Sponsored by Hays Construction


Kanji Kerai
Operations manager
Willmott Dixon Construction

Project: School of Optometry & Vision Sciences, Cardiff University: construction of four-storey college incorporating clinics, research labs and teaching facilities, completed in 85 weeks
Value: £15.8m
Contract: JCT 98

With a Willmott Dixon project for the client having overrun and gone into dispute two years earlier, Kanji Kerai had something to prove. Delivering on time and budget, maintaining quality and avoiding confrontation were his key objectives.

Glowing commendations from the client show that Kerai met them perfectly. But, in truth, his achievement was even greater than the 9.5 out of 10 satisfaction rating suggests. The project had been seriously derailed when full planning permission was denied just as the steelwork erectors were completing the frame.

Work only restarted 18 months later with a revised and incomplete design that reduced the height of the building and relocated the mechanical plant from the roof to the basement. With the architects and engineers under intense pressure to make the design changes and get them signed off, Kerai provided a level of assistance way outside the contract and focused the weekly meetings on immediate, must-have information.

By the end of the project he had made 671 requests for information and recorded 800 verbal variations. Despite the hectic pace, he gave full consideration to the client’s interests.

When the discovery of contaminated soil forced the relocation of boreholes for the ground source heating system, he used the 10-month delay to cut costs by value engineering the system to reduce the number of boreholes needed. And he saved the university another £90,000 by pushing for the replacement of the internal blockwork walls with a new super-strong plasterboard product.

These initiatives kept the project tighter to the cost plan than many comparable schemes. The client was so impressed that it is adopting his alternative internal walls solution for all its future projects.

Even more important, Kerai achieved a 0% defect handover by targeting right-first-time quality. He built three rooms to the finish the client required as a benchmark and enforced that level of quality across the trades.

Enthusiastic, pragmatic and proactive, Kerai overcame a series of tough challenges on a key project.


Ian Hazelton MCIOB
Construction manager
Willmott Dixon Construction

Project: Golden Lane Campus, London EC1: construction of two linked schools and a children’s centre, completed in 98 weeks
Value: £16.2m
Contract: JCT 98

Finding something unexpected in the ground is always a setback, but the discovery of the remains of 10,000 bodies under the site came close to destroying Ian Hazelton’s project altogether.

With a long-closed Victorian cemetery thought to be somewhere in the vicinity, 15 precautionary boreholes had only turned up a solitary bone, so the project had gone ahead, only for the site preparation works to uncover the grisly truth: a 20th century warehouse development must have uncovered the remains and reburied them elsewhere and far deeper.

Aware of how important the project was to the client – it replaced three separate crumbling facilities in the borough and had been 20 years in the making – Hazelton put huge effort into making it happen. He persuaded the client to stay in the game and developed successful exhumation and cost containment solutions.

The project was already £1m in deficit and he knew he had to generate savings all the way through the contract. By identifying savings on 350 items, he was able to build at the target cost without compromising the integrity of the building.

After the project was delayed by 26 weeks by the bodies – and the massive concrete foundations left by the 20th century warehouse – Hazelton reinvigorated the project. He understood the management dynamic of a proactive client and three headmistresses, and managed the stakeholder relationships with aplomb. Having done his homework, he knew the project was more about the users than the building itself.

Technically strong, firm on the programme and passionate about quality, Hazelton displayed style and demonstrated an enviable ability to build, support, motivate and control his team in delivering the project.


Nick Abbey MCIOB (Mace Plus) for Marks & Spencer, The Pantheon, Oxford Street, London
Stewart Blyth ICIOB (Carillion Building) for Morrisons, Bristol
Alexander Dietrich MCIOB (Bovis Lend Lease) for Building 4, Chiswick Park
Drew Gibson (Wates Construction) for Everest Community College, Sherbourne St John
Lee Hutchinson ICIOB (John Sisk & Son) for Telstar House, Paddington
Grant Mears MCIOB (John Sisk & Son) for Travelodge, City Road, London EC1
Ian Russell MCIOB (Laing O’Rourke) for Royal Holloway University of London student accommodation phase 2, Egham