Cruden Group

Innovative BRE app could help social landlords tackle fuel poverty

(from left) Allan Callaghan of Cruden, John Swinney and Rufus Logan of BRE

(from left) Allan Callaghan of Cruden, John Swinney and Rufus Logan of BRE

An innovative new app has been launched which promises to help social landlords and housebuilders in providing more energy efficient homes, reducing fuel poverty and carbon emissions and improving the health of tenants.

Developed by Building Research Establishment (BRE) in partnership with Cruden, the app was officially launched yesterday by deputy first minister John Swinney MSP.

Mr Swinney visited the award winning BRE Innovation Park at Ravenscraig yesterday to hear how the new RetrofitLab App will allow housing associations, social landlords and housebuilders to easily calculate the benefits of refurbishing their existing properties, how much the work will cost, and how much can be saved in maintenance and running costs.

The data incorporated within the app is the most up to date on the marketplace and follows months of monitoring at the “Refurbished House” on the BRE Innovation Park in Ravenscraig.

BRE-DFM5Delivered by BRE Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University and Historic Scotland and constructed by Cruden Buildings and Renewals, the home represents a recreation of the “four in a block” model of which there are over 250,000 in Scotland and 3 million of a similar design in England. The app presents technical information in a user-friendly way, and importantly, helps the user make maximum benefits to properties with the minimum disruption to the resident.

Dr David Kelly, group director BRE Innovation Park Networks, said: “At BRE, we combine science and technology with innovation and entrepreneurship to develop and share solutions for existing and future buildings not only in Scotland but across the UK, Europe and around the world. This project is a prime example of BRE’s overriding objective to generate new knowledge through research and we are delighted that, following prolonged testing and monitoring at the Refurbished House, a range of innovative retrofit solutions for some of the country’s most energy inefficient homes have been identified.”

BRE Scotland director, Rufus Logan, added: “As a direct result of our research, we have been able to develop the BRE RetrofitLab App which is now available for free download. We believe this will be of particular interest to those operating within the housing sector as it allows energy efficiency options to be compared quickly and effectively, and just as importantly, it details the associated cost implications of each.”

Allan Callaghan, managing director of Cruden Building and Renewals, said: “The RetrofitLab App has wide-ranging social, health, environmental and energy saving benefits. Energy-inefficient housing and fuel poverty are big issues in Scotland and are linked to poor physical and mental health. The RetrofitLab App will help tackle this problem by making it easy for social landlords to see the benefits of refurbishing their poorly-performing housing within just a couple of minutes.

“Cruden has invested heavily in this project, and we are now working with a like-minded client with difficult to improve housing stock challenges who would work with us on a pilot project. We are in advanced discussions with a large housing association to take this forward.

“We expect the app to be a success because the solutions it offers are both practically and commercially realistic. We’re also looking at developing the app for use on different types of homes such as flats, terraced, semi-detached and detached properties.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney added: “I welcome the launch of the new RetrofitLab App which will help housing associations, social landlords and house builders to easily calculate the benefits of refurbishing their existing properties. Ultimately this should encourage the creation of more energy efficient homes and benefit tenants living in the properties, for example by reducing their fuel and energy costs, improving the quality of their home and having a positive effect on their health and wellbeing.

“The Scottish Government supports innovation across the construction sector, ensuring the best environment for businesses and academia to interact, taking forward innovative ambitious projects of excellence that have the potential to bring millions more to the economy.”

The BRE RetrofitLab App is now available for free download on Apple iPads.

Construction output falls in August

Allan Callaghan

Allan Callaghan

Construction output figures for August fell 4.3 per cent against the previous month and marked the biggest year on year decline since May 2013, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The slide in the monthly output data was driven by a sharp drop in refurbishment and maintenance work. Compared with August 2014, total construction output dropped 1.3 per cent, but new work was actually up 3.1 per cent.

