1 April 2021

Our Board is not the only part of the company to have gone through a restructure this year. Collins is bringing sector experts in house to create additional programme accountability and strengthen its Design Management and structural cut and carve teams.

Rob Carr, Director

One of our clients’ main priorities for a complex structural refurbishment is keeping the programme tight. It is our role to look at a project holistically from start to finish and implement the most efficient and robust sequence of activities to achieve what they want.

This year, our design management team has grown with the recent appointments of two structural engineers. This is significant to the strategic ambitions of Collins to lead in the development of appropriate, de-risked and achievable project programmes to the benefit of clients and the industry.

By making these two appointments, we will be able to offer clients one accountable and committed high-quality design management team that works together on a project from day one to establish proper co-ordination between structural and architectural elements.

This combined team will offer an enhanced layer of expertise where close collaboration and knowledge-share will ensure a transparent and demonstrable critical path. We introduced this reshaping of the team after examining the industry's standard approach and identifying how the gaps within it affect companies that offer complex structural refurbishment.

We found that structure is often overlooked. Get the professional team around the table and the focus is always on the finish and the aesthetics of the project. The front end is not regarded to be as critical or ‘big picture’ enough because it is not as aesthetic and the works are so hidden. But the critical path is finite; the early, on-site stages are literally the foundation of the programme and enable the design team to carry out their work towards completion. You cannot re-design the building until the steel frame is in the right place. You cannot attach your fixtures and fittings to something that is not there or is not secure or capable of accepting it.

Our in-house structural design managers add a focus to the early-stage events and offer an in-depth, considered structural approach from tender stage through to handing the project over to the client. As an in-house resource, they – we, as a team – are fully accountable for the development of the programme and they help the company de-risk it, for the benefit of the client as well as for us.

We accept that as main contractor, we take on many of the financial risks of a project, but contractual amendments that say all the risk is on us are false promises and clients should be wary. As Guy McCoig-Lees outlined in his blog Expose the risk of uncertainty, the client’s ambitions are rarely met when programmes go wrong; projects overrun and the quality originally promised becomes compromised. No one wins.

Where the client does win is in having the project interrogated from a design and structural perspective from the very beginning so the co-ordination piece is developed early on and any scope gaps identified and managed. This co-ordination creates greater efficiency and turns unknowns into certainty. This tightens the programme and offers a clearer and more manageable path to completion.

The appointments of our structural design managers may mean we increase how much we challenge our client teams. This must not be regarded as a negative or as an obstacle within the process. This deep exploration into the structures and foundations of a currently unusable listed or industrial building is what needs to take place to transform it into a high-quality, modern lettable space with high ROI. This is the client’s aim and offering them the most accurate and realistic programme is the optimum way of achieving this.

Our design management team is a holistic team that works together to recognise, anticipate and solve fabric and design problems and make the programme watertight, with no surprises. This will be a benefit to all of us who have the ambition and drive to repurpose and reuse our old buildings.

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