NI Apprenticeship Week

It’s NI Apprenticeship week and to mark this occasion, we are showcasing members of Skope Projects Apprenticeship team who have been sharing their stories and the benefits of becoming an apprentice within Skope Projects.

Emma and Ryan
Emma and Ryan

Emma Finnegan

It’s no surprise that Emma Finnegan wants to be a Quantity Surveyor.

With an uncle in that profession and a family in the construction business, Emma has always been interested in this line of work.

And, although already well versed in what the role entails, the Co Armagh native believes an apprenticeship offers her “more of a hands–on approach” and “a proper feel for the job”.

“I’m very interested in working alongside qualified quantity surveyors, getting to visit numerous sites and getting a proper feel for the job,” said Emma, who obtained 11 GCSEs and three A*s in her A–Levels.

The St Paul’s High School past pupil is currently studying for a degree in Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management at Ulster University alongside working at Skope, the leading cost and project management consultancy.

Emma said she chose an apprenticeship with Skope, which provides health and safety consultancy services from initial design through to operational use, after careful research.

“I felt that Skope was able to offer me the experience and guidance that would help me achieve my qualification,” she said.

“To date, I have gained a lot of experience in completing valuations, contracts, initial reports, drawdown reports and bills of quantities.”

After obtaining her degree, Emma hopes to secure an Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) qualification and then get a job with the company when she graduates.

“I really enjoy working at Skope as I feel that everyone works together as a team,” she said.

“Everyone is made to feel equal, no matter what their role is in the company and I never feel that I am a hindrance.

“Everyone is also there to help with whatever questions I may have.”

Ryan Harbinson

Experience of being a labourer when he was younger sparked Ryan Harbinson’s interest in construction and he knew he wanted a job “being involved in the industry both from the office side of things and the actual construction side”.

“Quantity surveying allows for this balance which is what intrigued me about this career path,” he said.

The past pupil of Lismore Comprehensive School said he’d never had a desire to go to university full time, hence his choice of an apprenticeship “when choosing the quantity surveying pathway”.

That’s why he’s working while doing a degree in Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management at Ulster University.

“Skope really stood out from other firms due to the number of sectors in which it operates,” he said.

“The experience and training they could offer was of the highest quality and very varied, which I knew would play a key role in my professional development.”

Ryan, who has been with Skope for three years, has gained a lot of experience “on a number of different residential and commercial projects”.

He added: “I have also gained an in–depth knowledge in funder monitoring from working on new office developments to new warehouse constructions along with assisting and preparing bills of quantities and contract documents.”

The Portadown Southern Regional College alumnus said meeting new people and forming very good professional relationships with staff were among “the most positive things” he’s gained from working at Skope.

“Being part of a great team has improved my collaborative working skills, along with being given personal responsibility to carry out tasks with a high standard within the office,” he said.

Ryan, who hopes to become a fully qualified chartered Quantity Surveyor, said he hopes to continue his progress within the company in the future.

Vorsprung durch Technik: Skoping out the Audi mindset


The Skope team is delighted to support the development of one of Audi’s latest showrooms.

Audi showroom
Audi showroom

On behalf of Group 1 Automotive, the project’s Chingford site will see the design and redevelopment of an existing building into an exciting new showroom for the luxury vehicle manufacturer.

The site’s existing showroom and valet hub are set for demolition as well.

The project works, set to commence next month, will also include the design and construction of a new valet and pavilion building, with associated Customer and Display parking, siteworks, drainage and service alterations in tow.

“Upon completion in October 2023, the new showroom will create an extensive and fit for purpose environment for the Group 1 Automotive Audi team, helping to highlight the company’s diverse portfolio of vehicles,” according to Skope partner Andrew Murray.

“The brand–new Audi facility, which will have the latest Audi brand identity and new servicing and repair facilities, will be located at Cork Tree Way, Hall Lane in Chingford, making it easily accessible for new and existing customers.”

Belfast’s latest office space: 35DP


Skope is delighted to have been involved in the completion of Belfast’s latest commercial real estate development, 35DP.

