The new 27 million pound Stockport Academy building has been designed with 21st century education in mind. Vision were appointed to deliver the entire catering facility at the impressive new building having gone through a rigorous verification process conducted by the main contractor Bowmer and Kirkland.
At the same time across the Pennines, Bowmer and Kirkland's state of the art Barnsley Academy project was experiencing a slight delay, one that would ultimately work in favour of Vision, as both companies got to know each other on the Stockport project.
Matthew Griffiths, Quantity Surveyor for Bowmer and Kirkland at Stockport Academy and Ian Woodall, Project Manager for Barnsley Academy discuss their experiences of working with Vision on the two projects.
Could you give me the background to the projects and your roles?
Matthew - This Stockport project involved the construction of a four storey City Academy for our client The United Learning Trust - an education charity, created to manage a number of Academies across the country. The new Academy was constructed to replace Avondale High School in Cheadle Heath, Stockport. We worked closely with the Academy principle, who was resident on site throughout the construction period. I was the quantity surveyor for this project, dealing initially with the financial elements, the tender process, the selection of the sub contractors and then the day to day coordination of the fit out programmes.
Ian - The Barnsley Academy project also came through the same client The Learning Trust and was designed to offer a state-of-the-art learning environment for over a thousand pupils. My role as Project Manager was to fulfill the ambitious designs, working closely with all parties involved.
Was this your first experience of working with Vision?
Matthew - Yes it was, we managed the building of the site and took on sub contractors for each area of development, following the planning and design stages. We put out a tender for the catering facility work for which Vision were successful based on their previous experiences, knowledge of the industry and costs. I would stress that although cost was a factor this was only a minor part of the overall selection process.
Ian - The two jobs ran parallel to start with but then there was a slight delay with Barnsley Academy. It was through the work being carried out at Stockport Academy that we really developed our relationship with Vision. As both projects were academies it was the same surveying team and a lot of the same contractors were used on both jobs.
So what were you looking for in your suppliers for these projects?
Matthew - We have a very strict vetting process when it comes to working with a new supplier so following the tender we looked at health and safety; their previous experience and contacted references; Vision really had to prove they were professional enough to work with Bowmer and Kirkland. With specific deadlines and such large scale projects we had to be confident that Vision would be able to achieve this but also work in a way that we wouldn't have to be constantly chasing them.We really needed a supplier that we could build a strong relationship with, who wouldn't be a struggle to work with and could achieve what we required in the time available.
Did Vision achieve this?
Matthew - Very much so. Vision were able to meet all the deadlines set during the project, coordinate with other sub contractors and at the same time advised us on certain areas to ensure everything ran smoothly.
Did you have any involvement in the initial brief?
Ian - The brief didn't actually come through main contractor Bowmer and Kirkland, it came via a consultant so the design and specification were done, then it went down to tender. It helped that Vision was working with Bowmer and Kirkland at Stockport Academy along with their experience and successes in the industry. The project consultants and design team had completed the drawings but Vision's knowledge in the kitchen industry meant they were able to tweak the drawings. At the same time they were extremely flexible in their approach when it came to working to the original drawings.
Matthew - I wasn't involved directly but I was aware of the brief through the main architect working on the Stockport project. The architects designed the kitchen and produced the drawings and specifications however it was a little grey in certain areas so Vision really helped by offering alternative suggestions, providing us with different options whilst keeping to the budget.
How much involvement did Vision have in the planning stages?
Ian - We handed Vision a shell with plasterboard?and a concrete floor and they basically kitted it out. The coordination between Vision and the other consultants worked really well, they even attended meetings to discuss how the gas was going to come in, where it would stop and who was going to put the tap on the end. I think that works really well as, although the drawings Vision provide have all the required detail, you really can't get better than having a project manager there in person, talking to the main contractor and sub contractors.
Matthew - Although Vision didn't initially have responsibility for the design, once we'd appointed them they basically took over this area, sometimes making recommendations outside of our specification, but they saw that as part of their service to us. I found them to be a very proactive company to work with.
So in that case would you look for their involvement in planning on future projects?
Matthew - Yes, having worked with them I would look to bring them on as a design team much earlier in the process. It depends how the project works, on some we don't have the choice as to whom the designers are and are simply given the brief but on others we do and if this was the case I would definitely involve Vision in the design and planning stages. We were quite restricted with the design at Stockport Academy with little room for any major changes but Vision worked well with us.
Did the scale of the project pose any issues for Vision?
Ian - There weren't any major issues because of the process we went through together, the planning, the coordination, attendance at the design team meetings; they are the things that iron out any problems before they start.....
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