Arrival and the wow factor
I’d never actually been on a construction site before, so arriving at Wembley Park as a trainee was a bit overwhelming. It was just so vast a huge site.
Everything about the site was supersized. Every day there were around 500 operatives working there, and the final statistics were massive too three million bricks used, and seven million hours worked. Just incredible!
The site’s location is fantastic too, just to the side of the new Olympic Steps leading up to Wembley Stadium, where thousands of people walk up. It’s been a great experience.
How I got here
I left Birmingham Uni in the summer of 2019 with a Sports and Exercise Science Degree, which had also included a year in Melbourne, Australia.
So, embarking on a Construction Management NVQ with Wates Construction was a bit of change of tack. But I was interested in finding a role where there is change every day a fresh challenge, new faces, new knowledge, and new things to master every day.
So far, it’s certainly lived up to my expectations. I love the way you can clearly see the outcome; the product of everyone’s hard work that is really satisfying.
The NVQ is mainly site-based learning with a week offsite for college-based learning every two or three months. Now I’m just a matter of weeks away from completion, which is exciting.
Beginning work on site
When I came on site the structural frame for the blocks had already gone up and so it was the start of the internal fit out and completion of the facades. I was to be mainly involved with the fit-out and finishes in the apartments.
The apartments were over four blocks. Two blocks were private rental residential apartments for Quintain Living, one was intermediate housing for Brent Council and one was affordable housing.
Although the size and scale of the project was daunting, I took it day by day and I was always very well looked after and supported; I never once felt thrown in the deep end.
I quickly found the team was genuinely passionate about the job and very happy to talk to me about it. I’ve been lucky to be working with people that are so passionate and willing to share their skills and knowledge.
Making the site Covid-safe
When the pandemic hit it was quite a turbulent time, and rules seemed to be changing every couple of hours. So, at the start of the first lockdown in March 2020 we took a 48 hour pause. Other than that we stayed open throughout.
During the 48-hour pause, we closed the site to all our subcontractors and then worked to make the whole site Covid secure. We introduced one-way systems and social distancing signage and floor markings, installed hand sanitiser and amended the timetable so that people working in an area always had enough space around them to maintain social distancing.
That also meant looking at suppliers’ method statements going right down into the detail, like reviewing how the carpenters can do a two-man lift of a door without breaching the 2-metre rule. We had to rethink everything and go over every detail to ensure we could operate safely.
I was responsible for inducting our supply chain contractors onto the site, taking them through the Covid measures, and hazards and emergency procedures, and making sure their place of work was safe and fit for purpose. As we went through the project I’d monitor the quality of the work to confirm it met the standard required.
Keeping to schedule
Because the blocks were 12-15 storeys high, the main challenge I found was the sequencing of the work as the contractors were essentially chasing each other up level by level. Any hold up on one level would have a knock-on effect below.
I learned to watch for the early signs that one level might not be ready, and then get involved to ask what they might need help with did they need more materials, more labour, or more time? If it was more time we would try to re-arrange the schedule to ensure we were still making progress.
It was really important to engage with the teams and communicate if there was any change, and I always felt really well supported by our supply chain contractors; they were great.
Working as a team
The team spirit on the project was fantastic. We were a tightly-knit team that supported each other and everyone was incredibly committed to the project. My managers were very supportive and good leaders.
It was also good seeing our client Quintain’s project director Tanmay Desai regularly on site, and impressively he knew everyone’s name. I also enjoyed working with the consultants and the supply chain contractors as the wider Wates team.
Summing up my experience at Wates and in the construction industry so far, I’d say to anyone looking to join the industry that I love it! I only have good things to say about it, so get involved. 100% go for it!
Imogen is now working at another iconic location, Abbey Road in London, for our client Camden Council, and looking forward to achieving her Construction Management NVQ this summer.
MORE ABOUT WEMBLEY PARK E01/02
- Silver Considerate Constructors Scheme 2020 National Site Award
- Largest construction contract awarded to Wates on a single site, worth £161.5m
- Some 2,500 precast columns and 1,200 prefabricated bathroom pods used
- Engagement with local schools and colleges and opportunities for 169 apprentices
- 633 apartments across four 12-15 storey high blocks from private rental to affordable housing
- Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA), and additional play areas
- Large gym with a 25m swimming pool
- Storage for 572 bicycles,
- Nursery and play area
- Residents will benefit from Envac, a sustainable waste management system will increase recycling rates and improve local air quality by reducing refuse collection vehicle trips.