Savills LLP is recognised globally as a key partner in the property sector. Managing a vast portfolio of commercial properties and ensuring these assets are well maintained and safe for tenants and the general public is at the core of the services they provide.
Starfish Construction has been a principal partner for Savills on numerous projects over the years, providing turnkey solutions across cladding, roofing and fit-out projects.
The Hub at Pacific Quay, located in Glasgow's Creative Digital Media Quarter is home to many TV production companies, creative agencies and architects. The modern and spacious interior centred around the communal 'Hub Square' offers flexible office space, cafe and breakout areas providing the perfect environment for meeting, talking, thinking and creativity.
The Hub Rainscreen Cladding Technical Survey
The Hub building had been experiencing water ingress in various locations through the rainscreen cladding since its construction over 10 years ago. As a company recognised as the specialists in the design and delivery of complex building envelope solutions, Starfish Construction acted as the principal contractor working in conjunction with engineering consultants Wintech to deliver the complete replacement of the external wall envelope.
We undertook comprehensive invasive technical surveys to identify defects within the wall system with a large number of additional issues identified and reported by our expert team, with our findings backed by an independent façade consultant.
Starfish Construction identified that the EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) rubber seals around the windows were missing and causing the air and water leakage as per our original client remit. During our investigations, we also identified a significant number of additional defects due to our vast technical expertise with these systems, including:
- The ‘Helping Hand’ bracket system was installed incorrectly, prohibiting the required airflow through the system.
- Carbon Steel Fixings had been installed instead of stainless steel
- Non-perforated fire barriers were installed restricting airflow
- Fire Barriers were only installed horizontally and not vertically; therefore, compartmentalisation could not be achieved within the system
- Vapour Barrier at the parapets was missing or installed incorrectly, therefore not protecting the insulation
- Poorly installed cement particle board, with missing seals or tape to the joints
- Vulcanised or welded seals to mid gaskets were not present
- Poorly sealed joints of the insulation board with the foil tape hanging off or missing.
The factors outlined lead to the decision to replace the rainscreen cladding system completely.
- Full rainscreen survey and assessment
- Design of new rainscreen system
- Safe removal of old system
- Installation of new and correctly installed system
- All works carried out without building closure
- Completed within budget and on schedule
Challenges and Solutions
Starfish Construction work to set criteria on all projects, which helps to minimise downtime and issues, beginning with the allocation of skilled tradespeople and ensuring all operatives are fully aware of their role.
The communication of the scope of works to all operatives is key to a successful project, which can include:
- The specification of works
- The technical drawings
- The methodology and sequence of the works
- The programme of the works
- Ensure the materials are fit-for-purpose
- Constant inspection of the works
- A constant manage-review-feedback cycle
- The signing off the completed project
Several challenges had to be overcome on The Hub project, most importantly reassuring the client who already had been let down by the original construction company that Starfish Construction had the expertise to complete the job successfully.
Post Grenfell tragedy, rainscreen panels have been in the spotlight. There is a lot of misconceptions and misinformation around; part of our job is to provide expert advice to clients.
Our recommendation to the client was to upgrade the rainscreen panels to a higher grade fire resistance panel, which was not compulsory because it was not a domestic building. We felt that this was the best course of action to protect the client from possible legislation change and to help provide reassurance for tenants and insurers.
The work progressed with stripping the existing rainscreen panels, sub-frame, insulation and CP board. Starfish Construction expert team begin the work of remedying the flaws detected in our report. All these remedial works were carried out and inspected before the process of installing the new upgraded fire-resistant panels could be completed.
Working with the client to reduce disruption
Starfish Construction carried out the work while the building was fully operational and occupied by the multiple tenants, which meant that traffic management and the cordoning off of areas were risk assessed and managed effectively to allow no margin for error.
Key goals were to Keep noise and dust to a minimum in order not to be disruptive to tenants and visitors working environment. Further challenges were to minimise the chance of rainwater ingress while we removed and installed the waterproof skin of a building, undertaken during stormy autumn and early winter period.
On completion of the project, there were zero reportable accidents or injuries, and we completed on time and within budget.
As this was the first rainscreen cladding refurbishment project that we were involved in at this practice it was imperative that we engaged a contractor who we had the utmost confidence in. Having worked with Starfish over a number of years I have found that their approach to projects is refreshing and they are genuinely portraying the image of a modern, progressive, ambitious company which is who we aim to align ourselves with.
Throughout this project, their approach to health & safety was very good which is paramount. We, as the contract administrator, in addition to the building owner, were very pleased with how the project was delivered and the end result was fantastic.