Our build is managed to a programme, looking like an extended version of the now out of date extract below. This sets out what needs to happen when if homes are to be completed as quickly as is reasonably possible.
Inevitably things always take a bit longer, despite our best efforts. A complicated site and innovative design both make delays more likely, and today’s blog aims to shed some light on some of the main causes of these.
The programme had to be adjusted even before Whittle Construction, our main contractor, were able to start on site. Firstly getting the formal planning approval took much longer than expected. The application was passed by the City Council’s planning committee in July 2010, but we did not receive the formal decision letter we needed to get moving until November 2010. A minor diversion to the public footpath was approved as part of the planning permission but the formal Public Path Diversion took until the following Spring. Finally, negotiations with our funders over the wording of the contracts with our design team and contractor took far longer than anyone expected. By the time we were in a position to get started we were embarking on substantial earthworks in the Autumn - the worst possible time of year.
Until recently the main cause of delays on site has been the weather. Blocks cannot be laid in freezing conditions, and wet weather turns the sub soil we have been using to reconstruct the slope into slop.
With ever increasing numbers of trades on site we are seeing more examples of what are seemingly minor incidents leading to significant hold ups. We were hoping Terrace A would be finished in June and now it is likely to be July. The trouble started when a pallet of windows that had arrived in good time from Latvia, was found to contain just windows, not windows and doors as expected. However both were needed in order to get the houses watertight and start the rendering and the indoor trades. The latest delay has been due to detailed design of the ventilation system. Whittles had been advised to allow one week for this and it ended up taking five. I believe this delay is partly related to the delays getting started. There had been two price increases for the ventilation equipment since Whittles priced the job, and understandably they had been shopping around for a more affordable alternative option before placing the order.
|Terrace A waits for its ventilation ducting|
Terrace B has also been delayed. This time a shortage of cavity trays is to blame. The roof cannot be tiled until they are fitted. This illustrates how an innovative project is more prone to delays. Our cavity trays have to be made to order, whereas if we were building homes with standard levels of insulation they would be of normal width and readily available.
Progress on “building two” which contains the laundry, guest rooms, play room and toilets for the common house had been at a standstill because the roof supplier went bust. Supplier insolvency is always a big risk, so let’s hope this is the only one on our job!
And just when we thought the winter weather was behind us, the roof trusses for Terrace C which were due to be craned in last week, got snowed in in Halifax. The snow was soon cleared, but not before the hired crane had been sent back.... Of course if we had a bigger site with lots of storage space, we could have had the trusses on site well before we needed them.
The foundations have finally been started on Terrace D. However the western end remains dependent on finishing off the facing of the reconstructed slope. And that depends on.....
The good news is that despite all this, if we avoid any more major delays, we expect to have a steady stream of people moving in from Summer until Christmas, and the Common House should be ready soon after the first few people have moved in.