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Harley Curtain Wall had a preference to install cassette-fixed ACM cladding panels on Grenfell Tower after an estimating error meant that it would have faced bigger financial shortfalls if a different option were chosen, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry has heard.
Mike Albiston, who joined Harley Curtain Wall as an
estimator in October 2013, appeared as a witness before the Inquiry yesterday
Albiston admitted that he was “horrified” to have made an
error while costing different cladding options for the tower, after he forgot
to include items for face-fix ACM panels, including flashings, smoke stops and
supports for the crown. The estimate for the cost of zinc cladding, which was architect
Studio E’s preferred option, included the cost of those items.
Because of the error, the saving Harley was able to offer
main contractor Rydon for face-fixed Reynobond PE panels was only around
£376,000 as opposed to the £576,000 it had originally quoted. When it came to
cassette-fixed panels, the new savings would have been £259,000, rather than
In a June 2014 email, Albiston explained to Rydon commercial
manager Zak Maynard, with Harley commercial manager Mark Harris copied in, that
“the shortfall of both face fix and cassette is £200,380. But as explained in
my previous email, the cost used for cassette was more accurate than face fix,
which was a bit low. This would result in an additional shortfall to Harley of
around £38,750 if face fix was selected.”
Albiston admitted in yesterday’s hearing that from Harley’s
financial perspective, a cassette fix was a better option.
Later, in a May 2014 email from Harris to former Rydon
contracts manager Simon Lawrence, Harris said that Harley’s preference “would
be cassette for lots of reasons!!”.
Asked what the reasons were that Harris was referring to,
Albiston said it “possibly would have been because of the cost difference”.
He was also asked if he was aware at the time that Reynobond PE 55 in a cassette format was significantly more combustible compared with a riveted format. Albiston replied that he did not. Both configurations of cladding – cassette and riveted – ended up being fitted at Grenfell Tower.
Earlier in the hearing, Albiston explained that he had not
received any training when he arrived at Harley, and that he costed what he was
told to cost, rather than making any selection of alternative products.
He also confirmed that he did not receive any training or
CPD to assist with his role, nor that he undertook any training himself to keep
up to date with Building Regulations, statutory industry guidance, or best
practice within the façade industry.
Asked about checking the fire performance of products, he
said that this was not his role and would have been down to technical manager
Daniel Anketell-Jones or director Ray Bailey.
The Inquiry continues.