02 February 2021

High Street and Exeter Street

  • Region: Devon
  • Client: Plymouth Community Homes
  • Value: £1M
  • Contract terms: JCT Intermediate Building Contract 2016
  • Contract length: 114 weeks
  • Completed: September 2018
  • Customer Satisfaction Survey: 94%
  • Challenges: Occupied buildings


Works took place at two Plymouth locations. High Street is in the Stonehouse area, to the west of the city centre. The blocks are bound by occupied residential premises and in proximity to a primary school and commercial buildings, along a main route into central Plymouth. Exeter Street is to the east of the city centre, also on a main access thoroughfare, bound by residential and commercial properties.

Works comprised External Wall Insulation (EWI) to front elevations, curtain walling to the rear elevations, new railings, windows and associated building works.

High Street is a midrise block (four storeys) of 64 flats located on a main access thoroughfare to central Plymouth. Exeter Street is a midrise block (three storeys) of 64 flats located on the A374 arterial route into Plymouth, to the east of the city centre. The blocks required the full replacement of insulation, insertion of fire barriers within rainscreen cladding and EWI system, with Mi-space responsible for the final design of the cladding and fire breaks.

Key component work to each block included: Scaffolding and access routes to support the local shops; Removal of windows including surround lining ‘pods’ and installation of new windows Removal of the entrance canopy cladding and installation of new entrance canopy; Full removal of existing cladding, Expanded Polystyrene Insulation, cladding rails, and cladding, and installation of new EWI system to all blocks; New compartmentalised fire breaks; Installation of door intercoms and alarms; Structural repairs including new brick ties to secure the existing structure; Internal M&E upgrades/ mechanical ventilation; Removal of existing roof coverings and installation of new insulated roof coverings; New balcony asphalt flooring; Landscape improvements.

Mi-space engaged the services of CURTINS, our specialist structural engineer, and identified additional works – which the team captured, designed, and costed prior to commencing works – as follows:

  • Structural assessments identified the need for further pull out tests and opening of wall areas to check existing number of wall ties and condition. This identified the need for additional wall ties to secure the stability of the inner and outer leafs, which were deemed to be unstable due to the corroded nature of existing wall ties;
  • Internal survey of rainscreen cladding and EWI system revealed the waste pipes were faulty and poorly installed, damaged, and leaking within the rainscreen substrate;
  • Carrying out investigative works early identified the roof was severely damaged and required complete removal and replacement. Our approved roofing manufacturer IKO provided a specification for a new three-layer elastomeric high performance felt system, including vapor control layer followed by 130mm insulation, 2mm underlay and finished with a 5kg/m2 UV protected mineral cap sheet.

The Mi-space preconstruction approach to survey and investigation ensured early identification of solutions, mitigating both time and cost delay. Our collaborative approach confirmed the appropriate material selection to meet the desired fire rating. The client had originally specified EPS insulation, which required installation of fire breaks. Following extensive research and consultation Mi-space identified Rockwool as a more future-proof, zero-rated fire product that is a fire break. Mi-space completed a best value review of the project and identified an alternative EWI solution for the scheme at no additional cost. The final design solution went beyond the basic requirements of building regulations, giving peace of mind to PCH, residents and leaseholders whilst ensuring a future-proof, compliant cladding solution that prevented the need for further remedial works.

The Mi-space team hired the Ivor Goodsite costume and used it for publicity and school events, including visiting the local school to address all the children with respect to site activities, safety and opportunities. The team supported local and national charities including the Shekinah Mission (which supports back to work initiatives for people in recovery), a coffee morning for MacMillan Trust and making a sizeable financial donations have been made to The North Prospect Fair and The Beacon projects. As part of the Insight into Construction Initiative a number of students’ visits have been entertained including a group of Czech students.

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