Building blocks: An interview with Alan Renshall
Alan Renshall, Development Project Manager for Mayfield Villages and Audley Villages, has worked on some incredible renovation and new build development projects. We asked him about some of the highlights.
How long have you worked at Audley Group now?
Over 5 years now. I had just finished building a large factory and was looking for something different. My friend Kevin was looking for a project manager and convinced me to apply. I had previously always worked on factories and automated warehouses, so coming across to modern, beautiful retirement villages was a complete change.
What first inspired you on your career path?
I suppose I’ve always enjoyed building and making things. From a child with building blocks, to enjoying technology at school. My building blocks have just got bigger.
What prompted you to join the retirement living sector?
As I say, I wanted to build something different and the opportunity through Kevin presented itself and I have never looked back.
I bet you have been some sights. What has been the most impressive build project you’ve worked on for Audley Group?
I have lots of memories of great moments, working with different teams and in different locations. The renovation of Audley Scarcroft lodge is certainly going to be an impressive transformation. When looking across the site, it looks like a typical Yorkshire village.
You project managed the build of Mayfield Watford, the very first Mayfield Village. How did that project differ?
Mayfield Watford is the project I’m most proud of. I was excited to hand it over to Nick (the GM) and the team. I had complete confidence in what we had delivered. I believed then, and still do, that as a construction team we delivered exactly what was expected. The completed village perfectly matches the vision and the CGIs. We built through Covid and Brexit, and overcame the challenges along the way, and delivered the build project on time and on budget.
What has been your most memorable personal achievement?
I climbed Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and raised over £20,000 for charity.
Do you prefer new build projects or a renovation project?
A mixture of both really. I love old buildings, and I love visiting cities with old architecture. Being able to renovate a beautiful old building, putting our stamp on top but keeping original features. That’s really something to be proud of.
What are some of the typical challenges you encounter on projects?
Delays. A number of factors can cause the build sequence to go out of sync – Procurement, discharging planning requirements and weather– to name but a few. Finding solutions and adapting to keep a project on schedule is the greatest challenge.
Have you uncovered any surprises during build projects?
A few times but more recently, I received a phone call from a site manager to inform me they had found a hidden safe behind a wall during the strip out of Scarcroft Lodge. We hired a safe cracker hoping to find gold bullion. However, when he managed to open the safe it contained thousands of pages of old Npower documents. It was interesting because some documents dated back to the war. We have turned the safe into storage for the hobbies room.
What do you love most about your role?
Standing back once a development is complete, knowing that 2 years ago or more I’d been stood in an empty field, and am now marvelling at what we’ve built.
How involved are you with the interior design?
I attend the design team meetings with architects and interior designers, all of which is really interesting and collaborative approach.
What advice would you give to someone first starting out in development and construction, or looking to get into property project management?
Start with a job on site to get to know how all the trades work, and the sequence of building. I started as an electrician, then progressed to supervisor, and then a site manager. Site manager is a tough role but it makes me empathetic to our construction teams because I’ve worked both contractor and client side.
What was your first impression when visiting an Audley or Mayfield village?
It was just so very different. Used to building huge square boxes. First site I visited was Audley Binswood. I remember walking up and seeing this huge Gothic-style elevation and thought wow, that’s impressive.
Describe Mayfield in three words?
I only need one.
Believe. I believe in everything that we do. And I believe that every individual in every role plays a part in making lives better for our owners who live with us.