Clerk of Works, John McGee helped Halton Housing take handover of 20 new homes during the coronavirus lockdown period, whilst maintaining strict site safety, social distancing and restrictions on materials and labour resources.
Halton Housing has two Clerk of Works, John McGee and Sian Vickers. It’s their job to be the ‘eyes and ears’ on our new build housing developments, overseeing the quality and safety of work, making sure that building plans and specifications are being followed correctly.
Despite lockdown restrictions, the government said that construction sites could remain open where the safety of workers can be achieved. Whilst many building sites closed during the early stages of lockdown, Russell Homes, our construction partner on our Bower Brook Gardens development on Warrington Road in Widnes, remained on site.
John explains: “Russell Homes remained on-site at Bower Brook Gardens, on a restricted basis in order to maintain social distancing. Where sub-contractors may normally work in teams, this has been restricted to one operative per dwelling – so items like brickwork, plastering, painting, joinery and plumbing works etc. are taking much longer per plot to complete.”
“Due to restrictions on the availability of materials and labour resources due to coronavirus, the biggest problem has been allowing works to continue, and me having to juggle my visits and inspections around the available resources situations on site when required.”
It is also John’s job to visit customers who move into our new build homes to inspect defects and other issues which have been reported to us. John says: “Visiting homes to view defects, whilst wearing mask and gloves, has been necessary. Maintaining safe distances is often difficult because of other family members there, but it is achievable”.
“The most enjoyable part has been managing to get 20 new properties across the line for our customers, whilst maintaining social distancing. These assist in meeting our development targets and ensuring that grants obtained on the properties are being retained due to the delivery of the properties within agreed timescales”.
As we all adjust to the “new normal” ways of working, John says it is daunting wearing additional PPE, alongside all the usual PPE required to enter construction sites and we still need to be careful. “I have had to telephone ahead to ask the contractor to leave keys for me to view the properties. Wearing addition PPE face mask and gloves, is “daunting”, but is now the new norm, and you get used to it. The message is that from the old “Hill Street Blues” on the TV. ‘Let’s be careful out there!’,” says John.
Halton Housing has had a longstanding reputation for our agile and flexible working. However, John has always been someone who has followed a more traditional approach to his working hours. The lockdown has taught John that being flexible and agile is definitely the way forward. John says: “In the time I have been at Halton, I have always tried to adhere to a regime where I attend the office during same hours every day. The lockdown has taught me that flexible and agile working is what many companies would see as the new norm. Which shows that we are ahead of the game!”