While the new-build element of Brian Hanlon’s school expansion went largely to plan, the refurbishment works saw the dismaying discovery of asbestos and structural defects in retained floors, walls and steelwork.
Brian Hanlon has come up the long way, from labourer to project manager via a day-release construction management degree. But the tools route also offers advantages: in this case, technical understanding, an ability to build teams and a steely resistance to panic.
It was all to the good, given that unexpected problems in the refurbishment phase to expand and upgrade facilities turned what should have been a straightforward scheme into a far more complicated affair. Extensive repair and rebuilding was required within pretty much the existing timescale because the completion dates for the new build and the refurbishment had to be finished at the start of school holidays to allow decants to go ahead with least disruption to the school.
The phase 1 new build went largely to plan. Brian even finished nearly five weeks ahead of schedule despite the multiple interface complexities of the atrium rooflights and a first-floor link corridor to the existing building. The phase 2 refurbishment, though, sent project optimism plummeting.
As ceilings, walls and floor were demolished, asbestos was found, with all its timetable-delaying consequences. What’s more, structural defects were identified in the retained walls, floors and steelwork, forcing a shutdown of work zones until solutions were found.
Brian held workshops with the client and school, and rephased the works. He reviewed the materials procurement, supply chain resource levels and critical path activities. By keeping calm and coming up with alternative solutions, he successfully achieved the completion dates.