Fitness rooms, home cinemas and game zones are just some of the state-of-the-art facilities that will be available to Salford University students when they move into their new campus accommodation in September 2015. Adrian JG Marsh visited the new nine block Peel Park Campus to find out how the main contractor involved dryliners early to improve performance and help deliver a tight programme.

“Our strategy was based on boards we’d used on previous jobs, so we could use proven combinations to deal with acoustic and fire protection,” said Brian Smith, design manager at Graham Construction.

“The overall designing was set by the employer’s requirements and as we were working to a tight programme,  we brought the exterior contractors for SFS infill and external board cladding in early to help plan the most efficient way of working,” Mr Smith explained.

“This was a competitive project from the outset and in the lead up to financial close we took the design up to construction detail which meant we could start almost as soon as financial close was achieved.”

Graham Construction had been working on the £80 million project for two years  before works commenced on the 1,300 room campus development in November 2013. The privately funded project is being built for a consortium led by Equitix, the investment fund, and includes Graham Investment Projects.

Mr Smith continued: “We approached Siniat early to get the specification right. Then we approached drylining subcontractors earlier than in a traditional project to get their input and develop the programme. And because of the size we had it in mind to appoint two contractors for the SFS and external sheathing: one for site A, five blocks, and the other for site C, four blocks.”

Manchester-based Bluegyp was appointed for the externals on site A and Wakefield-based SCS won the installation package for site C. Both started on site in May.

Simon Scrace from Siniat said: “The tight programme was a natural for Weather Defence as the sheathing board as it’s faster to install than CP board. At 26,700m² it’s also the largest order for Weather Defence to date.”

Clayre Massey, a senior architect at Shepherd Robson, said: “We felt (Weather Defence) helped provide a solution for the tight programme, as well as deliver the required levels of airtightness, a critical component for achieving greater thermal efficiency.”

All five blocks in site A will be brick clad and here Bluegyp has undertaken the installation of the Kingspan infill Steel Frame System and the sheathing board. It has also installed K12 Kooltherm insulation. Materials were supplied to site by CCF and Penlaws.

John Marrin at Bluegyp said: “We helped Graham to develop the design for the SFS and provide calculations. We devised a sequence of work that maximised the productivity of our installation gangs so that we’d get each block watertight as early as possible.

“Weather Defence has been good to use and has helped us to boost productivity. It’s easier and safer to handle and because of its score and snap properties we don’t have to set up cutting stations.”

Andrew Crichton at SCS agreed: “Weather Defence is a product we like, we have previously used it on the Beswick Community Hub scheme. Our operatives find it easier to work with than cement particle board. We’re also installing the insulation on the board.”

Graham Construction then let the MF ceiling and wall internals as a separate package. Mr Smith explained: “We wanted to do this because of the size of the package and for a variety of time and cost reasons. SCS was also appointed to carry out the internals throughout the site.”

Mr Crichton from SCS added: “This contract is a high profile scheme and one that we’d been tracking for some time. Work on the £6 million internals package will run through until March 2015. Beams and columns are being clad first, with partitions and linings following, finishing with the ceiling installation.

“At peak we’ll have a site team consisting of one full time director, six site managers, a project QS and assistant QS, all overseeing 250 skilled operatives.”

Waste management is the responsibility of each contractor and Graham Construction is targeting 100 per cent of all waste being recycled. And because SCS is having the boards and studs manufactured then cut to size, wherever possible, by Siniat it will dramatically reduce the amount of waste on the scheme.

AW Lumb’s is supplying SCS with the Weather Defence board and CCF is providing materials for the internals package.

Ms Massey, from Shepherd Robson, said: “Our approach has been to use standard products to get better value and there is less of a learning curve. They’re just easier to use.”

Mr Smith concluded: “The use of Weather Defence board externally was a conscious move to allow us to meet the planners’ requirements for a brick clad building and by using Weather Defence we were able to take the brickwork package off the critical path because we could achieve a watertight building earlier than if we’d used traditional techniques.

“Rather than waiting for the brickwork to make the building watertight we’ve been able to begin installation of ceilings, walls and pods after eight months. It’s probably saved us eight months on our programme.”