Meet the finalists

REFURBISHMENT & RESTORATION UNDER £10 M
All Finalists2020 Winners

Tristam Lithgow MCIOB

Willmott Dixon

Tristam Lithgow made craftsmanship and quality the defining points of his management of this Grade II-listed building refurbishment. He worked to get the right result for the project rather than simply looking for the quickest or cheapest answer. He redesigned the heating system to eliminate radiators in favour of ceiling-mounted heating panels. And he changed the offices layout so that the services cabling could be run within the new corridor walls rather than over their surface. The client loved it.

About the Project

County Hall Block Refurbishment, Taunton

Refurbishment of Grade II-listed offices, completed in 105 weeks.

Client: Somerset County Council

Contract: NEC A

Value: £9.6m

Asbestos, unsupported ceilings and walls, mine workings, high-voltage lines and water mains, decaying structures on the brink of collapse. Virtually the only certainty about an unexpected discovery on a refurbishment project is that it will cascade dismay in all directions. So when the unsuspecting team lifted the carpet tiles in the main lobby of this 1930s-built council headquarters to reveal a beautiful chequerboard marble floor, Tristam Lithgow must have fairly capered for joy.

Tristam’s subsequent tailoring of the works to give the floor a superb new lease of life merely reflected how he made craftsmanship and quality the defining points of his management of this Grade II-listed building refurbishment. His Pass the Baton initiative – holding a ceremony as each trade neared the end of its input in which it physically handed over a baton to the next team – helped drive the quality of workmanship and keep the programme on track. App-driven quality checking was used as a real-time construction aid rather than just a snagging tool.

He constantly reprocessed to deliver better value to the client. He redesigned the heating system to eliminate radiators in favour of ceiling-mounted heating panels. He also changed the final layout of the completed offices so that the services cabling could be run within new corridor walls, avoiding what would have been unsightly surface-trunking installations.

Rather than breaking out (and subsequently reinstating) a reinforced concrete deck to lower the new boiler for the heating system into position, Tristam redesigned the system. By bringing the boiler to site in sections and fabricating it in situ, he reduced the programme, the risk and the expense.

In a nutshell, Tristam worked to get the right result for the project rather than simply looking for the quickest or cheapest answer. It was an approach that resonated with the client as much as it is reflected in the completed building.