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Employer: John Sisk and Son

Project: Smith's Yard, Manchester

Few construction projects avoid a brush with the unexpected, but this residential development of a five-storey and an eight-storey block gave Carl Brierley an initial headache that few will have encountered: a tower crane that couldn’t be made to work. One of two on the site, the luffing crane consistently stalled when lifting a load, despite the attentions of a swarm of engineers. Five weeks of lost hook time later, specialists from the Spanish manufacturer diagnosed the fault: configured in Spain with a 60m jib, it had been fitted with a 40m arm, and the software had failed to pick up the discrepancy.

Carl then changed the west to east envelope construction to a vertical wrap, with weather protection across the floorplates to achieve rapid watertightness and release the internal fitout. His mitigation protected the critical path, maintained the internal works programme and ultimately brought project completion on time.

Before that, with the CFA piled foundations requiring the removal of all underground obstructions on the brownfield site, he had eliminated over 2,000 lorry trips to move the rubble offsite and replacement material back in by crushing and reusing spoil onsite. In a logistically challenging city centre location in a conservation area with narrow roads and unmarked junctions, that represents an environmental as well as a financial and programme victory.

In preconstruction, Carl found savings by using building information modelling to re-engineer the structural slabs across all floors. His reduction in slab depths cut the amount of concrete used by 10%, and he also managed to decrease the quantity of rebar required by 40%.

He designed the temporary waterproofing (typically labour-intensive to install, maintain and remove) into the permanent build by using GRP grating with solid tops rather than the standard open covers, allowing rapid internal fitout. The system also prevented small debris from dropping onto operatives working within the risers.

He built a show flat early in the programme to demonstrate the quality agreed and expected. He also gathered the information generated by the snagging software to create snag leader boards for the trades. No manager wanted their trade languishing near the bottom, and it allowed him to understand where focus was slipping onsite and to bring work back to a right-first-time mindset.

The success of Carl’s scheme resulted in the client going straight into negotiations for another 280-home scheme in Manchester.