Clarity is key: Effective communication delivers student block on time

7 June 2019

James Smith describes how communication and collaboration meant that a student block in Leeds was built on time.

RG Group secured the contract for Symons House in central Leeds after successfully delivering the Crown House project in Sheffield for the client, London and Scottish Student Housing. The building is a 23-storey, high-end student accommodation block with amenity space at the ground level and a roof garden at Level 8.

Prior to starting on the £23.9m project, we held meetings with the contractors, client and design team, taking valuable best practice and lessons learned from the Sheffield project to value engineer the scheme and make changes that improved the programme and quality.

There is no external footprint to the building, so our logistics strategy had to rely on negotiating the use of a neighbour’s courtyard to the rear of the scheme as an external loading area and position for the hoist. The crane had to go inside the building: we positioned this within a cluster flat in a manner that allowed the external facade, surrounding rooms and corridors to be completed.

Better than the schedule

Concrete waits for no-one! The concrete frame is the main part of our critical path so we formed a concrete frame delivery bay by way of stepping our hoarding in the partial road closure on Belgrave Street. Fit-out deliveries could be distributed while the concrete wagons could offload to the pump located behind gate two in the hoarding line.

“Each contractor that came to site had several weeks of lead-in meetings with the other teams they would be working with.”

James Smith MCIOB

We came out of the ground in August 2018 and topped out in March 2019, bettering our schedule target. Working with the frame and facade contractor, climbing screens were installed to provide a working platform to install the steel framing system (SFS) and windows, meaning only the brick panel needed to be installed from the mast climbers.

Travel time on the masts is close to 20 minutes to the upper floors which, when happening several times a day, wastes valuable time in travel alone. Limiting their use helped us to push the envelope further.

Use of prefab bathroom pods is now commonplace in many residential sectors, but the difficult part – due to the long lead in – is getting the delivery date right so that you have pods installed to the building as soon as possible and not stored on site. This went excellently – and, having sealed the facade from the frame, we managed to push our programme and match the frame contractor for speed with the fit out.

Clarity of message was key. Each contractor that came to site had several weeks of lead-in meetings with the other teams they would be working with. Each received our delivery presentation which explained in detail exactly how our sequences and logistics worked. Getting teams in early allowed us to listen to the contractors and refine the strategy to the best it could be.

Success through collaboration has been of massive value and we are fortunate that client, consultants and contractors all shared a team ethos.

James Smith MCIOB is project manager for RG Group

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