Making Your Existing Building Work Better

Posted by on Jan 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

Making Your Existing Building Work Better

We are thrilled to announce that Ian McKee, Managing Director of GLM, is now a contributing blogger for Urban Realm – a celebrated architecture and planning magazine focusing on Scottish issues. In our first post, Ian explains why the combination of building surveyors and architects makes sense and shares a timelapse video of our Inn at John O’Groats project. See his post below or visit the Urban Realm website


I’m the Managing Director of GLM, a multi-disciplinary practice of building surveyors, architects and project managers and we’re in the business of solving problems. I am often asked what a building surveyor does and how our service is enhanced by joining forces with architects. As a chartered building surveyor myself, I often start off by explaining that I’m essentially a building doctor. Sometimes I’m the GP looking at the general health of a building, diagnosing problems, reporting them to the owner or prospective purchaser and prescribing a course of action to set things right again.


Roofing works at Cargilfield School.

Sometimes intervention is required and I’m the surgeon, opening it up, repairing and upgrading its vital services or rejuvenating it by giving it a facelift.

Inveraray castle2jpg

New pipework at Inveraray Castle.

And very often, I’m the pathologist carefully examining, inquiring and testing to discover the mechanism of failure, to learn lessons and to feedback into our design processes.


Severe dry rot at John O’Groats.

Our building surveyors fix your building and our architects respond to your aspirations, giving form and meaning to your space. Under the watchful eye of our conservation accredited director, David Gibbon (one of the very few practising conservation accredited building surveyors in Scotland) we are well placed to take on old, unusual or problematic buildings. Finding new uses for existing buildings is our bread and butter.

But just because we excel in the old doesn’t mean we can’t embrace the new. At GLM, it’s all about balance. When we see an unused, dilapidated and unloved building, our first instinct isn’t to knock it down and rebuild, we believe the greenest building is the building you already have, but how can we make it better?

We recently completed the regeneration of John O’Groats which included a £2.5 million extension and refurbishment of the long abandoned John O’Groats House Hotel, left to rot for years. Although it would have been unquestionably cheaper to flatten the site and start again, the existing building was clearly an iconic part of the location.

Our project architect Neil McAllister designed a distinctive extension that expresses the area’s Nordic heritage. This welcome splash of colour in a sometimes bleak landscape signals to the world that something new has emerged from the dereliction. By putting our heads together, GLM’s building surveyors, architects and project managers managed to reverse the decline of a beloved tourist destination, save an iconic Scottish building and provide the country with a new, colourful landmark.


The Inn at John O’Groats

I am thrilled to be a contributing blogger for Urban Realm. Expect to hear not just from me, but from the entire GLM team as we bring you interesting news and thoughts on our ongoing projects throughout the UK and on industry news and developments.


IFM 0004 Ian McKee BSc (Hons) FRICS FCABE

GLM, Managing Director