2 15'3'11 (118)

Sussex Heights: Design & Project Management for Roof Works in Brighton

The client was having problems with water ingress in the building and needed a long-term maintenance solution for the asphalt roof running around the perimeter of the penthouse.

Type of property:

The tallest residential tower block in Sussex. Built between 1966 and 1968. 115 flats. (See www.sussexheights.co.uk)


Brighton, East Sussex


Sussex Heights (Brighton) Ltd

Services provided:

Defect diagnosis, design and project management

Length of project:

2 months (October – December 2011)

Cost of works:

Circa £130k

Completion date:

January 2013

What was the client looking for?

After experiencing problems with water ingress in the building, the client was looking for a long-term maintenance solution for the asphalt roof which runs around the perimeter of the penthouse.

The hope was that a new roof covering would also stop the roof leaks reported by residents.

Preparing a specification of works and tender

We put together a detailed report on the feasibility of providing insulation to building regulations standards while carrying out the roof repairs.

However, because the cost of raising the roof level would exceed any savings to be made over a 15-year period the client did not have to carry out this work and we advised that it would be better to carry out any insulation work internally.

What did Grumitt Wade Mason do?

When the client reported problems with water ingress we investigated and produced reports and offered advice.

It became clear that the external coating needed renewing so we looked into replacement materials.

After discussion with the client, we chose a liquid applied membrane, Decothane by Liquid Plastics Ltd (with a 25 year insurance-backed guarantee), because of the complex nature of the surface. Using lead or felt there would always be a join but with Decothane you can go seamlessly around a pipe, for example.

There was a question over how many times it could be reapplied so we had to consider that with the manufacturer.

While carrying out these works, we also replaced the penthouse marble terrazzo balcony in order for the roof covering to offer seamless protection against water ingress.

Over the course of the project we

  • attended meetings and discussed with the client and managing agent the process and timetable for the works
  • provided a detailed specification that included works to the lightning conductor, risk assessment and all necessary preliminary clauses
  • put the works out to tender using the JCT 2005 Minor Works Building Contract
  • held regular site meetings throughout the course of the works and discussed any changes with the client
  • worked closely with others involved in or affected by the works; for example, the firm who altered the lightning conductor, and the RSPB who regulate the peregrine falcons that nest on the roof
  • went up the building in cradles to inspect the quality of the work
  • negotiated the final account with the contractor upon completion

Were there any challenges within this project?

When working with a building of this type you need a certain sensitivity – there are always questions about who is responsible for what: lessee or property manager? We made a big effort to keep relations as harmonious as possible.

In terms of the roof, when the existing coating to the asphalt came off, bitumen powder was released which was highly irritable to the skin. The contractors had to protect all exposed parts of their body while this work was taking place.

It was also very very cold! It was important to make sure that the contractors applied any new products within the temperature limits stated by the manufacturer.

And finally

We would like to say thank you to the board of Sussex Heights (Brighton) Ltd who were very helpful and ensured that works were able to take place and be completed satisfactorily.

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