What To Expect From A School Refurbishment & How To Manage It

What To Expect From A School Refurbishment & How To Manage It

If you’re the facilities manager or have been tasked with researching what’s involved in a college or school refurbishment, here’s what to expect and some advice on how to manage the whole process.

Timings & Costs

First of all, both of these factors depend completely on the scope of your refurbishment. How many rooms, what level of refurbishment being undertaken, how quickly you need them doing, whether it will be done at weekends, evenings or when the building is closed.

All of these factors have an effect on the time and cost of your project.

A broad rule in the construction industry is that any project, if planned well enough in advance, can be completed in practically any timeframe – but the faster you want it doing, the more expensive it is.

But, paradoxically, dragging out a project can become expensive too as you pay for extended labour and management time needlessly.

It’s about finding the right balance; doing it as cheaply as possible in the quickest possible time. This should help when it’s time to invest in school refurbishment.

All school refurbishment contractors will struggle to give you a “rough price” without a good deal of information, as there are too many variables, but here are some things which effect the price:

  • Completing refurbishment work when the building is in use will slow down the process due to health and safety implications, noise considerations and delivery disturbances. How much it slows down the process alters what the price will be.
  • Working at nights and weekends is an option – but the labour cost will be much higher than working during regular site hours (generally; 8am-6pm Mon-Fri).
  • The way to get the cheapest price is to offer uninterrupted working, with no external interruptions for the team to consider (lessons or exams taking place which means use of noisy equipment is restricted, for example. Or deliveries cannot be made between 8.30am to 9.30am, break and lunch time or between 3pm to 3.35pm).
  • The more trades (decorator, electrician, furniture installers and so on) you have involved on the refurbishment, the higher the cost will be.
  • You can look to save on management fees by having more than one labour team on site at once. For example; a team working inside the science wing and English corridor, respectively, managed by one project manager. As opposed to having the two labour teams visit separately and paying for a project manager twice.


Minimising The Impact On Your School Day

Ideally, work should take place during the summer break or during min-term holidays. For various reasons, this may not always be possible however. The alternative is to have work take place overnight and weekend or during the school day. Let’s look at  both.

Overnight and Weekend

Opening the work area up for access around 30 minutes after the teaching day ends and closing it 30 minutes before students arrive in the morning will ensure there’s no interaction between project workers and students. This is important for managing health and safety.

Be sure to stipulate that everything is made good (tidy, safe and secure) ready for the next teaching day.

During The School Day

The work area has to be 100% isolated from other users of the building. Your contractor will be responsible for making sure their work area is fenced off and well sign posted. But your teaching staff need to monitor the area at key traffic times; between lessons, break and lunch etc.

It’s likely there will be some noise disturbances – banging, communication, some drilling – but especially noisy work should be schedule to happen outside of lesson times, in order to minimise the disruption.


Preparing For And Managing Snag Lists

Due to the nature of having different tradespeople working alongside each other, each relying on the preceding work before them in order to complete their own work, you will inevitable have a snag list.

A snag list is the list of items which need correcting or sorting one the refurbishment work has been completed. It will be full of little odd jobs such as needing the painter and decorator to come back and tidy up a scuff mark on the newly painted corridor wall where a piece of furniture accidentally chipped the paintwork. Or a casing unit for the new LED light control might have been damaged in transit and will arrive in a weeks time; the electrician sub-contractor will have to send someone back to fit and install it.

It’s important to manage the governor’s expectations that it is perfectly normal for there to be a few odd little jobs still outstanding, post completion of a refurbishment project. Just make sure you keep on top of them and iron out as many of them as possibile as soon as you can when the project is finished.


Marketing Your Newly Refurbished Building

And just a quick note on the importance of marketing your newly refurbished building.

Invite the local press, the heads and parents of your feeder schools, past students, prospective students and the local community to an open evening or ceremony. Your establishment is on the up and you’ve invested in the future of your staff and students; so shout about it.

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