There was great excitement on our street a couple of weeks ago, as the school over the road was in the process of constructing a new teaching block in the middle of a quadrangle. It was half term, and the school was closed, giving the contractors a window of just a week to get the heavy lifting out of the way, and what better way to do that than by using Modern Methods of Construction (MMC).
I’ve been writing a lot about the benefits of MMC over the last few months, so actually seeing it in action was very satisfying. The new block uses fully modular units to create a 2-storey building. Watching these modules being transported carefully up our road and craned into position, despite the terrible weather, drove home just how effective MMC can be in dealing with the multiple problems of tight time scales, tight sites, the skills shortage, and the great British weather!
In just 3 days the modules were in place and the building taking shape, which is impressive in itself. But what impressed me even more was the way in which the contractors and sub-contractors managed the whole process in the community. Our road usually has quite a lot of cars parked on it. The road from which the school is accessed is much narrower and also usually has cars parked on both sides, making access for even normal sized vehicles a nightmare at times. The thought of getting cranes and large trucks carrying complete building units safely up these streets must have been daunting.
Parking restrictions were put in place to clear the roads of cars, but 2 weeks before that happened, the site project manager visited each and every household that was going to be affected. He didn’t just put a letter through the door, he knocked on every door, introduced himself, and spoke to people about what was going to happen, what was required of them, and to personally apologise for the inconvenience. Residents had the opportunity to ask questions, and were left with a polite letter detailing exactly what was going to happen and when, with contact details if there were any queries or concerns.
This is a great example of Public Relations in action. Clear, communication that invites dialogue and is personal – building good relationships with a community that will be impacted by what is going on. It is also a great example of construction at its best – considerate, efficient, and innovative.