Give A Little Month

Give A Little Month

2020 has been a crazy year (so far!)

Covid-19 has affected all parts of our society and sadly had a huge impact on the ability of charities, NGOs and not-for-profit organisations to generate income.

Funding is an essential for these organisations to continue to do the good work that they do but now unable to rely on traditional fundraising methods (e.g. face-to-face work, donations, and volunteering) it is difficult for them to raise the much-needed funds to keep them going.

At White Associates we wanted to do our small part and set out to raise $1,500 in the month of September in what we called “Give A Little Month”.

To add some spice and extra community spirit, we held 5 different events over 5 weeks in the office.

These “Give A Little” events included:

  • Commit Your Commute – we encouraged staff to donate the money they saved on their commute over lockdown
  • Bacon & Egg Brekkie Rolls – on World Suicide Prevention Day – Friday, 10th September – we started our day with a bacon and egg roll and some open conversations about mental health and wellbeing
  • Packed Lunches – we encouraged the staff to make their own lunch and donate what they would have paid for a takeaway to charity instead
  • High Tea Party – the management team competed in a bake off which was judged at a high tea party in the office
  • Raffle – we auctioned off some great prizes inhouse.

Through these various events we managed raise over our $1,500 target and have decided to divvy the funds across four different charities chosen by the entire team:

  1.  Auckland City Mission
  2. MATES in Construction
  3. Mental Health Awareness Foundation NZ
  4. Life Community

More about the charities:

Auckland City Mission

The Mission, a longstanding client of White Associates, provides integrated social services to anyone seeking assistance such as the isolated elderly, rough sleepers, people living in cars and inappropriate housing. Others are battling addictions, living with mental health issues, or struggling to feed their families over a period of unexpected crisis.

MATES in construction logo

MATES in Construction has 3 key focus areas to work towards their vision of significantly improving mental wellness and reducing suicide in the construction industry:

  1. To advance mental health and social services in New Zealand by promoting the prevention and control of mental illness for people engaged in the construction industry.
  2. Providing leadership for our people to gain better access to mental health services.
  3. Building a stronger more resilient workforce.

The Mental Health Foundation NZ provide free information and training, and advocate for policies and services that support people with experience of mental illness, and also their families/whānau and friends.

Life Community

Life Community provides practical help to the community through many initiatives including

  • Soup Kitchens
  • Christmas boxes
  • Community Support Networks

and much much more…

Plant and Food Research

Precision in Action: Plant & Food Research

At White Associates we do love it when projects receive awards recognition. One that keeps on giving in this respect is a redevelopment project for Plant & Food Research that has been nominated for the Naylor Love Heritage and Adaptive Reuses Property Award at the upcoming Property Council NZ Awards.

Seemingly involving just about every part of our business, this $40 million series of complex and multi-faceted projects demonstrates the intensive cost management work we do to meet the precision required for work in professional scientific research laboratories, involving Konrad Trankels, Graham White, Justin Maritz, Paul Crockett and Weng Tan across a range of disciplines and buildings across a swathe of time lasting from 2013 to 2019.

Project durations:

First budget estimate – Q1 2013
Server room upgrade – Sept 2014 to Dec 2014
Cunningham Building – Nov 2014 to Aug 2015
Hamilton Building (incl. ground floor fit out) – May 2015 to Jan 2019
Padfield Sensory – Aug 2016 to Aug 2017

The client and its needs

To appreciate the breadth of activity over the last seven years, it is worth starting at the beginning: with the client and its needs.

Plant & Food Research is a New Zealand Crown Research Institute, a science organisation that provides research and development that adds value to fruit, vegetable, crop and food products. The organisation occupies a beautiful campus in Mt Albert in Auckland, providing a workplace for more than 350 people. However, the campus was feeling its age, and to enable the institute to be able to do its work properly in the 21st Century the buildings needed to be brought up to a new standard.

From a property perspective, the campus comprised the seven-storey Hamilton Building, originally built in 1967, plus its neighbour, the Deco-inspired Cunningham Building. Under the project, these and other buildings have undergone a significant redevelopment and upgrade (alongside the creation of the purpose-built Padfield office and research facility) to create state-of-the art science facilities and laboratories along with modern, future-focused workspaces, all to ensure that Plant & Food Research can continue to deliver high quality science for New Zealand’s plant and marine-based food industries. This has involved seismic upgrades, replacing the roof and facade, as well as the interior accommodation of four floors of laboratories and three floors of office space.

Plant and Food Research
Photo Credit: Bossley Architects

More specifically, works included asbestos removal, interior fit-out demolition, mechanical, electrical and plumbing work, upgrading and reinstating internal fitout, new plant, facade enhancements, a new security system, and a main services upgrade. And, significantly, the high-precision buildings had to remain occupied and operational throughout the project.

This considerable set of requirements required White Associates to provide a full range of quantity surveying services, including initial estimates, contract preparation, tenders and post-contract cost management. Moreover, working as the cost manager on a science-specific building meant that White Associates had to understand all of the complexities of the different functions of the buildings, and in great detail – from infrastructure, structure, fitout and services – so we could properly incorporate all the science-specific spaces such as laboratories.

White Associates director Graham White describes the project, as well as the initial learning process, as “incredibly complex”, saying that the mix of 20th Century structures and exacting 21st Century scientific requirements presented just the start of a rare challenge.

“Imagine gutting an old multi-storey building, with all the limitations of working within an existing structure,”  he says.

“Completely stripping the building back, taking it back to its concrete shell, reveals all sorts of things on its own, before you even think about a new roof and cladding. Then add the complexities of doing all of this alongside working laboratories, with scientists doing intricate research that requires highly tuned equipment.

 

Further, because work took place on site over a four-year period, we needed to deal with the evolving nature of the project, as well as materials and labour costs. And, if that wasn’t enough to manage, decisions were also made during the process to add the fitout of a further floor”

Plant and Food Research
Photo Credit: Plant & Food Research

Weng Tan, who managed much of White Associates’ post-contract work on the project, said that the only way to live with the omni-present complexity was to be methodical and to plan for – and deal with – the challenges while progressing towards the overall desired outcome.

We started with a small project of upgrading the server room, then started works on the Cunningham building.” he says.

