Hosted by: Russell & Mike

BSS6 – I Have A Dream – Setting up premises

Getting into and setting up premises is proving… expensive and difficult. Some bad decisions has Jakob bailing out Zelda again.

With Zelda setting up new factory, warehouse and office facilities, it’s an opportunity for us to discuss the basics of setting up and running premises. Joining Russell for this episode is an experienced facilities manager, Dave Moore, who will provide an insight into some of the pitfalls Zelda is falling into and how to make premises work well.

Blue Sky Stinking
Blue Sky Stinking
BSS6 - I Have A Dream - Setting up premises


Episode script

Setting Up Premises Discussion Transcript

RUSSELL: Where do you start with all that?  Well, firstly I’d like to introduce Dave Moore from the Cornwall Development Company who’s joined me today in the Enterprise Space for Advanced Manufacturing in Cornwall.  Welcome Dave…


RUSSELL: Dave, you have many years in running premises like the one’s Zelda is trying to setup.  You are currently the Center Manager for this lovely, brand new, building on the outskirts of St Austell.  Could you tell us a little bit more about yourself…

DAVE: Well, you know.  20-30 years experience in engineering, maintenance, project delivery and building management.  Guess that sums it up really.

RUSSELL: Cool! So, on that basis, we’re going to have a look back on what you’ve just heard about Sydeline’s new premises.  What are your initial thoughts on what is going on there?

DAVE: Where do you start! Poor communication. Lack of understanding. No clear control.  Guess that’s a start, I suppose.

RUSSELL: It does seem to be that the client’s taking a heavy role in this.  Is that unusual?

DAVE: Nope!

RUSSELL: You don’t usually get someone like the client, like Zelda, standing on the side telling the architect what to do

DAVE: Very often you do

RUSSELL: You’re not couching your answers with caution in there are you?

DAVE: Definitely not

RUSSELL: I think it would be good to cover some more of the points in detail: Let’s talk about the role of an architect in any building or renovation project like this one.  Are they critical, could be useful.  Are they there to be truly useful or are they just an optional expense?

DAVE: Simple projects, possibly not.  They do understand building dynamics and the requirements and principles of design.  Though sometimes they do forget that they’re there to deliver what the client wants rather than award winning buildings that might bring them more work in the future.

RUSSELL: Yeah, I can see that.  What about a project manager? Because she managed to can both the architect and the project manager.  Project managers, again, optional?

DAVE: He should help to manage the delivery of the project, ensuring it meets the clients needs.  Co-ordinating and managing the actual deliver. Hence “project manager”.  But sometimes they can take one side or the other, very often.  A good project manager will normally seek a good workable compromise in most circumstances.

RUSSELL: What should Zelda, as the client, be expecting from these experts, in the form of architect and project management?

DAVE: She should be expecting advice from these experts in order to deliver her dream.  However, communications, listening and understanding in both directions is critical.

RUSSELL: Do you think she’s trying to get too involved in the project?

DAVE: Yes and no.  Cause she know’s what she wants, but she does need to listen to the advice she’s given.

RUSSELL: So there’s a good chance that Tarquin, our famous architect, probably stuck his heals in, perhaps not dealt with the client as he should

DAVE: I would think so.

RUSSELL: OK, the builders, maybe a bit stereotypical there, but was their approach familiar or are you surprised they decommissioned the heating?

DAVE: No surprised at all, very familiar.  They’ll do what you ask them to do.  Sometimes to a point.

RUSSELL: So, at that point ripping the flue out!  Now Zelda has been deviating somewhat from the plans, therefore.  Quite evidently, she’s taken walls down and put them up where she shouldn’t do. The architect had put these plans together – what would be a good process for managing these changes normally?  Shouting them through the corridor to the building manager?

DAVE: Project meetings, discussions, agreements, change control.  Any one of a number of things along those lines.  But make sure things are tracked so people know what they are doing and why they are doing them.  Rather than just listening to somebody and doing something without thinking about the consequences.

RUSSELL: Just drilling into that slightly, change control is one of those phrases at which people wince.  It’s like project management, people don’t like it.  For a small business owner or a start-up who think that a project manager is just an unnecessary expense, and an architect definitely think so.  And then you hear, change control – what does it protect you from?

DAVE: It protects you from you builder ripping your flue out without explaining to you why you can have any heating after that?  It’s really to create an understanding, make sure everyone’s aware of the decision that’s being made and why.

RUSSELL: And also the documentation pathways means that, when you do actually, finally get to an operational building, you can go back

DAVE: It also means if you do want to look back you can see why a change was made and why you’ve ended up where you’ve ended up

RUSSELL: And hopefully that can help with the route to any dispute resolution

DAVE: True

RUSSELL: Now, it has to be said, that sometimes, the architects can not think of everything.  Who else is it good to get involved when you’re designing premises

DAVE: I say definitely the M & E guys, or the Mechanical and Electrical teams.  After all, without power and water, how do you make a cup of tea!  Other’s though might be IT or perhaps some other specialists like heating and ventilation specialist.  Or maybe office planners, like Jakob suggested.

