A golden example of considerate refurbishment – Midas Construction Ltd’s Pydar House project

Pydar House is a 1980s five-storey office building in the centre of Truro which required modernisation while being partly occupied. Purchased by Cornwall Council from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the building is located in a busy area, bounded on three sides by a public highway and neighbouring properties. These include Truro Police Station, Cornwall Crown Court, public car parks and numerous residential properties. It was also located next to a conservation area.

Outlining the project brief, Project Manager James Thomas said:

“The objective was to create a facility that complied with Cornwall Council’s modern working initiative, which consisted of large open plan areas with tea points and separate meeting areas, whilst incorporating exposed concrete soffits to assist in regulating the temperature.

“The project primarily consisted of works to the interior of the building, carrying out a phased soft strip of existing ceilings, partitions and floor finishes, as well as selected M&E services, whilst keeping the existing building occupants within their designated areas of the building. A number of improvements have also been carried out externally to improve the aesthetics, security, maintenance and accessibility of the building.”

The project was split into two phases of work which enabled the building to be occupied by the client at all times. During the first phase of the project, the building accommodated the Department of Work & Pensions and Cornwall Development Company as tenants, as well as Cornwall Council’s Property Services Department.

However, as each tenant’s lease expired, they relocated, allowing further work areas to become available. Once the first phase of works had been completed, Cornwall Council’s Property Services Team relocated into this area, allowing the remaining areas of the building to be released for refurbishment.

The requirement for continual occupation of the building created many challenges, particularly in relation to privacy, noise, dust, accessibility, fire and M&E (Mechanical and Electrical) services. Commenting on the challenges of the project, James said:

“The original contract duration was 61 weeks, however during the initial soft strip operations, it was identified that the fire encasement of the structural steel frame was unacceptable and that the fire compartment walls were compromised.

“Midas worked closely with the Client Team, and our directly appointed designers and specialist supply chain members to agree specifications and construction details which would resolve these issues. This, along with some other Client variations, has resulted in a requirement for an additional 21 weeks on the contract duration.”

You can find out how the team addressed these challenges, as well as reading just a selection of best practice examples implemented by Midas Construction Ltd, by clicking on the sliders below:

  • Corporate identity and values were encouraged through feedback from operatives, who were also encouraged to go the extra mile through an awards scheme.
  • Controlled site parking was provided, as well as a parking area adjacent to offices, including disabled parking provision.
  • The Site Manager personally ensured that vehicles leaving site were courteous and did not impact upon local residents. He also controlled deliveries and ensured they were correctly off-loaded and stored.
  • The Site Manager ensured that the project adhered to the UK Contractors Group (UKCG) ‘Good Neighbour Site Guide’, and site movements were provided to all potentially affected.
  • The Midas project team supported a number of local charities with contributions of safety equipment, time and money, including the British Heart Foundation’s Stop Smoking Week. The team also organised the charity auction of a kitchen which was due to be stripped out.
  • The site was made available to the local fire brigade to enable them to carry out a training exercise to ascertain whether their appliance could reach over the building.
  • Members of staff from Midas supported the Cornwall Careers Fair, helping promote the industry to new recruits.
  • The site’s shower facilities were offered to tenants of the existing building while outdated facilities were refurbished.
  • The team also gave neighbours an opportunity to attend an ‘energy and winter warmth workshop’ and positioned a clothes bank at the entrance to the site for recycled items of clothing.
  • During the replacement of the permanent central heating system, temporary space heating was introduced at a time when the building had least occupancy. Electrical shut downs were conducted out of hours to change over main electrical panels.
  • The project team donated redundant floor finishes and ceiling tiles to Cornwall Scrap Store.
  • Carbon consumption on site was off-set by sponsoring the planting of two new trees at a local regeneration project.
  • There were no environmental issues with trees, plants, watercourses or wildlife on the site prior to the removal of the pond on site, and the team donated the pond ecology to the Truro City Parks team, which was a huge success.
  • The embodied energy of construction mats was considered, with specific material re-used, reducing movement away from site.
  • The Site Manager provided surplus material to a local work training organisation which provides opportunities for local unemployed people to return to the workplace.
  • Additional public safety signage was displayed along the boundary, with safe cycle and child safety information clearly displayed.
  • Liaison with neighbouring business and building occupants was carried out to maintain fire escapes. A fire escape practice was held and 24-hour security monitoring was carried out. The fire brigade carried out a training exercise and the site offered use of the building to conduct fire drills.
  • An embedded safety culture was discussed and a reward scheme in place for best suggestions provided.
  • Operatives who spoke different languages received linguistic support and help was also available for those with visual or hearing impairments.
  • An employment and skills plan was also introduced.
  • The workforce was provided with healthy eating options which included a bowl of fruit each week.
  • Midas sought agreement from its client for a level access meeting room to ensure access for wheelchair users, and also the use of a room as a faith room, if this was required.
  • Agreements were set up with local shops and food outlets to provide the workforce with loyalty discounts.
  • A bespoke sound graph was created which identified everyday sounds and their noise levels, while also identifying site-specific noises of key operations which would be repeated throughout the works. The various hearing threshold levels were then added to this graph, and this was presented as a poster, at points where access to noisy areas was anticipated, alongside hearing protection.
  • Similarly, a bespoke dust graph was created which displayed identified dust levels. This enabled the team to identify different actions where required, along with the time it would take for the area to clear after works stopped. The team could also pinpoint the various methods available to enable the dust to clear more quickly. Alongside this, they undertook toolbox talks and displayed posters within the welfare facilities on the effect of dust on the respiratory system.
  • The Midas PPE policy for the workforce to wear gloves and eye protection at all times was reinforced in toolbox talks. Each attendee was bought a healthy lunch and organised representatives of Rexel (gloves) and Bolle (eye protection) explained the risks associated with not wearing personal protection. They also covered the various options available for the various work activities. Each attendee was then provided with suitable PPE for their most re-occurring activity.
  • Healthy eating and health and wellbeing information was also provided and promoted, and free eye care was provided.
  • Construction Industry Helpline details were promoted and the company was accredited as ‘Investors in People’.
  • The site helped a local support centre for young people with speech, hearing and visual impairments through a BBQ community event.

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