“Halfway through it, we moved onto the Hamilton building, before Cunningham was finished. We worked carefully, moving from floor to floor, advising the client when each floor would be ready.”

This all sounds reasonably straightforward, but as with all best-laid plans the key is to be able to adapt as they change and evolve. So, what caused challenges?

Fixed budget in place, knowing surprises would emerge

Because of the age of the buildings, it was inevitable that surprises would start to come through during demolition, says Weng, who adds that White Associates director Konrad Trankels had factored this into his approach in the earliest estimating phases.

“A challenge for Konrad was not knowing exactly what would be found once demolition got underway. Floor levels might be out of alignment, or services might not be where there were designed to be, for example. Because we knew we had a fixed budget to work with during construction, we had to create and build up a floor-by-floor budget bandwidth for the project, particularly as it would be built over 3-4 years. Cashflow and accuracy of payments were the key to ensuring delivery within budget. We therefore needed to work closely with the contractor to identify variations, putting costs against them and advising client of them at the earliest point.

 

This meant the project had to be staged floor by floor. The method we came up with was this: if we found errors on a floor, we could likely assume it would be happening on all seven floors. This level of forecasting helped us to put budget aside for each floor. The client would then populate the floor, and construction would move to the next one. By being on top of the budget forecast floor by floor, we could evaluate the challenges as we found them.”

Marrying design requirements with the investment case budget

In an environment of on-site discovery, clarity of design was very important. White Associates’ solution was to work closely with the client and the design team to gain a clear understanding of all non-negotiables from a design perspective, says Weng.

“We worked with everyone involved to arrive at a solution that was fit for purpose and able to be delivered on budget within a forecasted contingency spend.

 

“When completing initial feasibility costs, we assumed potential requirements of the building that were validated with the design team in order to arrive at a robust project budget. We believe our ability to communicate effectively with the wider design team assisted in realistic budget expectations. Once realistic budgets were set, the client had the ability to move forward and procure required scope of services. We needed to work closely with the design team in delivering the project on budget within a forecasted contingency spend.”

Plant and Food Research
Photo Credit: Bossley Architects

This led to a decision to negotiate an extension to the contract, which added the fitout of a further floor.

“The client’s requirement was for the additional work to be done at the same unit rates as the main contract works,” says Weng.

“The main challenge this created was in the services trades, which required analysis of unit rates, labour rates and productivity outputs for each subcontractor’s price for the main contract works and the additional work.

 

Our analysis resulted in reductions to the proposed cost of the additional works, and at the end of our analysis the client was satisfied that the proposed cost of the additional works was at the same unit rates as the main contract works.”

Bringing subcontractors on board for the journey

To achieve a better understanding of these costs, bringing subcontractors further into the team was a big contributor to the project’s success, says Weng.

“A trend over the last ten years has been bringing contractors into the design earlier, and the next trend is to bring subcontractors in if you’re confident in the value you’re getting from them.

 

Early on it was agreed that we would need to bring on subcontractors, and for the services in particular. We went through a process to get them to be part of the team, and then as the design was updated we would work with them on the price for their trade. By doing this early we could plan earlier and they could advise the design team, particularly on staging. When you’re doing air conditioning for example, it doesn’t go in floor by floor, so when you break it down building by building, floor by floor, it needs re-sorting.”

Placing modern workplace design and scientific environments into old fabric

One of the key objectives of the overall project was to encourage greater collaboration between staff groups within Plant & Food Research by introducing a range of alternate ways of working to traditional workspaces. Architectural ingenuity, such as introducing double-height spaces to link the floors vertically, came to the fore, in turn requiring cost expertise to provide services in modern workplace design and scientific environments.

Plant and Food Research
Photo Credit: Plant & Food Research

Design-wise, a JV between renowned Bossley Architects and Lab-works Architecture, which specialises in labs merged two forms of specialty to create a beautiful and functional building.

“It went really smoothly,” says Graham.

“There was good demarcation between specialties, as Bossley had full rein on interior break out spaces and exterior cladding, for example, and Lab-works made the most of the sterile laboratory spaces on each floor. Together they created a brilliant work environment.”

Graham says that client was also ‘brilliant’, taking a hands-on, highly involved, big picture approach.

“It was extremely difficult for them trying to build a facility; scientists being led through a long change management process. Having worked in the buildings in one way for 30-40 years, the project created complete change in both how they work and the laboratories themselves. They met it by running a big process for their people, which of course needed coordination.”

This underscored the importance of understanding the client’s requirements and their non-negotiables at the project outset, to be able to set realistic budgets for them to make their key decisions around, says Weng.

“Labs are incredibly complex buildings. The builders have also had to adjust their attitude to what they are doing, because there are so many challenges. Plant & Food Research science is a very high-precision activity across so many aspects, including air quality, air pressure, condensation, with very high tolerances. The exactness of their instrumentation is astounding.

 

This meant two things for the project. Firstly, extremely high quality design and construction, and, second, no form of vibration in the building was allowed while Plant & Food Research were doing their work. We needed to give the client great heads-up for any noisy works so they could avoid it.”

Complete building upgrades taking place in an operational environment also require key components to be fully understood and costed in initial budgets to allow the client the right level of cost advice in order to make key decisions at the project inception stage, Weng adds.

“The client must be able to stage the project in a particular manner to allow for key budget cash flow requirements. The level of quality and specification for this highly serviced facility has been at the forefront of everyone’s decision, and it was managed effectively to ensure that it was not compromised.”

Outcome: all complete within budget

Plant and Food Research
Photo Credit: Bossley Architects

On 22 November 2018, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, Dr Megan Woods, opened Plant & Food Research’s new facility.

This redevelopment has been a huge project, but the result – the new high-quality, purpose-built facilities of the Hamilton, Cunningham and Padfield buildings – will allow us to deliver more and better science for our partners and New Zealand,” said David Hughes, CEO of Plant & Food Research, at the opening.

“Through a combination of fundamental and applied science, much of which has connections to our Mt Albert Research Centre, we will deliver a smart, green future for our industries, for New Zealand and the world.”

