CMYA Finalist

Employer: Willmott Dixon Construction Limited

Project: Ronald McDonald House Cardiff

What wowed the client for this three-storey hotel-style block wasn’t simply Darren Hancock’s ability to deliver a quality build on time.

Passion for the job is a hallmark of the outstanding project manager, and Darren Hancock threw himself into this project heart and soul. He insisted that the team treat the building, a hotel-style accommodation block for families of children in hospital, as if they might have need of it themselves in future.

The block was the second in a series of three for the client. Naturally, Darren visited the completed first project for a lessons-learnt meeting, only to reach the undeniable conclusion – to the client’s understandable dismay and reluctant agreement – that there was a 10-week shortfall in the tender programme to complete a quality build on time (the first project had been handed over weeks late with limited defects).

It wasn’t simply Darren’s ability to move beyond that difficult start to deliver precisely what he had promised – a quality build handed over on time – that wowed the client. He went much further.

By coming up with a scheme that would facilitate the construction of an extra storey 10 years down the line while keeping the facility open, he future-proofed the building. His solution included extending the steel columns through the roof, upgrading the parapet steel for the future steel frame, and swapping out the light roof construction for concrete deck so it could act as a floor for the new storey. He also built the lift shaft and main fire escape to an eventual fourth storey and moved the lift motors to the new level so the lift could stay operational throughout the future construction period. His ability to do all this with only minor additional cost took the client relationship from the chilly side of proper to warm and enthusiastic.

He even got the site team to raise over £10,000 for the charity client, his own effort including cycling from Oxford to Cardiff. It was all part of a superlative effort that has seen the client deciding to take Darren’s ‘as much time as it needs’ programme to Oxford for the third project in the series – and asking Darren to complete it.