a genuine career option for those with potential trade skills and an aspirational career in a rewarding and thriving sector. It also offers genuine equal opportunities for all backgrounds and abilities at all levels.

Most parents would be proud to say their child is studying accountancy or dentistry but in reality, young people with apprenticeships are among the most employable in the country, not to mention becoming equipped with valuable practical skills and a good salary.

Indeed, the Federation of Master Builders has recently reported that construction apprentices actually earn more per year than many of their university graduate counterparts, confirming construction as a highly rewarding career option.

Apprenticeships are not to be underestimated. They really do provide the lifeblood to this industry. At Cruden, our skills development through the Cruden Academy has allowed us to build up a sustainable pool of talent. We have a continuous programme of investing in our employees which includes our full modern apprenticeship programme, lifelong learning, training and distance support as well as further education support. This is reflected in the importance we attach to this through our Investors in People & Investors in Young People Accreditations and our dedicated Trades management who commit to mentoring Apprentices.

During my time at Cruden, I’ve seen numerous employees stay with us and climb up the career ladder very successfully. We directly recruit around fifteen new apprentices across a variety of trades and skills each year with additional placements supported through our supply chain as well as offering opportunities with consultants, and these direct apprentices will become part of the 90 strong team of apprentices that we train every year across the Group.

Today’s apprenticeships and those embarking in additional learning and training come from all genders and backgrounds and our business is stronger for it. It has helped us to achieve and support healthy order books, continued growth and develop more effective and innovative ways of working. In Cruden our view is that we should channel challenges as drivers for innovation from adversity.

I encourage every business within the construction sector to consider implementing a genuine apprenticeship programme and to reap the rewards this can bring to their company. Equally, there has never been a better time for the Government and the industry to come together with a unified voice to begin sensibly and apolitically addressing this outdated perception of working in this industry and amplify the message that the face of construction has changed and it’s time for people to adjust their views accordingly.

As a company leader, I’m very proud to see the effects of these opportunities on individuals as we continue to develop the leaders of tomorrow. By the time these young men and women are my age, I’m sure the construction landscape will be much transformed, and hopefully a highly sought-after career option for more women and young people. With the right talent, the world of construction could shine even brighter as the jewel in the crown of the Scottish economy. We certainly have the right foundations to build upon.

  • Allan Callaghan is managing director of Cruden Building & Renewals Limited

‘Prime’ Glasgow residential development site sold on

GVA has announced the sale of a residential development site in the heart of Glasgow’s west end on behalf of a private client to Queensberry Properties Ltd.

The site has a detailed planning consent for 45 apartments and four townhouses and is located on Otago Lane, benefitting from an excellent outlook on the banks of the River Kelvin and is a short walk to both Glasgow University and Kelvin Bridge Underground Station on Great Western Road.

The purchaser, Queensberry Properties Ltd (QPL) is a joint venture between Cruden Homes (East) Ltd and Buccleuch Property.

Otago Lane will be the JV’s first residential development in Glasgow after a number of successful ventures In Edinburgh.

A spokesperson for QPL said: “This first site in Glasgow is a significant milestone for Queensberry. We have recently delivered some of Edinburgh’s most successful prime residential developments and look forward to bringing our expertise in innovative design and carefully considered, bespoke specification to the West. Otago Lane represents a fantastic opportunity in a unique and sought-after location and we look forward to bringing these exciting new properties to the residential market over the coming months.”

ONS figures highlight ‘challenging’ market and ongoing skills shortage

Allan Callaghan

Cruden Building has repeated its call for moves to help increase the number of people working in construction as latest figures revealed a further drop in output in the sector.

Findings from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today have shown that output continued its recent decline in the three-month on three-month series in January 2018, contracting for the ninth consecutive period, falling by 1%.

The ONS attributed the fall predominantly to the continued decline in private commercial work, which fell by 4.1% in January 2018.

Construction output also decreased in the month-on-month series following growth in the final two months of 2017, contracting by 3.4% in January 2018.

Compared with January 2017, construction output decreased by 3.9%, representing the biggest month-on-year decline since March 2013.

New orders decreased by 25% in Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2017 following a record high in the previous quarter, caused by the awarding of several high-value new orders relating to High Speed 2 (HS2).

Despite the fall in Quarter 4 2017, total new orders increased by 4.3% in 2017, reaching the highest total since 2008, at £55,130 million.

Allan Callaghan, managing director of Cruden Building, said: “These figures reflect the challenging market conditions and an ongoing skills shortage, which many in the industry, Cruden included, have been signalling for some time now, despite our own hard-won growth figures.