Taking its name from its address – 35 Donegall Place – the Skope team provided cost management services for the latest development from Bywater Properties.


Works were procured under the JCT Design and Build Contract with a contract sum of £2.7 million, the five–storey Grade A redevelopment involved demolition works, structural alterations to the existing building, incorporation of feature glazed rooflights and glazed facades to enhance the natural light within the building the before the fit out of the core and lettable office space.

With a Gross Internal Floor Area of 30,147sq ft and the industrial themed fit–out, it is one of the most interesting developments in the city in recent years.

Catering to a broad range of prospective occupiers, it will help meet the needs of the modern workforce by providing a unique flexible office environment against the backdrop of city centre life.

Associate Oliver McGuckin said: “35DP is a refreshing addition to Belfast’s commercial office space offering. Situated in an already iconic city centre location, it will play its part in continuing to position Belfast as being an attractive place in which to work and invest.

“Its accessible location, coupled with the high standard bespoke finish, makes 35DP a unique offering that will transform the way its tenants view the office.”

Skoping out Belfast’s latest student accommodation


The team at Skope is proud to have helped support the development of one of Belfast’s newest student accommodation projects, a 717–bed property beside Ulster University’s new city centre campus.

The prominent LIV Student Belfast site – which is already fully booked – features some of the most enviable facilities that a modern student could wish for: a mix of shared apartments and studio rooms spread over 13 floors, a cinema, gaming areas, a welling being area, social spaces, a café and communal cluster kitchens.

LIV Student Belfast
LIV Student Belfast

With a Gross Internal Floor Area of 38,066 sq ft, the project started in April 2019 and took just over two years to bring to completion, with the £36.7m development wrapping up in August 2021, just in time for the new academic year.

David Wilson, Partner at Skope, said: “Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic and issues stemming from Brexit, we were delighted to provide project management, cost management and health and safety consultancy services for this much–needed student complex.

“With Belfast’s ever–growing student population, coupled with an increased demand for high quality accommodation, LIV Student Belfast is playing a key role in the regeneration of the Cathedral Quarter and the city’s wider investment and development plans.

“As well as having a referral agreement with Queen’s University Belfast, LIV Student Belfast will also benefit from the wider ripple effect of 15,000 staff and students making their way to Ulster University’s new enhanced Belfast campus in the coming months. A 100% occupancy upon opening is a fantastic achievement for all involved in the project.”

David led the Skope team in the project works, collaborating alongside lead contractor, GRAHAM.

In addition to LIV Student Belfast, Skope has developed considerable expertise within the Purpose Built Student Accommodation sector, including the 740–bed College Avenue and 476–bed McClintock Street schemes.

Get in touch to learn more.


StethoSkope at the ready for Ulster University’s new School of Medicine


Skope is delighted to have been involved in the completion of the new School of Medicine at Ulster University.

A JCT Standard Form of Contract with Quants with Contractors Design 2016 with a contract sum of nearly £1 million, this complex project involved the refurbishment of an existing listed building to provide accommodation for a Graduate Entry Medical School at the university’s Magee campus.

The Medical School, with a Gross Internal Floor Area of 1,255 m², opened its doors in August 2021 for 70 post–graduate students to begin training as doctors.

UU Medical School
UU Medical School

The new Medical School will allow UU’s medical students to experience highly specialised facilities whilst the project itself will allow for further investment to the adjoining buildings in providing high quality educational facilities.

It is hoped that the Medical School will address a relative shortage of doctors in Northern Ireland which will ultimately have an impact in terms of the health care that residents here receive. Up until now, the only medical school in Northern Ireland had been at Queen’s University in Belfast.

The Skope team is honoured to have played its part in such a landmark occasion and hope that the expansion of the Magee campus acts as a catalyst for change across the wider North West.

As a business, we will continue to provide timely and cost–effective solutions to key challenges being presented in this post–Covid world.

Get in touch to learn more.

Making of the Maldron Hotel, Glasgow


Over the past year, the UK economy has benefitted from the staycation market and travellers who have been making use of campsites, B&Bs and hotels that are closer to home due to continued uncertainty and restrictions surrounding travelling abroad.

