No challenge too great for Total!
3 February 2017

When it comes to construction, unforeseen challenges come with the territory. Obviously, the earlier your contractor is involved in the planning and design stage, the easier it is to identify potential constructability issues before they happen. However, in the absence of ECI, one of the most obvious and effective ways to ensure projects stay on track is good, old-fashioned communication. Total recently completed its seventh project for Japara Healthcare at its Central Park Aged Care Facility in Melbourne. It’s a perfect example of how fantastic outcomes can be achieved in the face of almost any obstacle.

Senior Project Manager, Rob Nowak, explains, “We were initially engaged to construct a new floor level extension to the existing five-storey building, with a new plant room on top of that. The standard of the rooms on level six was to be like a five-star hotel, with butler service, private dining and kitchen for the residents, full servery commercial kitchen, the lot.

“Because we wanted to minimise disruption to the 150 residents, it was a staged build and plant transfer. We started on one side, but quickly found the existing structure couldn’t take the load of the new building. The problem required a three-month period of redesigning the steel structure and installing a false wall over the existing loadbearing walls. And this is where having a great client relationship comes into its own. By working together, we were able to face this challenge on a united front and ensure we still met our Stage-1 quality, budget and timeline targets.”

The entire building was scaffolded very early in the piece, in order for builders to access the building from an external lift and further minimise impact on the residents and day-to-day running of the facility. “It was really very impressive,” says Rob. “In fact, it was the biggest scaffold project Total Construction has ever had.”

While the Total team completed works on levels 6 and 7 of the building, Japara Healthcare requested a complete refurbishment to all other floors. “New fixtures, fittings, tiles, lights, consolidated Nurse Call services, everything,” says Rob. “It’s quite a challenge to keep a place fully operational during a construction like this. I sat with the facility team for weeks and weeks over a 12-month period. We forecast more than 400 resident moves, monitored it every fortnight, and kept it seamless for the residents.”

Other challenges included the introduction of noise restrictions halfway through the project, which meant work stopped completely during lunchtimes, no noisy work on the weekends, and two weekdays with no noise at all. “I’m proud to say we still managed to keep the works within the program,” says Rob.

“When we took all the staff up to level 6 for the first time, it was a real ‘Wow!’ reaction. They were blown away, and the new residents can’t believe how nice the whole building and refurbishment looks. Best of all, the completed building is now nearly full! It makes you feel fantastic to get that reaction and to know all the blood, sweat and tears were worth it.”


What’s your experience of construction challenges, and how did you overcome them? We’d love to read your comments!