Graham White agrees, adding:

“Six years ago White Associates started putting numbers together for this complex project, and delivery occurred within budget, even over this substantial period of time. It was immensely satisfying to see it completed to such exacting requirements, on budget, and we are all so pleased that it has been nominated for a Property Council award. Our fingers are crossed that it will do incredibly well.”

……………………………………………………..

To view a timelapse of the project posted by Plant & Food Research: 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BqbHmQql3Iu/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Hastings Police Station

Arresting Development: HASTINGS POLICE STATION

When working on a project for the New Zealand Police it is important to ensure that every detail is completely locked down – particularly when it comes to cost.

White Associates took on a challenging and hugely rewarding project to manage the costs and budget for the comprehensive redevelopment of Hastings Police Station. Originally picking up the project alongside similar work for Napier Police Station, White Associates provided a range of pre- and post-contract services throughout this $20 million construction project that involved demolishing an existing station and constructing a new three-storey building to exacting seismic requirements on poor ground conditions.

Justin Maritz, White Associates’ pre-contract lead on the project, says that the project objective sounded straightforward at the outset: to manage the costs in the development of a modern, fit-for-purpose facility that maximised the station’s gross floor area in order to increase operational efficiency.

However, he says, ultimately White Associates’ job was more complex, requiring close collaboration with designers and end users to value-engineer design at the masterplan phase in order to deliver this IL3 building within a specified GFA, and meet operational requirements, all within budget.

“You could say that for us the project shared many of the requirements of police work: early detective work, intensive examination of detail, security of personnel in an operational site, coping with rapidly evolving information, and dogged determination, to ensure a successful result. It required us to keep our finger on the pulse of budgets at all times, especially as the project scope and design teams evolved.”

Dealing with challenges all the way through

The cost challenges arrived thick and fast when White Associates came on board. First among them was a background team change that saw GHD take on the design, says Maritz.

“We examined the user requirements and carried out a cost plan, as we could see that the original scheme was way over budget. The scheme had to be redone, and the new architects redesigned the scheme to the budget. This meant we had to know all about the building, while respecting the level of security and privacy the Police needed. We also needed to keep close tabs on client requirements, suggesting alternatives that saved project costs over the long term.

 

“We gave on-demand costings, responding well to mitigate any flow-on costs and programme implications. This involved working very closely with the client’s Project Director and Project Manager, flagging any costs to enable decisions to be made quickly and mitigate costs.”

Hastings Police Station

High seismic stability on poor ground conditions

Construction in Hastings got underway in February 2019, and the challenges kept coming, says Justin Bearne, who led White Associates’ post-contract work:

“Ground conditions are always one of the biggest challenges for any construction project,” says Bearne. “The complicated landforms under the site required extensive specialist deepsoil mixing, pumping a substantial amount of cubic metres of material into the ground.

 

“Controlling costs in this environment required a close collaborative effort with the subcontractors and the main contractor. We did considerable analysis of the conditions; many options were considered, and we helped the client to understand the best value for money options, constantly looking at the best way to maximise budget. Options analysis was vital on this project, requiring many reviews of the methodology before we had a contractor on board.

 

“By factoring in the complicated ground conditions and its associated costs and allowance, we were able to provide the client with a robust budget estimate to then make an informed decision. That decision involved undergoing a redesign in order to bring the project within budget. By identifying the costs and risks early on, we were able to save our client time and money and ultimately put steps in place to provide a better project outcome.”

Hastings Police Station

Controlling cost on operational site

With a court building and custodial unit next door to the police station, ground conditions were far from the end of the site challenges in Hastings. With people coming and going into court daily, plus the need to maintain holding cells and management units for them, the site was live and operational throughout the demolition and construction work.

Furthermore, as the project evolved additional scope was introduced mid-project. This included additional works to the police station, additional upgrades to cells, plus upgrade to ISO Annex buildings and services. Says Bearne:

“These additions in scope pulled us back into establishing budgets for sign-off approval and negotiating contract sums with the incumbent contractors. It required us to obtain additional funding, re-align budgets with business cases, negotiate value for money with the main contractor and minimize the impact of the project programme delivery.”

Bearne adds that it not only involved the use of temporary offices and holding cells to ensure the station could remain operational, but a considerable amount of stakeholder engagement too.

“The station works in close collaboration with the neighbouring Ministry of Justice facility. Given the nature of the station, the design team had to factor in the needs of the various internal and external stakeholders. We not only relied on our extensive experience working with the likes of the Department of Corrections, we also engaged in in-dept stakeholder dialogue in order to understand all of the nuances of this particular site. In doing so, we were able to ensure all of the respective groups’ requirements were captured in the master planning stage, and provided a realistic budget that was grounded in commercial realities.

 

“We worked closely with New Zealand Police and the design team on the delivery steps and sequencing for the project while keeping the site operational and maintaining high levels of security – and all while working closely with the neighbouring Ministry of Justice facility. We sought to segregate the work into set phases while looking for efficiencies in the programme in order to reduce cost where possible. Applying our experience and benchmarking against similar projects we were able to provide crucial information that enabled our client to make an informed decision which was in their best financial interest.

 

“By taking time with our stakeholder management, we managed to maintain a smooth process and kept control of design and cost, always one step ahead of changes on site.”

Hastings Police Station

Maximising GFA while controlling cost

One of the most modern aspects of the project is one that most passers-by won’t see: within the building, NZ Police is pursuing new ways of working. In taking a modern, ‘agile’ approach to the internal layout of the working floors – providing more open space for people to use, thus requiring fewer fixed desks, and thus traditional calculations around space required per person – the Police are challenging the way they work, says Bearne.

“The agile approach is setting a new benchmark for the Police,” he says. “It is something of a hybrid project for them. Historically, they wouldn’t build such a small Gross Floor Area (GFA), and there were many discussions around the amount of space needed, hot desking and so on.

 

“Ultimately, through collaborating with the design team and end users, and applying our value engineering expertise, we were able to help ensure that the design met stakeholder needs while optimising the available space, all while looking for cost efficiencies, in order to deliver what turned out to be 3,300m² GFA within budget.”

