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Engineering & Design Faculty: Project Manager’s Report, 25 June 2020

25 June 2020: Project Manager’s Progress Report

With the successful completion and use of the Phase 1 “Construction”, “EGD” and “Electronics” teaching spaces we can report that there was also a substantial saving against the Phase 1 budget.  We were more than satisfied with the overall result from GB Turnkey as the main contractor. The opening of the Phase 1 scope of works on 7 February was well attended and seeing the building filled with budding brains and new equipment was a really satisfying moment for the team.

Wynberg Old Boy Greg Scott of architects Scott & Partners
Wynberg Old Boy Greg Scott of architects Scott & Partners

The process of getting Phase 2 to the starting point with the necessary City of Cape Town approvals in place as well as the competitive tendering, the new main contractor, Couru Construction, was able to start on site on Monday 23 March with 4 days of site establishment and initial Covid-19 protocols immediately implemented before the lockdown on Friday 27 March – frustrating but great to have put the 1st spade in the ground and started the build process.

Through April, with our Health and Safety Consultant, Safetycon, we put in place what we anticipated were going to be almost all of the now “normal” Covid-19 protocols to be ready for a restart. With the Level 4 announcement in the last week of April we pushed through with restarting the site, as we are a “public works project” although not directly under PWD control. With final approvals and authorisations in place, Couru restarted on Monday 11 May – a 45 calendar day delay but delighted that we did not have to wait for Level 3 like so much of the rest of the construction industry. We did however have to wait for Level 3 for Corobrick to reopen for delivery of the first bricks.

For winter construction, the key is to “get out of the ground”. So far we have had surprisingly little rain – a blessing for the project. The first key subcontractor was the piling operation with Fairbrothers.

Working with Fairbrothers we were able to secure a substantial cost saving for the 34 micropiles to the main lab and art loft area at the back of the hall. The piling was a noisy operation and we did get a few neighbourly enquiries – especially with the number of “working from home” neighbours. This was completed in the two week window allocated and followed by the pile caps and ground beams which are complete. The raft foundations at the bottom parking area have been a bit slower to get going and require the deviation of the school ring water main, now in progress.

Other substantial savings and contributions coming into Phase 2, courtesy of Saul Berman, are the significant donations from Corobrick for face and stock bricks, reinforcing supply and fixing from Hulse Qhinebe ReinforcingViva Formwork and Ciolli Ready-mix. As all project funds being spent are from generous donors, we are very conscious of every cent spent on the project. We have further received a cash donation from H&I Construction and have secured a significantly good roofing materials supply price from Youngman Roofing (Chairman is Wynberg Old Boy, Dave Mills). We are working on securing other donations of materials as we progress through Phase 2.

Safety has also been a key priority, not just normal construction safety and Covid-19 safety, but specifically emergency safe exits from the top and middle floor that have to run through the construction site. Temporary scaffold fire escapes have been constructed and are maintained on site – hopefully never to be needed!

This week the columns to the underside of the top floor art loft will be cast, and through next week we will commence with the art loft floor slab. Brickwork preparation for the first of the “sexy perforated” face brick skin to the south side of E-Block is underway. Key steel facade support work has been installed and is now ready for brickwork that should start next week – this is going to be very impressive and striking but also requires very high quality assurance being both complex and highly visible. Couru has also started with the breakthrough for the new build connecting to the existing building and later this week will commence with chopping open on the south facade of the large portrait windows.

One of my disappointments during this period is that the 18 new Grade 10 Civil Construction pupils (and others also interested) have missed out on the work done so far. While we  have photos and videos of the works progressing, it will be great to have them back in the next few weeks to “learn as we go”. Rarely do you get such a hands-on opportunity while you are in the classroom.

While the Covid-19 lockdown has delayed the initial programme, we are working diligently with the contractor to expedite the works and ensuring maximum value is derived from the generous donations.      

Doug Gordon
Brite Projects CC

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