Name: Christian Huckstep
Employer: Morgan Sindall
Project: Queen’s Hill Primary School, Costessey, Norfolk
Contract: JCT 1998
Christian Huckstep prides himself on bettering his client’s expectations. With this project, he did just that, ultimately hitting not one, but all three of a construction manager’s key targets of money, time and quality.
But back at the start of the project, things looked grim rather than great. Planning delays dragged the site start back by several months, leaving the completely new school significantly behind programme for its sacrosanct completion date of the start of the following academic year.
Christian quickly established the key construction issues on a site within a once quarried area and moved to address them. He spelled out the disastrous programme and budgetary implications of the original soil strategy of excavation, removal and imported fill to what would have been a depth of half a metre.
Instead, he proposed a soil stabilisation process, introducing a cement admixture to the ground, and stone column pilings under the building footprint. Both solutions had been successfully used by his supply chain partners, and their use here saved over £200k for the client and revived the prospects of programme success.
In his commitment to solutions rather than problems, Christian always adopted the practical and achievable while still striving for the architect’s vision. He consistently presented a clear picture of exactly where the project was against the projected timeline, where it needed to be, and what was required to get it there.
He communicated effectively but firmly when necessary while always remaining polite and upbeat. He galvanised the subcontractors, who responded in like manner to Christian’s own pride in the job. A remarkable team spirit resulted from the respect and loyalty he was shown not only for his expertise and breadth of experience, but also his sense of fairness, proportion, humour and modesty.
And as the downturn hit the ongoing housing developments that the school was being built to serve, his passion and enthusiasm kept site morale high in the teeth of press opposition to the project.
He finished on time, well under budget and with the highest possible quality rating from the client’s notably hard to impress inspector.