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Cladding replacement costs balloon on London blocks

7 January 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

Image: Chalcots Estate (Rydon)

The cost of replacing cladding on five London tower blocks is set to cost tens of millions of pounds more than originally thought and won’t be completed for more than two years.

Council documents confirmed Wates as the winner of the remediation works on the Chalcots Estate in north London. Camden Council had four of the buildings evacuated in June 2017 after they failed cladding safety tests performed after the Grenfell Tower disaster.

The council claimed the external cladding failed the rests and multiple other internal fire safety failures were discovered. Chalcots was refurbished between 2006 and 2009 by Partners for Improvement in Camden (PFIC), which has since entered liquidation. One of PFIC’s subcontractors was Rydon, which also worked on Grenfell Tower.

Now council documents show that Wates’ initial tender to replace the cladding and curtain wall and all associated works to the five tower blocks on the estate totals £89.7m. The work is expected to take 124 weeks.

The figure is considerably higher than the council’s original estimates.

In January 2018, it approved a decision to use a solid aluminium panel system as the preferred cladding solution across the five blocks, estimating the cost at £22m, including £6m of builders’ work. The aluminium composition material (ACM) cladding that was covering the buildings has already been removed.

A second report in March 2018 extended the scope of the work to a full replacement of the curtain wall system, estimated at a further £31m. The estimate for the cladding work also increased by £3m to £25m, bringing the full estimate to replace the cladding and the curtain wall on the buildings to £56m.

The council said the cost has now risen even further because it has since progressed the scope of the project with its engineers and safety advisors, establishing the specification for an A1-rated fire safety system, as well as identifying further works that need to be addressed, including the replacement of brickwork at ground-and first-floor level and the replacement of roof parapets and coverings.

It has applied for £63.5m of funding from the government’s cladding remediation fund, with a further £26.2m in council funding required.

The council carried out a tendering process for the work using a framework agreement set up by Fusion 21 (property retrofit framework – lot 5 cladding – thermal performance improvements), with tenders evaluated using a 60% price and 40% quality ratio.

Ten of the 12 suppliers on the framework expressed an interest in the contract before it was eventually awarded to Wates.

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