More reliable three-month data showed new work increased by 0.7 per cent from June – August 2015, compared with the previous three months, while repair and maintenance saw a 3.6 per cent decrease.

The picture is better comparing the output data for three months to last year when with all new work up by 5.6 per cent, but repair and maintenance down by 4.6 per cent.

Allan Callaghan, managing director of Cruden Building & Renewals, remained cautiously optimistic.

He said: “These latest ONS figures illustrate the mercurial nature of the industry in Scotland of late, a point not lost on operators north of the border.

“However, confidence remains in the sector. Our own development activity, particularly within the west coast at our King’s View site in Glasgow, has continued to go from strength to strength.

“We also expect for all operators to begin to see more projects come to fruition towards the end of the year to meet the needs of the Scottish housing market, a point which will help to stimulate growth and job creation.

“It is for this reason that we remain positive, as do thousands of others operating within a sector; a sector which has been battered and beaten by economic challenges, but one which is resilient enough to consistently face them head on.”

Cruden maintains commitment to addressing skills gap

Cruden ApprenticesCruden Building & Renewals Limited has taken on four successful candidates to its coveted ‘Modern Apprenticeship Scheme’, as it maintains its commitment to addressing challenges posed by a sector-wide skills gap.

Paul Conway, Michael Quigley, Reece Sutherland and Kieran Murphy have all started training with Cruden after being recruited following a pre-apprenticeship programme and training courses with Jobs & Business Glasgow.

Two of their fellow Glaswegians have also been handed a lifeline that could potentially change their lives forever.

Thanks to sponsorship by Action for Children, Sanctuary Scotland and the Wheatley Group, Cruden were able to take on two more apprentices.

Kenneth McCarvel, 20, of Milton and Zoe Hume, 18, from the Knightswood area of Glasgow, were sponsored to undertake a year of general labouring with Cruden. They were trained, assessed and offered the opportunity to sit – and subsequently pass – an apprenticeship entrance exam.

Their hard work and dedication means they have both secured a four year apprenticeship with Cruden in conjunction with CITB, offering them the potential to acquire skills and workplace qualifications which could change their lives forever.

Thanks also to sponsorship by the Glasgow Guarantee, Cruden Building & Renewals were able to take on another three apprentices, Jason Henderson, Taylor Ross and Jonathan Findlay.

Paul Boland, HR manager for Cruden Building and Renewals, said: “We remain committed to supporting local employment, education and economic opportunities and are delighted to welcome the latest raft of youngsters to what is now our long established apprenticeship programme.

“The sponsorship provided by Action for Children, Sanctuary and Wheatley has the potential to change the lives of some extremely dedicated and talented individuals and I would like to wish all of our apprentices the very best of luck as they embark on their chosen career paths.”

Three of the apprentices – Kenneth McCarvel, Kieran Murphy and Zoe Hume – are being supported by housing, care and community regeneration organisation Wheatley Group. The Wheatley Pledge is a £1.5million scheme which encourages contractors and suppliers to do more to help people who live in Wheatley’s neighbourhoods.

Wheatley Group director of property, Alex McGuire, said: “We always want to increase opportunities for young people in our communities and help them fulfil their potential. We’re delighted to support these three young people at the start of an exciting career with Cruden.”

Gordon Laurie, director, Sanctuary in Scotland, said: “Kenneth and Zoe are helping us build 70 affordable homes and richly deserve their full apprenticeships. The skills they learn will serve them well throughout their careers, decades after our Hugo Street project is completed.” 

Ivonne Hamilton, strategic operations manager for Jobs & Business Glasgow, added: “Jobs & Business Glasgow are committed to working in partnership with Cruden Building and Renewals supporting them to deliver against community benefit contracts across the city.

“We are delighted to have recruited young people from across Glasgow onto a six week pre-apprenticeship programme funded through Skills Development Scotland’s Employability Fund, progressing four of the young people into apprenticeship opportunities with the team at Cruden.

