The words ‘constrained building site’ probably bring to mind a terraced unit in central London or a similar urban setting, fronting directly onto a bus lane or red route.
Perhaps a rear extension with no access other than through the property itself? A basement dig-out with barrowloads of rubble bumping down a narrow hall? A roof extension; the chute running from an upstairs window to a skip wedged tightly into a front garden or obstructing a pavement?
But constrained building sites come in many forms and frequently in areas far away from bright lights & big cities. We’ve tackled a rooftop extension to a shopping centre, numerous schemes in the middle of live hospital and school environments, projects in busy sea-side tourist areas, with narrow access roads and where the development occupies the entire footprint of the site, to name just a few.
Very different developments but sharing similar challenges. Challenges which can have financial repercussions; any self-respecting surveyor’s cost plan for works on a constrained site will include an allowance for additional costs to address issues arising from the constraints of the site.
But, in my experience there are also key players in a project team that can make all the difference to the smooth running and success of a development on a constrained site.
The CDM Regulations have always endeavoured to make a design team consider how the building might be built. They make sure that every designer gives proper consideration to the immediate environment of a build, which in turn influences the form of construction and materials chosen. This helps to ensure that the design will be buildable within the constraints of the site.
Obviously, the approach of the main contractor to a project is vital. Timely consideration and understanding of the constraints and potential risks posed by a project is likely to improve the outcome. A procurement process that involves early contractor appointment or at least discussion with potential contractors will help identify logistical issues which can then be addressed to ease the construction process.
Neighbours and Community
These might be adjoining owners, medical staff in a hospital, teaching staff at a school or university or individuals with responsibility for the immediate environment. It’s vital that these people understand the project; its planned timescales, the extent of any possible disruption and the benefits of the completed scheme. Communication is key; neighbours and members of the surrounding community who have been briefed and consulted are far less likely to raise objections to a scheme than those who feel a development and resulting inconvenience have been imposed upon them.
Using these key players wisely might just mean you don’t have to fall back on that constrained site contingency.