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Teams and technology pull together to hit cost and time targets on the ‘office of the future’

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THE project management for the refurbishment of the Liberty Group’s innovative ‘Future Flex’ office design at their Braamfontein, Gauteng, building, was awarded to Nuvo Consulting. The refurbishment was to accommodate the Group’s newly-formulated hybrid ways of working and to showcase the new look and feel that will be rolled out for all Liberty’s regional offices.

Nuvo Consulting is a construction consultancy firm that believes that innovation plays a key role in its ability to strike an important balance between cost, time and quality throughout its project management processes. This played a major role in their success on the Liberty Group’s Braamfontein project.

“Nuvo Consulting didn’t just follow the request for proposal (RFP) tender process, we advised on the most effective and efficient way to bring the project home. We embedded due diligence and good governance protocols throughout our proposal, which added a transparency factor to the whole process we were proposing. Our engagement with Liberty was extremely personalised and customised to meet their needs. That is our strength as construction consultants” commented Nuvo Consulting managing director, Cathleen Bayne.

Bayne added that there were two strategic elements to the Liberty project that were not negotiable in any way by the client: time and cost. “This was a R160 million, 44 000 sqm, multi-level, eight-month project. It required serious scenario planning from concept, through implementation to completion. This was a project that under normal circumstances would have taken 24 months”.

“Due to strict procurement, and cost management – for example, all contractors were appointed on a Guaranteed maximum price basis which secured the client 100% costs certainty – and implementation protocols, and supported by superb team commitment, we successfully fast-tracked this project. An accomplishment that we are particularly proud of at Nuvo”.

“We understood what the Liberty Group wanted to achieve and we meticulously set about delivering that goal through the utilisation of innovative technologies and creative processes. A major influential factor was that we aligned ourselves 100% with the client’s vision” said Bayne.

From the first day

Within the first week of having been appointed by the Liberty Group, Nuvo Consulting had conducted its scenario planning, scoping and methodology programme. The complete refurbishment solution (fit out and furniture) for levels 1-4 was presented and accepted by the client within the first week.

Two weeks into the project, the consultancy had appointed a full professional engineering and design team – which commenced pre-construction design and coordination. Additionally, a cost and procurement team was established.

Crucial to the success of this project was the selection of strategic partners who shared the project’s vision. Nuvo Consulting partnered with Tetris DB for design and construction, Tetris Furniture Solutions for furniture, fixtures and equipment and Zutari Engineers for the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire services. These were the key stakeholders that would provide the required attention to detail and expertise for the future roll-out amongst Liberty properties.

The Liberty Group already had BDG (workplace transformation research), DKMC (management of the wider Future Flex project) and Liberty GRES (Group Real Estate Service) in place.

Moving forward

Due to the uncertainty as to the state of the existing building at the time of budget preparations, certain cost assumptions had to be committed to, which Nuvo did. Bayne added, “With strict boundaries in play such as no delay claims, no extensions of time claims to Liberty, all of the teams, including designers and engineers threw away their contractual hats, cancelled leave and got stuck into the project. We had to embrace elements of contractual, cost and regulatory uncertainties from the word go, but we knew we could overcome any snags and deliver the required results and we did.”

Value engineering became an integral part of the project. Decisions regarding design, specifications and detail were scrutinised for possible alternatives before a final decision was taken for implementation. For example, the large atrium reveals which were cladded with timber veneer – a designer specification was that these should be covered with an architectural vinyl wrap.

This would require importation, and an extended lead time at a cost of nearly R2.5 million. “After research was conducted a local alternative solution (marine paint) was found which offered major time savings and a much-reduced cost resulting in a saving of over R1million. It was available immediately and provided better durability” said senior project and design manager for Nuvo Consulting, Daleen Visagie.

“The savings achieved on our original scope via value engineering efforts enabled Liberty to include additional scope such as the ground floor and atrium upgrades and selected campus calibration/enhancement projects currently underway,” said Visagie.

Zutari Engineers had undertaken a building scan, which included existing services. Visagie commented: “This enabled Nuvo Consulting, with Zutari and Tetris DB, to utilise the digital twin model for coordination during the Future Flex design stage, which was done in Revit and delivered on the BIM 360 platform. This resulted in an ‘as built digital twin’ which was utilised by the Liberty facilities management Team”.

Project live streaming assisted the construction team in managing client expectations while delivering to Liberty communication teams the information needed to manage their internal business units and how their workplace was about to change.

An impressive team

Four experienced managers were on site permanently from February to July 2022: Chris Jansen van Vuuren as project lead and senior construction manager, Babalwa Solombela as construction and cost manager, Khodani Rankhododo as construction manager) and Wayne Slabber as construction manager). All managers monitored project quality throughout the construction and installation processes.

Bayne said “This is a milestone project for Nuvo Consulting. It highlighted our commitment to our client, our alignment with our client’s foresight and our ability to become fully integrated with our client across all of their internal and external units and stakeholders”.

“We are exceptionally proud of what we have achieved for Liberty, despite being faced with major challenges. Our ability to utilise advanced technologies and innovation to bring the project in on time gives us immense professional satisfaction. Our people are committed professionals, this project highlights that. They are our competitive edge” concluded Bayne.

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