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Department of Trade & Industry, Atholl House

Posted On - December 20th 2013
The Problem

When the D.T.I were faced with old windows that were no longer secure, energy efficient, cost effective & posed health & safety issues, Mila Maintenance and Installation had a greener & more cost effective alternative to expensive, time consuming & completely unnecessary window replacement…

Atholl House, is home to hundreds of people employed by numerous government departments. Vast windows let in an abundance of light to each office – as well as wind, noise and possibly would be intruders. Owned by Network Rail and managed by the D.T.I, also the contract project sponsors, the hundreds of windows at Atholl Hose, were in dire need of replacement. Or so some people would have you believe…

702 old aluminium, vertical sliding windows in the building were no longer secure, energy efficient or cost effective and were consequently causing health and safety problems. Amongst the list if reported problems were draughts, failed glass insulated units and cold bridging.

Project Overview

The project, registered with the Considerate Constructors Scheme, began with a competitive tendering process in the form of a ‘pilot window refurbishment’. A bank of five windows with a history of draughts, water leaks and operational defects were refurbished by each of the companies being considered for the contract. Mila Maintenance’s efforts proved successful through highlighting cost saving opportunities and demonstrating great technical solutions. The Department of Trade and Industry approved the tender.

Nature of the works

Due to the diverse business nature of the occupiers of Atholl House as well as the security and access requirements, a number of challenges were encountered including that 95% of the maintenance works needed to take place outside of office hours, between 6pm and 5am. Early morning completion of works was essential to allow the building to warm up to a comfortable working temperature before staff arrived for work.

In preparing the exterior of the building for the work the Mila Maintenance team assessed the risks posed by the close proximity of a main road to the front, an electrified rail line to the side and a car park to the rear of the building. The danger posed to the maintenance engineers, and the nearby public, rendered orthodox access methods, such as scaffolding or mast climbers, unsuitable. The decision was taken to encapsulate the building with ultra-strong safety netting, installed by a specialist abseiling company, to provide protection against any materials falling outside the building while works were completed.

Over and 18 week period 702 windows were resealed, lubricated, adjusted and had old hardware replaced with new security and safety hardware, bringing each window up to todays required standard.

Replacement of old PVCu internal window boards with new hard-wearing, composite window board was also required. Supplied in 6 metre lengths, the window board was difficult to negotiate around the building via stairs or lift, thus could not be installed in one piece as per the tender document. Mila Maintenance and Installation quickly solved the problem by cutting to size, then cutting in half on the ground floor before transporting them to the correct floor and using a special Plasline joint to reconnect the two boards and form a ridged, invisible join. Although this was time consuming it did not hinder the project progress and the team continued to work ahead of schedule.

Cost benefits

To remedy the problems an assessment for replacement windows was carried out and was estimated to cost between £3.5 – £4 Million. However, following an investigative survey by Turner and Townsend, their verdict was that the windows could be repaired and maintained, rather than replaced, at a fraction of the replacement window cost.

A tender document, incorporating a schedule of works as follows, was formulated by principal consultant at Turner and Townsend, Mark Strachan;

1. Window refurbishment works
2. Trial works (pilot bank of 5 windows).
3. Furniture / documents crating and storage
4. Replacement of up to 10 windows (damaged beyond repair)
5. Window blind refurbishment
6. Cyclical planned maintenance costs for 3 years

Project Completion

The contract was tendered to take twenty weeks to complete. Mila Maintenance and Installation completed the whole project in eighteen weeks, two weeks ahead of schedule. Completion ahead of schedule represented a cost saving to the client and minimum inconvenience to people working within the building.

Highlighted additionally in the scope of works were 4 windows, on another level within the building, that were in extremely poor condition and required a full window replacement. However, following the successful repair works in other areas of the building, and the high standard of workmanship from Mila Maintenance and Installation, it was decided the windows should be repaired and serviced. This resulted in a further saving of £3,800 to the customer.

The original window replacement cost was £3.5 – £4million. The cost of Mila Maintenance and Installation completing a thorough window refurbishment, and maintenance service, totalled £173,106. This figure also included £22,500 for three years of cyclical window maintenance, representing a saving of over £3 million to the client.

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