Since our demerger in 2020, we have been focusing on growing the business not only locally but also across other major cities in the UK and Ireland.

Our team recently oversaw the seamless completion of the brand new 4–star Maldron Hotel in Glasgow.

Maldron Glasgow
Maldron Glasgow
Ideally located on the corner of Renfrew Street and Renfield Street, just north of the city centre, the hotel will provide an additional offering for those spending time in the heart of the area’s vibrant shopping, dining and theatre district.

In June 2019, and with a contract sum of over £26m, Skope was tasked with constructing a new 300–bedroom hotel over 12 storeys, including a bar and restaurant, ancillary facilities and associated works including state–of–the–art meeting spaces. The building is also highly tech–enabled with Chromecast in each bedroom, digital check–in and a virtual guest services platform.

The practical completion of the hotel with overall gross internal floor area of 11,914m² was achieved in July 2021.

With the opening of the hotel, we were delighted to discover that 80 new jobs were created.

Hotels, including Dublin’s upcoming €30 million Bullitt Hotel, are just one element of our strong pipeline of projects across both the public and private sectors which also include mixed–use, commercial, residential (private, social, build–to–rent and student), leisure, health, research and education.

Get in touch to learn more.

Skope scores a screamer at new football stadium


The development of the Blanchflower Stadium, home to east Belfast’s Harland and Wolff Welders Football Club, is now complete.

Part of a wider multi–million pound redevelopment of the Blanchflower Playing Fields site, Skope provided cost management services on behalf of client Belfast City Council.

With works comprising of three stages, this first phase saw the revamp of the stadium, with the next two parts focusing on upgrading the rest of the estate before the development of nature trails and other community focused projects.

Associate Jenny Johnston outlined the nature of the work, which involved the redevelopment of the existing Blanchflower Park into “a state–of–the–art community sports stadium”.


She said: “With three seated stands providing capacity for 950 people, as well as another standing terrace accommodating an additional 400 people, the new Blanchflower Stadium will provide an enhanced experience for football players and fans alike.

“Two new synthetic 3G pitches have replaced the previous grass ones; they’re now FIFA Quality Pro and FIFA Quality standard respectively.

“Additionally, the inclusion of a pavilion with community space, multi–purpose accommodation, new changing facilities and new floodlighting will all make for a stadium that all stakeholders are proud of.

“All of these will help the club fulfil its ambitions of promotion to the Irish Premiership and also contribute to maximising the wider health impact of Belfast City Council’s leisure transformation programme, which encourages greater participation in sports and delivering the Growing Communities Strategy.”

The Skope team has undertaken a varied portfolio of projects within the leisure sector including the new Lisnasharragh, Brook and Andersonstown’s leisure centres.

Skope ‘branches out’ as students return to Treehouse social space


The Treehouse, the main social space for all students living at Queen’s University Belfast’s Elms Village, has now been handed over as the new academic year begins.

Starting in June 2021, the Skope team, led by associate Jenny Johnston, provided pre– and post–contract QS servicing on the refurbishment of the student accommodation’s social hub.

“With a £200,000 contract value and a 12–week construction period, we worked alongside the contractor Killowen Contracts and interior designer Philip Rodgers Design to bring the project to completion on time and on budget,” she explained.

Jenny continued: “With the social area comprising quality seating and furniture, a coffee–bar, pool tables and even arcade games, this is an enviable setting for any student to enjoy in their downtime and highlights the commendable efforts that Queen’s goes to in order to provide its students with a high–end yet comfortable and relaxed lifestyle that is reflective of the 21st century.”


“Unprecedented” supply chain demand to increase construction project costs


Following recent comments from the Construction Employers Federation that an increase in costs could “destabilise” the sector, Skope associate Oliver McGuckin outlines why this could be the case.

“Basically, unprecedented demand is being placed on supply chains as a result of the pandemic and the continued uncertainty that still stands around trading with the EU,” he said. 

