AV Group’s Dan Holloway explains how he tackles some of the more complicated site deliveries to ensure that the company’s modular buildings can actually be delivered on site with the minimum disruption.
“Almost every modular building project we embark upon presents its own unique set of challenges because each one is designed and tailored specifically for an individual purpose. We design buildings to sit in small places, or to function over several storeys, some are more high spec and some are very basic, but the delivery of each one needs careful planning to actually get it from the factory and onto site with the minimum of disruption, noise, cost or delay.
It’s essential to have great drivers….
Detailed site surveys to avoid problems
We undertake a detailed site survey prior to installing a building. Our surveyors, who are either CPCS- or ALMI-qualified appointed persons, investigate each site and draw up a detailed method statement and risk assessment, which helps flag up any problems prior to the installation taking place. After drafting their assessments they will then liaise closely with our allocated haulage and crane contractors to ensure all the correct and necessary measures have been put in place to prevent problems on the day.
Some units are lifted on the lorry at Langley Mill, sail down the road and are delivered onto site with no fuss whatsoever but others need much more carful planning, especially when they fall inside the Borough of London with its numerous transport and noise restrictions.
Transport challenges in the London Borough
One of the most interesting projects we delivered to site in recent months was at the Charles Dickens School in the London Borough of Southwark.
We reported some time ago about the Roman chalk footings which were unearthed during the archeology searches, which saw everyone stop and scratch their heads while we agreed how best to protect and preserve them for the future. Once we had resolved the historical challenges that had been unearthed we were finally in a position to complete the project and set about our plans to bring the units to site from our production facility in Nottingham. That’s when the modern day challenges also started to become clear.
The laws of the London Borough state that if you are working within a 3 mile radius of Charing Cross you cannot move an abnormal load between 7am and 7pm during weekdays. On a Saturday you can’t move an abnormal load between 10am – 7pm but on a Sunday you can move it at any time, within reason and with consideration for residents.
However, the additional noise restriction laws for residential areas also state that you can’t work at the weekends and you can’t work in the week before 8am.
We had seven lorries each with a 3m wide load to get in place with no window of opportunity to do so! A real Catch 22 situation.
Negotiating a solution
The solution was to enter into some delicate negotiations with the Council to find a way of lifting the restrictions in order to put the building in place and they finally agreed for us to deliver to site on a Saturday morning, from 7am to 10am. This was an almost impossibly tight timeframe but we knew that we would not get any more time officially sanctioned so we set to work.
They asked us to do everything we could to minimise the noise and disruption and so we agreed to make the least possible sound and began work as quietly as we could on the dot of 7am. The first driver got himself in place, assumed the Universal reversing position and accidentally hit the horn with his elbow, which was hardly the start we had hoped for!
However, things went from strength to strength and, thanks to the incredible skill of the drivers, we had all of the units on site and the lorries off the road by 11am, just one hour over our allotted time and with no complaints from the neighbours.
Planning is essential to avoid problems….
Access to Dog Kennel Hill school
Another one of our London Borough schools, Dog Kennel Hill, also provided significant access issues, particularly as the units themselves were of such a height that we had to use low loaders to ensure we could get under bridges. Low loaders mean extra length and are much more difficult to reverse and, with a tight turn into the school entrance off the main road, we had to come up with a creative plan to get these units on site.
Over the road from the school was a Sainsbury’s and adjacent to that a local authority run football club with a service road running parallel to it. Luckily the Club knew the school and was happy to help so we asked if we could use their space to trans-ship the units off the low loaders and onto rigid units for the final leg of the journey across the road and through the tight school gates.
We sited a crane on the service road, again, right next to a housing area, and started the process of lifting each unit off the low loader and onto a rigid unit. Thanks to the incredible skills of the drivers from our haulage partner David Watson Haulage we were able to take each one through the gates and onto site with just millimeters to spare on either side.
Just to add to the pressure, as we were halfway through the challenge the project Architect and school Headmistress also turned up as they had a meeting nearby so we had an audience of interested parties.
Our drivers are skilled at moving large loads
Squeezing into a small space at Selworthy school
The access at Selworthy School in Somerset was also incredibly tight and, even allowing for extra track way to utilize the grass verges, we were really up against it to find enough space for the lorries to make the turn in the site. Again, the amazing skills of the drivers, this time from Westram helped save the day and we got the units on site in good time.
Of course, we knew it would be fine as we had undertaken all of the necessary site surveys and assessments before hand ! However, sometimes you have to really ask the team to pull out that little bit extra to overcome the challenges on the day, and at AV Group we are proud of the work we do with our delivery partners to get these units on site.
If you have experienced any similar challenges why not tell us about them? Or get in touch to find out how we can help provide accommodation solution for small, and tight spaces!