Kensway Consultants – Bond & Tea Store Unreinforced Masonry (URM) Upgrade

Kensway Consultants is a family-based firm that aims to ‘deliver better for less’ in property consulting, project management, and quantity surveying. Their name is a tribute to the CEO’s Father Ken Angus. He was the driving force behind Angus Group, where the standing joke was that projects had to be completed “Ken’s Way” – i.e. to the highest standard possible, on time and within budget.

The Challenge

Kensway were called on to coordinate a government-enforced URM upgrade on apartments in a 1927 heritage building in downtown Wellington. This involved adding additional structural steel elements to the buildings street facing façade.

Their contractor ended up pulling out the day before work was due to start, leaving everyone between a rock and a hard place. 6 to 8 weeks was expected to get another contractor started – which would mean missing the legal deadline, incurring big fines, and missing government funding. Disaster.

Matt Reed, project manager, tells the story…

Saving the client’s bacon

“Chris Mollenaar had done measuring and costing for the contractor previously, so we approached him to see if he would carry through with the project.

Petone were not only prepared to carry through with the work, but were keen to start immediately!

It was tricky piecemeal work having to fit in with 10 apartment owners with 10 different needs and opinions. Steel frames had to be lifted through windows, as they couldn’t be taken upstairs. They had to get past a bed here and move this or that there, plus work around other occupied apartments.

Chris was respectful of the challenges, but gave us short timeframes and stuck to them. His measurements were spot-on for his precise drawings, backed with careful planning and prep work.

Some galvanised sections had to be installed by cutting through waterproof membranes on decks which had to be re-sealed quickly to protect from rain. Existing steel was not always square and true, so the original engineer’s designs had to be tweaked. There was no room for error as it had to fit properly in the first set.”

A breeze to deal with

“Communication was so easy because Chris’s guys were all on the same page with him. This was a refreshing change from industry norms. Also, being there exactly when they said they would was a nice change. Nothing was too much trouble, and they made a complex tricky project so simple and easy for us.”

Job done – with happy relieved clients

“After things looking pretty grim at one stage for our clients, they are extremely happy with the results and ready to look into the remainder of the building seismic upgrade.

Because Chris was able to get the job done so quickly, he passed on cost savings to us when he didn’t have too. Incredible.”

Going forward with Petone Engineering

“We are really keen to work with Chris on other projects in future. He is raising his production capacity by using automation to make things easier for his existing guys so they can get more jobs done to the same high standard.”

Barry Manning, senior project manager at Kensway, says:

“We found the forward planning, attention to detail, and focus on our project to be exceptional. The team worked extremely well with other trades as well as being respectful and approachable by our clients when working in their space. I am more than happy to continue working with this professional engineering company and have recommended them to other clients and contractors as the ideal solution to any project.”

Fast Facts:

  • Upgrading and securing unreinforced masonry.
  • Working around occupied apartments
  • Awkward access and space constraints, with unsquare existing structures
  • Job done in quick time under budget, despite contractor pullout