Facade and water ingress headaches at pioneering Essex office will mean delay in occupation and estimated extra costs of £3m.
A grpund breaking office building for BT is two months late because of problems with the facade and water ingress through ductwork.

The project, at Brentwood in Essex, is the first in a series under BT's Workstyle 2000 initiative to promote new ways of working, including hotdesking. It was due to open this month, but it will now be completed in July.

BT will occupy the building in September.

BT project manager John Baxter said: "May had always been the date for completion, but the building is not ready yet. There have been a number of issues we are dealing with – it's a very complicated building.

"Inclement weather hasn't helped, but internally and externally there have been a complex series of issues, predominantly to do with the building envelope, to be tackled." It is understood there were problems getting the building watertight.

Baxter refused to say who would pay for the cost of the delay, estimated at £3m, to cover extra construction costs and keeping BT staff in rented offices.

He said: "We are discussing with our team the way the construction has progressed and the problems we have had." Schal is construction manager for the project, Arup Associates is architect and Gardiner & Theobald is quantity surveyor.

A spokesman for Schal said: "There are no problems at all. The building is not late. It was always going to occupied in late summer or autumn." When told that BT's own publicity had trumpeted a May opening, he still denied that this had been the plan.

Maurice Polan, the BT facilities manager waiting to take over the building, said water ingress through ductwork had hit the project over the past few weeks, delaying occupation.

He said: "That put back the contractors because there was no power on the site. Water got in through the service ducts and blockwork paving around the building had to be dug up and replaced. But it won't cost us." It is understood that water got into a switch room through underground ducts that had not been sealed. This delayed the day on which power could be supplied to the building.

Polan said BT staff would start to move into the building from the start of September. Staff will be phased in because they will be working in new ways, with the emphasis on temporary workstations.

  • Police were called to the Brentwood site last week after an 18-year-old worker fell from a walkway between the building's glazed enveloped and the main structure. The Health and Safety Executive is investigating.

    A Schal spokesman said: "We are investigating the accident. The operative fell from an access platform that is part of the building's structure."