Bournville Village Trust

Client: Bournville Village Trust

Date: 2006-ongoing

Scope: Decoration and pre-paint repairs to occupied houses, listed buildings, retirement homes, shopping centres and parks

Contract value: £100,000 - £ 250,000 annually

 

Overview and notable successes

The Trust, located in Birmingham and established in 1900, maintains a portfolio of 8,000 properties, primarily homes housing vulnerable and low-income residents, but with a portion of the makeup being play areas and shopping centres. The portfolio is notable for its designated village and tenant heritage conservation sites, with over 300+ properties, or around 30% of the area, being considered as such.

We have an ongoing relationship with the Trust to conduct pre-paint repairs and carry out decorative work on a cyclical and call-out basis, with work often being carried out in parallel on different sites. Successes include:

  • Excellent feedback from the Trust regarding our ability to maintain the ‘rural quality of the environment’ via strategic paint colour and texture choices
  • Working with the Trust, local libraries and other information stores such as the heritage buildings’ original architectural drawings, understanding the original cultural appearance of properties and agreeing a strategy to maintain this
  • Working safely, and with due care and attention, to maintain properties with consideration for e.g. 100+ year-old cast-iron hopper heads, half-timbering, aged window glazing bars, terracotta etc., all of which would be expensive and culturally damaging to repair if accidentally damaged.

 

Heritage site considerations

The pre-works stage is a critical element of building client assurance when working on heritage sites. We:

  • Organise not only for the Trust, ourselves and any contractors to be involved in the initial site scoping meeting, but invite any other stakeholders, such as residents
  • Provide detailed post-pricing works programme information to all stakeholders, including working methodology overviews
  • Service the conservation zones of the portfolio using a core team of 12 operatives.

This ensures all parties are assured of the completeness of our intended working strategy and allows stakeholders to provide feedback and unique information which may assist us in carrying out work. Further, the use of a core team to service the properties increases the quality of the workmanship, as operatives understand site-specific considerations, and take additional ownership, pride and responsibility for the area’s appearance and integrity.

Staff receive ongoing refresher training on the heritage work and the considerations for working on aging, culturally significant properties, such as:

  • Importance of dynamic risk assessments, and mitigating risk when encountering unexpected hazards, such as undocumented ACMs
  • Altering working habits when working in proximity to stakeholders who are emotionally attached to a property
  • On-site, pre-works inspection procedure refresher, relating to, for example, how urban fallout, in combination with a property’s cosmetic agedness, can result in defects being hidden and thus repairs missed

 

Ensuring work programme success and specification compliance

Due to the geographically dense makeup of the portfolio, and its range of different properties, we have tailored our contract management software, to achieve effective works coordination. This allows us to:

  • Clearly define the separate sites, and site zones, of each project and generate reference codes for each type of property
  • Issue live work programme updates to stakeholders, including PDF summaries, pictures and videos
  • Map key data such as property-specific notes, quality check progress, Dulux Reports, health and safety data etc.

This provides an efficiency increase and safer working as a result of this single access point holding all pertinent information and provides assurance to stakeholders due to live updates providing transparency of work progression. 

For heritage works, resourcing is typically planned around the core team’s availability and the Trust’s needs. We have an agreed programme of cyclical works far in advance to ensure the team’s availability, with ad-hoc resourcing managed using a bespoke work-order database of operative capacity. An operations manager will work with the contract manager to make the core team available wherever possible, assigning alternative resources to different projects to ensure working continuity.

On-site, workmanship is formally inspected via:

  • Site manager responsibility for daily and weekly inspections, both for health and safety and specification compliance, with documentation uploaded to our contract management software
  • Unscheduled contract manager inspections and audits, often in partnership with a health and safety officer.

 

Communication and site requirements

Resident and client liaison are a key focus in servicing culturally significant, occupied properties, as the significance of the works goes beyond mere financial and functional considerations. Residents receive a copy of our Contractors in your Home help sheet prior to works, covering our working procedures, and improving health and safety by explaining the need to keep children and pets away from works. Further, the contract’s liaison officer communicates with residents to explain works, the scope of any disruption and expected timeframes.

As the sites are publicly accessible, and often involve working in occupied properties, we:

  • Define safe delivery access, segregated from public parking and entrances
  • Establish exclusion zones via signage and barriers, communicating boundaries to stakeholders
  • Liaise with support networks of vulnerable people.

The workforce is subject to detailed induction prior to each project. The contract and site managers communicate outcomes of stakeholder meetings and key project goals, discuss safeguarding and vulnerability, conduct a health and safety procedure refresher, and confirm that operatives have understood documentation such as RAMS. On-site workforce communication has a strategic bias towards structured discourse, empowering operatives to work more autonomously and thus more efficiently following the receipt of instructions. This is enabled through:

  • Toolbox talks coordinated by the site manager, with an overview and lessons learned of the previous day’s work and health and safety, before each operative outlines their own mini-schedule and plan for the day in-line with Agile Working practices
  • Teams being assigned either a work telephone or laptop per group, allowing receipt of instructions via our contract management software, and for teams to manage their own resource by checking live project progression updates.

Due to the scale of the sites decreasing the efficiency of in-person management and supervision, a more autonomous workforce has benefitted the Trust through their heightened knowledge and faster working.