House building chief optimistic as first site started in two years

Crawford house building. Michael Crawford (right)
Crawford house building. Michael Crawford (right)
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THeRE are signs of the green shoots of recovery in the region’s beleaguered construction industry, according to a leading private builder.

Michael Crawford believes that “continued positive news” of the return of the Borders railway can only help that growth.

He was commenting after revealing his company, JS Crawford 3rd Generation, had made its first site commencement for nearly two years, at Quarrydene in Melrose .

“One of the houses was sold before the foundations were dug,” said Mr Crawford. “This is welcome news for the local house building industry and signifies that the worst may be behind us.”

Despite the stagnation in the new-build market since 2008, Mr Crawford said his company had been able to retain 16 full-time staff and he is optimistic new jobs may be created later this year.

“The third quarter of 2010 was very quiet, but things changed dramatically in the run-up to Christmas and strong demand has continued into the New Year,” Mr Crawford said.

“Our sales manager, Gemma Brown, has been working evenings and weekends to cope with the high level of interest, most of which has been coming from outwith the Borders.”

Apart from the new four-plot site at Quarrydene, the firm is building new homes at already established but previously mothballed sites at Monksford in Gattonside, Oatlands Terrace in Galashiels and Wallace Neuk in Kelso.

“We are tending to build to order with most enquiries coming from professional people looking to relocate from the north of England.

“The level of demand we are now experiencing, suggests a steady recovery in the coming year.

After three years of recession people can only put off moving for so long and, in my view, continued positive news on the Waverley railway line can only help.”

To mark the start of work at Quarrydene, which lies just off Ormiston Terrace, Mr Crawford harnessed the muscle of three of his employees – props Richard Higgins and Nick Beavon and stand-off Scott Wight – who played for Melrose RFC in their narrow defeat by professional aces Bristol in the British and Irish Cup at The Greenyards on Saturday.

Joiners Scott and Nick and plant operator Richard will turn out for ’Rose, currently top of Scottish Premier One, against their closest title rivals Glasgow Hawks at New Anniesland on Saturday.