Hastings Police Station

Teamwork was the key

Ultimately, after the station was officially opened on 6 December 2019, it has proved to be an award-winner. Taking out the NZIA 2020 Hawkes Bay/Gisborne Architecture Awards, the judges commented that

“this complex project demonstrates how careful planning, good access to natural light, consideration of acoustics, and built-in flexibility can enhance a workplace and improve social outcomes. Internal planning was carefully considered and benefited from consultation between client and architect, and this process has been the catalyst for a desired cultural shift within the client organisation. Both figuratively and literally, the building illuminates the work done by Hastings police.”

Also nominated for the Warren and Mahoney Civic and Arts Property Award, the project demonstrates how success is driven by teamwork and collaboration, says Bearne.

“Teamwork is always a massive factor in project success. On this project, which had cost challenges pretty much from start to finish, success came predominantly through working extremely closely with the client, designers and MCL Construction to ensure the new building met stakeholder needs while optimising the available space and budget. It is immensely satisfying to see it now in use, doing its job, and recognised as a great outcome.”

This is echoed by Joseph McGowan, Project Director for NZ Police, who says:

“This project truly involved everyone from front line staff, District Commander, Consultants and Contractors as well as Hastings Council to find ways of overcoming the difficulties that presented over the course of this project. Without all of this input the project, which was put on indefinite hold at one point, would not have completed. I am genuinely grateful to everyone who made this project a success. Thank you. With this new Hub station we can go on to make a really positive contribution to the communities in Hawkes Bay and Eastern District as a whole.”

 

Staff Headshot

Gabi Rayneau: championing the Broader Outcomes at White Associates

Long ago, in the dim and distant days before Covid, White Associates took an evolutionary leap forward as a company. Inspired by the announcement of the Wellbeing Budget in 2018, and realising the importance of the opportunities offered by the Construction Accord and Broader Outcomes, we created a framework to deliver on these documents and help us start an altogether new journey as a business.

This decision was grounded in the company’s desire to contribute to the potential of New Zealand, not be a drain on it, says Michelle Pou, White Associates’ Business Manager.

“At White Associates, we know that the work we do, and the way we do it as a team of people, contribute to the sustainability of the economic, social, environmental and cultural world we inhabit in New Zealand.

 

“We understand that we enable projects to take place through identifying risks and dependable costs through the lifecycle of each asset we’re involved withwhich can last for many decades. We’retherefore not overstepping the mark by acknowledging that we play a role in the stewardship of the health, safety and environment of the people around us.

This means, she says, that it became obvious to the team that it was necessary to change White Associates’ game in this area, consigning the old CSR plan to history and taking a new approach.

We wanted to create a new structure to help us identify and deliver initiatives that can benefit the people and world around us.

 

Wtherefore spent time creating and debating a framework to guide our actions in the office and on projects – a simple structure to deliver tangible benefits for our communities as we go about our business.”

Activating our own Broader Outcomes approach in delivery 

All positive so far. However, it then became clear that this important project also offered an opportunity to put the Broader Outcomes into practice by developing the skills of White Associates’ own people in its implementation 

Staff Headshot

As Education is one of the key values of the company, it seemed a perfect fit to involve Gabi Rayneau, a member of the White Associates team who is also in her third year of Bachelor of Business degree at AUT, majoring in Sustainable Enterprise and Management. Working alongside Michelle to deliver the project, it has become a powerful training and development opportunity at the same time as delivering tangible value to the company. 

As part of the course, students are required to undertake a nine-week, full-time work placement in an environment directly related to their major. Described as ‘co-operative education’, the placement is designed to help graduates to hit the ground running with workplace experience in their chosen field. 

Fleshing out a framework 

Gabi is using this placement to flesh out White Associates’ framework under the social, sustainable, economic and cultural headings, and to develop KPIs to measure the company’s activity and performance as a sustainable enterprise.

“Sustainable Enterprise is about business of the future,”

she says.

“It focuses on the role of business and organisations in supporting both social and environmental sustainability. We learn to strategize, engage, and negotiate with a wide range of stakeholders, including community, retailers, suppliers, consumers, and NGOs. Sustainable enterprise informs consumer choices, provides community services, drives environmental projects, and transforms organisational strategies and practices.”

The opportunity to carry out the placement was a big part of Gabi’s attraction to White Associates.

When I originally applied for a job at White Associates, they talked about what they were doing in the world of sustainability. I thought it would be a great challenge; a really good opportunity to understand how a business of this type works, while developing activities and approaches in this important area.”

Surveying White Associates’ goals and activities 

Using the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework to benchmark performance, Gabi is undertaking a survey of the goals that White Associates people are interested in achieving, and across which social performance areas. She will also examine the company’s delivery efforts to date, using the framework to evaluate performance against the SDGs, before presenting her findings to the management team. Once over these hurdlesGabi will then create a series of new policies and delivery plans.

 

UN Sustainable Business Goals

“By using these goals as general guidance for the targets we set for our business,

she says,

aim to connect the activities we are already doing to the SDGs, measure performance, and then find aspects of sustainability to focus on that are of use to everyone. It’s all about strengthening the efforts that are already in place, and developing new goals and initiatives for our business to implement and integrate over the course of three years. It is a tremendous opportunity for me to understand how sustainability fits within the world of quantity surveying, so I can help the team as they go out onto site.

Alongside this, Gabi will also look into the psychology side of change, trying to understand and acknowledge the psychological barriers that ultimately enable or stop change from happening. 

It is important for me to understand the people I’m working around,” she saysI will work to understand what motivates people around change – and why people might feel that they can’t do new things. Luckily, the guys are already doing things in this space. I know people here are interested and passionate about this topic, and it is good to have a great team supporting me. It’s all about starting the conversation, seeing what people are doing, finding the gaps, and figuring out how we can implement change.

With commitment given by the leadership team to this approach and framework, setting up a focus group to identify and implement initiatives – and then report to the board every month on actions that deliver on the strategy – White Associates is taking strong new steps forward in this new area. Expect future reports. 

Auckland City Mission: HomeGround

Pioneering. Groundbreaking. Leading edge. These are often-overused words in the world of construction. However, in the case of Auckland City Mission HomeGround, they are not just an accurate, fair description of ambition in action, but they are the starting point for a truly impressive accomplishment emerging in the centre of Auckland.