Skope_Oliver McGuckin
Skope_Oliver McGuckin

“We are seeing evidence of this right now on live projects. Contractors are feeling the pinch from price increases and are approaching clients to assist with the recovery of these increased costs, even if there are no fluctuation clauses in the contracts.

“So as a result of ongoing volatility in the market, some contractors are now seeking to use alternative products to mitigate uncertainty around programme delays and increased costs and are looking at value engineering proposals to offset increased costs.

“But only so much of this can be done and the opportunity and scope to do this will vary from project to project. Contractors may now start to insist that fluctuation clauses are written into contracts to make provision for such costs to be recovered,” Oliver explained.

With many raw material costs having risen by around 15% – and some having risen by up to 50% – it stands to reason why sub–contractors are now holding sway in the market. This is starting to cause a ripple effect on the wider industry.

“A shorter supply of building materials is resulting in longer lead–in times for projects, extended programmes and commercial challenges in terms of project viability. It’s a simple matter of fact.

“Coupling this with the uncertainty in Construction Estimating and Programming, clients need to be taking this into consideration when preparing their development appraisals. 

“We recommend that clients look closely at their contingency budgets to make informed decisions regarding how much risk the project can absorb in terms of material price increases.

“At Skope, ensuring value for money is a core part of our service. We are adept at managing the fine balance between the client’s requirements, stakeholders’ priorities and the development budget to ensure the project will continue to be delivered to the required quality within budget and on time.”

Making a splash at Belfast’s historic Victorian era Templemore Baths


Forming part of Belfast City Council’s £105 million Leisure Transformation Programme for the city, the redevelopment of Templemore Baths will see the renovation of a building that is steeped in history.

With the baths dating back to 1893, the project will not only see the restoration of the site’s original features but also its transformation into a commercially sustainable business with a new 25 metre swimming pool, a state–of–the–art gym and spa facilities.

The Heritage Lottery Fund will provide a £5 million grant towards the £17 million project’s extensive restoration and construction of the new leisure facility.

There will be further provision for the building’s heritage with learning and engagement information centring on the history of the baths and surrounding area being a key focal point.

Skope_Templemore Baths sign
Skope_Templemore Baths sign
The Skope team, with the project spearheaded by Jenny Johnston, is providing cost management services on behalf of Belfast City Council.

“With considerable experience and expertise working on projects within the leisure industry, including Belfast’s Andersonstown and Lisnasharragh Leisure Centres, the Skope team has been enamoured with the redevelopment of the Templemore Baths,” Jenny said.

“A landmark of East Belfast, Belfast City Council’s investment will help ensure the building’s original features are preserved and its extended footprint is future–proofed.

“Whilst it is certainly an ambitious project with half of the building being vacant and in various stages of disrepair, many of the building’s original features – such as twin entrances, the minor pool and slipper baths – remain largely intact. We’re delighted to help ensure these features will be restored and maintained for the next generation to enjoy,” she said.

Work is currently underway on the Templemore Baths, which are due to open in Autumn 2022.

Consider it done.


The business world has been through one of the most transformative years on record.

Established ways of operating were turned on their head as the Covid–19 pandemic took hold to be replaced by new, previously unheard of practices: video meetings are now considered the norm rather than the exception; the rate of digitisation has been accelerated tenfold and attention has refocused the business’s responsibility to nurture the increasingly fragile environment.

All those factors and more have been experienced by the team at Belfast–based Skope over the last 12 months, with the added change of a branding revamp.

Formerly Bruceshaw, the cost and project management consultancy took the opportunity to refresh its business with the demerger from its London arm.

Skope's managing directors John McIlwaine and James Henderson
Skope's managing directors John McIlwaine and James Henderson

Bruceshaw had established itself as a leader in the industry throughout its 47–year history and, whilst changing their name, Skope has retained the history and heritage which had been built up during that time. And what heritage that is.

Bruceshaw was instrumental in the redevelopment of Belfast International Airport, Marks & Spencer at Sprucefield, CastleCourt Shopping Centre, the Port Stanley Airport restoration in the aftermath of the Falklands War, Laganside redevelopment, the Gateway Offices in the Titanic Quarter, The Obel Tower and many more.

