The Challenges Involved In Refurbishing an Occupied Building

Recently Wilson Construction has completed various projects which have involved working in occupied buildings. Examples include:

  • The complete refurbishment of a fully occupied building owned by South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust in Holywood.
  • Upgrading and fitting out of a four storey apartment building for Habinteg Housing Association in Belfast.
  • Refurbishment of the Northern Health and Social Care Trust office headquarters in Ballymena.
  • Internal commercial refurbishment of a Leisure Centre for Newtownabbey Borough Council.


Gareth Foster, Assistant Contracts Manager for Wilson Construction outlines the challenges involved;

“Before starting work in any occupied building we arrange an on-site meeting with the client to identify challenges ahead. We review an internal ‘Pre-Construction Check-List’ which includes items such as availability of an Asbestos Register, as-built health & safety file, location of welfare facilities, access to the works area, and health & safety requirements.


The four key elements we strive to ensure are kept to an absolute minimum are:

1) Nuisance.

2) Noise.

3) Vibration.

4) Dust.

For each project, we arrange for regular meetings with the Facilities Manager to review the Daily Activity Plan. This worked very well when recently refurbishing a fully occupied office building – we met the client’s representative each morning at 8:30am and discussed with her our plan of work for that day and also gave her an update on our structured Programme of Works for the next seven days. This proved useful when we were briefed on planned interviews due to take place which gave us time to re-programme unavoidable internal demolition work to a more suitable day.


One of the other important things is to carefully undertake the Site Induction process for all operatives arriving on to site as the Site Induction is the only way to communicate rules, risks and potential hazards.


Working in an occupied building can mean not just working close to for example office staff, it can also mean working in close proximity to people of a spectrum of ages, such as when we carried out refurbishment work to Valley Leisure Centre in Newtownabbey, or working in close proximity to people with Dementia, such as when we did the complete refurbishment of a building for the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust.


Ultimately, the key to a successful project is communication with not just colleagues and supply chain members but also with the client to ensure they are kept fully updated on progress.”