This week, insights into the industry’s relationship with tea, as rustled up by housing ministers and supped by site monitors, but rejected by stereotype-defying labourers, who prefer dancing

He wants to live like common people

Bless David Higgins. The generous spirit of the Olympic Delivery Authority’s chief executive was revealed to all last week, when the body’s latest set of accounts showed he had agreed to defer half of his “performance-related pay” to a later date. As a result, Higgins had to make do with a package of just £537,000 – including salary and benefits – for the last year. When it came to expenses, I was gratified to see the 2012 team billing for the really important stuff, not least a subscription to Building from director of construction Howard Shiplee. Who said the public sector had no perks?

The cake test

Applicants to become a site monitor for the Considerate Constructors Scheme would do well to put down their books of psychometric test examples and instead improve the quality of their light banter over battenburg cake. One of the questions that interviewers have to answer on their assessment sheets is: “Would I bring this person home to tea?” Mike Mitchell, one of the most senior monitors who has carried out thousands of site visits, says the box is an important one to tick: “Site managers have the ability to get on with all sorts. We need the people we use to mirror that ability before we feel happy unleashing them on a building site.”

Cheek to cheek

Cheek to cheek

The poor builder has long been the victim of outrageous stereotyping, so it is refreshing to see preconceived notions being challenged at a site in East Anglia. I hear that workers on the Jerwood DanceHouse in Ipswich, the new home of DanceEast, have been stopping work early on Fridays – not for a cuppa or a pint, or even to wolf-whistle at passing women, but for a spot of dance training. “Builders actually make quite good dancers,” says the scheme’s architect John Lyall proudly. Whatever keeps them on their toes...

A mysterious absence

Cyril Sweett’s chairman Francis Ives was conspicuously absent from his firm’s summer bash last week. Could it be that his much-talked-about stepping down is imminent? On the night, chief executive Dean Webster certainly wasn’t admitting to warming up for slipping into Ives’ slip-ons. Perhaps the perma-tanned Ives was merely hard at work scoping out the acquisition targets Webster recently alluded to – in Australia and Asia …

Television’s loss

Gerald Ronson, property developer extraordinaire, former convict and now successful author, has, Hansom hears, turned down the opportunity to present a TV programme on how to be a property developer. Ronson, the man behind the Heron Tower, among many other schemes, is believed to have refused the offer in order to concentrate on his business ventures. Besides, his book (a rip-roaring read by all accounts) seems to be doing pretty well, and it’s not as if the former member of the Guinness Four needs to raise his profile at all …

Minister for tea

Morale among politicians is not very high at the moment, for reasons known to all, but at least some can see the funny side of things. When a colleague went to interview housing minister John Healey last week, the minister was kind enough to run to the coffee shop to buy refreshments. However, a passing colleague in the corridors of power couldn’t help but comment: “Turned tea-boy now have you, John?” “There’s got to be some use for ministers,” he deadpanned back. For the record, it should be noted that Healey told Building he was very busy preparing for a raft of significant policy announcements …