Pastures new: £168k Jersey contract for Prima

Prima Service has become the UK’s first specialist social housing repairs and maintenance contractor to extend its reach as far as the channel islands, thanks to a new contract win.

The company successfully tendered for a £168k project to overhaul and upgrade the windows and doors on four 14-storey tower blocks at Le Marais housing estate in St Clement.

The government-owned flats are being refurbished for the first time in a decade as part of a pledge by Jersey's government to improve social housing.

Prima’s executive team flew to Le Marais at the start of this year to make a series of site visits to agree the scope of the repair work needed, and the hard work has paid off. Director Brett Halfpenny explains: “We are very proud to have been awarded this substantial international contract.

“Among the challenges will be the condensed timeframe of just three months for the upgrade, which will typically mean completing one floor of 27 windows in any one day.”

The company’s specialists have devised bespoke work methods to achieve this, with safe working practices and the logistics of parts exports and distribution being their prime focus.

They will also use specialist knowledge to extend the life of the 1,500 existing window units in a cost effective way.

“While the majority of the frame and glazing seals are in good order, over 1000 of the units have an unusual detail which means the drainage channel of the top opening sash is allowing water to leak both from the frame and inside the fixed pane,” says Brett.

“We therefore plan to remove all the fixture panes of glass to clean out the rebate and re-glaze, only fully replacing units which have actually blown. This strategy allows us to make a saving of more than £200k and reduces carbon spend for the project.”

The team expects to save a further £300k by removing the need for access equipment. “Instead of requiring traditional site access, we will be using fall restraint equipment such as internal door anchors, with lanyard lines and personnel harness,” says Brett.

Currently the team is conducting a review of all the parts needed to ensure they are ready for a trial installation in July.

Prima is using local workforce to complete the job, so they will then need to provide the new engineers with specialist training but Brett is confident they will meet targets: “So far we are really pleased with how the project is progressing and our systems will all be in place for the start date of 4 August.”

The Le Marais project is the second international project Prima has taken in the past three months. In December 2012 the company joined the €6.3 million Anglo-French social housing green retrofit pilot, IFORE (Innovation for Renewal),providing expert upgrades for window units on 98 properties managed by Amicus Horizon.