On time and on budget are the hallmarks of successful project delivery but at the top end of any industry there’s always the expectation that you can offer a great deal more than simply fulfilling the contract.
Blog by Michael Coyle, senior project manager, Morgan Sindall Construction
In mixed use development high performance means applying your experience in ways that add value and stretch budgets. There are a myriad of opportunities for this to happen across the residential and commercial elements of a scheme but the starting point is simply being committed to building a trusting relationship.
As we know from life, trust begins with being honest, consistent and having the insight to be a source of sound advice. On a large scale property development, it can also be fostered by useful interventions – the fresh ideas and new approaches that no one expects, but which make a huge difference. Some of this value can be added before any work starts on site, but the mindset has to be there throughout the build as both contractor and customer deal with the reality of a big project being delivered.
There are many examples of this best practice on the City Centre Opportunity Site South (CCOS) we are currently delivering in St Albans. This mixed use residential scheme sits at the heart of the St Albans’ urban regeneration plans. The project will see the transformation of what was a former police station and NHS clinic into a residential, commercial and retail development, breathing new life into this part of the city.
Before we started our team realised we could achieve significant savings for our customer, St Albans City and District Council, by using the derelict basement area of one of the existing buildings, as opposed to traditional site cabins. These spaces will have potential for further use of the new offices for commercial letting once our work is complete.
Once we got into the detail of CCOS, the innovation started to flow. For example, we redesigned the car park to allow for more spaces by incorporating a one-way system and moving the reinforced concrete columns to different positions. We created even more parking and additional commercial space by designing a bespoke underground sprinkler tank.
As a business Morgan Sindall Construction has a substantial commitment to sustainability through our Decarbonising Communities strategy and we know that our customers’ prioritise reducing the carbon footprint of any given project.
At CCOS, we have removed the gas heating with alternative electric air source heat pump, which is better for the environment and cheaper for the end user. We also redesigned column positions to reduce the amount of concrete required – taking the thickness of the main transfer slab down from potentially 975mmm thick to circa 800mm thick. Aside from the low carbon benefits, this change produced a worthwhile cost saving for our customer.
In other instances, it has been about how we approached tasks. For example, we re-sequenced the installation of around 40 balconies in a way that reduced the amount of scaffold required, producing cost and carbon savings.
Finally, we also looked to reuse of existing building materials such as the external herringbone paving stones. These were saved during the demolition stage, stored in the basement and will be reintroduced in the final landscape scheme.
The end game is always about understanding the customer’s challenges and trying to make a positive difference. The residential apartment market is fiercely competitive and no scheme sells itself. We proactively engaged with our customer to prioritise getting the marketing suite ready and had a perspective on the hero shot - knowing that, from some elevations you can look out and see St Albans Cathedral and, in the distance, Wembley Stadium. Small steps in the grand scheme of successful project management, no doubt, but quality is about how you think, as well as what you do.