During a large construction project in Hemel Hempstead, the on-site team of Bugler Developments ran into a problem. The two separate blocks were not watertight and they were left exposed to the elements all through the winter. The concrete had become completely saturated and there was over 85% humidity recorded in some areas. For reference, the ideal relative humidity for health and comfort is around 50%.
It is no exaggeration to say that delays to construction projects can have monumental repercussions. If, for example, as a contractor you cause a delay to the completion of a project, you would be liable to pay Liquidated and Ascertained Damages (LADs), on top of the increased pay to workers and subcontractors for the extra time. This could amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds per week until the building is completed. Even a small delay of a week or two could hinder the construction companies great reputation of delivering these types of affordable housing on-time and on budget.
The situation was was critical as the programme would have seen immense delays. Bugler had to halt construction until they were able to get the buildings dry. They had sought help from a drying and restoration company, whom they had a long-standing working relationship with, but time was not on their side. After 5 weeks of drying, the restorative company previously on-site estimated that the building was still 5-6 weeks away from being dry.
This time frame was simply not an option for Bugler Developments. They were a number of weeks behind schedule and adding another 6 weeks on top of that was simply unthinkable. They needed to act, and quickly.
They reached out to a number of companies that might have been able to help. Ideal Response were one of the first to respond, and onsite to survey the situation that very day. Despite the complicated nature of the problem, our team came up with a detailed proposal and submitted it to the construction company the following morning.
The Ideal Solution
It wasn’t long before we were given the go-ahead. This was no ordinary dehumidification job, though, due to the sheer size of the buildings involved – each one contained 32 apartments and an underground car park, and it all needed drying.
The Ideal Response team decided that, in order to get our clients back on schedule, we would require assistance from our sister company, Ideal Heat Solutions. We craned a 750KW industrial boiler alongside the building, with a fuel tank, and then we constructed a large-scale air handling unit. The plan was to drive heat into the building, delivering a heated solution floor by floor. The tailored drying programme fit our client’s very specific needs as well as being the most cost-effective option to getting the construction site back on programme.
We managed to generate high levels of heat, which we then forced into the ground floor with specialist ducting, and let the heat rise up through our heat exchangers. Once one area of the building was dry, we would move this (incredibly heavy) equipment manually to the next area. This was a constant process throughout the building, which needed on-site daily support to manoeuvre equipment and balance the drying process.
It was important that we recycled as much of the hot air as possible. Tracking the flow through data logging and moisture mapping the building which then gave us visibility of the moisture content on-site. The Ideal Response team also completed a comprehensive Matterport 3D Visualisation tool which gave live viewing of the works in progress. A live 3D version can be seen in the window below.
The high specification drying equipment was obviously integral to the job, but arguably the most critical aspect was the monitoring. In order to track our progress, we had 248 data login points installed throughout each of the buildings which monitored the relative humidity, the temperature and the moisture in the air. This sophisticated system was operated by just a scan of a barcode, or Data Point, which enabled us to input the data to our system to track the progress.
By monitoring all of these measures, we were able to alter the output of the boiler to match the conditions – when the weather got colder, we needed more heat from the boiler to counteract it, so we worked with our remote boiler technicians to monitor the progress. Our readings were also able to tell us exactly when an area had dried sufficiently, meaning that we could then quickly begin moving the equipment to the next area, saving us valuable time.
The entire process became much more difficult when the cold weather became more extreme, bringing snow and thick frosts. We had to act quickly to re-insulate the top of the building by lining sheets to prevent the hot air from escaping. Our commitment to meeting the deadline for our client was all the motivation we needed – nothing would get in our way.
When we first arrived onsite, our initial assessment found that the buildings had over 85% relative humidity in places and the concrete blocks were at total saturation point. The original drying company said that they would need 11 weeks in total to complete the work, which would have been catastrophic for Bugler Developments.
In just 14 days we had returned the first building to the industry standard ‘drying goal’ known as the British Standard PAS 64. In another 11 days, the second building had been dried to this level as well.
The work of our team, and the initiative they showed in creating this ambitious and unique solution, saved our client tens of thousands of pounds. Our commitment to getting the job done, no matter what the challenges we faced, inevitably impressed Bugler Developments, and the Ideal Response team are available upon request if these types of situations were ever to arise again on a construction project.