“In order for Scotland’s construction industry to reverse falling output figures, we need to increase the number of people choosing to work in the sector. The Federation of Master Builders recently reported that construction apprentices earn more per year than many of their university graduate counterparts, demonstrating the positive outcomes this career route offers young people in Scotland.

“At Cruden we are proud to introduce many new workers to the diverse range of opportunities this sector offers through our annual apprenticeship programme.  We are about to recruit an additional 15 new apprentices across a variety of trades and skills and they will become part of the 50 strong team of apprentices that we train every year.”

The Scottish division of partnership housing provider Lovell predicted a positive outlook for the business in 2018.

Regional managing director for Scotland, Stephen Profili, said: “There is a continuing urgent need for more housing across a range of tenures in Scotland, not least in the affordable housing sector where we are already more than 18 months into the Scottish Government’s five-year target of delivering 50,000 new affordable homes by 2021.

“Lovell’s commitment to long-term partnership working means we are ideally placed to make a real and meaningful contribution towards helping the Scottish Government to achieve that target. We look forward in particular to making important progress on that front this year.”

Finding a different pathway to my successful career in construction

Elaine Perratt

Elaine Perratt shares her 33-year journey from office temp to assistant health and safety manager at Cruden Buildings & Renewals Ltd.

When I was at school, I wasn’t academic; the thought of going to university had never crossed my mind. I applied for a nursery nursing course and was accepted, so I was looking forward to a leisurely summer before starting the course in September.

My mum, however, had other ideas! She took me job-hunting, and we found a vacancy on what was then known as a YTS scheme, for an office junior with housebuilder and construction company, Cruden Buildings & Renewals Ltd. I thought it would be a perfect way to get some experience and money over the summer, and it turned out that I loved working in an office.

When September approached, I told Cruden that although I was enjoying my job, I was due to start my college course, and my position with them was only temporary.

Cruden, as an employer, prides itself on finding a pathway to a career for all of their staff.  They offered me a full-time role as an office junior where I would have the opportunity to progress and develop in the company. I jumped at the chance, and what teenager wouldn’t welcome the full time salary?

A dizzy 33 years later, I am still with Cruden. Over the years I have worked in many roles and departments, including accounts and estimating, working with suppliers and helping with tenders. Then, a position came up as an administration manager in the health and safety department, where I initially typed up reports that the health and safety manager was carrying out on site. My manager then suggested it would be easier if I came out on site with him, so I could see what he did behind the scenes.

“Statistics show that at a typical health and safety seminar or event, in a room full of 100 people, only five will be women.”

Elaine Perratt

Once out on site, my manager could see how interested I was in what he was doing, and suggested I sit my NEBOSH general certificate, which is a globally recognised health and safety qualification. I attended a 16-week course on day release at Motherwell College, which Cruden paid for. At the end of the course I sat two exams and successfully gained my qualification.

It was after this that my manager suggested I consider a degree in health and safety. Never in my wildest dreams had I ever imagined getting a degree, but I had really enjoyed my NEBOSH general certificate, so I was delighted to give it a try. My managing director was extremely supportive, explaining that Cruden would help me in any way they could, including giving me time off for studying. My diploma also allowed me to fast track straight into second year of the course.

I attended university for one day a week. At the same time, I was promoted to health and safety assistant, a role which involved carrying out site inspections, checking signage and carrying out risk assessments. I really enjoyed the combination of classroom learning and on-site experience. After three years, I gained my BSc in Occupational Safety and Health, which was a very proud moment.

Even after all these years, I still love working in construction. My favourite part of my job is knowing that I’m getting everyone home safely. It’s good to get people to look at the bigger picture – cutting corners might save someone ten minutes, but an injury could keep them off work for weeks, or even months.

Statistics show that at a typical health and safety seminar or event, in a room full of 100 people, only five will be women. I’ve been lucky that I’ve never experienced any problems with being a woman in construction. Part of that is down to the culture within Cruden – from the top down, everyone supports each other. We are like a big family. Cruden already has an all-female purchasing department, which is quite rare within the construction industry.

There is still work to be done in addressing the sometimes negative perception of the industry. For example, we often visit primary schools to talk about the safety aspect of construction sites, but I feel that more could be done to encourage children into careers in construction at the same time.

I would encourage anyone, male or female, who is considering a career in construction to go for it. My experience has shown that in this industry, even if you don’t start out with qualifications, with the right attitude and a supportive employer you can still have a long-lasting, fulfilling and varied career.

Catch up with the rest of Scottish Construction Now’s International Women’s Day feature here.