When you’ve won a high-profile job, the last thing you need is a high-profile problem.
But that’s what Sir Robert McAlpine and subcontractor Severfield have on their hands at the new US Embassy project down at Nine Elms.
It seems that the steel specialist has installed the wrong type of bolt on the new £650m home for our transatlantic diplomatic allies.
Well, mistakes happen. It’s impossible to say at this stage where (if anywhere) blame lies, and McAlpine insists that there will be no delay to the project’s schedule as a result.
But it is hugely unfortunate timing for Severfield, given that it was also responsible for installing the bolts on the so-called Cheesegrater (aka the Leadenhall Building), three of which famously became detached, forcing the replacement of 3,000 of the things at a cost of up to £6m.
The firm’s chief executive, Ian Lawson, recently told Construction News that it was preparing bids on a number of other headline-grabbing pieces of work, including the new Spurs stadium and the Gotham City development.
“We have a very strong pipeline of work,” said Mr Lawson, addressing the bolt issue last month, “it’s just a shame that Leadenhall gets in the way.”
Hopefully we won’t be talking about bolts for too much longer in relation to a thriving, ambitious business like Severfield. But just for the moment, it can’t quite escape the shadow of the Cheesegrater.
Mo’ contracts, mo’ trouble…
Of course, Severfield is far from the only business with problems in this industry.
This morning brought news that ISG could be facing up to some painful end of year numbers, with legacy problem contracts and the closure of two of its offices over the last year resulting in an eight-figure hit to its bottom line.
A company the size of ISG ought to be able to weather the storm, but it’s another reminder of the dangers that lurk within old, undervalued contracts, which are getting played out even as the market continues its glacial recovery.
Better news from the Thames Tideway Tunnel though. This morning, Thames Water signed up its infrastructure provider – the group of funders that will supply the wedge to make London’s super sewer a reality.
With Crossrail nearing the end of its epic journey through the capital, this is the next London-based mega project you’ll be reading a fair amount about in the coming years. After all, us hacks have got to have something to keep us busy…
Keep ‘em peeled tomorrow as Jack Simpson finds out what George Osborne’s Budget day announcement of an apprenticeship levy might mean for the dear old CITB…