Despite Covid-19 lockdowns, MMD Construction delivered the Radharc An tSaile housing scheme in Kinsale for Clúid Housing just one week behind schedule.
MMD Construction was the main contractor and Project Supervisor Construction Stage for Radharc An tSaile, a 40 unit Nearly Zero Energy Building (NZEB) standard social housing scheme in Kinsale, County Cork, for approved housing body Clúid Housing.
The project was a collaboration between Clúid, Cork County Council, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, the Housing Finance Agency (HFA) and MMD Construction. It had been 10 years in the pipeline and was eventually completed in 2020.
Radharc An tSaile comprises 18 two-storey, two-bed houses; 20 two-storey, three-bed houses; and two single-storey two-bed accessible dwellings. The ultra-efficient A-rated dwellings incorporate the latest mechanical and electrical services.
The houses were built to an A2 BER rating and achieved an airtightness of under 3 m3/hr/m2. Adding an air-to-water heating system brought them to NZEB standard.
Kevin O’Leary, Director, MMD Construction, says several substantial challenges were faced on the build, including the Covid-19 shutdown. But the contractor still managed to achieve substantial completion only one week behind programme.
The first challenge the MMD Construction team faced was in relation to the excavation works.
“The scheme is constructed into the side of a hill,” explains Kevin O’Leary. “There was a lot of rock to be cleared, which proved challenging and more time consuming than expected due to its density, particularly when it came to foundations and services. But we were able to bring in the large enough machinery from our plant stock to be able to get on with the job.”
Cormac Smith, Director, MMD Construction, outlines how Covid-19 impacted the project, “The Covid-19 shutdown and introduction of new Covid-19 operating procedures required major changes for those working on the site and the whole MMD Construction organisation,” Cormac Smith explains. “The first shutdown hampered us, and when we reopened, it took a couple of weeks to get the site moving smoothly. During the first shutdown, we put a lot of work into preparing new procedures for how the overall company would operate, including enabling those who could work infrastructure to facilitate this.”
As this was the first housing scheme that MMD constructed that required implementation of the new Irish Water sign-off procedure, the MMD Construction project team found the level of coordination and sequencing of works to be very time-consuming.
O’Leary explains: “While there are some elements in Irish Water’s code of practice that are impractical and at times almost unworkable, we found its field team to be extremely helpful. They discussed and advised on details and requirements for our site, and they forewarned us about issues that they had seen arise on other sites. It all worked out well in the end, and connections went according to plan. I would advise any contractor planning a housing scheme not to underestimate the time and resources required to comply with these requirements.”
C&D waste management
Returning to the excavated rock, MMD Construction wanted to minimise waste from the site in line with the intended goal of Article 27 of the European Communities (Waste Directive) Regulations 2011 “to reduce, reuse, recycle construction waste” where possible. MMD Construction wanted to transfer the extracted rock and shale from the Radharc An tSaile for reuse on another project in the local area.
“We wanted to minimise waste from the site by following the guidance to reduce, reuse or recycle,” explains Smith. “The rock and shale drawn from the site were perfectly good for reuse under Article 27 of the EC Waste Directive. We had a local site lined up to take the stone. But at the time, it was difficult to get Article 27 approval. It ultimately proved impossible to get sign off on reusing the rock for the other project. This meant, disappointingly, we had to dispose of the rock in landfill, with the knock-on environmental impact that the contractor on the other project had to quarry new stone for their project.”
Despite these challenges, the substantial completion of the project was only one week behind schedule, an achievement of which Kevin O’Leary is very proud. “We worked long hours and some weekends to pick up the time lost to the Covid-19 shutdown. The team worked very hard to meet deadlines following the new operating procedure. So, I am delighted with how it all worked out in the end.”
The newly constructed scheme is already housing over 100 people. Clúid financed the construction of these new homes to the value of €9.7m, through a loan facility from the Housing Finance Agency (HFA) and a Capital Advance and Availability Payment from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
Discussing the new scheme, James O’Halloran, New Business and Development Manager, Clúid, said: “Clúid Housing is delighted to deliver these new homes in partnership with Cork County Council, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, the Housing Finance Agency and MMD Construction. These 40 new A-rated homes not only address the need for new social housing in the area, they provide greener homes with lower fuel bills for our residents.”
Clúid manages over 8,000 affordable, high-quality homes and provides housing management services to over 20,000 residents across Ireland. The organisation is committed to delivering 3,000 new homes across Ireland before the end of 2022.
Clúid has a strong profile in Cork, with over 1,200 homes across the city and county. Throughout 2021, it will deliver a further 16 new homes in Skibbereen and commence work on 15 new homes in Bantry.
Cormac Smith says that Radharc An tSaile was a very successful project for MMD Construction, which was made possible as a result of the proactiveness and cooperation of the entire design team and client representatives.
“We have several social housing projects under our belt over the past few years. Radharc An tSaile is a great one to add to that portfolio, as it is an NZEB development, and despite the challenges faced, we still kept very close to schedule. Building houses to NZEB standard is not a major challenge. You focus on getting the airtightness and insulation right, then include the requisite renewables in the scheme. But for residents of these houses, it makes a big difference in terms of their comfort. It also plays into the bigger goal of reducing carbon emissions.”
MMD projects on site
Other works recently completed by MMD Construction include a 4,000 sq metre primary health care unit with a public library; and Colaiste Chairain, a 10,000 sq metre state-of-the-art school in Croom.
The contractor is currently on site with a number of social housing schemes, including Beechgrove, a 51-house scheme in Clonakilty for Cork County Council; and it is handling the social housing element – comprising 29 houses – of a Cork city scheme for a private developer.
On site in other sectors, MMD Construction has the design and rapid-build of a 60-bed nursing home in St Mary’s Health Campus, Cork City; a new filling line facility in Carrigtwohill for GE Healthcare; an Aldi retail unit in Douglas, Cork; a new anodising plant in Little Island Cork for Architectural Metal Systems; and three schools on the Carrigaline Education Campus in Carrigaline.
Upcoming projects include constructing a new extension at St Joseph’s Community Hospital, Millstreet; and a new three-storey school in Blarney for Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál. When completed, this will be the largest school in the country.
Client: Clúid Housing
Main Contractor: MMD Construction Ltd
Project Managers: KSN Project Management Ltd.
Architect: VHA Architects
Civil/structural Engineering: DJF Engineering Services Ltd,
Services Engineering: Delap & Waller Ltd
Quantity Surveying: MAC Construction Consultants Ltd