“We wish the young people all the best and hope what they have learned from here will have a positive impact on their lives – we are delighted that they are joining the team at Cruden.

“Jobs & Business Glasgow is committed to supporting local residents to compete for employment opportunities in and beyond the city and to supporting employers, stakeholders and partners to continue to make a positive and strong contribution to economic development in Glasgow.”

Cruden have also provided a further six apprenticeship positions across Scotland.

Scottish construction output value breaks £13bn after 20 per cent boost

Vaughan Hart

Vaughan Hart

There was a 20 per cent increase in output from the Scottish construction industry over the past year, according to new figures published by the Office of National Statistics.

The figures, spanning June 2014-June 2015, have been warmly welcomed by the Scottish Building Federation which added that the priority must be to attract more people into the sector to cope with the demand.

The industry’s total output value increased to more than £13 billion, with output rising across all sectors of the industry – including a 60 per cent rise in the value of infrastructure and a 29 per cent increase in public sector new work other than housing and infrastructure.

Vaughan Hart, managing director of the Scottish Building Federation, said: “It is obviously good news that output from the Scottish construction sector has hit a new high over the past year.

“However, as we have pointed out before, employment within the industry remains a long way below pre-recession levels and the industry is facing increasingly critical skills shortages across many trades.

“Our members also continue to advise us that operating margins remain extremely tight.

“Against the backdrop of these record output figures, our absolute priority must be to attract more people back into the industry, to rebuild skills and capacity and put the industry’s recovery on a sustainable long-term footing.”

Across the UK, output decreased by 1.0 per cent in July 2015 compared with June 2015, after increasing by 0.9 per cent in June. All new work decreased by 1.5 per cent while all repair and maintenance showed no growth.

A significant contribution to the decline was a fall in the year-on-year numbers of new houses being built, dropping by 2.5 per cent, the first such decline since March 2013.

Cruden Homes said it remains optimistic despite the dip in the UK statistics.

Allan Callaghan

Allan Callaghan

Allan Callaghan, managing director of Cruden Building & Renewals, said: “While disappointing, these latest ONS figures do not match with our own experiences over the last month.

“Demand for properties at our King’s View development at Toryglen has remained unabated, so much so that we have had to bring forward the launch of our latest sales activity. This is not only good news for Cruden, but for the wider Scottish construction market in general, as it illustrates that demand  in the housing market continues to grow throughout the country.

“With the confirmation that there will be a guaranteed successor to the Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme, allied with the Scottish Government’s announcement that is set to invest £195m in housing over the next three years, we can look forward to increased positivity and expected sector growth in the months to come.

“The sector continues to show resilience and has always faced many challenges. However, positivity remains in the sector and we predict that it will once again create real stability and sector growth for the wider Scottish economy as we move towards the end of 2015.”

Construction trailblazer John Gallacher takes home Legacy Award

John Gallacher

John Gallacher

Former managing director of Cruden Estates and director of City Legacy, John Gallacher MBE, has been recognised for his work on overseeing the completion of the Athletes’ Village in Glasgow.

Mr Gallacher was given the Legacy Award at the Inspiring City Awards 2015 which were organised by The Herald and Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.

The Legacy Award category was for individuals or businesses who have used the 2014 Commonwealth Games to make a long-lasting positive difference to Glasgow.

John was recognised for his work on the Athletes’ Village and for his regeneration efforts in other areas of the city, such as Castlemilk and Govan.

Now semi-retired, John was the driving force behind the City Legacy Consortium – a collaboration of four Glasgow-based house builders which designed, constructed and delivered the £150 million Athletes’ Village. Delivered on time and within budget, the development has won over 20 awards for construction, innovation, design, regeneration and sustainability, and has attracted significant world-wide interest.

Born and bred in Govan, John is particularly proud that jobs and apprenticeships were created for hundreds of people.

