Sir Robert McAlpine was offered this job following the failure two weeks after site start of the more competitively priced contractor that had won the tender. Joseph McNeil, though, took on his first role as project manager without any prior knowledge of the scheme amassed during SRM’s previous bid for it (the tender team had subsequently moved on to other opportunities).
With the lower three storeys of the building vacated, the hoardings up and the client keen to get the works restarted as fast as possible, Joe mobilised his team and got the early works packages moving. Even more importantly he challenged the demolition methodology (in a building that had sensitive neighbours as well as remaining tenants) of diamond saw cutting without percussive breaking. His successful proposal to use hydraulic crunching instead achieved substantial programme and cost benefits as well as disruption-minimising low levels of noise, and allowed a contract agreement to be finalised.
He overcame the substantial challenge of managing an incoming tenant’s requirements that conflicted with the specification for the screeding. Joe’s proposal of a mix of repair works, levelling compounds and new screeds (backed up by independent consultant’s testing of which existing screeds could be retained) represented a significant saving on the tenant’s original request for the removal and replacement of all existing screeds. It also accelerated the programme, allowing for an earlier unit completion and tenant occupation date.
By working closely with his supply chain, he was able to offer improvements on the design team’s proposals. The most significant was for the reconfiguration of the building’s main power supplies to feed the new retail units: by re-using some elements of the existing low-voltage infrastructure (switchboards, isolators and cable runs), he reduced the scope of the new works and saved costs.
The direct benefit the power solution brought the client was a relationship of trust and this was one of the principal drivers for the extensive contract growth (over £3m in variations) on the project. Combined with defect and snag-free delivery on time and on budget, it has also resulted in Joe’s appointment as leader of a team to deliver further opportunities for the client.