RUSSELL: Focusing on the M&E, it’s obviously a phrase which is very familiar to us but to people who are running a premise for the first time, M&E includes power and water but can also include some quite bulky pieces of equipment

DAVE: So, it could include your fire alarms or your intruder alarms so you can lock the building up when you’re going home and you know you now going to get anything stolen.  Even down to your boilers, else you can’t get your heat and you certainly can’t boil your kettle without your services, or even without your IT.

RUSSELL: It’s possible that people under-estimate the amount of space that some of this stuff needs to take

DAVE: So often I’ve seen buildings where they’ll put a plant room in and then, when they start building it, they discover they can’t get everything in the plant room and they have to find somewhere to put the water tank.  I can think of an example of just seen the last couple of weeks, where they’ve ended up having to put the water tank somewhere which has created a load more work, because they’ve had to fence an area off and reduce the working area that was available to the client

RUSSELL: And that can also impact if you do want to extend, change, go up with new floors or different things.  Suddenly, you can’t because you got this large piece of engineering equipment in the way.  Ok! So moving on a bit, to what is a huge subject, and I’m not looking for chapter and verse on this by any stretch of the imagination. Health and Safety – where do we start? Staff safety over staff comfort?

DAVE: It’s a difficult one.  I think it’s good old common sense.   Unfortunately, no one seems to teach common sense anymore.  Ultimately, if it don’t seem safe it probably isn’t.  Actually, remember, if you’ve been doing it the same way a thousand times and got away with it, it just means you’re closer to get it wrong and something happening that shouldn’t.  Ultimately, there are rules and guidelines for a reason.  I think common sense helps but for some reason we’ve had to write them down because people don’t apply common sense.  So that’s why the rules and guidelines are there.

RUSSELL: And they can sometime appear to be a bit over-bearing or complex.  Especially when you’re starting up new premises, there can be an absolute wall of Health and Safety, fire risk and such like and you have to wade through all of that

DAVE: Correct

RUSSELL: So it goes back to some of things we’ve said in previous episodes.  Getting advice on these subjects early and even if that’s talking to other people that are running similar premises

DAVE: I think it’s the same all round really.  The earlier those conversations take place the better.  And sometimes we go away and we let somebody design something.  They don’t involved the M&E and so you end up with a plant room that’s not big enough.  You don’t involve the client and the client comes along and says well that’s why I want to move that wall because you didn’t give me a big enough office.

RUSSELL: And then you get into expensive change

DAVE: Correct

RUSSELL: So, you’d have to say, with Health and Safety that blocking fire doors is an absolute no-no then?

DAVE: Yeah!  But you might have been able to move it

RUSSELL: Yes, as you say, it’s about using some common sense.  She didn’t use her common sense, but was just looking at the attractiveness of the room.  Moving on and passing over recruitment because that’s a subject for another day. Moving on to the fact that Zelda had decided to remove the dado trunking and cabling around the room.  I once saw a company strip out all physical dado rail data cabling because it ruined the look of the room, just because they’d heard that wi-fi could replace it all. That was 10 year or so ago, and of course wifi just couldn’t that – bit different now.  Have you seen any hideous mistakes you can share without embarrassing anyone?

DAVE: I remember once, a company specifying a new boiler for a site based on the incoming gas usage to the site.  Unfortunately they’d forgotten that there were actually 4 kitchens on that gas supply.  So they ended up with a very big, over-sized boiler that very rarely ran, and when it did run, it was at such a low level that it was incredibly inefficient.  Classic example

RUSSELL:: So, expensive on all sides there

DAVE: And wasteful too

RUSSELL: There is an array of these things and by suffering you can help others to avoid them.  Finally, it would be good if you could share your top tips for creating safe, useful and effective premises.

DAVE: I think, listen to the advice, listen to the client and work together to find the solution

RUSSELL: Well that’s concise and thank you very much for those for those.  And it has to be said that building premises leads to commissioning premises and managing premises all with their own challenges.  Would you agree?

DAVE: Sure does, and that’s not to mention snagging and defects when you’re trying to move in

RUSSELL: And I think that’s common.  We’re sitting in a brand new building and we’ve both experienced small snags.  And, not seeking to embarrass anybody, it is just what happens, you can’t get away from that. 


RUSSELL: Well that’s great, thanks very much for spending the time with us there.  Thanks Dave and thanks for Cornwall Development Company giving you the chance to do this

DAVE: My pleasure

RUSSELL: So at that point I’d encourage all of you listening to ask questions in the comments on our show page where we’ll put useful links and a full transcript of our conversation.  You could also leave your feedback and ideas for subjects to cover in the future and rate, like and share if you would be so kind. 

As for next time, well you heard Jakob say that recruitment is about to kick off in Sydeline – that’s got to be easy, hasn’t it.  We’ll have 1, or possibly even 2, recruitment and HR experts to throw some light on the matters raised in the next Episode, which is called “One Of Us”. 

Say goodbye Dave

DAVE: Goodbye Dave!

with special thanks to...

David Moore is Building Manager for the Enterprise Space for Advanced Manufacturing (eSAM) in Carluddon Technology Park just outside St Austell in Cornwall.  Working for the Cornwall Development Company, Dave has a wealth of experience in project and facilities management.