While a rich roster of success, the demerger in 2020 provided the catalyst for the firm to not just refresh its brand but to show the market that its offering is anything but typical, Skope’s managing partner James Henderson said.

“We saw this as the perfect opportunity to make a statement, reconnect with existing clients as well as enhance and promote ourselves to prospective clients,” he said. “The rebrand and name change was driven by wanting to stand out from the crowd, do something different and not just ‘change our clothes’.”

The difference that James refers to is a level of service which is head and shoulders above the rest of the market, one which has a relentless focus on delivering projects on time and on budget, one which offers solutions, which adds value and, crucially, one which ensures success.

“We are a service provider and we are driven by achieving success for our clients, hence the strap line – consider it done. As a business we have always prided ourselves on the level of client service we offer, together with direct partner contact and dedicated teams passionate about delivering best value.

“It’s our industry knowledge and ability to build strong relationships which also sets us apart. Our partners alone have more than 140 years of consultancy experience and our team as a whole is driven by innovation and a commitment to excellence.”

That excellence comes from the wealth of experience across the team of experts at Skope who have collectively helped successfully deliver for a broad range of clients over the last few years.

The team, meanwhile, is led by James and fellow managing partner John McIlwaine, along with partners Andrew Murray and David Wilson, all stalwarts of the industry and all passionate about providing the best possible client service. Associates Jenny Johnston and Oliver McGuckin make up the rest of the senior management team.

Skope_Senior Management Team
Skope_Senior Management Team

It is that passion which means Skope has a strong pipeline of projects across both the public and private sectors including mixed–use, commercial, residential (private, social, build–to–rent and student), hotels, leisure, health, research and education.

Alongside local work, the firm is also growing its business in other regions and retains an office in both Dublin and Glasgow.

While already working with a number of clients across the UK and Ireland, the changes brought about by the pandemic mean expanding the firm’s footprint outside Northern Ireland is, in fact, easier and the team expect the ‘export’ side of the business to flourish.

“There will be opportunities post–Covid,” John said. “We have learnt new ways of working and clients now accept that physical project meetings are not a necessity. We have the technology and platforms to support this type of service delivery, having innovated and invested in new tools which can deliver the outputs in a virtual world. This should make working in mainland UK or in Ireland more accessible and achievable.

“Our vision is to deliver value to clients no matter where they are. Skope’s roots are founded in Belfast but our client base and expertise extends throughout Great Britain and Ireland.”

He said the construction sector’s focus has pivoted over the last year.

“In the post–Covid world, some of the key challenges will be regeneration, communities, homes, health and wellbeing, employment, climate change and, very specific to Northern Ireland, Brexit and the ongoing challenges for business and commerce. But these challenges can also be opportunities and we see ourselves being able to provide solutions to our clients to meet each of those issues.”

Such dynamic thinking, combined with unrivalled experience and the capacity to deliver means Skope is well placed to do just that, whether in the local market or further afield across the UK. The current list of projects is enviable and includes a number of notable schemes across the public and private sectors, such as The Paper Exchange on Chichester Street, The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs’ new Animal Health Sciences Building, Templemore Baths restoration and extension, LIV Student Housing on York Street, Glasgow’s Maldron Hotel, Bedford Square, Tribeca, Project Sahara, Pirrie’s build–to–rent in Titanic Quarter and Dublin Road’s aparthotel.

However, paring the firm’s focus back to that which is really important for clients is the real secret to its success.

“It is simple really,” James said. “We deliver projects on time and on budget. Provided we continue to keep that focus as our mantra then we’ll continue to meet the central needs of our clients and they can consider it done. We’ve always been experts at building relationships and that is still very much at the heart of Skope.”


Reputation Means Everything In Built Industry.


With a business relationship spanning more than 25 years, Skope has earned itself a reputable name in the eyes of Oxford Street Capital’s Andrew McKelvey.

Andrew says the consultancy always delivers on time and cost. “They have an extremely good handle on cost control,” he says.

“Any building that we’ve done with them, we find them extremely capable, trustworthy and willing to change during the contract as well, which is very important to us.

