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Employer: Raymond Brown Building

Project: Henry Cort Community College, Fareham

When the negotiation of extra works for Mike Castle’s college scheme pushed site start from July to September, the refurbishment of the kitchen and canteen suddenly became a large square peg aimed at a round and very small hole. With the canteen supplying food to 1,000 pupils every school day, works that had been planned for the six weeks of the summer holiday somehow had to be fitted into the fortnight off at Easter.

Mike’s brainwave? A healthy eating week when only cold food would be provided, as a contingency should the works (now meticulously replanned with trades overlapped to fit into two weeks) overrun. In the event that extra week wasn’t needed, but it offered essential comfort and assurance to the user that the plan B could work.

While refurbishment projects typically don’t suffer from in-the-ground nightmares, they have their own special set of unexpected disasters to deal with. On Mike’s, when the existing cladding had been stripped off the building’s towers, the external block wall was found to be hollow. Installing the new rainscreen cladding would require around 25,000 fixings. At £4 per fixing, that put the project budget in a difficult place without even taking into account the extra labour cost and programme.

An alternative had to be found. But the more the possible framing options were discussed, the more elaborate the solutions became. Until Mike brought the spiral of complexity to an end by suggesting rendering the towers to give the desired panel effect. Simple, effective and fast, it recovered all the time that had been lost.

He was also able to leverage his experience of four similar projects for the difficult reroofing job over the live school. By forming the roof upstand first, he was able to progress the roofing works independently of the facade cladding.