Oaklands Infant School

Value: £404,550

NEC3 contracts/options used: NEC option A

Start-finish dates: March 30, 2015 – August 28, 2015

Main project team members:

-          Employer – Essex County Council

-          Project Manager – Pick Everard

-          Supervisor – Essex County Council

-          Contractor – Hutton Construction

Scope and significance of project:      

The need for more school places and state-of-the-art facilities for pupils in Essex has called for Pick Everard to work collaboratively with its supply chain partners, the local authority and Oaklands Infant School in Chelmsford to deliver a high quality, tailored school extension within a tight time frame.

The school needed to be expanded by 10 pupil places per year – totalling 30 extra places overall – to accommodate up to 180 pupils on the existing site. An extension totalling 147m² was added to the existing building, which included an additional class base, extension of the existing hall, circulation areas linking the two wings of the school and the remodelling of the existing toilets.

The success of the project came down to the slick and well-timed collaborative approach adopted by Pick Everard, the local authority and the school. The result was that this joint-working approach to the project helped Pick Everard to exceed expectations - despite some set-backs such as an unforeseen flood along the way - by being able to provide added value to the end user, including upgrading areas of the existing car park and playground outside the scope of the original contract.

Please detail how you demonstrated collaboration on your project: 

This project was characterised by mutual trust and collaboration, with all members of the project team working proactively and transparently, ensuring a good quality scheme was delivered successfully - on time and on budget.

Pick Everard used key NEC3 principles to ensure this project was a success from the start. One of the first objectives was to produce a Risk Register to identify risks inherent with the project.

Due to the site being heavily inundated with oak trees one of the main risks identified at an early stage was the construction solution required for the foundation design. The NEC risk register detailed the specifics of the ground risk and flagged the potential impact on the project if it was not controlled in a suitable manner.

Proposed mitigation measures were demonstrated and undertaken during the early stages of the project, which meant the end solution would have to incorporate a much more complex piled foundation design. Thanks to the NEC3 contract method, with an emphasis on clause 10.1, this risk was highlighted at an early stage and tracked closely. The contractor was able to tweak the design to introduce the piled foundations while avoiding critical drainage runs - meaning the project saw a realistic uplift to the construction value and no detrimental impact on the programme.

Due to the extremely restricted site area, the project team had to work collaboratively – with its key aim to produce a robust works programme which would schedule all intrusive work during the school holidays.

This included the removal of asbestos and extending the structural steels to the hall - which meant the whole hall was out of bounds - creating the new circulation space within an existing class room and allowing for the remodelling of the existing toilets.

These works were all carried out successfully with the spirit of mutual trust and collaboration, which was particularly important when disaster struck. Over one particular weekend the school’s head teacher reported that the temporarily protected hall had been hit by extreme weather, causing it to flood. The project manager and contractor acted immediately, attending the site on a Sunday to ensure the school was cleaned and ready to be operational again on Monday morning.

The school also had to be cooperative when a planning constraint meant the contractors’ compound area could not be located within an identified area, due to tree protection measures. The only other space available was on the school’s already limited car park. The contractor worked closely with the school to ensure disruption was kept to a minimum, adapting the layout of their compound to give the school maximum parking at all times.


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