Employer: Willmott Dixon Construction

Project: Wixams Schools

Richard Molyneux’s risk management and mitigation was exceptional, allowing him to turn in a seemingly event-free project without any nasty surprises.

Foresight is the construction manager’s friend. By identifying risk in this design and build project for two schools on one site early on – and acting to forestall it – Richard Molyneux turned in a seemingly event-free project whose lack of nasty surprises is a tribute to his risk management.

Take the utilities installation. With the road to the site not yet laid at project commencement, Richard avoided the potential for utilities delay by engaging early with the utilities contractors to ensure that pipes were laid, meter boxes put in at the boundary, and an internal private water main installed. That early utilities push also allowed him to get on earlier with the external works, such as laying tarmac and completing the car parks. And that in turn supported the tight completion date by allowing freer movement around the site and clean areas for material storage.

Recognising that the site was very exposed, he ensured that the time allocated for the steel erection allowed for wind risk. He also took seasonal labour shortages into account and drove the programme hard up to mid-July to allow for reduced productivity during the summer holidays.

Despite the initial resistance of the team to his decision to implement an early air tightness test strategy, Richard pushed on, knowing from experience that trying to find an air leak during the finishing works can jeopardise project completion.

With the project requiring the simultaneous construction of two schools on the same site, a single project team risked resource conflict, yet a one-team ethos was essential to delivering the project on time and with quality. Richard appointed a dedicated build lead for each team and unbundled supply chain packages as far as possible so that teams worked and were managed separately on each build, preventing any delays on one from impacting the other. To keep everyone united, he held all internal team meetings with both teams present.

With the site having been home to a Second World War munitions factory, Richard worked with the developer to remediate the ground to the site design levels as far as possible, avoiding expensive additional earthworks. Foreseeing that this remediation strategy would raise ground-bearing strength, he reduced substructure buildups, which provided a saving for the client.