Our wall tie technicians completed masonry repairs and wall tie installation on a Leeds Shopping Centre this week. The essential cavity wall tie and structural work took place 30M above the public car park.
These masonry repairs arose because a routine inspection by the management team highlighted widening cracks in the masonry. Therefore, the facilities management company consulted their structural engineers for specialist advice about the cracking. The engineer agreed that the cracks were a structural concern. He also noticed that the tower had lots of expensive telecoms equipment on top. This equipment presented access problems because it was ‘in the way’ and is always switched on, transmitting radio waves.
Moreover, removal of the masts would take time and it would cause a nuisance for the local mobile phone users; they rely on the signals the masts deliver to them. Leaving it in place would make the masonry repairs awkward and potentially dangerous for those involved. These practicalities needed expert input to solve them. As a result, the structural engineers contacted us, because we are well known, experienced and trusted.
After we completed a detailed inspection, we were able to specify a specialist repair. The method we chose to recommend was designed to fix the problems and leave the equipment in place. Our MD Bryan Hindle explains this as follows; “This was a tricky problem to solve. The cracks and the associated movement of the masonry, was the result of a number of faults. These faults related to the existing wall ties and the original design of the building, which is decades old. As in all these cases, there were several approaches which we could consider. It became a simple case of refining the specification to address all of the required needs; those of the client, the telecoms company, the building itself and the public, who have access to the car park, which is directly below the tower”.
Bryan set to work, preparing a detailed program of masonry repairs, which could be carried out safely without damaging the sensitive phone masts on the tower roof. Acting as the Principle Contractor under The Construction (Design and Management), Regulations 2015, Bryan wrote a detailed Construction Phase Plan. This plan is a written legal document which has to set out how the work will be done safely, from start to finish. To do this our team worked in close cooperation with the phone mast company, to control the electromagnetic hazards presented by the phone masts.
Our team deployed a huge Mobile Elevated Work Platform (MEWP) to gain access to the high level area. Known as a cherry picker, this monster dominated the south car park. This equipment is state of the art. However, it is powerful, mobile and really heavy duty. Using it in a car park with children and busy shoppers running around was a concern. Of course, to use this equipment our technician’s have to be fully trained and qualified (IPAF), this means they are fully aware of the dangers the equipment presents to them and others on site. This is one of the reasons why we have meetings every week; to talk about health and safety. We discussed this site in advance; what were the hazards, who was at risk? Together we assessed these risks and agreed a safe system of work.
Craig, Thomas, Richard and Peter installed Helifix Helibars in Helibond grout, which is a grout specially made for this type of structural work. They also replaced the spalled and damaged bricks, installed Helifix ResiTies and, they re-pointed the defective areas, so that the work would blend in with the existing masonry. Helifix Helibars were used by them, to carefully stitch the concrete copings into position.
The shopping Centre’s commercial activities involve hundreds of people working in shops and offices around the place, not to mention the public who visit daily to use the many services and outlets in the building. It follows that anything, which could impact on the smooth running of the site must be planned and executed efficiently . The advance planning we put in paid off, the project was finished on time, within budget and without any health and safety incidents. This was of paramount importance for the manager of a retail centre like this one
These contracts are all about good team work, thus we owe a big thank you to the centre’s management team and their site staff. The centre’s security and facilities team members worked hard to ensure that the centre ran smoothly during our visit.