Stunning workmanship from C&A Build & Civil at Athgarvan Road, Newbridge

27 Aug , 2019  

Having delivered a best-in-class project in very challenging circumstances – not least of which were the extreme weather conditions experienced during this project – C&A Build & Civil were deservedly shortlisted in the Residential – Social Housing category of this year’s Irish Construction Excellence Awards for their outstanding work on a notoriously tricky 13-unit, €3.75m project at Athgarvan Road in Newbridge.

Working for client Kildare County Council, with David Creighton as senior architect and Letitia Hanratty (from Kildare County Council’s Architectural Services Section, who designed, and project managed the scheme from inception through to completion) as project architect, C&A ticked all the boxes as they achieved a high-quality finish on the project, which was delivered on programme.

The standards implemented by C&A (who are a registered contractor with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland), in relation to Quality, Health & Safety, Energy Efficiency Ratings and sustainability ensured that expectations were far exceeded for this development.

These units are expected to be occupied for 60 years or more, an energy-efficient design that will yield considerable savings over its lifetime. Although some energy-saving measures can be implemented at a later stage, retrofitting is often more expensive and less effective than incorporation at original time of construction.

This project involved the design and construction of 13 energy-efficient, carbon neutral dwellings as part of a Pilot Housing Scheme of approximately 800 m² at Athgarvan Road, Newbridge, County Kildare. Under the Government’s National Climate Change Strategy and specifically with a view to further increasing residential energy efficiency standards beyond 2010 targets, the Government proposed a programme of demonstration projects entitled “Towards Carbon Neutral”.

The Athgarvan Road scheme had been selected as one of the pilot schemes under this programme. The project reached energy efficiency performance levels beyond those of the proposed Building Regulations Part L 2010. The units were designed to provide an A2 rating and the bespoke design incorporated innovative and challenging design solutions, non-standard materials and sustainable technologies.

Specialist trades used for this project included: external insulation, external windows and doors, structural steel, metal work, roof trusses, zinc cladding, piling, air tightness, M&E, waterproofing, precast floors, radon barrier and infiltration trenches.

Heavily experienced specifically in civil engineering works, C&A carried out all groundworks and external works directly.

The methods adopted for the construction of foundation of the dwellings were determined by the variability of the ground conditions. The existing earthworks profile had been subjected to the various meanderings of the River Liffey in the past, which resulted in an alluvial layer over the old gravel river beds which were at a level approximating to the existing river course.

The topography of the site was of a uniform grade from a high point at Liffey Terrace to the Athgarvan Road. The foundations therefore were a mixture of shallow ground bearing footings, precast concrete piling with ring beams and deep footings using trench-fill concrete.

To maintain an aesthetic and pleasing roof line as well as complying with planning, the ground level apartments were in a basement type format which required a retaining wall surround with access steps from the adjacent pavement. This retaining wall was contiguous with the reinforced floor slabs and had to be constructed as a ‘water containing structure’, i.e. water tight.

As the site was sloping, various retaining walls were required to enable access to open and communal spaces. To maintain the programme targets and to enable construction of the dwellings to proceed as programmed the retaining walls were constructed using a precast system. The benefits of this were two-fold – maintaining programme and providing an excellent and uniform finish to the walls.

As the existing outfalls for the storm sewer discharges into the River Liffey and as the site has a gravel layer approximately 1.5 m below existing ground level, the design for the new storm system was to utilise the natural soakage in the gravels to reduce and even eliminate the discharge volumes into the river. Consequently, a series of infiltration trenches were provided giving attenuation storage and soakage, designed to accommodate the runoff from the catchment area for a 100-year storm, before discharging excess storm water into the river system.

There was an existing main foul sewer traversing the site which was coincident with the foundations of the apartment block, consequently this live sewer required to be diverted. As the depth of this existing sewer was in excess of three metres and the proposed diversion was very close to the adjacent roadway, it was critical to carry out this work in a safe manner and to protect the integrity of the road structure. The diversion was carried out in a series of trench boxes to ensure the works were satisfactorily completed. 

As the existing roadway in Liffey Terrace had deteriorated and was substandard, and to allow for the new frontage on the development, Liffey Terrace and Liffey View were completely reconstructed. These works involved excavation to a firm foundation and disposal of arisings, provision of capping and sub-base material and resurfacing. This work had to be carried out under a complete road closure to local traffic. However, pedestrian access for the residents of the existing houses had to be maintained along with access for emergency and utility vehicles.

With such a large civil content, C&A Build & Civil was the ideal contractor for Athgarvan Road. “It was a good boost for the company to be nominated for the Irish Construction Excellence Award,” states Normal Lewis, Contracts Manager / Estimator. “It’s the first time we put ourselves forward for an award such as this and to get to the final was an honour. When you consider that we were up against a lot of the bigger contactors, it was a real feather in our cap.

