Students around the UK are enjoying the very highest standard of accommodation, thanks to the excellent relationship University Partnering Programme (UPP) has had with property maintenance specialist, Novus Property Solutions, for almost a decade.

UPP, which oversees more than 30,000 bedrooms across 12 institutions, is committed to helping universities upgrade their estates and make best use of their physical assets, building and managing student accommodation.

Novus provides UPP with a planned maintenance programme which typically covers kitchen and bathroom refurbishments, interior and exterior paintwork and carpet replacement, as well as exterior upgrades to roofs. Worth around £3 million per year nationally, the programme is carefully scheduled to fit around students’ vacation times, to keep any disruption to a minimum.

The majority of the works are delivered by a team of regional direct labour operatives, which has remained constant during much of the contract, resulting in an excellent relationship between UPP and Novus’ workforce.

Novus works closely with UPP to manage projects at six universities – Plymouth and Exeter in Novus’ South West Coast region, as well as Reading, Lancaster, Nottingham and Oxford Brookes. Projects are planned in at least a year in advance to ensure that all works can be completed in the allotted timescales – whether seven weeks in the summer or a matter of just days over the Christmas and Easter breaks.

Special care was required at Plymouth University, in particular, where Novus was recently faced with removing asbestos during the installation of 34 new bathroom and WC suites at Gilwell Halls of Residence.

The washroom facilities in the halls were somewhat dated and UPP residential services called upon Novus to refresh them ready for the next intake of students. Non-licensed asbestos works and a gravity-fed water system made the refurbishment more complex, with Novus specifying extended-term life cycle components to bring the facilities up to standard.

During a seven-week period, the team re-plastered the walls and ceilings of the 34 bathroom and WC suites which they then fitted with Formica wall panels, while new pumps were installed to feed the brand new shower and WC units. The team carefully followed HSE guidelines to ensure asbestos was safely dealt with.

Chris Walford, director at Novus Property Solutions, said: “It’s been a pleasure working with UPP over the last 10 years and it’s great to see how our relationship with them has grown and developed in that time. Effective planning and careful scheduling is the key to the success of such a large-scale programme but without doubt having a strong relationship with the client makes the whole process smoother from start to finish.”

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