London & Quadrant Housing Trust
Taberner House New Build, Croydon
FFT were appointed to act as Employer’s Agents and Clerk of Works for the design and construction of 172 units across two blocks in central Croydon. The blocks form part of the Queens Quarter development which comprises four blocks with a total of 513 units and 13,000 sq. ft of retail/commercial space designed by AHMM Architects. Each L&Q block was split into separate tenures, with one being entirely London Living Rent and the other Shared Ownership. The blocks differ in height being 13 storeys, 45m tall and 19 storeys, 63m tall respectively.
Our appointment commenced at the outset of pre-contract negotiations where we immediately began working with our clients legal and land team, together with London based Developer, Hub Group. L&Q had agreed an outline offer with the Developer and the intention was to enter into a development agreement with a special purpose vehicle. The Developer was in Contract with Henry Construction Ltd and the scheme would be constructed via a traditional JCT Design and Build 2016 contract.
Our immediate objectives were to review the proposals being considered by our Client and make recommendations, as well as to prepare and agree a robust package of project documentation for inclusion into the development agreement. As a first step, we organised an initial meeting with all key stakeholders to understand roles, responsibilities, timeframe targets and to agree a short-term programme to move the project forward.
We undertook a detailed review of the existing project information including the draft development agreement, reports on title, warranty provisions, head lease, specification, planning and design documents as well as details of the Developers offer. Subsequently, we prepared a value for money statement which examined costs in comparison to current market rates and comparable schemes – our review also considered factors such proposed golden brick payment as well as geographical and date factors. We gave clear recommendations to our client which enabled negotiations to progress further.
A critical analysis of the Developers proposed specification was undertaken and compared to the standard L&Q Employer’s Requirements and technical specification. FFT subsequently chaired a series of workshops with the Developer and Client to establish a hybrid set of Employer’s Requirements which incorporated a combination of the both the Developer’s and L&Q’s specification. Given each block was to accommodate different tenures, it was also important at this stage for us to liaise with the relevant sales/lettings teams and to negotiate the relevant specification for each block.
Additionally, further to our experience in delivering numerous housing schemes with our Housing Association clients, we understood the importance of robust handover and defects procedures and marketing/sales requirements. A key part of negotiations at this stage were to agree a clear methodology for the management of snagging and handing over units as well as a comprehensive defect handling progress during the rectification period. The Developer also agreed to provide our client with a marketing suite and show flat 8 months prior to handover in order to satisfy sales requirements. The revised set of supporting documents were agreed and included within the Development Agreement which was shortly concluded thereafter.
Façade works and cladding have remained a key issue throughout the life of the project, such aspects are of particularly importance on a project of this size due to the building heights. We have taken a pro-active approach and remained in close working contact with the Contractor, Developer and other funders on the site to agree clear, robust methods of reviewing, approving and moving forward with façade proposals.
We pro-actively keep up to date with all current advice in relation to Building Regulations changes and the affect they may have on a development. One such change is a proposed ban on all combustible materials to facades, including balconies, on buildings over 18m in height. Initially, composite balcony decking boards were intended for installation however were found to be Class B rated and thus not fully non-combustible. We made our Client aware of such potential changes to the Regulations and were able to instigate a change review process to install aluminium balcony decking, a Class A rated material and therefore non-combustible. We are currently reviewing costs associated to the change and as part of our monthly reporting have given the Client an advanced warning.
Following entry into Contract, FFT commenced with the delivery of mandatory Employer’s Agent services and our current scope of works includes attendance to monthly meetings, inspections and confirmation of golden brick stage on each block, detailed monthly cost/cashflow and progress reporting against programme, offsite inspections of manufactured building components such as bathroom pods, reviewing valuations and preparing payment certificates, reviewing change requests and agreeing variations with formal instructions, reviewing compliance to warranty provider requirements (NHBC) and Employer’s Requirements and liaising frequently with the client sales, marketing, letting and development teams.
Our clerk of works service encompasses weekly site visits of each block with detailed photographic reports and a constant review of progress against programme, our clerk also attends key construction stages on-site and off-site testing of specialist products such.