All the way back in 2007, well before the dark days of the global financial crisis, the Auckland City Mission ran a design competition to create a new complex on its central-city Hobson Street site. Won by Stevens Lawson Architects, a vision was born for not just a new multi-storey facility that would provide integrated wraparound services and accommodation for some of the city’s most vulnerable people, but for a structure that would be built in an entirely more sustainable manner.

Fast-forward thirteen years and the dream is now becoming reality. Work is well underway on site to build the nine-storey Auckland City Mission HomeGround, the tallest building to use cross-laminated timber for its core structural strength in New Zealand.

Since the earliest stages, White Associates has been intimately involved in this project that will house 80 apartments to provide safe, permanent shelter for people, a place where the Mission can support, share and connect with those who need it most. It will also offer low-cost medical treatment and prepare wholesome meals for visitors to its community centre. The new medical centre and pharmacy, being created as part of the project, will include a state-of-the-art 25-bed social and medical detox unit in conjunction with Auckland and Waitemata District Health Boards, increasing the service in central Auckland by 50% with space for 250 admissions and 1825 additional bed stays.

The project has involved a wide range of White Associates skillsets, from the estimating detail skills applied by Konrad Trankels and Justin Maritz, to the bank funding and pre-condition reports reviews undertaken by Darin Bayer, and the post-contract skills now being applied daily by Brett Zeiler and John Hugo McGrath. In short, it’s a full-court press as the team works to help the Mission to deliver this landmark project within an evolving, fundraising-driven budget.

Ambition = QS challenges x3

As so often happens, with pioneering ambition comes complexity and challenge – and this project is not short of any of them. So, what are the biggest challenges here?

Brett Zeiler, who leads the post-contract quantity surveying work for White Associates on the project, says that they come in three main flavours: firsts, fire and funding.

Firsts

“Firstly, this project is one of the tallest timber building in New Zealand. It is revolutionary in its use of Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) on such a large scale. CLT is undoubtedly the answer to building sustainably, adding value to a natural, renewable resource through technology – as well as fast, safe, economical and good for the planet. However, as anyone who has been on a construction site knows, when a new material or method is introduced to site it adds dimensions of uncertainty and risk. All of these can add time and cost to a project.

 

“It is true that the timber product, which is being supplied by XLam, has been used on numerous smaller projects around New Zealand, but it has never been used in a project of this size or in this part of the city. Because the structure above Level 2 is being made out of timber, the team has had to put some serious time and effort into understanding it, with many meetings with XLam to gain specialist knowledge of the system and the construction methodology.”

 

“Now, however, as the build progresses the team are getting to know the product and the system, we are beginning to understand it and become more comfortable with it. It is good to watch the installation team getting into their rhythm on site, it is becoming clear that they too are becoming confident with the methodology involved. That has been a real highlight of the project for me; being exposed to it, how it works, how it affects different elements of design, architecture, and seeing how the consultancy team have dealt with all of the new systems involved.”

CLT designed buildings have been at the forefront of design in recent years across Australia however New Zealand’s unique Volcanic landscape has meant that a more cautious approach has been taken hence the landmark status of this project. The understanding of the seismic requirements in a timber structure of this size in a country with a known earthquake risk has meant that the engineers have had to pioneer their way to a solution.

Fire

Fire rating requirements were a related challenge, says John-Hugo McGrath, who works daily on the project.

“One of the major elements was gaining an understanding of how the key requirements for the timber structure differed from the conventional steel and concrete, a part of this involved understanding how Council was treating the fire design and the implications their calculations had on the design and in turn cost.

 

“To address the challenge, we went through the design options and reviewed the acceptable solutions, we then carried out a cost analysis on the viable options and presented the most cost-effective options to the team. Knowing the options we had to work with allowed the consultancy team and the contractor to identify which option presented the most favourable methodology thus resulting in a solution that was the most cost and time effective for the client”.

The process involved considerable interaction with the Fire engineers and the Architects, he says.

“We worked through numerous options and gained valuable insight into the inner workings of the fire requirements with a CLT system, we reached the right solution with the team and have overcome what was definitely a hurdle at one stage.”

Funding and Project cashflow

One of the continual challenges on a project that continues to involve significant public fundraising is cashflow funding, says Brett. 

“The Mission has undertaken fundraising for different aspect of the project from the general public and grants from DHBs, council and government. This means that from a QS perspective we need to isolate costs from the medical/detox floors and relate them back to grants for specific works.

 

“There’s no doubt that it has been more complicated with multiple sources of funding, as we need to show that funds are being used for their intended purposes. We have therefore been through a process to work alongside the contractor, so as we get prices in for trades, we can split out the required levels of cost. This has involved significant collaboration with the contractor to extrapolate the required information and present it clearly. Our bank funding team has been extremely helpful in all of this work, which has run since the estimating phase through to now.”

John Hugo adds that the unique nature in which the Mission relies heavily on public donations to fund the project has meant that the team has had to work closely with the Mission to inform them frequently on their cashflow forecasting.

“By doing this we have been able to ensure the Mission is in a position to understand their donation targets and push donation drives to guarantee they have the capital to cover for upcoming payments as and when they are due”.

Procurement

The procurement process has been another key process within this project, adds John Hugo.

“To gain an early start we tendered a P&G Margin contract to get a contractor on board, and then tendered trade packages until we had a 60% lump sum before commencing on site. This was a fairly unique process but was used out of necessity. Since then we have been working on an open book basis to procure the remaining 40% of trades as and when the design has progressed”

 

The open book basis has allowed us to ensure the contractor has obtained competitive market pricing on each trade through the tender process. “The number of moving parts involved in this process has meant that we have had to reassure the client and provide them with confidence of an accurate forecast cost as we progress through the trades”.

A collaborative approach with the contractor has meant the team has had the ability to engage with the trades and provide a more in-depth oversight throughout the entire process to ensure the trade prices are in line with expectations and represent a value for money.

Value first

Speaking of value, Brett adds, Value engineering has also played a significant part of White Associates’ role.

“Understanding the purpose of the building and nature of the client – being a charity organisation, it made sense that the design was fit for purpose. Given we are dealing with public money and donations, we have worked on a real value engineering drive, focusing on targeting a level of spec in the building that is appropriate for its intended uses, prioritising durability, longevity, things that will last, always being cost-conscious. That said, we don’t want to be penny-wise, pound foolish; we have been targeting the right cost for the right design life.”

