26,000 beds set for delivery by end-August – but will the north west construction industry perform?
The ‘nightmare’ of students being left stranded without accommodation in the north west’s university cities at the start of term is just a few short months away.
After a number of high profile failures in Liverpool and Manchester in recent years parents, students and universities alike are hoping there’s no repeat of past problems, when students were billeted in B&Bs or left trying to find shared digs at the eleventh hour.
But, says Jerry McCole of Manchester-based project managers Ridge and Partners, the cost and reputational problems such issues pose can be avoided with a little bit of micro management and a dollop of common sense.
“We’ve delivered 26,000 student beds on time, every time in cities across the UK from our Manchester and Liverpool offices. And how we and our contractor partners do it is hardly rocket science,” says Jerry.
“Before a shovel hits the ground we ensure that the chosen contractor understands the importance of building a mock-up of a student room on site, complete with all the furniture and fixtures. It may be mocked-up, but it’s real enough to ensure we can identify all the myriad little issues that can add to the snagging list. We can then brief all the site workers and skilled tradesmen in advance so that they avoid making these little errors as they go.
“Our project management team overlay their approach with some clever use of software that drives the building and snagging programme by anticipating issues in advance and together they ensure that the new student accommodation is delivered on time.”
Jerry says his team have worked with many of the UK’s main contractors and that they have all embraced the approach.
“Students and their families invest tens of thousands into their education and they need to be happy and settled into their new homes from day one. That’s the responsibility of me and my team and we take it very seriously indeed. I say to my colleagues ‘we’re not project managers, we’re in the business of making people happy’. It’s how we do that that makes the difference.”