Gaskell Group

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Build Refurbish Maintain

Islington PFI Round 1 & 2

Case Study Details

Client: United House Ltd.
Contract Duration: Round 1 – 2006 – 2009, Round 2 – 2007 – 2011
Contract Value: Round 1 – £2m per annum, Final Account Value – £6m; Round 2 – £1.6m, Final Account Value – £6.5m
Contract Location: Islington, North London


This Social Housing PFI (Private Finance Initiative) Contract was the first in the country and the largest construction contract in its sector in Europe involving the refurbishment of over 7000 street properties. The aim of the project was to address the steady decline of much of the borough’s Victorian social housing stock, caused by years of under-investment.

Gaskell Group began works on site in January 2006 and, recognising the vast scope of the project, promptly acquired a satellite office and warehouse within Islington in order to service the contract efficiently.

Summary of Works – Round 1

Throughout the duration of the contract, Gaskell Group took complete possession of up to 5 Victorian terraced properties per week and carried out all works to both the internals and externals of these homes.

In terms of the externals, works included fitting new roof coverings, all masonry repairs, carpentry repairs to windows, doors, fascias and soffits, fitting new rainwater goods, repairs to ornate metal railings and staircases and external decorating. Many of the properties had been converted from large family homes to multiple occupancy dwellings and we were also responsible for refurbishing the communal areas of these buildings. This would typically involve refurbishing communal staircases, installing new electrical systems, plaster repairs, carpentry repairs, fire upgrade works, decorating works and fitting new floor coverings.

If the properties were tenanted then the refurbishment programme would also include the internals. These works would involve the installation of new central heating systems, new electrical systems, the complete renewal of all kitchens and bathrooms, damp proofing works, plastering and carpentry repairs and full decoration works.


The vast majority of these properties were refurbished with tenants in situ and so it was imperative that our workforce possessed both the excellent communication skills necessary to liaise with occupiers, and the technical competence to ensure that works were carried out to the strictest health and safety standards with the minimum amount of disruption to the tenants’ routines.

In addition, a considerable proportion of the properties had significant problems with damp. In order to address this challenge effectively Gaskell Group organised a training programme which enabled the company to acquire the status of Sovereign approved damp proof contractors. This accreditation meant that we no longer had to rely on outside labour to complete damp proofing works on our behalf, and the handover process of these damp affected properties was therefore greatly expedited.


Our performance on round 1 earned our company an excellent reputation for both quality workmanship and customer care. As a result, we were appointed lead contractor by United House, and in this capacity we ensured that the remaining round 1 properties were completed on schedule.

Round 2 – Summary

Gaskell Group was one of the contractors fortunate enough to be placed on Round 2 of this contract based on our previous performance, level of customer care, quality of work and competitive costing.

On Round 2 the type of refurbishment works detailed above were carried out in a more streamlined manner to assist both contractors and tenants. The opportunity also arose during this phase to deal with any properties which were found to have structural problems in Round 1, and we played a key role in the rebuilding of many of these properties in addition to carrying out various structural repairs to the external fabrics of the buildings.

Towards the end of the contract Gaskell Group was shortlisted to become one of only two contractors left working on the site to ensure the successful completion of the remaining works; a reflection of our dedication and commitment to United House and the project as a whole throughout Round 1 and 2.


This multi-disciplined construction company participated in a wide range of projects demonstrating a highly skilled approach to delivery. Specialists in Refurbishment, Gaskell Group carried out numerous contracts in a subcontract capacity providing an essential service in the Supply Chain.
This combined project was the largest construction contract in its sector in Europe. During peak delivery Gaskell Group provided a substantial part of the 700 plus workforce carrying out major refurbishment to over 7000 Victorian Street Properties.
This required General Repair to the entire fabric of the building, both internally & externally, together with improvement works such as replacement Electrical & Heating Systems, Kitchens & Bathrooms, & Full Redecorations. The works also included Major Structural Repairs including Underpinning plus Damp Proofing, and Security Updates incorporating Door Entry Systems, External Lighting and Upgraded Locks together with the installation of advanced Smoke Detection Systems.
The logistics of the project presented a number of challenges in delivery. Gaskell Group’s approach to partnering enabled close working relationships to support the tasks
necessary to undertake the work.
The vast majority of the work was carried out with residents in situ which required good customer care and communication skills. Another essential ingredient was finding new methods of working to ensure the highest standards of quality & safety whilst operating in the home.
The Project was delivered on time and to budget, achieving the highest standards set by the industry in the Social Housing Decent Homes Sector.”
– Mark Allum, Director, United House Ltd

“Gaskell Group has assisted the Special Structural Works team on several of the projects in Islington.
These works incorporated the dismantling of existing structures both internally and externally.

Once these properties were pile rafted or traditionally underpinned, the reinstatement of the building commenced.
Reinstatement works would consist of heating, plumbing, electrics, kitchens, bathrooms, tiling, carpets, etc., back to the original layout.
These projects can involve difficulties as in some cases properties are occupied while works are carried out, and a very high standard of Health & Safety must be in place at all times to allow occupants to move around their homes freely and safely while works are carried out.
Gaskell Group is always very helpful in their approach towards the works, and they are always willing to go the extra mile when required.
I would have no hesitation in using Gaskell Group as part of my team again on any future projects.”
– A.G. Saunders, Site Manager, United House Ltd

“I had the pleasure of working with Gaskell Group hand in hand on the PFI Round 1 and 2 contracts in Islington for a period of six years, which covered both external and internal packages. Over that time their performance was to a high standard and they displayed a very good work ethic. Site management was also user friendly, and during the contract period they were always on hand to quickly remedy problems, even out of working hours. I would have no hesitation in using Gaskell Group again if the opportunity arises.”
– Kevin Adams, Zone Manager, United House Ltd