Global Research Innovation & Discovery Centre (GRID)

Client: Heriot Watt University

Location: Riccarton Campus, Edinburgh

Value: £13m

Project Outline: Heriot Watt University required the construction of a new innovation centre including associated infrastructure and landscaping, located on their Riccarton Campus, Edinburgh.

The project consisted of the review of various site locations and design options to ensure the Client achieved a building that could be used as a basis of a new masterplan for the campus. The building was to act as a flagship for the campus, whilst maintaining value for money.

The building was constructed on the site of two former halls of residence buildings which were demolished as part of an enabling works contract out with the main contract. The new two-storey building consists of teaching space, workshop areas, computer suite, Virtual Reality (VR) rooms, catering facilities and an industry hub which overlooks the loch at Riccarton campus.

Services: Following a competitive tender process via Public Contracts Scotland, Summers-Inman were appointed by the Client to provide full pre and post contract quantity surveying services. This included option appraisals, whole life cycle costing exercises for Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) purposes, liaising with the Estate’s finance team to review budgets and engage with various university stake holders to understand requirements and additional costs associated with the project.

How Summers-Inman managed the variation process as the project progressed: During the pre-construction stage, Summers-Inman worked collaboratively with the design team to provide cost advice for various design options. Significant time was spent reviewing cladding, curtain walling and brickwork options. A specialist design meeting was arranged with the contractor and suppliers to review various options whilst ensuring the quality, cost and programme requirements were met.

As the design developed, Summers-Inman tracked the design changes throughout each stage using a design tracker and highlighted the changes to the team and the client as they occurred. From this process, the introduction of specialist bespoke fins were identified, reviewed and re-specified using a standard product, thus maintaining the agreed cost target without comprising on quality.

Once the construction works commenced, a detailed change control process was put in place and reviewed at each monthly progress meeting. In addition, Summers-Inman created a variation tracker to track the variations in order to improve cost monitoring throughout the project. Variation meetings were arranged monthly with the contractor to review the variations and agree costs. Additional weekly follow-up conference calls were held with the contractor to ensure any other variations were identified and reported as early as possible.

A specialist design workshop was arranged to allow for the review of several bespoke Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment (FF&E) items. As part of the review, the bespoke manufacturing costs were compared with the cost of similar products available on the market. After a careful review of the options, the team were able to choose products based on cost and quality whilst ensuring that the overall FF&E budget was not exceeded.

The variations were reported to the Client each month through a monthly cost report and attendance at a monthly cost review meeting with the Client. Additional meetings were held as required to ensure cost information was provided to the project team.

How Summers-Inman managed risk and contingency during the Project: We helped to manage and minimise risk to the Client by:

  • Fully participating in early briefing sessions;
  • Taking a proactive approach in seeking to influence issues of cost, promoting value management throughout all stages of design development;
  • Advising the Client on appropriate allowances for costs that are normally out with the construction contract, for example surveys and investigation costs, planning and Building Regulation charges, loose furniture, and the like;
  • Ensuring adequate contingencies were made;
  • Ensuring tender documentation was accurate and comprehensive;
  • Close monitoring and tracking of cost expenditure, providing early warnings;
  • Looking ahead – forecast and project expenditure trends and not just expenditure at the time of reporting.

During the course of the project, an overall project cost tracker was set up to review all costs including client-controlled items. Monthly financial review meetings were held with the Client to review this tracker which included construction costs and Client direct costs. Opportunities for grants were reviewed and tracked. On being awarded a grant, additional contract works were agreed, and the associated construction costs were reported.

Contingency was reviewed weekly to enable the Client to determine potential upgrade opportunities throughout the project. As the project progressed and variations were agreed, the contingency was amended to reflect the changes and to ensure the project remained in budget.

Description of lessons learnt, and experience gained (stating relevance to this procurement):

  • Early and regular engagement with stakeholders and departments is essential to ensure requirements are clearly defined and incorporated into the design stage of the project. Late involvement by key stakeholders led to several late changes which were identified and processed under the change control procedure;
  • Early engagement with design team is essential to ensure costs are considered and addressed as part of the design process;
  • Open and early engagement with the contractor to address buildability issues to avoid redesigning at a later stage;
  • Utilisation of contractor’s supply chain for cost advice as these parties understand the contractor’s preferences and able to provide quality cost data;
  • Regular cost meetings with the contractor post contract to review variations and allowed identified issues at an early stage.

Added value: Summers-Inman added value through:

  • Early engagement with the design team to highlight the importance of cost implications of specification;
  • Market testing of key materials and specifications to understand cost and procurement issues;
  • Early review of the Client’s budget to determine appropriate target GIFA in terms of costs;
  • Effective communications with the contractor during the design stage and during the construction stage;
  • Use of 3D models to understand the proposed design and approximate quantities.

Delivery Team:

Ian Campbell, Chartered Quantity Surveyor / Director: Project Director

Angus Macdonald, Chartered Quantity Surveyor / Director: Project Director

Simon Beveridge, Senior Chartered Quantity Surveyor: Project Quantity Surveyor

Andy Finn, Senior Chartered Quantity Surveyor: Project Quantity Surveyor, BREEAM Cost Advice 

Commendations: Dr Gill Murray, deputy principal of enterprise and business at Heriot-Watt University, said: “GRID really is more than a building. It will change how we teach and apply our entrepreneurial minds and skills to solving global issues.”  “It’s been designed to create cohesion between academic disciplines and our industry partners, proving an innovative teaching and learning environment for mathematics, engineering, physical sciences and computer science students and staff.”  “Our students won’t have seen anything like this before and I cannot wait for them to experience this fantastic new facility later in the year.”

Colin Kennedy, construction director at Bowmer & Kirkland, said: “Everyone has worked really well as a team. It’s been a good example of collaborative working with Heriot-Watt University to ensure the build was delivered on time and on budget.”

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