The procurement nature of the project has allowed us insight into the design at a stage where we have been able to review and provide cost conscious alternatives to the client and engage in active talks with the Contractor as to how to better the buildability which ultimately results in cost savings.

This cost-focused and innovative approach to design, materials, procurement, methodology and funding has required a solid and collaborative team, he adds.

“The team has been really good. Everyone from the architects to the engineers understands what we are working on and why it is important. This has kept the Mission and the project’s outcome at the forefront of every meeting. We can all see that coming through in the way people are working, ultimately focused on the benefit this project will bring to the people who will live there as well as the Mission’s staff and volunteers.”

Focused on the future

The team is now working cohesively towards the end goal, with everyone focused on the same objectives, says Brett.

“Morale is great, and we applaud the Auckland City Mission for being the first to take the sustainable path forward. They are paving the way, providing lessons to be learnt so other people can follow. It is great that they have taken the initiative, and it is great to be part of the process.”

John-Hugo agrees.

“The design is pretty amazing. Knowing that it is made out of a pioneering technology gives us all a strong feel-good factor, knowing we are contributing to something that will serve people, and that they will be grateful for it. The project will make a truly meaningful impact; it’s not a tiny house, it’s a nine-storey building. It will make a big difference.”

Find out more about HomeGround here >>

 

Construction Projects: How to tackle the unknown impacts of Covid-19

At a time when the Rebuilding Together budget shows the Government reaching deep into its economic trouser pocket to stimulate activity in an effort to reduce the Covid shock, at White Associates we anticipate a massive period of unknowns for our industry.

Among our significant learnings over the past seven weeks, this is one that we hope might help you emerge from your bubbles into this new world of rapidly shifting uncertainty:

Get together to tackle consequences and compensation

The consequences of the total construction shutdown under Level 4 are not just economic in nature. Commercially, many contractors will understandably seek compensation after losing money as sites, staff and machinery sat idle. We are now grappling with the idea of ‘your project will be late’, resetting timelines and assessing contractor entitlements.

The consequences of level 4 are almost straightforward in comparison with the complexities involved in assessing and resolving entitlements arising as a result of Level 3 restrictions. Allowed to do some work, contractors had to operate under a complicated social distancing regime, which had the effect of slowing things down – working, but not as efficiently as before. It is more complicated to determine the effects of Level 3 on delivery programmes. Will it prolong project durations or cause increase costs? How much should contractors be compensated for time and cost, and their subcontractors?

These are the high-level factors impacting project delivery.

But the challenges don’t end there. We also have to consider the impact of closed/restricted borders. With various elements of materials and labour imported, will costs escalate? It may be prudent to consider, locally sourced, alternative products.

Every little aspect will have implications on programme and budget.

When faced with a plethora of challenges, you need a great team of consultants to help manage your contract and budget. You want to have good people on your side, actively engaging with the contractor to find pragmatic solutions.

Avoiding massive contractual claims, maintaining open conversations and finding ways forward as a team – these must be key priorities going forward.

We encourage project stakeholders to sit down with their QS to identify risks, defuse issues and establish a constructive way forward.

4 ways to tackle the unknowns:

  1. Understand your liabilities
  2. Get good advice
  3. Ensure you have the right team in place
  4. Get together now: sit down with your project team, assess your situation and try to sort things out.
White Associates Anniversary Logo

15 Years Absolute Dependability

 

IT’S NOT THE YEARS OF YOUR BUSINESS,

BUT THE BUSINESS IN YOUR YEARS.

The relationships you form, you nurture, you grow.

For White Associates, quantity surveying is more than technical project calculations – it’s a promise of seeing the bigger picture, being fully responsive and delivering projects with complete financial confidence.

What started in an office the size of a broom cupboard has now grown to a dynamic team of near 30 staff.  Some long-serving, some new, but all with one thing in common: integrity.

An integrity that has been building dependable structures across New Zealand for over a decade. Joining the dots, connecting the disconnected, our role is integral to success. Bringing together the moving parts of the construction process with absolute dependability.

None of this would be possible without the right people, and the right culture to fuel them. We believe in an environment where development is encouraged through mentorship. Flexible in how individuals prefer to work, with a company-wide camaraderie that means we continually support one another, and our clients.

Constantly challenging ourselves in what we do and how we do it. Particularly now during the uncertain and changing times we face, our demonstrated adaptability will prove essential for our viability. We are grateful to be celebrating 15 years in business.

We evaluate. We review. We evolve. That’s how you build. That’s how you move skyward.

On to the next 15.

Read more about our journey here

FUNDING CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS DURING COVID-19

Your questions answered:

Amid the rapidly evolving environment of the COVID-19 outbreak, at White Associates we are working with our clients to undertake risk analysis on existing and new projects, addressing questions for funders on risks that may impact the construction industry and project funding across procurement, supply chain and resourcing:

Key questions funders need to ask:

  1. How will COVID-19 affect my current and future projects?
  2. What trade components resources are affected?
  3. How best to manage the risks?
  4. Will insurance policies respond to COVID-19 delays – and what to watch out for if sites are suspended?
  5. Will contractors be entitled to extensions of time if COVID-19 delays a project?
  6. How is White Associates responding to the risks and reporting back?

Does this situation also present opportunities?

To answer these questions:

1) How will COVID-19 affect my current and future projects?

Current projects:

  • If a project is in its early stages of procurement, the need exists to examine the supply chain to probe for any issues.
  • It is also worth:
    • Examining locally-sourced product options to see if a project would be de-risked from a time and cost perspective through a local supply option
    • Exploring whether social distancing recommendations affect immediate supply chain availability, site resourcing
    • Understanding contingency plans for key personnel in the event of illness.
  • Later on in a project, supply chain constraints may not be so much of an issue, but consideration still needs to be given that you’ve looked into the supply chain to ensure that there are no significant constraints.

Future projects:

  • Thinking about the spreading ripples of this evolving crisis, what resources, materials and stocks will run out over time and cause issues along the planned critical path for the planned project?
  • This requires a thorough, rigorous risk assessment to be completed by the full project team to satisfy the funder that the borrower has considered everything, and to ensure that any risks associated with components of the project are being properly managed. For example, as much of the world appears to be shutting down, are the factories needed for the project operating – and if so, for how long? And how long will it take for a delivery backlog to unclog?
  • Is the project team examining options to bulk-buy materials well ahead of time – and are their cashflows up to it in the event the contract doesn’t entitle payment for materials off site?

