Construction Manager of the Year 2018: Residential

25 October 2018

Gold winner: Vita Student Accommodation, York

GOLD: John Laycock MCIOB - Wates

Project: Vita Student Accommodation, York. Refurbishment of grade II-listed former convent buildings and construction of 15 new blocks to create 644 student bedrooms. Works included demolition and extensive planting. Completed in 87 weeks.

Contract: JCT 2011, design and build

Value: Tender £47m, final contract £47m

Budget was the crux of this student accommodation project, with the costed design of £52m well beyond the client’s £40m limit. John Laycock’s value engineering strategy – without comprising quality – was key to bringing the job within the cost envelope.

Other finalists

Noel Carson MCIOB, Kier - Neville & Sheraton House, Ustinov College, Durham University
Darren Hancock MCIOB, Willmott Dixon - Ronald McDonald House, Cardiff
Chris Harrison, Mace - Vauxhall Sky Gardens
Terry Kirby, Berkeley - Navigation House, Marine Wharf, Deptford
Alan McGinley MCIOB, Berkeley - Duncombe House, Royal Arsenal Riverside
Graham Marshall MCIOB, McCarthy & Stone - Tudor Rose Court & Savoy House, Southsea
Eamon Melia, Berkeley - Noble and Perkins House, Kidbrooke Village

This included changing the zinc shingle cladding for the envelope and roofs of four of the blocks to timber-clad walls and a standing-seam roof, saving £1.2m by eliminating the need for an additional roof under the zinc to achieve watertightness.

The glazed roof of the heritage building’s internal courtyard was taken out, removing £1m from costs. A full MEP review yielded £1.5m. A drainage design review and rationalisation brought another £250,000 saving.

Laycock brought further innovation during the build. He decided on shallow raft foundations for the new-build blocks – eliminating piling – to mitigate the impact on the archaeology. He reused bricks from the demolition of existing buildings in supporting buttresses for the 5m-high listed walls around the ex-convent.

Prefabricated bathroom pods and M&E plant brought quality and programme gains, along with a labour force reduction, on a site surrounded by residential neighbours and with just a single point of access.

SILVER: Eamonn Laverty MCIOB - McAleer & Rushe

Silver winner: Catherine House, Portsmouth

Project: Catherine House, Portsmouth. Provision of 1,000 ensuite bedrooms (291 studio apartments and 709 cluster flat bedrooms) by converting an existing building and constructing an 11-storey extension. Works included ground-floor retail. Completed in 102 weeks.

Contract: JCT 2011, design and build

Value: Tender £51m, final contract £51m

On this Portsmouth site, Eamonn Laverty was faced with two entirely different projects in one: refurbishment of a derelict 15-storey office block to provide 405 bedrooms, and a new-build extension for 595 bedrooms.

In the existing building, Laverty faced challenges including adapting the floor slab edges for the proposed facade design, connecting the floor levels with the new-build extension, and refurbishing the lift shafts to meet modern standards.

Laverty also had to manage repairs to the stripped frame, which included applying cathodic protection and galvanic anodes as corrosion inhibitors.

All of the refurbishment works had to be completed within eight months so that the site could become watertight, allowing the interior and services packages to start.

Laverty coordinated striking of the scaffold with the internal fit out by starting the interior work from the top down to sync with removal of the scaffold ties, which were fixed through the facade to the underside of the slabs.

Both builds had to progress concurrently, each with different challenges, but Laverty managed to bring the whole scheme in on time and on budget.

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