NEC has been used to deliver a high-quality public-sector office refurbishment in north London, UK. Client Enfield Council let a £3 million NEC3 Engineering and Construction Contract (ECC) Option A (priced contract with activity schedule) to Wilmott Dixon Interiors in May 2021 for upgrading offices above its Edmonton library. The new facilities will serve as a hub for borough-wide housing and homelessness services in north London.
Operating as part of Perfect Circle, Pick Everard was appointed as NEC project manager and designer under an NEC3 Professional Services Contract (PSC) option G (term contract). Both the works and consultancy contracts were let through NEC-based Scape public-sector procurement frameworks.
The project involved carrying out substantial alterations to the interior and exterior of the existing library second floor to create 1,200 m2 of open-plan office area with flexible meeting spaces. New partitions were installed with glazed screens, as well as a new kitchen area, toilets and showers, and raised access flooring. New electric heat pumps were installed at roof level and new larger windows were added to the east elevation to increase natural light.
The refurbished offices were handed over to Enfield Council on time and budget in January 2022.
Pick Everard director John Clarke says procurement of the full project team through the NEC-based Scape frameworks helped to ensure collaboration started on day one.
‘In line with the NEC obligation to act in a, “spirit of mutual trust and co-operation”, a one-team approach was adopted between the client, the consultant team and the contractor at the outset. Having all project team members in place from the earliest stages also reinforced the atmosphere of collaboration, which remained over the course of the project lifecycle and ensured effective administration of the contract.’
He says ECC Option A was picked for the main contract as it presented the least financial risk to the client and simplified administration of the interim payment process. ‘Option G was selected for the consultancy contract as it allowed the client to call off professional services on a flexible and non-committal basis over a long term, enabling continuity and consistency of delivery’.
Clarke says the poor condition of the existing building structure provided several challenges. ‘Many unforeseen works were discovered on the project that could have caused significant delays to the programme. Working collaboratively with the contractor, the NEC project manager was able to reduce potential delays considerably by gathering and obtaining the information needed by the contractor in a quick and precise manner.’
He says complex and late changes in the client’s requirements during construction were also a challenge. ‘Using NEC’s change-management mechanisms, the contractor was able cooperatively and openly to develop priced proposals and solutions that minimised the impact of client changes to the overall time and cost. The contractor also found a way to accommodate an early start of the information technology and furniture fit-outs, enabling the client to occupy the building earlier than planned.’
Another ongoing challenge was that the library had to remain operational during the construction period with minimal disruption. The solution was to keep the library entrance free for the public while access to the construction site was set up via a rear balcony window on the second floor.
Clarke says the project team met with each other and the library staff regularly to review and discuss any issues around costs and programme, with quick decisions made and authorised through the issue of NEC project manager instructions.
‘There were also 68 NEC early warnings and 89 compensation events raised during the construction period. While this is more than what would be expected on a scheme of this size, it was mostly was due to the poor condition of the existing building. Also, all early warnings and compensation events were agreed and closed out before handover.’
He concludes, ‘Overall, NEC enabled a very thorough and collaborative open-book approach, which directly contributed to the success of this challenging project.’
Benefits of using NEC
- NEC obligation to act in a, ‘spirit of mutual trust and co-operation’, enabled a one-team approach from the outset and a sustained atmosphere of collaboration.
- NEC flexibility enabled the contractor to be engaged on a fixed-price basis and the consultancy team to be paid on an open-ended call-off basis.
- NEC change-management mechanisms enabled challenges such as unforeseen works and client changes to be dealt with quickly and fairly, with minimal impact on programme and budget.