Potential impacts for funders:

  • Increased costs for projects, unforeseen before the event
  • Increased contingency expenditure
  • Project is prolonged – which could affect deliverable sunset dates and interest cover provisions.

2) What trade components and resources are affected?

White Associates’ observations of construction components that may be affected include:

  • Structural steel – A significant volume of steel components come from China. We understand production is once again gaining momentum. However, there may be potential supply issues until mid- to late this year.
  • Lifts – some lifts are sourced from Italy and other parts of Europe, with delays associated with the current shutdown of the country borders and production.
  • Reinforcing steel – is one component that no significant supply restraints are currently anticipated as most steel is refined at Glenbrook here in NZ, with only a handful of NZ reinforcing steel companies sourcing product from China. However, most reinforcing steel companies in New Zealand have Italian equipment. This could create problems if they don’t have enough spare parts to cover inevitable breakdowns, which could reduce capacity to operate.
  • Glazing/ façade components – there is potential for these components, which are manufactured and shipped from China, to be delayed due to the initial closure of factories and likely border controls.
  • Plumbing fittings/ electrical components – there may be shortages in supply of these items given the closure of factories and ports in China. In addition, European and American fittings will be affected.
  • Kitchen components – many large-scale developments source joinery units from China. There may be a lag in being able to obtain these components in a reasonable timeframe until production catches up.
  • Tiles – many wall and floor tiles are sourced from China and Italy. Supply constraints may be apparent as NZ stock runs out.
  • Ripple factor: Human Resources – in the event of a COVID-19 case in an organisation associated with your development, the company could be shut down for two weeks (minimum) during the quarantine process. There will also be reduced productivity for a time until full production is reached.

There are a number of other components in construction that are 100% manufactured or assembled elsewhere in the world with components sourced in the countries which have been affected by COVID-19. As the situation develops, the risk of each of the components may increase or decrease, with the influencing factor being how long the COVID-19 crisis persists. Therefore, we recommend that:

  • Additional due diligence – undertaken on existing projects and projects at the inception stage around the contractors, subcontractors and supplier procurement.
  •  Risk management and up-front planning – essential to ensure continuity on projects and to manage risks associated with projects becoming prolonged.

Potential impacts for funders:

  • Moving to alternative suppliers may lead to increased project costs, unforeseen before the event.
  • Contingency expenditure could be required.
  • Prolonged projects could affect deliverables, sunset dates and additional interest and funding costs.

3) How best to manage the risks?

Engagement with the contractor is key – to fully and comprehensively understand their procurement and supply chain, and any inherent risks within it. This is fundamental.

Then we recommend working proactively together to understand (and ensure) that:

  • A full risk assessment has been made.
  • Detailed contingency plans have been put in place.
  • Any associated costs and time implications are known, quantified and accommodated within the project plan.

4) Will insurance policies respond to COVID-19 delays – and what to watch out for if sites are suspended?

A number of insurers have been quick to issue guidance to the market in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. One of them is AON, which has offered a number of useful pointers in its Know the Drill | March 2020, Coronavirus Virus/COVID-19 | Policy Wordings vs Schedules bulletin, which includes:

  • Most insurance policies in the construction sector will not cover losses arising from COVID-19. Property policies require physical damage and liability policies require negligence. Focus should be on the impact of the situation on your policies.
  • Does the contract works policy have a cessation clause in it? This means if there is no work onsite for a specific number of days (as per the policy) the contract works policy automatically lapses. This could unexpectedly leave the contact works uninsured.
  • What are the lead times to order/source supplies? Do you need to be ordering more/holding stock yourselves?

What to watch out for if sites are suspended?

  • In the event that a site is suspended it will be imperative to notify your broker or insurer to ensure continuity of your policy during the suspension period.

In any event, we recommend that:

  • You talk with a specialist broker or advisor if you have any concerns about either of these points or any wider concerns.
  • As AON says: You should always carefully check any policy documentation where your expectation is that you will have the benefit of the insurance coverage procured by a third party (be it a Principal or a Head Contractor). If in any doubt, seek advice from your insurance broker as the downside can be considerable.

Potential impact for funders:

–       A project could become uninsured if a site is shut down for a period of time.

5) Will contractors be entitled to extensions of time if COVID-19 delays a project?

They may be. Simpson Grierson, in its recently published guidance note, says that in some cases contractors may be entitled to extensions of time for such delays. We concur with these guidelines.

The type of contract in place is important. Clause 10.3.1(f) of the General Conditions of The most commonly used contract version, NZS3910:2013, provides that the Engineer shall grant an extension of time if the Contractor is fairly entitled to an extension by reason of “any circumstances not reasonably foreseeable by an experienced contractor at the time of tendering and not due to the fault of the Contractor”. This provision is replicated in NZS3916:2013.

‘Provided tendering took place prior to the outbreak of the virus, the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on production and supply chains could not have been reasonably foreseeable to a Contractor.’

We recommend that:

  • The borrower and their representatives review their contracts to ascertain the contractor’s entitlement and establish potential time and cost impacts on their projects.

Potential impacts for funders:

  • The role of the Engineer – and the term ‘fairly entitled’ – are in the spotlight here. The Engineer’s determination that the Contractor is (or is not) ‘fairly entitled’ to an extension will be key. Simpson Grierson’s view is that relevant factors to this determination could include ‘the Contractor’s ability to re-sequence works to avoid any critical delay and the particular circumstances of procurement of the delayed materials.’
  • Even if entitled to an extension of time and relief from liquidated damages for late completion, the contractor may not be compensated for time-related construction costs.
  • Prolonged projects could affect deliverables, sunset dates, facility expiry dates which could create additional interest and other time-related development costs.

6) How is White Associates responding to the risks and reporting back?

