Beard, the multi-award-winning construction company, clinched gold at the 2022 CIOB Construction Manager of the Year Awards for its extension of Radley College’s grade-II listed chapel, executed through Powerproject planning and programme management software.
How Powerproject delivered an award-winning result:
- Sequenced complex works involving multiple specialist contractors
- Facilitated communications between site and project management teams
- Re-sequenced works to reflect design changes and unforeseen circumstances
- Enabled Radley College to add last-minute project extras
- Steered project to on-time completion in 112 weeks with quality end result
Creating a high-quality finish in complex circumstances
Family-run construction company, Beard, has been in business since 1892. Now in its fourth generation of ownership, the company employs more than 300 people across four UK offices and turns over £150+ million annually.
For the past ten years, Beard has been delivering programmes in Powerproject – switching from Microsoft Projects after finding that Powerproject was more cost-effective and offered a better user interface.
Powerproject played an integral role in Beard’s recent £4.2 million extension and reordering of the grade II-listed Radley College Chapel in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.
This complex project was driven by Bill Taylor, a member of Beard’s team for 25 years. After joining the company as a carpenter in 1997, Bill worked through the ranks to Construction Manager. Today, he oversees most of the projects delivered from Beard Construction’s Oxford office.
Multiple specialist subcontractors were required to create the extension to Radley College Chapel, seamlessly blending the new sanctuary with the original building.
“I used Powerproject to resource the Radley College Chapel project, so we knew exactly what labour levels we needed. The design was completely bespoke, so quality was the most important factor: the new part of the building needed to look like it had always been there.”
Bill Taylor, Construction Manager, Beard
Coordinating the needs of specialist contractors
Attention to detail was critical when delivering Radley College’s glorious new chapel extension. The marble floor needed to align perfectly with the walls, constructed from handmade bricks slotted between stone arches. These arches had to align with an intricate timber ceiling and glass lantern, surrounded by handmade lead tiles.
In addition to detailed brick and stonework, the sanctuary extension featured a new octagonal roof manufactured off-site.
Early on, Taylor decided to work with a masonry contractor that could manage the programme’s brickwork and stonework requirements together. He collaborated with this contractor during the tender process, sequencing their needs in Powerproject and planning the work of other contractors around their schedule.
“With Powerproject, we could pull out programme packages for each contractor so they could see their individual workload – or we could pull joint packages for several contractors to show how their tasks fit together. This high-level coordination between trades helped us immensely.”
Adapting the programme for design changes
The entire project required both rigid planning and flexible delivery, as Beard had to contend with a number of ‘moving parts’. For example, during the works, the chapel continued to be used as a focal point of daily school life, which restricted when loud or disruptive activities could take place.
Taylor also conducted value engineering exercises that modified some of the construction processes. For example, the initial design used a traditional brick vault structure for the archway linking the existing chapel to the new extension. However, Taylor’s review of this process revealed there would not be enough space to fit the keystone.
Taylor introduced a lightweight brick-slip system supported by a secondary steel frame. This frame reduced the load weight bearing on the archway and improved buildability, while reducing construction costs by £200,000.
“The project was divided into four phases, and Powerproject enabled us to refine each stage in real-time. For example, we evolved stage four design and engineering requirements during stage three works. Furthermore, Powerproject allowed us to see the effect of these changes on the overall programme.”
The team held weekly site meetings throughout the project, pulling contractor information from Powerproject to compare progress with the original programme baseline. This information was critical to coordinating on-site activities with off-site procurements like manufacturing the sanctuary’s timber octagonal roof.
Forging ahead in challenging conditions
In addition to internal design changes, external factors also impacted the delivery of Radley College Chapel. For example, when the pandemic hit in 2020, Taylor re-sequenced the entire programme to outline what his team could deliver under restricted working conditions and with material supply delays. He also used Powerproject to update project delivery forecasts and inform subcontractors when they would be due back on site.
“Powerproject allowed us to plan what works we could still complete and predict where we would be down on labour and materials to move operations around. The software also allowed us to show this information to Radley College, so they could see we were working around pandemic restrictions.”
With schooling moved online, Radley College brought forward plans to extend the existing chapel’s gallery and replace the organ, which had been scheduled to take place once the chapel had been extended. As a result, Beard needed to re-sequence works to enable these additional activities, especially as the organ had to be installed in a dust-free environment.
“The extra work added complexity, but with Powerproject we could work closely with the school’s other contractors to accommodate their needs. We could also show the school that we’d programmed our plans around their new requirements.”
Achieving a gold standard result
Innovative thinking, specialist contractors and a tight but adaptable schedule enabled Beard to deliver a stunning result, completing works on the grade-II listed chapel in 112 weeks.
“Quality of work was really important to us, and the results speak for themselves. People stand in the new sanctuary and tell us it looks like it’s always been there, which is the best comment we could hope for. The standard of planning and communication we achieved through Powerproject was key to the successful delivery of this job.”
Taylor’s vision and drive when leading the project have been recognised by The Chartered Industry of Building, which awarded him gold at the Construction Manager of the Year Awards 2022 in the Refurb and Restoration category.
The high quality and exemplary delivery of the project has since been further recognised with a number of prestigious industry accolades. These include Craftsmanship, Contractor’s Choice and the coveted Supreme Winner at the Brick Awards; Project of the Year (under £5m) at the Building Awards; and the New Buildings Award from Oxford Preservation Trust.
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