Meet the finalists

REFURBISHMENT & RESTORATION UNDER £10 M
All Finalists2020 Winners

Megan Forster MCIOB

Coniston Ltd

Megan Forster was the perfect fit for this refurbishment of a Grade II*-listed mansion. Her understanding of construction was matched by a deep appreciation of heritage. Her measured and meticulous approach likewise suited the needs of a building neglected for decades and with few records of previous works. Her dynamic management of the challenging project setbacks typical of heritage restoration impressed the client, as did the high standard of quality she instilled.

About the Project

Royal Norwegian Embassy, Kensington, London

Refurbishment of 20,000sqft, Grade II*-listed mansion, completed in 81 weeks.

Client: Statsbygg

Contract: JCT

Value: £4.8m

Megan Forster was the perfect fit for this refurbishment of a Grade II*-listed mansion. Her understanding of construction was matched by a deep appreciation of heritage, and her measured and meticulous approach suited the needs of a building that had been neglected for decades.

As the phase one contractor for the external works and reroofing ran into significant delay, she took over the project as principal contractor, accommodating the phase one works while undertaking her own with minimal disruption or fuss. And she minimised the overall programme impact of a mid-project addition of £2m worth of works by vigorous resequencing.

With asbestos found all across the building. Megan’s response in stopping works, bringing in a specialist and having it removed over the course of several weeks was decisive and exemplary. Her management of other project setbacks was equally dynamic.

When the operation to remove the 800mm-thick walls of a wartime bomb shelter built inside an existing room ground to a halt with the breakers unable to penetrate a wire mesh layer in the wall, she found a viable alternative solution. Ruling out hydraulic breakers and small explosive techniques because of the vibration impact on other parts of the building, she had holes diamond-drilled across all four walls to break the integrity of the mesh and give starting points for the breakers.

The original parquet floors were removed to expose services in the floor void that were all to be renewed. At that point it became clear that previous works had not considered the structural impact of cutting through joists and coring cable holes. Megan had each room photographed and logged for the structural engineering, before bolting new timbers to the side of the existing beams to strengthen weak points.

While, given the high-class finish of the specification, there was minimal scope to cut costs, she still managed to value engineer. She found a cost-efficient alternative to the bespoke handwoven stair carpets for the front of house areas that was acceptable in terms of aesthetics and improved lifespan. The client and end user are both delighted with the quality of the project, and Megan has been asked to help rectify defects outside the original scope.