There can't be that much to scaffold can there? After all it's just a pile of poles tied together and in Hong Kong they do it all out of bamboo - even on sky scrapers! Well that was my original view on the subject, but now we have St Bartholomew's clothed in sturdy scaffolding I hold a different view. I ran an individual tender for the scaffold work separate from the main building contract, mainly because I wanted to avoid the horror stories I kept running into involving long term rental agreements and costs spiralling out of control for scaffold. Normally you rent scaffold by the week and pay a fixed fee to erect and dismantle it but considering the unpredictable nature of the whole job so far we decided that kind of approach was not going to work. It's quite possible to work out how much scaffold we need to build a frame around the church and hence it's possible to work out the value of the scaffold, and if we ended renting it for anything more than 18 months it was going to be cheaper to own the scaffold and give it away at the end - then at least it's all at a fixed cost. The other problem we had to deal with was the site security and it comes to pass that hoarding is generally not done by scaffold companies and again the rental or ownership problem existed. By the time we had worked all this out it was looking like two contracts, both of which would end up with us owning the scaffold and the hoarding.
I tracked down five local scaffold companies and sent my tender documents off to them and that's when the questions started, most of the companies could not, or would not, understand the problems with an open ended rental agreement, they simply wanted to rent me scaffold at a price per week and on top of that we had a stunning range of prices come back for the job! Three of them managed to count themselves out by either only doing rental or by being unrealistically expensive and this got us down to two people. As normally happens with these things we ended up meeting both the companies at the church so we spent an hour or so with a chap called Vince early one morning looking over the site, he was clearly taken by the whole project and the setting and apart from believing us to be bonkers he was obviously into what we wanted to do. He also had some suggestions about hoarding and how to deal with that and had a subcontractor he used for that kind of work. Crucially he also understood my calculations around the cost of scaffold verses renting the stuff and to cut a long story short we did a deal on a fixed price for a very long term contract.
In my day job I have cause to drive around Kingston and I happened to pass by a brand new building site with a very nice looking hoarding outside and a sign with the companies name on it. A couple of calls later and I'm standing again at 7am in the graveyard with a really nice Irish chap who spends the first half hour rummaging round the church talking about history and then in a very dismissive way says 'Hoarding ? Yeah no problem but what an amazing site'. A few days later I have a very price competitive quote for some painted hoarding with security fencing on the top of it and a large set of gates. It's a pity that we need this on the site but we have two main reasons for it. Firstly for some reason a small number of people want to clamber around inside the site rather than come to an open day and now as the work gets going the site becomes increasingly dangerous so we need the hoarding in effect to protect these people from themselves. The other reason is good old 'elf and safety' legislation, need I say more….
So the first step is get the hoarding built and a team of six very entertaining Irish guys arrive on site at the beginning of the week and by the end we have site security, all nicely painted and complete with its security fence.
A few weeks later and Vince's boys are onsite to start the scaffold - they are hampered a bit by rubbish weather but after a couple of weeks they get going and it's not long before we can walk round the church eight foot in the air. As the platforms go up it's great to be able to take a close look at the stonework on the outside of the building and in preparation I book a meeting with the council's conservation officer, Sarah, and the case officer Nicola to clamber over the scaffold and inspect all the stone work.
This is no mean feat for Sarah as I know she's not too keen on heights but it's a job we need to do so we can write the stonework tender. We basically need to have a plan for each individual piece of stone in the building and the only way to deal with this is to clamber around on a scaffold and hug the stuff (God I'm getting like Graham the bell frame bloke - he wanted to hug everything) The day of the meeting arrives and Vince's boys do us proud and deliver a tower covered in scaffold that Sarah and I spend most of the morning clambering around and picking at the stonework. In general it's good news as there are no nasty shocks for us and in fact it all looks very well preserved up there. My task now is to define just what work we are going to undertake on the building and get the tender out to a number of stone masons.