Ground-breaking housebuilding app available for free download

BRE greenAn innovative new app developed by BRE (Building Research Establishment) in partnership with Cruden and Kraft Architecture + Research which allows house builders to compare energy efficiency options and the associated cost implications, is now available for free download.

The data incorporated within the app is the most up to date on the marketplace and follows months of monitoring at the ‘Refurbished House’ on the BRE Innovation Park in Ravenscraig.

Delivered by BRE Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University and Historic Scotland and constructed by Cruden Buildings and Renewals, the home represents a recreation of the ‘four in a block’ model of which there are an estimated 265,000 in Scotland and three million of a similar design in England.

Dr David Kelly, group director, BRE Innovation Park Networks, said: “As a direct result of the successful collaboration with Cruden Buildings and Renewals and Kraft Architecture + Research, we have been able to jointly develop this app which offers new and innovative retrofit solutions, which we believe will be of particular interest to those operating within the social housing sector.

“The Refurbished House demonstrates a range of innovative retrofit solutions for some of the most energy inefficient homes across Scotland and the UK.

“The project has enabled a robust assessment on the most cost effective solutions of fabric upgrades for this building style, for walls, windows, roofs and services and these state of the art solutions are to be found in this new app.”

Allan Callaghan, managing director of Cruden Building and Renewals, said: “With challenging carbon emission reduction targets to meet, and fuel poverty a widespread problem, the UK needs to radically improve the energy performance of its existing homes – and that’s where this app comes in.

“The beauty of the app is that it presents quite technical information in a way that is very easy to understand.

“It can tell a landlord what they need to do to upgrade a property, how much it will cost, and how much money that refurbishment will save in maintenance and running costs. Importantly the app helps the user make maximum benefits to the properties with the minimum disruption to the resident – a huge plus for everyone concerned.”

Commonwealth Games work helps Cruden to 16th profitable year in a row

Cruden_Group_ScotlandConstruction group Cruden has delivered its 16th consecutive year of profitability after a near 50 per cent increase in annual earnings.

The Edinburgh-based group recorded a pre-tax profit of £7.1 million for the 12 months to the end of March. Turnover during the period, which included the retrofit of the Commonwealth Games athletes’ village in Glasgow, increased by 5.5 per cent to £142.2m.

A key member of the City Legacy consortium, Cruden handed over 400 houses to clients for rent after the retro-fit, which took place in the weeks after Glasgow 2014. Only 40 of the 300 houses made available for sale are still on the market.

Chairman Mike Rowley said the group was “delighted” with its progress adding that challenging markets are showing improvements.

“Going forward, we are confident that the group is extremely well-positioned to take advantage of the many new and existing opportunities that are available to us,” Rowley added.

Cruden’s construction arm boosted revenue by 5 per cent to £129m. Major projects included completion of the single largest National Housing Trust contract in Scotland for 145 flats at Salamander Place in Edinburgh.

Group managing director Kevin Reid said: “I am pleased to report a year of excellent progress with this strong set of results. With many new projects in the pipeline and a solid order book, combined with our cash-positive position, we are well placed to continue to build on our successes through the remainder of this year and well into next.

“The Cruden Group continues to benefit from its balanced exposure to the construction and residential development sectors and whilst economic factors continue to create a degree of uncertainty within the market, the group is extremely well-placed to manage these risks.”

ONS: Construction output shows continued growth

Construction output rose by 0.2 per cent between the first and second quarters, according to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data.

Year on year output in the second quarter was estimated to have increased by 2.4 per cent.

Upward pressure on the quarter came from all new work which increased by 1.0 per cent, with private new housing, infrastructure and public other new work increasing by 3.9 per cent, 0.5 per cent and 1.2 per cent respectively.

All repair and maintenance decreased by 1.2 per cent in the second quarter from the first quarter of the year. Public housing repair and maintenance and non-housing repair and maintenance reported falls of 0.4 per cent and 3.9 per cent respectively.

