Readers interpret recent news of government funding for housing and architects’ unemployment

Read between the headlines

Regarding your story “£1bn scheme could mean 15% more homes built”, this is only an initiative so it won’t amount to a row of beans. The country is still bust and there’s no credit available, the trouble is that lenders don’t do risky lending at the moment. A headline grabbing scheme like this one will make little difference, except make the government feel better that it is being seen to do something and the CEOs of major housebuilders will have an opportunity to congratulate the government for its helpful intervention.
Alistair McHarg, via

The forgotten architects

In reference to your story “Architects unemployment rate falls by 16% in a year” I agree with the comment that the drop might reflect architects becoming self-employed or simply leaving the sector altogether. I never bothered to register unemployed this year. Instead I had a few weeks’ work in London covering for holiday shortfalls - created by redundancies - and then accepted an offer from Germany working for a project in China after failing to find work in the UK. I have never claimed unemployment and never been counted in the statistics and this is probably the case for many self-employed or rather under-employed architects.

Ioana Lupas, via

Here’s to the NEC3

Robert Horne’s article “NEC3 and the global market: World domination,” is excellent.

As an NEC and procurement specialist in Mott MacDonald, we are seeing ever more interest in the NEC outside the UK. This is particularly the case in Hong Kong, where we are helping the government trial NEC, but there is interest in several other countries.

Globally there is the requirement to better manage projects and deliver better value.

I also have to work with the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) where dictated to do so by International Funding Institutions (IFIs) like the World Bank. That makes me realise just how well structured and logical the NEC is. When the IFI’s “exclusive deal” with FIDIC comes to an end, surely they will open up to the NEC?

Meantime, I agree with Robert’s hint that NEC is well suited to global clients - like, for example, the oil majors.
Richard Patterson, via

Tram fiasco

Following a recent BBC documentary on the Edinburgh trams project I wrote to Edinburgh council’s chief executive with my comments and concerns that the program had raised, notwithstanding all the previously vast local media coverage of the project.

I list below several points/concerns that any pending/future public inquiry may wish to address, including:

  • The overall procurement strategies. Why was the project not awarded to a competent international Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractor inclusive of design? A simple performance specification from the council could have taken the form of designing a fully operational tram system from say Edinburgh airport/tram depot to Waverley rail/city centre links to include X number of stops and transporting Y number of passengers per hour.
  • Performance payment milestones eg between tram stops would have ensured payment upon results and progress driven while also allowing earlier tram usage and therefore revenue recovery as stops come into use.
  • The focus seemed to be more on producing financial claims and expediting the mediation processes than expediting the project to completion.

Sadly it would appear Edinburgh has learned nothing from Lord Fraser’s report on the problems encountered during the construction of the Scottish parliament building.
Gary Sommerville, consultant