Having made it as a quantity surveyor, Aidan McCarron has put his commercial background to excellent use by moving into construction site management. In his first major project management role, he jumped in at the deep end on a major client’s flagship property.
The two key challenges on this nine-level hotel scheme were a proposed double basement and the tightness of a site (where the building filled the entire footprint) enclosed by public footpaths, a TfL red route and an apartment block. The contractor’s commitment to completing four weeks earlier than the tender timescale – which had proved influential in its winning the contract – was yet another element in taking Aidan out of the comfort zone. In this case, the time gained early on in the bulk excavation, when unforeseen obstacles in the ground never materialised, got the faster-track programme off to a great start.
Aidan’s redesign of the transfer beams as slabs saved a further two weeks on construction of ground and first-floor slabs and reduced prelims. And his substitution of the traditional brick facade with prefabricated brick slips prevented programme overload. Although the utility company’s failure to deliver power on time was a late blow, Aidan’s ability to compress the delay from six weeks to three ensured project completion on the agreed contract dates.
As for the double basement with its 98 bedrooms, the big problem was waterproofing. To a belt of waterproof concrete Aidan added the braces of a geotextile membrane with a sodium bentonite core that reacts with wet concrete and swells to form a seal. Quick, easy and cheap to apply, it is also highly durable and trafficable, allowing him to maintain programme without any damage to the product.
Meanwhile Aidan resolved the access difficulties through just-in-time deliveries, robust and methodical planning for bringing in materials (the delivery schedules for the brick panels had to be agreed six weeks in advance), and constantly moving the site offices around the works to free up space for the scaffold.
He also nurtured a positive and collaborative relationship with the client, the professionals and the project team. The more than satisfactory outcome has seen the client recommending McAleer & Rushe for more of its developer-led hotel schemes, including a major project in central London.