Output in the construction industry was estimated to have increased by 0.9 per cent in June 2015 compared with May 2015. On the year, output in the construction industry increased by 2.6 per cent in June 2015 compared with June 2014.

Gordon Reid

Gordon Reid

Encouraged by the industry growth, Gordon Reid, business development manager for Kier Construction in Scotland, said: “These latest findings demonstrate the ongoing confidence felt within the sector and this is echoed at Kier Construction in Scotland, where we have recently recruited more employees and opened a new office in Inverness to meet growing demand.

“New business wins, contract completions and delivering a host of successful projects through frameworks, including hub South West, Health Facilities Scotland and Scape National Minor Works, have placed us in a very strong position in securing a robust pipeline of work.

“The latest ONS findings released today give the sector a real positivity as we move towards the latter part of 2015, and with a growing order book, flexible business model and our dedicated and talented people, we look forward to closing the year on a high.”

Allan Callaghan

Allan Callaghan

Allan Callaghan, managing director of Cruden Building & Renewals, added: “The latest positive ONS figures published today directly correlate with the growth and buoyancy which we are currently experiencing at Cruden.

“An increase in output and new orders have helped to boost the latest figures and we ourselves have seen a rise in production during the previous quarter. With success comes responsibly, and all operators in the industry need to play a part in maintaining this steady course, not least by addressing the skills gap.

“Cruden has always undertaken a successful apprenticeship scheme where we help to shape and prepare future generations entering the construction sector. These figures come in a week where have taken on 13 new apprentices, illustrating our ongoing commitment to addressing skills shortages within the industry while supporting our ongoing growth aspirations.

“These figures illustrate confidence and buoyancy within the sector and we fully expect this to remain within an industry which has once again show its resilience in the face of economic challenges.”

‘Cautious optimism’ returning to Scottish construction sector

Allan Callaghan

Allan Callaghan

The Scottish construction industry “should not worry unduly” about a dip in results announced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), according to the boss at Cruden Building & Renewals.

Figures from the ONS last week revealed that output in the construction industry was estimated to have decreased by 1.3 per cent in May 2015 compared with April 2015 with new work, and repair and maintenance both contributing to the fall.

However, Allan Callaghan, managing director of Cruden Building & Renewals, said: “The figures released by ONS show a dip in construction output compared to the previous month, but my view is that the Scottish construction industry should not worry unduly based on this set of results. Compared with the same month last year, output increased by 1.3 per cent.

“There is a cautious optimism that’s returning to the Scottish construction sector and within Cruden, we are seeing a noticeable buoyancy and confidence, particularly within the house building industry.”

All new work decreased by 1.5 per cent, with all types of new work except infrastructure reporting decreases; total housing reported the largest fall of 5.8 per cent, with smaller falls from private industrial, public other and private commercial of 3.3 per cent, 1.4 per cent and 0.3 per cent respectively.

Repair and maintenance (R&M) decreased by 1.0 per cent. Falls in non-housing R&M (-1.9 per cent) and private housing R&M (-0.8 per cent) were offset slightly by public housing R&M, which increased by 1.8 per cent.

Compared with May 2014, output in the construction industry showed an increase of 1.3 per cent. All new work increased by 3.2 per cent while repair and maintenance decreased by 1.7 per cent.

Comparing the three months, March 2015 to May 2015, with the previous three months, December 2014 to February 2015, construction output fell by 0.4 per cent. All new work decreased by 1.7 per cent and repair and maintenance increased by 1.8 per cent.

When comparing the three months, March 2015 to May 2015 with the same three months a year ago, construction output was estimated to have increased by 2.7 per cent. All new work increased by 4.2 per cent and repair and maintenance by 0.3 per cent.

The only period open for revision is April 2015 which has been revised upwards 0.3 per cent from a fall of 0.8 per cent to a fall of 0.5 per cent. This was caused by the incorporation of late data.

