SDC Appointed Contractor for Univ North
SDC has been selected as the likely preferred construction contractor to build University College’s “Univ North” scheme, a landscape-driven multigenerational community setting in North Oxford.
Andrew Grant, Univ North Project Director, chair of the evaluation panel, said: “The College has had the enormous privilege of three high quality and committed contractors competing for this flagship project. The tenders were outstanding and it has taken all of September and into October to bring the competition to a close. I am delighted to confirm that SDC has been identified as our preferred contractor and are being positioned for appointment as Univ’s construction partner. The evaluation panel felt that SDC demonstrated an exceptional level of design interrogation, consideration for neighbouring properties and cost challenge. The panel were impressed by their intention to engage with the neighbour community as much as the design team, and their impressive site set up practices, with high levels of control, safety and cleanliness on site.
“After a period of exclusive negotiation and design review, we anticipate engaging SDC to deliver our demolition and site preparation work, beginning in November, while our Stage 4 design work continues in parallel prior to the commencement of construction in spring 2023.”
The rigorous competitive tender and evaluation process began in June 2022 and included a series of contractor workshops with experts from the project’s current design team. Each tenderer was given an opportunity to put forward their own agenda and ask questions, seek clarifications and consult with the project team.
Following the tender submissions in early September, the review panel evaluated for quality and commercial/cost assessments with 60%:40% weight to generate a combined score for each contractor.
The quality areas assessed included health and safety, the preferred delivery programme, the approach to procurement, construction, logistics and planning. As well as the resource offered by the design and project team, and proposed alternative arrangements that may give rise to better outcomes than the project has conceived to date.
This process of evaluation was conducted entirely transparently, with the College, the project manager, the architect, structural engineer, the mechanical and electrical engineer, and the cost consultant, all having equal say in the final determination.
Scott Walker, Univ North project manager, Univ, and member of the panel, adds: “We were impressed by the consideration each contractor displayed on matters such as site logistics, road use and the phasing of the project. SDC proposed some particularly beneficial ways in which productivity could be maximised, along with a good construction sequence, and delivering the phased construction plan with a high level of safety and minimal disruption.”
A record of good community engagement was an important consideration for University College, Oxford in selecting a construction partner. SDC has committed to actively engage and communicate with all affected neighbours and they will provide public information on the site hoardings, set up community meetings and keep stakeholders up-to-date, as well as provide monthly progress reports.
Richard Todd, Project Manager, Bidwells and member of the evaluation panel, said: “We felt that a strong track record of collaborative working to deliver for the client shone through in SDC’s bid, especially during the follow-up evaluation interview. SDC’s existing Local Consolidation Centre (just north of Oxford and Univ North) will enable local off-site materials storage and quality checks, as well as just-in-time deliveries via smaller suitably sized vehicles. We are all looking forward to working with SDC to deliver a successful project.”
The contractor was asked to offer pricing for their overheads, profit and costs for site enablement and to complete a fixed price proposal for the Water Court West building. The latter element was then used as a basis for establishing the overall projected costs of the construction.
Scott Walker, continues: “The tenderers’ fixed price for Water Court West is important as it enabled our cost consultant to openly determine a market-informed cost forecast for the whole project. The elements included the substructure and superstructure, such as the frame, roof, stairs and ramps, externals walls, windows, and so on. The College now has a higher quality picture of the costs ahead and is able to make informed decisions to shape the project before we complete discussions on the final contract.”
Andrew Grant said: “This is a hugely exciting time. The project team is now in a position to finally shape, and then award, the first part of the project, which comprises the demolitions and careful site preparation for main construction. This preparation includes very selective tree felling, and tree relocation where possible. Every step now, including the design collaboration over the next 12 weeks for all of the technical details, is essential to maintain our aspiration for initial building delivery in 2024.”
The early involvement of the contractor in the design and build planning will help address the risk issues and help keep costs down. The main contract award and construction commencement is anticipated in Spring 2023.
Adam, Knaggs, SDC Managing Director said “We’re delighted to have been selected from the competitive tender process for Univ North. We hope that our experience, commitment and expertise will be enough to ensure a successful development and satisfactory completion. We are genuinely delighted to be in a position to anticipate the commission and have already started work. There is much to do!”