“This was a very special project for us, not least because it was our first time to work in Kildare. We’d done a lot of work for the local authorities in Dublin and were delighted to win this contract with Kildare County Council. We weren’t the cheapest on the table but the quality of our submission pulled us up to second place. When the first contractor subsequently withdrew, we were awarded it.”

Fronted by founders Colman and Ann Mulgrew, C&A Build & Civil specialises in: General Commercial Construction, Housebuilding, Civil Engineering, Refurbishment & Fit Out and Sports, Leisure and Educational Projects. They boast a vast wealth of knowledge and expertise in these areas and this is evidenced by the quality of projects they have been involved in.

Accredited to CIRI, CIF, IHBA, Homebond and Construction line, CHAS, MBCA standards, C&A have over 40 years of experience in Civil Engineering works and thus, their level of expertise in this area is of the highest quality. For example, the company delivered deep trenching at EuroDisney in Paris and was drainage contractor on the M50 motorway.

For over four decades, C&A Contractors have combined traditional values with a dedicated approach to the delivery of a wide range of public and private sector projects in Ireland. The company has developed a strong reputation for excellence in construction and civil engineering, working closely with clients and design teams on a wide range of projects.

They place a strong emphasis on teamwork with both clients and design teams, to achieve the required project outcomes. Their civil engineering expertise makes them the No.1 choice when it comes to difficult projects and they work closely with design teams to value engineer projects in the early stages, employing a highly-skilled and resourceful workforce who are well schooled in their mission to deliver the highest quality projects. C&A are continually improving and updating their processes and systems to ensure that they can meet and exceed customer expectations.

Established by Colman Mulgrew in 1974 as a civil engineering and tunnelling company, C&A has since grown to encompass all aspects of construction in both the public and private sectors. Their experience has seen them expand into commercial building projects including largescale housing, having completed a number of public sector housing schemes over the last decade. In 2014, they celebrated 40 years in business, making them one of Ireland’s most established and secure construction companies.

Wholly dedicated to implementing the highest possible levels of Health & Safety, C&A Build & Civil are “Safe T Cert” accredited and have invested significant amount of time and resources in maintaining a secure working environment for all staff employed, both directly and indirectly by the company.

“Due to the topography of the site, with variable ground conditions and a lot of deep excavations, Stunning workmanship from C&A Build & Civil at Athgarvan Road, Newbridge

For their exceptional work in delivering 13 residential units at Athgarvan Road, Newbridge, C&A Build & Civil were shortlisted for a 2019 Irish Construction Excellence Award. Building Ireland spoke to contracts manager Norman Lewis to find out more.

Athgarvan Road was more civil engineering based than building based,” Norman continues. “We had to put deep drainage as far down as 3.5metres in poor ground adjacent to a busy residential road and had to take special precautions to preserve the integrity of that road, which was down for reconstruction at the same time, also delivered by us.

“Whilst building the structures close to that road, providing drainage close to the road and reconstructing the road, we also had to accommodate and liaise with the residents. A great community spirit developed on site, as opposed to confrontation between residents and contractor, and that was one of the real successes of this project from our perspective.”

At the project’s peak, C&A Build & Civil had between 50 and 75 personnel on site at Athgarvan

 Road. “Although there are only 13 dwellings, because of the restrictions, we had to put a 100-tonne tower crane on site. For that, we had a piled foundation with a heavy reinforced slab on top. After the crane was taken away, we had mosaic artworks installed on that base and left it on site as an added feature.”

The decidedly tricky site was officially opened by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on October 16th, 2018.

“Most of our projects are straightforward but there’s nothing that we would worry about and we would be extremely confident taking on any difficult project with specific challenges or a lot of civil engineering content. Most of our work at the moment is with local authorities but we also work for the IDA and Irish Water, to name a couple.

“Going forward, we’re hoping that the civil engineering side of things will start to grow again after the credit crunch,” Norman concludes. “We’d hope to flex our muscle a bit more in civil engineering but not at the expense of the building work. We’ve had an interest in builds and refurbs for ten or eleven years now. We’re on Dublin City Council’s framework for the refurbishment of derelict houses to upgrade the existing housing stock and get housing lists down. So we’re busy with building and refurbs, while civil / infrastructure work is slower, but, as I said, we’re hoping to get back to that more and more in the coming years.”

C&A Build & Civil,

Unit 9,

Keypoint Business Park,

Rosemount Park Drive,

Dublin 11

Tel: 01 8665738

Email: [email protected]

Web: candaltd.com

Taken from Building Ireland Magazine, June, Vol 5 No 6