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Silver winner

Employer: McAleer & Rushe UK Ltd

Project: Catherine House, Portsmouth

Brought in by the contractor to take over the project management of this major student accommodation scheme, Eamonn Laverty quickly found his feet.

He rapidly gained the trust of the established team and the client through integrity and drive. He ran what was essentially two different projects in one – a large-scale refurbishment of a derelict block and a new-build extension. His timely and on-budget delivery to a first-time client has won the contractor two more large student accommodation schemes.

Brought in by the contractor to take over the project management of this major student accommodation scheme, Eamonn Laverty arrived shortly after construction had begun on site. He made short work of the immediate personal challenge of gaining the trust of the established team, the client and the supply chain, and trusted in his own ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ motto to get to grips with the dynamics of a complex project.

Eamonn’s big construction challenge was that this was essentially two entirely different projects in one – a large-scale refurbishment (around £22m) of a derelict 15-storey office bloc to provide 405 bedrooms, and a new-build extension (around £28m) for 595 bedrooms. The differing methodologies of refurbishment and new build posed a taxing challenge, requiring very different skill-sets from the workforce and management team.

With the construction programme and budget restricted, Eamonn had to think on his feet when unforeseen issues arose in the existing building as elements of the facade and interiors were removed. Challenges included adapting the existing floorslab edges for the proposed facade design, connecting the existing floor levels with the new-build extension, and refurbishing the lift shafts to modern standards.

Constantly aware that the development had to be watertight eight months before practical completion to allow for the preprogrammed sequencing of works for the fit-out of 1,000 student bedrooms, Eamonn drove the massive concrete repair works needed. He stood up to the nerve-shredding impact of the time requirement for doing this effectively – allowing the stripped frame to dry out properly, undertaking the repairs, applying cathodic protection and galvanic anodes as corrosion inhibitors – within the eight-months-to-go deadline. Eamonn then deftly coordinated the striking of the scaffold for the recladding with the internal fit-out by starting the latter from the top down to coincide with the removal of the scaffold ties, which were fixed through the facade to the underside of the slabs.

He ensured both builds progressed concurrently against the different challenges each faced while working towards the same overall programme. His success in handing over a quality development on time and on budget ensured a fine business legacy by generating a strong relationship with a first-time client. The contractor has subsequently been awarded two major developments by the client.