“They give you accurate budget figures before going out to tender and we haven’t had a situation where we’ve over spent on account of their budget costs.”

Deemed a small city, Andrew said a company’s reputation in Belfast, particularly in the built industry, means everything.

It was some 25 years ago that Skope’s name (then Bruce Shaw) was recommended to him, and both companies have continued to work together since.

“Reputation and quality of work go hand–in–hand,” he says.

“I’ve never heard of a bad thing being said about Skope and I don’t have a bad word to say either.”

Key Points:

  • Skope is currently providing cost management services for their client as part of the 90,000 square foot fit out of the office accommodation across the upper seven floors of the two Lanyon Place Towers.

  • Oxford Street Capital’s Andrew McKelvey says Skope has never failed when it comes to delivering projects on cost or on time.

  • Skope has worked with Oxford Street Capital on numerous projects, ​including the Hilton Hotel, a £23 million pound project, multi–storey car parks, office buildings and mixed use schemes.

The Skope/​Oxford Street Capital​ Business Relationship

Skope has worked with Oxford Street Capital on a myriad of commercial office developments and fit–outs for more than 25 years. The Lanyon Place area in Belfast is a testament to the many builds completed by Skope and Oxford Street Capital, including the Hilton Hotel, a £23 million pound project, multi–storey car parks, office buildings and mixed use schemes.

More recently Skope has worked with Oxford Street Capital on the fit–out of office accommodation of two heritage listed buildings, McAuley House (formerly Anderson & McAuley Department store) and Cleaver House (formerly Robinson & Clever Department Store).

Skope is currently providing cost management services for their client as part of the 90,000 square foot fit out of the office accommodation across the upper seven floors of the two Lanyon Place Towers. One tower has been completed and the other due for handover before Christmas, 2020.

Only The Best Reserved For Titanic Quarter Projects.


“Every project we do is a minimum cost of £20 to £30 million pound,” he says.

“For each project we will build a specific team which we feel are the best people in the industry.

“For the likes of Skope, having worked with them for upwards of 14 years now, they’ve built up a track record of trust.

“That gives me confidence that they’re going to get on with the job and help us deliver what we need to do in a timely fashion.”

Situated on Belfast’s Maritime Mile, The Titanic Quarter attracts more than one million visitors every year. More than £480 million has been invested and some 20,000 people live, work, visit or stay in the area daily.

Skope has provided James with cost and project management services on numerous Titanic Quarter projects for more than a decade. These include demolition and road works, the Gateway Offices (now home to Citigroup), Titanic Film Studios, and most recently Amazon’s Distribution Warehouse Facility at Channel Commercial Park.

James says it’s important that Skope can deliver on results during both the tender process and the construction phase.

“The primary challenge is being able to win the actual job and for me that’s very important we have a good team that works with us in order to get that far,” he says.

“Skope has been heavily involved with us on the delivery of the distribution warehouse, facility in Channel Commercial Park at Titanic Quarter, which was delivered significantly under budget and significantly ahead of schedule.

“They were a team player as part of the consultant team which delivered that.”

James says he values Skope’s communication skills and senior leadership, particularly when communicating with a variety of stakeholders involved in any given Titanic Quarter project.

“It’s very important that the consultants that work for us have the ability to communicate with our clients and be able to bring the client and their advisory team onboard in an effective manner,” he says.

“This way it helps deliver the project in the best format possible.

“For any consultancy practice, the people specifically delivering the project are their most important asset because it’s those individuals within the organization that actually deliver it on the ground.

“Skope has built themselves a very credible reputation thanks to this.

“They are well–respected and have a very high level of integrity.”

Key Points: 

  • Skope recently cost and project managed infrastructure surrounding Amazon’s first distribution warehouse facility in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.
  • Skope has worked on numerous projects in a cost and project management capacity in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, including demolition and road works, the Gateway Offices (now home to Citigroup) and Titanic Film Studios.
  • Titanic Quarter Commercial Director James Eyre says he only picks the best for his projects – Skope being one of these. 

