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Abseiling Solutions for Luxury Residential Facades

 - 

Window Cleaning

Really pleased with Spectrum's diverse selection of trained, competent and experienced technicians who have overcome previous hurdles with ease which demonstrates their expertise.

Introduction


We have been attending to this block of luxury residential apartments in Camden that has been on our books for over 10 years. We offer a commercial window cleaning service bi-annually for this property. 


This property has many glass facades, one of them featuring a steep overhanging design, which requires the skill and experience of an abseil technician. Read to hear how our specialist team of IRATA-trained abseilers navigated the difficult, angled facades of this property with ease.


Logistics


The logistics of this project always require strategic planning and highly qualified abseil technicians. We deployed our most experienced technicians to handle the angled facade. To access this area, there were connection sockets in the cladding that needed the team to clip eyebolts into, to ensure they could re-relay and traverse the length of the drop while remaining close enough to the facade to complete the cleaning work accurately. 

On the angled elevation, there were only 20 push locks in the cladding for our team to re-belay onto, meaning our team initially had to clean half the facade at a time as there wasn't enough anchorage to have several technicians working at once. 


Our team would begin by rigging the drop, completing the half of the facade they could safely reach, then drop to the floor, remove the eyebolts and re-rig them on the lower elevations. This took a long time and meant we could only have 2 operatives working on half the facade at any one time. To resolve this we sourced more eyebolts, supplying additional connection points (push lock eyebolts) to ensure we could have several people working at once and could complete a full decent without having to stop and start.


The project


As all abseiling projects begin, we started with the RAMS and H&S reports, as this is a property we service regularly, our team are well acquainted with its features. It is for this reason we knew we had to be mindful when assigning operatives to work on this site, ensuring we had a safe distribution of Level 3 operatives to oversee the project.


We began by signing the necessary health and safety paperwork and working at height permits, before checking in with the concierge who issued us the keys and showed us to the access hatches. Our team briefed the area before transporting the rope access equipment to the drop zone, following all manual handling safety procedures. Beneath the drop zones, members of our team set up a safe place work exclusion zone, consisting of ample barriers, caution tape and signage, to safely divert the public from the area below where our operatives would be working. As always, we tethered all the equipment used for the window cleaning to prevent anything from falling to the floor, which could damage property and vehicles or even cause harm to pedestrians.

Once the area of work had been set up safely and was approved by an IRATA-trained level 3 operative on site, the team rigged up and works commenced in line with usual IRATA practice and as per the risk assessments.


At this property, we provide bi-annual window cleaning which includes the balconies. Typical scopes of work exclude the areas of demise a resident can clean themselves, but the residents of this property elected to have them cleaned professionally. We also clean the areas of white cladding as we move down the elevation, ensuring a full and comprehensive cleaning of the entire facade. 


Challenges


This project offers unique challenges which are largely due to the architectural design of the building. As we have been attending to this property for over 10 years, our team is well acquainted with the triple-height terrace windows and the angled overhanging facade. Some windows on the terraces were double or triple height, making them particularly tricky to clean. We couldn’t access the terraces via the properties, so our solution was to abseil down onto the terraces from the roof and clean with water poles to reach the full window height - maintaining privacy and quality. Ladders are not an option when working on a balcony due to the associated health and safety risks. We would abseil onto balconies and terraces from the roof, and clean the glass balustrades with our water-fed poles before hand finishing areas like handrails, before abseiling down and causing as little disruption to residents as possible.


Previous contractors had not been able to access all areas of the property, finding particular difficulty with cleaning the angled facade. This is why Spectrum originally was awarded the job all those years ago, thanks to our rope access skills. The other contractors had tried to use cherry pickers to attend to the terraces and angled facade, but due to a nearby road and a 4-way junction, they struggled to get permits. Not to mention the costs associated with needing to block a lane off.


The angled facade required our operatives to attach themselves to the wall, to keep them from swinging too far from the facade. Without push locks, the operative would have hung too far away to be able to clean accurately. Rebelaying while they descended the facade was essential and one of our extremely experienced Level 3 operatives, who hadn’t worked on this property before, commented on how physically demanding this elevation was. Unfortunately, there was a lack of push locks available at the property, which resulted in our team only being able to clean half the facade at a time in one drop before needing to abseil to the ground, reaccess the roof and drop down to complete the other half.


Re-belaying requires a level of skill and experience beyond the basic training, so our team selection was a key focus to get the right skillset on site. By having a team of highly trained and experienced operatives, we could quickly and confidently re-belay across the most difficult facade. Re-belaying involves creating a new point of anchorage as you descend a facade. This was required on this property due to the angle of the windows, without belaying and re-attaching to the facade, our operatives would end up about 3 meters away from the windows by the end of the drop. Re-belaying means the operative will stay close to the wall and requires skill and experience to handle it confidently. 


Our Solution


Having a multi-skilled team that could abseil and use reach and wash to reach all areas means we do not have to mobilise both a cleaning team and an access team. Our hybrid solution of abseil and water-fed poles achieves great results and allows for adaptability around the property. It also allows us to achieve a far more accurate detail of cleaning. The client had previously had issues with contractors who couldn’t achieve the level of detail required from residents and needed a diligent contractor to deliver to their standards.


Due to our experience with the client and the residents, we know how important it is to manage the property left on the balconies. We are always careful to cover or move furniture and plants during the cleaning. We also have a great level of communication with the residents, so we could liaise with them directly about leaving windows open or bringing in furniture. We displayed consideration and flexibility for residents wanting to use their terraces or leave their windows open, as this particular visit was during August we completely understand that we cannot dictate whether people have their windows open or not.

Results


As we attend to this property every 6 months, the facade maintains excellent condition. We have retained the same price for this client for over ten years and have honoured this price as a way to manage the residents' budget. We appreciate how difficult it can be to find a contractor that works for your property and value the connection we have made with the property management company and residents committee over our 10-year relationship. 


To summarise this project:

If your property has uniquely shaped facades like this, or other contractors have told you they need to use expensive machinery or close roads to access your property, give Spectrum a call today. We love a challenge.

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