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Employer: Willmott Dixon

Project: Village Urban Resort, Bristol

On his first job for his new employer, Oliver Caunt arrived at the beginning of the construction period on a project intended to reprise a successful first hotel build for the client. With expectations high for a slightly bigger hotel, the programme had been shortened by a fortnight, and Oliver had to take the strain of a comparisons game that took outstanding performance as its starting point.

Comparisons, of course, are never quite between like and like on different sites. That slightly shorter programme turned into a severely truncated construction period once the client had asked for a further two-week reduction (so it could open its gym, which already had 1,400 members, at the start of the month) and another six weeks were lost to disastrously bad weather (high winds imposed 186 hours of crane downtime).

Oliver raised plot productivity by driving efficiencies between trades. He ditched the previous project’s spray-on plaster finishes for the bedroom walls as it would have sealed off 15 bedrooms at a time from other trades. His decision to go for traditional plaster skim instead restricted the plasterwork-only room count to four a day, opening up more workspaces for other trades and turning the tide in the programme battle.

While eager to learn and apply the lessons of the previous project, Oliver sought to introduce further innovation and add engineered value rather than blindly repeat what had worked last time around. His move from a partly prefabricated plant room to full prefabrication for this scheme took eight weeks off the installation time and improved quality.

And when some of the client’s fit-out trades missed their well-flagged slot, he had the confidence to stand his ground, putting their task on hold so other trades could take up their own scheduled slot. Having anticipated this very scenario, he had built in a relief period every night during which those who had missed their window were allowed to return to the site and complete their works. He delivered on time and defect free, having met all the client’s expectations.