At White Associates, we are working with our clients to undertake risk analysis on existing and new projects with regard to procurement. Our actions include:

Right now:

  • On every project we are involved in we are asking:
    • Thorough questioning of the project team on their procurement and supply chain
    • For information on all/any risks
    • Management plans are in place to reduce the risks.
  • We are also providing alternative supplier options where possible (such as an alternative, locally-based lifts supplier in the example given above).

Looking ahead:

  • Full risk assessment – a major part of our precondition report information will include a section on supply chain risks associated with a project and COVID-19, with commentary and in-depth analysis.

Does this situation also present project opportunities?

Amid this global threat it may seem odd to consider it, but the current situation does provide opportunities in various sectors – such as retail and hospitality – to bring forward / undertake required maintenance or significant renovations or upgrades while visitor and occupancy levels are low.

Undertaking projects of this sort at this time:

  • Would cause reduced disturbance to the public and to the organisation’s customer base
  • Could be undertaken without a requirement for staging, which could also reduce time and cost.

Should you have any concerns about your existing project, or if you’d like to discuss the items noted in this bulletin further, please feel free to contact Darin Bayer to discuss.

dbayer@whiteassociates.co.nz

Team approach unlocks success at Mt Eden Corrections Facility

At White Associates we often write about the significant – yet all-too often under-rated – value of strong project teams (see Graham’s comments on the Mt Eden Correctional Facility opening on time and on budget here).

Few projects we have worked on have proven the immense value of team cohesion more than the recent and successful completion of the c.$100m Mt Eden Corrections Facility (MECF): on time, within budget, and relationships enhanced across the board.

What factors underpinned the project’s success?

  1. ‘Well begun is half done’ is an oft-quoted phrase that in our world of cost management translates to starting a project with correct estimates and budget allocations for the scheme of the design. Although this is often challenging to achieve in the current market, on MECF everyone began from the same starting point, with the same goal and direction to make things happen. This included the design and consultant teams – including WSP, Beca, Honeywell, us, and the Corrections project team itself – and the contractor, Leighs Construction.
  1. Very close communication. Occupying the same site office, the various teams were only separated by the foyer, which enabled anyone across the breadth of the team to walk into each other’s rooms to discuss and resolve any issues swiftly and efficiently. With clear communication, instruction became highly effective and decisions could be made and executed quickly. In turn, this enabled great:
  2. Teamwork – across the whole team of consultants and the contractor. Brett Zeiler of White Associates says: “If every job could have this level of input from people on site, able to have quick meetings, everything would go well. No other job I have been involved with has had this level of representation on site permanently. What it did was to speed up the response times for the contractor when raising an RFI – and for the consultant closing it out. To me that is what made the project: it took the wind out of waiting times.”

Overcoming challenges

Of course, even when things are set up well, projects still generate challenges to be overcome. On MECF they included:

  • Market challenges – a booming construction sector created challenges to secure the right people and resources for the work through the project’s life. This had three elements:
    1. Procurement challenges – White Associates supported a thorough process that involved detailed up-front due diligence. This ensured the right contractor for the job to start with: with the right people in the team, the project could get going well
    2. Keeping people on the project throughout its 2.5 year life – It was very hard to keep subcontractors on this multi-year project, particularly on margins agreed three years before. Clear costing and reporting helped to manage this challenge, and detailed workflow planning over the life of the project ensured continuity of workflow and programme, which helped the project to keep people on the team and retain knowledge on site throughout.
    3. Financial – costs in this environment are high. We therefore checked and compared all construction costs to market value to provide cost advice to the client and contractor, and ensured that work costs were applicable to the work that was carried out on site.
  • Challenging ground conditions – These were managed initially through seeking out alternative, more efficient solutions. We generated estimates on the alternatives and ran a thorough optioneering process that helped to create the selection of a strong solution. And, because the team working environment was so strong, we could get instructions through quickly. This meant we could anticipate costs so the client had the opportunity to explore alternatives before costs were locked in.
  • A confined site, in a live prison – This creates unexpected challenges because the on-site team can only work within specific hours, meaning that any programme slippage is hard to recover as opportunities for working at night or over the weekend for example did not exist. Meticulous planning ensured that everyone did what they said they would do and when, and kept the programme on track.

Adding value:

We are proud to have been active participants in this project, working to add value through:

  • Providing cost advice for the designers to see if there was any room for value engineering. For example, on the yard extension works, when the designers came through with options we advised as to which would offer best value for money, which contributed to saving an estimated $3 million on yard A alone.
  • Suggesting ideas on specs and products, for example non-pick sealants. We measured carefully to get the amounts right, working closely with the contractor to do site measurements together and prevent any over-claims.
  • Providing cost estimates for variations to make the client aware of how much additional activities would cost.
  • The façade – at the time of tender there was an alternative façade tender that would have saved money, but going with the originally specified product we felt was a good decision: going for long-term quality over short-term savings.

Mt Eden Corrections Facility opens on time and budget

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis MP took a trip to Mt Eden as the VIP guest for the opening ceremony to mark the completion of the Mt Eden Corrections Facility (MECF) Building C.

This c.$100 million project, which has been under construction for about two and a half years, has involved the construction of approximately 200 remand and at-risk cells by Leighs Construction, on time and within budget.

From working on the project inception in 2016, Konrad Trankels has managed the project from business case implementation through to selecting Leighs to build the project and now to final account. The MECF project was in response to the growing demand for beds and was part of the overall Prison Capacity Portfolio (PCP) also including Waikeria Prison currently under construction.

Graham White says the successful delivery of the project is an outstanding team achievement within an operational prison environment and in a tough construction market.

“It has just been an exceptional project. In this market everyone is under so much pressure; resourcing projects is very difficult, so this is a shining example of what can happen when the right team comes together in the right way.”

 

“The relationships that have developed between the client, consultants, us and the construction team on this project are exceptional. Because the site compound included the client team and all consultants, as well as contractors, it created a genuinely collegial way of doing things, enabling the face-to-face conversations that made things so much clearer – and decisions made quicker. Brilliantly led by Simon Thomson (Works Lead), and Patrick Dowe (Senior Project Manager), the right people have all been involved: all the companies have put great people here, and the gelling of the team in one place has had enormous benefits.”

 

“I’m pleased that we were able to play our part along the way in terms of cost estimates, advice and options that helped to save money and chart the way forwards. If you want an example of a job that went really well, look at this one.”