When we work on housing projects, we are dealing with more than just bricks and mortar. We are in a front-line people business, where the outcome is as much about the existing or eventual occupant as the local authority, housing association or private developer who has awarded us the contract.
So we need to understand the effect of our work on our ‘customer’s customer’, whether that is an individual tenant or a whole community. This is particularly important when we are working on social housing projects, where we are transforming lives as well as building, extending or refurbishing homes.
Some examples of how we work with individuals and communities
Adaptations for people with disabilities provide a lifeline for many tenants, but the works themselves can be disruptive. At one property being adapted under the disabled facilities grant scheme, we needed to demolish a garage and garden wall to make way for the new ground floor extension. We planned our entire construction and customer care programme to ensure that the tenants, a single mother and her disabled child, were informed of and comfortable with the works at all times.
When we work on refurbishing social housing blocks for Portsmouth City Council, we are charged with dealing directly with the tenants to communicate upcoming work and organise access, particularly during balcony repair work. We do this by post drops, through our tenant liaison officer and the working foreman. These sites often present social challenges and it is important that we handle these positively. There is also often a mix of tenants and private leaseholders, as well as near neighbours affected by the works. We regard everyone as a key stakeholder and need to consider all their interests.
One way in which we like to reinvest in the communities where we work is to recruit local people, and then develop and train them for careers in the construction industry. One example is Luke Blackwood, who joined us as a labourer, and is now working with Whitescape and on his way to becoming a quantity surveyor.
“Just like to let you know how good your workers are, professional and no swearing.”
J Bennet – Portsmouth City Council tenant
“Really pleased with your guys in Worthing. Really really pleased. Their attitude, work ethic, ability etc. is outstanding.”
Alan Hopley – Private Homeowner