Mastering detail isn’t everyone’s strong point, of course, so it’s easy to think you’ve built more homes than you have, forget just when it was your boss left or fail to remember way back in March when T5 opened …

BAA BAA black sheep

If memories of getting hauled up in front of the headteacher at school fill you with dread, then spare a thought for the chairman and chief executive of BAA who had their wrists well and truly slapped last week by an entire select committee’s worth of MPs.

Chief executive Colin Matthews took the brunt of the MPs’ anger at the hearing into Terminal 5’s disastrous opening when he was unable to answer practically any question put to him. He had not had time to look into the case, was his brave explanation. The aghast MPs were forced to ask him, along with chairman Sir Nigel Rudd, to attend another hearing in two months’ time when they might actually have some answers. But this was not before the boys from BAA had been publicly branded “complacent”, “ignorant” and “poorly prepared” for the hearing. “This is extraordinary,” said one MP. “I have been on this committee for a very long time and I have never heard the excuse that a witness has been too busy to come prepared with detailed answers to the questions.” Gulp.

Nothing will come of nothing

I am pleased to report that the quest to build the perfect zero-carbon home is over. Yes, English Partnerships is the proud possessor of a report into the carbon footprint of its £1.67bn Millennium Communities programme, and it seems on first glance that the regeneration agency is well ahead of the game. EP mandarins will no doubt have been delighted by the fact that by 2032 an average Millennium Community home will have saved 145,000 tonnes of CO2. However, they may have been less bowled over by the daringly innovative means of reaching this target. Among the report’s findings were such pearls of wisdom as “higher levels of insulation prevent heat loss through the building fabric”, “low energy light bulbs should be used”, and “better air-tightness reduces drafts and heat loss”. In other words, zero new ideas.

Credit: Scott Garrett

Figure of fun

Poor Carl Turpin, chief executive of Oakdene, was clearly in a state of denial when the housebuilder announced its 2007 results last week. After some poor figures (they’re not alone there, of course), he was asked for the number of houses the company had sold in 2007. “About 200,” came the vague reply. When pressed for the exact figure, he eventually confessed: “Er, it was 140.” Come on, Carl, we’ll never get through the credit crunch if we bury our heads in the sand.

Eat your heart out, Bovis

Bovis Lend Lease, the winner of Building’s delectable Nouvelle Canteen competition, may have a pretender to the crown. Matthew Whitehead of QS firm Stace emailed me about the formidable bacon sandwich served up by a client of a recent project. The project is the extension of the Waterside Inn at Bray, and the client is none other than Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux. The French cuisinière’s take on the site favourite – a croissant au bacon, we’re told – has caused some consternation, though. “Stace’s accounts department is keeping an eye out for any culinary contra charges for fear they might exceed the fee,” writes Whitehead. It’s certainly food for thought.

Hanging on

I was intrigued to see that as late as last week Taylor Wimpey still had Ian Sutcliffe proudly listed as its UK chief executive on its website. Either TW is hoping that we haven’t noticed his departure four weeks ago, or his new employer, developer Segro, might just have a question or two …