The Skope/Titanic Quarter Business Relationship 

Skope has worked on numerous projects in a cost and project management capacity in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, including demolition and road works, the Gateway Offices (now home to Citigroup) and Titanic Film Studios. A business relationship that started more than a decade ago, Titanic Quarter’s James Eyre has worked closely with Skope partner Andrew Murray during this time. Most recently, as project partner, Andrew oversaw Amazon’s three–tiered, 479 space van storage centre build, infrastructure to support an 80,000 square foot distribution warehouse facility in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.

Skope sees Karl Group through the Obel Tower build amidst economic crash.


If it wasn’t for Skope, the project surrounding Ireland’s tallest build may never have been completed. That’s according to Karl Group Managing Director Aran Blackbourne, who had his company’s reputation on the line regarding The Obel Tower, a £75 million pound project.

Skope sees Karl Group through the Obel Tower build amidst economic crash
Skope sees Karl Group through the Obel Tower build amidst economic crash

If it wasn’t for Skope, the project surrounding Ireland’s tallest build may never have been completed. 

That’s according to Karl Group Managing Director Aran Blackbourne, who had his company’s reputation on the line regarding The Obel Tower, a £75 million pound project. 

Amidst the 2008 Global Financial Crisis Aran says it was Skope’s (then Bruce Shaw) sound project management skills and costings that gave his lender the confidence to carry on with the project. 

“That reliability enabled the bank to feel comfortable enough to see the project through,” he says. 

“If costs had spiralled out of control then the lender would have become nervous and pulled the pin – and then there would have been a half built building standing there. 

“Basically we got through the crash (GFC) because we had the programme and costs in control.” 

To Aran, the fact the Karl Group didn’t go into the red during one of the country’s greatest economic crashes is a true testament to Skope. 

“Here’s Belfast’s tallest building, with a two story underground basement, right on the edge of the river, with all the technical construction difficulties around that, and it came in on budget,” he says. 

“[Skope] is why the Obel Tower was completed.” 

Aran says it’s Skope’s honesty and integrity he admires most. He says the idea of dishonesty never enters his mind when he thinks of the consultancy. 

“They’re just totally professional and everything is above board,” he says. 

“Everything is straight, honest and they’re totally forthright in their advice. 

“They stick by what they’ve said and they actually deliver on it.” 

Even when it comes to delivering news Aran might not necessarily want to hear, Skope stands by a decision in the best interest of their client. 

“This avoids problems down the line,” he says. 

Just like Skope, Aran takes to every project with a sense of pride and purpose. 

He is passionate about building towards a better Belfast for its residents. 

“Our mission is to create places and to enhance the lives of the people,” he says. 

“Skope understands this. 

“They too realise that it’s more than just the money.” 

Key Points:

  • Skope provided cost and project management services for the developer of Ireland’s tallest building, The Obel Tower.
  • Amidst the 2008 Global Financial Crisis Karl Group Managing Director Aran Blackbourne says it was Skope’s sound project management skills and costings that gave his lender the confidence to carry on with the project.
  • Aran says honesty and integrity are two of Skope’s strongest traits.

The Skope/Karl Group Business Relationship. 

A business relationship spanning more than 20 years, Karl Group first worked with Skope (then Bruce Shaw) on numerous projects as building contractors. One of Karl Group’s last projects in this capacity was Belfast’s Laganside Courts build, where Skope acted as Fund Monitors for the banks funding this project. Completed in 2002, the £50 million pound building was designated ‘Building of the Year’ by the Royal Society of Ulster Architects. 

The Laganside Courts project cemented a solid business relationship between Karl Group and Bruce Shaw, and as Karl Group transitioned from building contractors to developers, they used Skope to guide them through the completion of The Obel Towerbuild in a project and cost management capacity. 

The Obel Tower build represents a huge achievement for both Skope and Karl Group. 

Upon completion in 2010, the 28–storey residential tower consisted of 233 units, a seven–storey office block, five ground floor commercial units and two basement parking levels. 

