Completing a new-build and refurbishment project three weeks early in an existing school with little storage space that remains live during the project duration while dealing with unexpected asbestos discovery and removal is no walk in the park – particularly when the exceptionally tight budget simply cannot be scaled up. Matthew Lewis delivered on the challenge through hard work, stakeholder focus and attention to detail.
His ability to innovate was the difference between success and failure. He minimised the introduction of additional lightweight steel to carry the overcladding panels for two existing school blocks by supporting them from the existing columns. And he used blastproof film on the existing windows to protect the pupils during the overcladding works.
Matthew used concrete piling to allow for a mix of drilled and driven works on the hall substructure while reducing disruption for the live school. Because he had the external doors and windows designed so they could be fitted externally, the existing building could be made watertight before the refurbishment of the classrooms started. Internal window reveals and sills in the refurbished rooms were formed using the existing window frames as an initial frame. Instead of beam and block for the suspended floor in the main hall, he used metal decking, removing the need for a mobile crane to move materials and saving a week on the original programme date.
When undocumented asbestos was found in the new extension area, he removed it in a way that didn’t alarm the pupils and parents while minimising the disruption and the potential delay by stripping it out in holiday periods. And when yet more asbestos was found in a new drainage area, he screened it off while continuing the M&E first fix, getting the asbestos removal contractor in over the weekend.