University of Hull
Student residences, The Courtyard



The physical environment of a higher education provider is an important part of the offer to students and staff, as well as current and prospective partners and funders.

The University of Hull wanted to develop the physical estate to properly reflect its status as an important regional and national university, with a strong research and teaching reputation.

Accommodation supported the aim to deliver an exceptional student experience and increasing the size and quality of the student residences would create a competitive advantage.

The University of Hull team wanted a design and build contract partner to deliver new student accommodation on campus, improving the student experience through world class facilities.


Sewell Construction was appointed following a competitive tendering process and joined an already established design team to adopt an advanced design.

There was a short turnaround to start on site, with timescales dictated by term times, and it was essential to hit the ground running.

Regular meetings were set up with the client and key subcontractors, creating a strong partnership feel and single team approach from the outset.

A ‘wordle’, or cluster of key words, was created as a reminder of the main principles of the project, aligning culture and priorities for everyone involved.

Due to working on an operational campus, various aspects of health and safety had to be considered in advance and plans were put in place to erect a secure timber hoarding around the footprint.

Access and egress was originally through a campus entrance, so two temporary accesses were built into the project development to ease traffic flow at peak times.

A logistics controller and dual security guard was also appointed to ensure deliveries could be coordinated safely on a daily basis.

It was important to plan for managing vehicles through the local streets, which could be up to 40 per day, and ensure positive liaison with the local councillor and university estates team to maintain community relations.

The team also planned to use augered piling to minimise disruption to campus life and limit sound and vibration.


The programme involved building 562 apartments split over six blocks, and a reception block.

Work began at block six and ran concurrently, which required multiple levels of resource, management and supervision throughout.

The scale of the work meant activity was consistently high, peaking at 300 workers on site per day, and those involved were held accountable for high standards within their trade.

Quality needed to be maintained and was constantly monitored and reviewed by the on-site team, which had a good blend of management personalities, various trades and different approaches.

A full time health and safety manager was based on the site and each contractor trade had its own site manager. Sewell then had its own site manager to cover all major trades, working closely with the contract site manager.

Daily huddles were held with key team members to ensure work ran as smoothly as possible and communication was open and regular.

During the procurement process for the finishing trades, it became apparent the furniture manufacturer was not able to fulfil its obligations, which resulted in Sewell taking charge.

This meant purchasing all of the furniture and other white goods, as well as paying for the labour, direct.

As a result, this significantly delayed manufacturing, delivery and installation and ultimately the handover of some of the apartments.

Sewell Construction worked with the university to source alternative accommodation, ensuring students were not lost, and we also supported the university with the communications, working closely with its loose furniture supplier to coordinate.

The programme was revised to manage expectations and everyone involved was kept up to date through weekly meetings until the work was completed.


Students moved into the new accommodation in phases and a joiner and electrician were on hand to provide support in the event of any problems.

Training sessions were held with the university’s maintenance team and a site visit was organised to show them how the building was put together.

Sewell Facilities Management introduced the process of how we would manage any defects or building queries.

At handover, there were three managers in place who were dedicated to ensuring this ‘soft landing’ continued, working hand-in-hand with the university’s accommodation team.

One member of the team stayed on site for a further two months to provide ongoing support and close out any outstanding matters.

There were 0.4 defects per room post-handover.


Working with Sewell and the partnership during the project, particularly the trust and commitment to quality and communication, has been second to none. It has been a real boom for the university.

Chris Paget Former Director of Estates, University of Hull