Recently Skope and Karl Group have worked together on Belfast’s Weaving Works, a project which saw the revitalisation of Armagh House, a historic 19th century red brick building. The former linen warehouse was transformed into four new floors of offices, including the addition of a fourth floor extension in glulam timber and glazing, with a ground floor fit cafe and restaurant fit–out. 

Skope is currently providing project management and cost management services for Karl Group as part of the £50 million pound Bangor Marine redevelopment scheme, a regeneration of the Queen’s Parade area. The scheme is currently in planning. 

Causeway explains why Skope is the industry leader in Ireland.


When it comes to Damian Mitchell selecting a cost consultant and project manager, knowledge and a can–do attitude is everything. According to the Causeway Asset Management Director, that’s exactly what you get when you work with Skope.

Chichester House
Chichester House

Causeway is a real estate investment and asset management–based company that engages Skope as their preferred supplier. Damian explains why Skope is recognised as not only industry leaders in Belfast, but in Ireland too.

“The range of knowledge Skope has across a number of different sectors is very detailed and they’re at the forefront of some of the major schemes within Belfast,” he says.

“In terms of having the accurate knowledge of costings, there’s no need to go anywhere else.

“We find Skope always has the right answers for us.”

This can–do attitude Damian refers to isn’t just unique to Skope’s senior partners and leadership team.

“This runs from the top management team right down to all the staff,” he says.

“You can very clearly see the attitude and how they approach everything with a positive, can–do mentality, which is very important.”

The Chichester House project is perhaps the greatest example of Skope’s can–do attitude.

Acting in both a project and cost management capacity, Skope was able to meet several design and cost changes as the job drew to a close. These were adapted to accommodate leading American technology firm Rapid Seven as they took residency of the building.

“We had to balance costs with a contractor plus justify it to our funders,” Damian says.

“Skope played a key role in adapting the costings around the design, both altering the contract with the contractor, facilitating the changes for Rapid7 and then liaising with our funders to marry the changes together and see it through to completion.”

Regarding the Chichester House project, Damian says he was overly impressed by Skope’s onsite presence to ensure contractors and design teams were kept abreast of key developments and timeframes.

“I think the most important thing that Skope brought to Chichester was a very similar mindset from our own, and that’s finding solutions,” he says.

“Skope, through their own experience, knowledge and attitude, want to find the solution and that’s why they complement the team here at Causeway extremely well.”

Damian says that Skope were recognised as not only industry leaders in Belfast, but in Ireland too.

“Historically Bruce Shaw, now Skope, would be widely regarded as leaders and widely accepted around any table as preferred cost consultants or project managers,” he says.

“If something needs to be done, they will get it done. Skope always go out of the way to get it done.”

Key Points: 

  • Skope and Causeway have worked on some of Belfast’s leading developments in a business relationship that has existed for more than a decade.
  • Most recently Skope provided cost and project management services for Causeway on Chichester House, an a £9million pound project completed in early 2020.
  • Causeway Asset Management Director Damian Mitchell says Skope is the leading construction consultancy in Ireland.

The Skope/Causeway Asset Management Business Relationship 

Skope has worked with Causeway Asset Management on a wide range of projects for more than 15 years. These projects cross a number of sectors including residential, retail, commercial, hotels, offices, fitouts, maintenance and infrastructure. Skope has provided the full range of cost consultancy, project management and CDM services to Causeway Asset Management and their various subsidiary companies.

More recently Skope has worked with Causeway Asset Management on the new M&S unit in Carrickfergus, various residential schemes including those at Castlehill, Ravernet, Demesne Carryduff and Windsor Avenue in Belfast. Skope continues to provide cost consultancy and specialist advice for Ten Square Hotel in Belfast and Shore Commercial Park, Carrickfergus along with the Loughshore Hotel on an adjoining site.

Skope has just completed the cost management and project management services for their client on the £9m Chichester House redevelopment. Situated in Belfast’s city centre, the seven–storey office building involved the total refurbishment and extension of the existing building to provide 67,000 square foot of office accommodation. 

The scheme also consisted of the provision of the Cat A fit–out to accommodate the leading American technology firm Rapid7.