The Cowley Estate in Lambeth, London, presents a unique blend of architectural heritage and modern housing needs. Built between 1934 and 1936, the estate originally served as a solution for families displaced by slum clearances. Its red-brick buildings, complemented by a 1960s extension, today face the challenge of maintaining their historical integrity while ensuring modern living standards. The window overhaul project is part of Lambeth’s ambitious £490 million investment to elevate homes to the Lambeth Housing Standard, aiming to create environments that are warm, dry, and safe for all residents.
In-Depth Client Information: Community and Management
Cowley Estate’s management by the Cowley Resident Management Organisation (RMO) reflects a community-driven approach. The RMO, comprised of tenants, leaseholders, and local residents, plays a pivotal role in maintaining the estate’s vibrancy and addressing its needs. Lambeth, a borough rich in history and diversity, prioritizes the safety and upkeep of its 33,000 council homes, managed by various TMOs. This commitment to community welfare and heritage preservation is central to projects like the Cowley Estate’s window refurbishment.
Partner Profile: Amber Construction Services Ltd
Amber Construction Services Ltd’s involvement in the Cowley Estate project underscores their expertise in public sector refurbishments. Their multi-disciplinary approach, coupled with a strong ethos in equality, training, and diversity, aligns perfectly with the project’s requirements. Their collaborative working style and investment in workforce development have been crucial in navigating the complex demands of such a heritage-sensitive project.
Detailed Survey Stage: Laying the Groundwork
Surveys on the Cowley Estate started in March 2022. The team was able to mobilise quickly and have a surveyor onsite only 2 weeks after receiving the order. The surveyor Neil worked closely with the onsite Resident Liaison Manager and achieved fantastically high access rates to complete surveys.
By the end of March 199 of the 234 properties have been successfully surveyed with 5 No Access Cards given to residents who confirmed appointments but did not attend at the agreed time and 30 residents to schedule who were not available for appointments in March.
All of the surveys were checked by our contract management team and a priced programme of work has been created for the client. Over 1400 repairs required to windows have been identified ranging from simple handle replacements to broken Tilt & Turn Mechanisms and broken Internal and External Spring balances.
The next job for the contract management team was to source materials to replace parts that are in some cases 20 years old and obsolete and also a method for repairing the spring balance windows.
The remaining 30 properties were surveyed when we returned to site to carry out the programme of works
Comprehensive Repair Program: SAFEKEEP in action
The identified repairs spanned a broad spectrum, highlighting the diverse needs of the estate’s windows. From general adjustments to the replacement of spring balances and DGUs, each repair was carefully planned and executed. The program’s scale and diversity underscored the technical expertise and logistical precision required for such a comprehensive restoration effort.
Critical Adjustments and Part Replacements: Precision and Care
Over 100 windows needed some form of adjustment. Whilst this may seem minor works, in fact without adjustment these windows would have almost certainly failed. This would mean they would need parts replacing or the whole window. As you can see our engineers have a number of different methods of adjusting a window to get it back to correct operation and ensure the seals are compressed correctly so you don’t get annoying draughts.
We replaced almost 100 Double glazed units. That sounds a lot easier than it is. Every piece of glass had to be individually measured and the correct specification identified before they could be ordered. Then each piece of glass had to be checked at our logistics base for any defects before they could be sent to the site team to install. Finally the glass had to be stored on site safely, so that there was no risk of damage or injury to the site team or public.
1217 parts needed to be replaced. This included a wide variety of handles, espags, cylinders, catches, clips and restrictors. More complex were the Tilt & Turn mechanisms that needed replacing. As with the glass, each window needed to be accurately measured to ensure the right sized mechanisms were ordered. Once onsite the existing mechanisms are removed, and completely new mechanism fitted to the Tilt & Turn window. A new Tilt & Turn handle is fitted so that the operating system for these windows is completely replaced, just like new.
Sash Window Restoration: A Specialized Task
Restoring the sash windows was a highlight of the project, showcasing the team’s ability to handle intricate, heritage-specific challenges. The replacement of over 400 sets of spring balances was not just a technical task but also a preservation effort, maintaining the estate’s historical character while enhancing window functionality.
Diving into the SAFEKEEP Model
Survey (S): Detailed Checks with Tailored Reporting
Our engineers conduct meticulous checks on your windows and doors. Firstly for correct operation. Then for compliance with health and safety regulations. Thirdly, signs of water and air ingress. We also consider any additional factors requested by our clients to furnish landlords with a detailed report. Not only does this report spotlight areas that need fixing. It also serves as a tangible audit trail, showcasing safety precautions undertaken. Finally, the report proposes potential enhancements for the windows.
Adjust (A): Preventing Small Issues from Becoming Major Ones
The emphasis here is on proactive care. Windows require continual small adjustments to windows and regular lubrication. This prevents minor issues from spiraling into bigger, costlier problems. Guarding against more significant repairs and, worst case, complete window replacements.
Fix (F): Swift and Uncomplicated Solutions
Our approach to fixing is straightforward and effective. Once a problem is identified, our team ensures it’s repaired efficiently. We prioritise the safety and functionality of the windows and doors to uphold the comfort and security of our residents.
Enhance (E): Advancing Beyond the Basic Functions
Enhancements go beyond mere fixes. It could involve elevating ventilation to combat issues like mould or damp. Or escalating the energy efficiency of windows. Or upgrading security features. In every enhancement action, the objective is to boost the existing functionality. Enhancements may also prolong the lifespan of your installations.
KEEP: Keep your Windows and Residents SAFE
By engaging in long-term contracts, landlords can spread repair costs over an extended period. They gain preferential access to Mila’s responsive repair services. The ‘KEEP’ phase protects your window and door investment. It is the scheduled programme of future safety audits. This provides a steadfast availability of a repairs service when it’s needed. It’s how you KEEP your resident’s windows operational over the long-term with all safety measures functional. It’s how you prevent small problems becoming large expensive ones.
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