Ashburn redevelopment another big success for ABL

Business South June 2021 - Russell Fredric

The redevelopment of Ashburn Clinic in Dunedin has added another significant project to award winning company Amalgamated Builders Ltd (ABL) already impressive portfolio. 

Originally built in the 1880's, Ashburn Clinic is home to a range of public and private patients with mental health, addiction and eating disorders.

ABL won the $4 million stage two construction tender for the replacement of the clinic's Conolly Wing in August 2019 - after the wing was deemed unusable due to earthquake strengthening issues. 

The company started work on the project in October the same year.

Stage two of the redevelopment was part of an $8 million upgrade comprising demolition of the original Connolly Wing and the addition of two new wings along with the major renovation of the existing block. 

ABL Dunedin estimator Chris Dowall says there was strong competition on this tender, especially as another contractor was still engaged on the stage one contract during the tender period.

The stage one work included earthquake strengthening, upgrading electrical and mechanical systems, drainage, fire protection, asbestos removal, and internal renovation and fit-out of existing buildings.

Designed by McCoy and Wixon, the two level Conolly Wing includes 12 new bedrooms, a sensory modulation room where patients can have time out, arts and crafts areas and an area for group meetings with a capacity for 60 people.

Because the wing was added to the operational facility, there had to be secure separation between residents and the construction site and daily communication with the client was crucial, Chris says.

Special consideration also had to be given to a very large, historic Sequoia tree close to the wing which had to have its roots protected.

The main structure comprised concrete and concrete block foundations, pre-stressed concrete beams and timber framing with supplementary steel primary members while its exterior cladding comprised plaster render on the block work, fibre cement board and weatherboard. 

Because Ashburn Clinic includes residential care, this reflected the need to create a homely feel as much as possible and interior work was completed to a high standard of finish while also reflecting the clinic's long heritage.

As special feature of the project was that the clinic's staff and patients had input into some aspects of its design.

ABL completed the contract in December last year after 13 months.

The Covid-19 lockdown and subsequent level three and two restrictions occurred mid contract however despite this, the project was delivered just one month behind the original scheduled completion date.

"We had an extremely proficient site manager which made a huge difference to how the job ran."

About 60 staff are employed in ABL's Dunedin operation and there is a strong focus on training its apprentices.

"We've got a very good apprenticeship programme, we've got about 13 apprentices at various stages on the books.

"A lot of our (former apprentices have now worked their way up to senior site managers now so they're ABL trained right through.

"We are always trying to take in a certain percentage intake of apprentices every year; we haven't really changed the way we do things in that respect."

Headquartered in Invercargill, ABL also has branches in Queenstown and Christchurch.

Since it was established 45 years ago, the company has completed many significant high-profile projects throughout the South Island.

ABL can provide the full range of construction services required to deliver high-quality residential and commercial projects.

As well as construction, the company's services include pre-construction planning and feasibility estimates, early input of extensive builder expertise to help provide robust and cost effective solutions to concept / feasibility design.

Further assurance is provided to clients through robust risk analysis to identify the level of cost certainty of a project and any residual risk.

Processes such as these result in the creation of a realistic construction programme, milestone dates and an agreed completion date.

Among ABL's recently completed larger projects is the stunning 86 unit Christchurch CBD Sudima hotel development.

The mixed-use development includes a commercial office, the four-level 86 room five-star hotel and 700m2 of retail comprising restaurants, a day spa, and café.

ABL is also the appointed main contractor for the Invercargill Central redevelopment, which is currently in progress and is a significant project for the company and Invercargill as a whole. 

The project, which is now well underway, comprises the demolition and redevelopment of the majority of a block in Invercargill's central retail precinct, with an estimated total project cost of $165 million.