A challenging project to add a 10,000ft2 fourth floor, creating 12 new one bedroom apartments, we replace an existing lift to reach the newly created story, as well as install a new lift at a Lewisham care home. This was during the height of the global pandemic, while the building was fully occupied.
Over 12 months, the team had to remove the old roof and install a temporary one. The creation of an acoustic floor provided a work platform from which to build the new storey and 12 housing units.
A key challenge was bringing in eight tonnes of steel to create the new lift shaft and fourth floor. An area of the car park was sectioned off and large cranes lifted in the steel. A new mansard roof replaced the tempoarary one and solar panels were installed to provide a sustainable energy solution for the building.
The new M&E systems had to be integrated with the old infrastructure including entry and emergency call point systems, utilities and heating systems. The fire stopping systems on Level 3 had to be upgraded to prevent fire on L4 and well as introducing automatic smoke control to the communal areas
Consideration and care over the safety of residents was the primary concern, as many were classed as vulnerable. Communication and compliance of safety measures were key and collaboation with the client, Scots Care, was vital to ensure a smooth project.
Increased safety measures
Hale won the job pre-pandemic but as the team started on site, the UK went into a national lockdown, meaning all current health and safety processes needed to be reviewed and revised.
Working in close partnership with the client, a charitable trust called Scots Care, Hale devised a new schedule of works that address their primary concerns of keeping residents safe. The project was metilicously planned, allowing key trades to work in isolation in each of the apartments. Once a trade had finished, the area was deep cleaned and the next trade was granted access to complete their element of the job.
Teams were socially distanced, took staggered breaks and formed ‘work bubbles’, staying with each other to reduce the risk of infection by returning home.
Strict social distancing measures were introduced and a new role was created for a supervisor on site to oversee and ensure full compliance with the measures.
Keep residents safe and preventing any curious individuals accessing the construction site out of hours was a challenge as a fire escape had to be kept accessible at all times. This was solved by installing an alarm system on the door which alerted staff at the front desk if anyone accessed the floor via this route.
One of the residents had respiratory disease so careful consideration was given to managing waste and reducing the creation of dust.
One of the keys to this successful project was establishing good, consistent and regular communication channels with residents. The Hale team shared the plans, drawings and briefed them at an intial meeting which estabished relationships and allowed residents to voice any concerns.
“Communication processes were developed and agreed in partnership with residents and regular updates were shared via staff and a dedicated noticeboard. Any issues were dealt with quickly and efficiently, as Scots Care chief executive Shona Fleming explains:
“Hale were great to deal with, their communication was excellent from the start of the project. We worked closely with the team and built an open and trusting relationship. They responded quickly to any concerns and we were able to demonstrate that residents were being listened to and their requests were responded to quickly.
“We gave them plenty of notice for any noisy or milestone aspects of the build for example, removing the roof or the arrival of the large cranes so residents new what to expect.”
Keeping on track
Alongside residents’ concerns, it was important that the project remained on time and within budget for the client. As a charity, any delays that impacted the overall cost of the project would create a major issue as any additional funds had to be signed off by a board of trustees, potentially creating further costly delays.
Maintaining a COVID secure environment was also a key consderation so on site there was regular cleaning, washing stations and all trades wore the appropriate PPE.
The project was deemed a critical infrastructure project by the UK Government, so Hale was able to maintain the supply of materials from merchants allowing continuation of the works throughout.
Shona adds: “I’d describe the project as plain sailing, with some bumps in the road, which is pretty good when you consider we were in the first national lockdown. Introducing and adhering to strict measures was key to keeping our site safe and providing reassurance to residents and their families during what was a very challenging time.
“In a previous role, I’d worked in a property surveyors so I had a good understanding of construction project and the issues that can arise from the techincial challenges of this type of build. Hale were very easy to deal with and made the project run smoothly, despite the obvious challenges.
“The quality of their work is also excellent, its six months since they handed over and the finish is excellent, and they’ve not had to return once.”