Eltham Crematorium

Royal Borough of Greenwich

Complete flat roof renewal for public crematorium

A sensitive project, roofing works at Eltham Crematorium had to be carried out at weekends, so funeral services could continue as normal.


Name: Eltham Crematorium

Client: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Type: Roofing

Duration: One month

Value: £55k


  • Remove existing flat roof
  • Install replacement SWS Pluvitec system
  • New insulation to form warm roof construction


  • 30 year insurance-backed guarantee
  • Roof replaced in just four weeks despite rain delays
  • Works and deliveries carried out outside of funeral service hours

The brief

Eltham Crematorium, also known as Falconwood, is the only cremation facility to serve bereaved families in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. Located next to the Eltham Cemetery, it offers two non-denominational chapels which are continually in operation.

Following a combination of inclement weather and the need for a general upgrade on the roof, the Council were required to bring forward their planned works programme to one of the flat roofs on the main administrative office. Elkins was appointed at short notice to carry out these works. We mobilised our team to be on site with the Council’s surveying team within 48 hours to confirm the works and determine a plan of action to deliver the repairs and upgraded roof replacement quickly and efficiently.

Resources and management

Given the sensitive nature of the site, which is in almost continuous operation as the only crematorium within the borough, we needed to develop a robust resourcing model which ensured the works were completed quickly, effectively, and with all due regard to the sensitivity of grieving families and visitors.

Accordingly, we selected some of our most experienced staff to manage and carry out the works. The team was led by our Roofing Manager, Ricky Smith, who has 25 years’ experience. The work was overseen by Ricky in conjunction with our dedicated Site Manager, who supported all surveys and liaison works for the project. All works were 100% directly delivered by our own in-house operatives teams, who have comprehensive manufacturing training to deliver the specialist flat roofing system from Pluvitec. In addition, our team have comprehensive customer care training, which was critical given the site’s nature.

All materials were ordered through a local supplier. With our Head Office based in Deptford, just seven miles away from the project, we stored all roofing materials and fleet at our adjacent yard, keeping materials near site but ensuring deliveries and all works happened outside of the crematorium’s operating hours. A sensitive site setup, with a streamlined scaffolding model and tailored scaffolding wraps to minimise any unsightly views were also agreed with the Council as part of a considerate working model.

Consideration of service users

Owing to the nature of the site, our consultation methods stemmed through direct liaison with Eltham’s onsite team, who, in this instance, were the equivalent of the residents as part of the project. Our Roofing Manager started the consultation process with them immediately from the pre-inspection process, carrying out Customer Needs Surveys and taking the time to understand how the crematorium operated so that we could plan access, works, and deliveries to suit their requirements. From the outset we knew we had to design our working methods to be respectful and with careful consideration to the mourners who attended services during the contract period.

On this basis, we set out a tailored Project Quality Plan after our surveys, which our Roofing Manager reviewed with the Council and Eltham’s teams. We agreed the working hours, best access routes, and the onsite setup, which would cause the last disruption. We looked at areas like scaffolding design and how to make this as unobtrusive as possible – for example, scaffolding was erected three meters above roof level and covered with monarflex sheeting. This was to ensure that visiting mourners were not disturbed by our presence and similarly that the operatives were respectfully unable to view them and the funeral activities.  We also agreed a five-week rapid timescale for the project, with all works to be done out of hours, to minimise impact.

Additionally, we undertook a specialist onsite induction with the Eltham team, so all our operatives knew, above and beyond their normal customer care training, the additional support and considerations needed when dealing any visitors or members of the public attending the crematorium outside of working hours. As this contract required the operatives to be even more aware of their surroundings, all operatives were briefed daily by the Roofing Manager as part of the site induction process, to reinforce behavioural expectations whilst on site. These standards were exceeded by the team, with the Eltham staff praising our consideration during the working period.

Programme of works

The programmed works to the main offices of Eltham Crematorium needed to be completed at the earliest opportunity. The schedule specified a flat roof renewal, complete with new insulation forming a warm roof construction. Early surveys estimated that we would need circa four to five weeks to complete the repair and renewals, owing to the need to work out of hours. We agreed to target four weeks to help the Council address the onsite repairs as quickly as possible and prevent further building damage.

Due to the services carried out on site, the Council requested that all works were restricted to weekends and outside of working hours. Monday to Friday we worked between 6am and 11am to accommodate services between 11am and 4pm. We returned after the last service to ensure the work was progressed further and to carry out end of day checks ensuring the roofing was water and weather tight.

We operated a look-ahead schedule daily with the Eltham team. This enabled us to reschedule works at short notice to accommodate the crematorium and ensure no disturbance to mourners. Deliveries were scheduled to only take place on weekends, with our local depot already having the pre-ordered materials onsite to ensure that we achieved this.

By working considerately and ensuring we had more than sufficient resources on site, we completed all works in the main according to the programme. The only exception to this were the final drying periods to enable proper completion of the new roofing system. This was owing to inclement weather which lasted for nearly a week, which meant we completed works three days later than anticipated, but with the Council and the Eltham staff kept fully informed of what was happening, why, and when we would be completing the final stages of the works, all parties were satisfied with the outcome.

Quality control

We established an ISO:9001 Project Quality Plan (PQP) which set out all our working methods, including the specifications and quality assurance protocols for the works at the crematorium. The PQP also integrated safety and sustainability as an integrated management suite so the Council and our teams understood how they were going to be carrying out the works across every service aspect, from start to completion, including final handover, snagging, and documentation. Hold and inspection points were set into the PQP, which linked to the programme, ensuring that we met all sign-off points to achieve the required warranty standards from the roofing manufacturer.

Our Roofing Manager ensured quality inspections were carried out daily as part of ISO:9001 by our Site Manager using the PQP and quality assurance checklists. Operatives self-snagged their work per their training on a half-hourly basis. Checks and inspections were also done by our Roofing Manager twice per week as a further layer of quality assurance and to ensure each hold and inspection point in the programme met the requirements of the specification. All checks were documented using our in-house IT system with photographic evidence, audit checklists, etc., verifying works and tracking against the PQP to achieve delivery to time, cost and quality.

Quality inspections during installation – a requirement of the Pluvitec roofing system to achieve a 30-year guarantee – were integrated into this process. Elkins achieved the required standards as verified by Pluvitec and on completion obtained a 30-year insurance backed guarantee for the Council.

Both the Council and the Eltham team were happy with our works and praised both our sensitive, respectful delivery methods and the quality of the completed works at the end of the project.

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