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Gogarburn's success was down to lavish spending


Sir, I've been tracking correspondence over the last month from 'involved' professionals proclaiming the Royal Bank of Scotland's Gogarburn site the best project in the universe.

I feel obliged to add a few comments of my own.

The driving reason for the success of this particular project is the bank's record of throwing massive financial resources at projects.

When I visited the Gogarburn project for the first time I'd only recently lost my job as estimating manager for one of the UK's best loved and most successful construction companies when, in the face of competition from the likes of Ballast, MDW, Trenthams, Lilley and Dickie to name a few, it shut down in Scotland.

Does anyone, I wonder, notice anything that these companies now have in common?

I toddled down to Gogarburn, having been invited at considerable expense on my new company's behalf, to submit a poorly disguised cost check ? a tender package, on the existing 'best in class' package contractor. I was f loored by the money RBS had spent on the site offices alone.

Mahogany stairs, infra-red activated taps in the toilets, plasma TVs all over the place, security like Fort Knox ? I'm surprised they didn't have traffic wardens in the car park. In 30 years in this industry I'd never seen such a lavish hut.

This whisked me back to one of my very f i rst site v isits as a contractor's QS back in 1977 in Dundee where the company I was working for was refurbishing an RBS branch.

My wife and I had recently bought our first house and had just carpeted our lounge with an exorbitantly expensive dark brown shag pile carpet costing £7 per square yard, fully laid.

The RBS was covering the walls of its branch with a textile wallpaper coming in at £15 per square yard, supply only.

Nothing changes ? a canny cost plan from a sensible QS and you have a foolproof plan for an easy life with everyone making shedloads of money.

Thus you find yourself with a cracking project.

Perhaps all the QSs out there should try basing their cost plans on RBS models rather than on ludicrous tenders. I've been dealing with the fallout it causes for my entire career.

Back in the late 1970s and 1980s Wimpey had almost 20 estimators working in its Edinburgh office ? now you'll be lucky if there are 20 professionally trained estimators in the whole of Scotland.

Gavin Clarke Stirling Scotland