Mr Callaghan added: “Cruden Homes has seen a noticeable sea change in demand for quality, affordable housing. Recently, we launched our latest housing development, King’s View in Glasgow’s South Side and for the first time in years, buyers began queuing up to buy homes the night before they were released for sale. This returning confidence in the housing market is more good news for the construction industry.”

Construction industry positive despite drop in output statistics

Brian McQuade

Brian McQuade

Figures from the construction industry have remained upbeat regarding the sector’s future despite statistics pointing to a downturn in output.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed last week that month on month construction output in April fell 0.8 per cent from the previous month and has so far dropped for three months this year.

However with the year on year figure for output increasing by 1.5 per cent, the overall mood from some industry insiders is remaining positive.

Managing director of Kier Construction’s Scotland & north-east England business, Brian McQuade, is encouraged by a further upturn in industry growth shown in the ONS output report which he said highlights the steady road to recovery that the construction sector is on.

Mr McQuade said: “Within Kier Construction, we are seeing an uplift in the a number of new contracts won and inclusion on more national frameworks – most recently we’ve been appointed to North Lanarkshire Council’s Phase 2 Schools and Centres 21 Design and Build Investment Programme.

“There is clear evidence of returned confidence by public sector clients and private investors alike as they drive forward key construction projects including schools, care homes, hospitals and community centres.”

Allan Callaghan

Allan Callaghan

Allan Callaghan, managing director of Cruden Building & Renewals, added: “It’s encouraging after some recent disappointing results to see a return of slow but steady growth shown in the construction industry and this is certainly in line with the uplift on the number of construction tenders that we are winning on a combination of price and quality. This medium term sustainable growth is key for businesses to have the confidence to continue to invest in skills development, education and life-long learning as we are doing.

“The double-edged sword is that as the sector recovers, the skills gap in the sector widens through trades people leaving the Industry and the shortage of replacements.  Cruden has for decades been committed to developing a pipeline of talent and skills from within our business and we currently employ around 50 modern apprentices.  However, we recognise that the skills issue is not going away and more needs to be done across the board.  As a result, we are committed to growing this figure by recruiting each year a further 30 percent to replace those who have qualified to play our part in tackling this industry-wide problem head on.”

The Construction Products Association (CPA) said new orders point to significant growth going forward.

Dr Noble Francis

Dr Noble Francis

Dr Noble Francis, economics director, said: “Total construction output fell slightly in April but this was expected due to the uncertainty prior to the General Election and its adverse impacts on consumer and business confidence.  Specifically, this influenced the kinds of construction work that can be temporarily delayed such as repairs, maintenance and improvements work, which fell 4.8 per cent in April.  New construction work was affected to a lesser extent and, despite election uncertainty, private housing output was 4.5 per cent higher than in March and 16.6 per cent higher than one year earlier.

“Overall, construction output was still 1.5 per cent higher than one year earlier and, looking forward, the ONS new orders for construction point to further growth in activity over the next 12-18 months.

“New orders in Q1 were 8.0 per cent higher than one year earlier with orders growth in the three key construction sectors; private housing, infrastructure and commercial.  Private housing new orders in Q1 were 1.5 per cent higher than a year earlier, which points to further growth in house building but at a potentially slower rate due to skills and capacity constraints.  Infrastructure new orders in Q1 rose by 68.9 per cent as work continues to feed through on major projects in the £466 billion National Infrastructure Plan.  New orders in the commercial sector in Q1 rose 14.9 per cent due to a boost from offices and retail projects in Central London, Birmingham and Manchester.”

Dr Francis added:  “The CPA has previously highlighted issues regarding the ONS construction output data and we welcome the new construction output price deflators that the ONS has implemented in this data release. As the ONS states, the new price deflators are an interim solution; the CPA will be working with the ONS to ensure that the construction output figures will be as robust as possible in the medium-term.”