Re-roofing a School Building During Term Time

Having contractors at your school it is always a challenging experience, never mind during term time. A good construction team can make all the difference. In this article in our series about a live school roof refurbishment project, we talk to Geoff Robinson, Project Manager at D3 Associates about the particular challenges of reroofing a school building during term time.

About the Process

D3 Associates are a multidisciplinary practice of professionals who have been working with the school we are featuring for two years. The practice includes surveyors, project managers, building services engineers, structural engineers and CAD technicians, so they often act as a single point of contact with a school, which can be very reassuring.

“We always keep in close contact with the Head Teacher and School Business Manager,” says Geoff, “and in this case where the school is part of a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) we work with the head of operations at the Trust itself, because they control the funding decisions.”

Multi Academy Trusts will have inherited their schools from a local authority, may have little expertise in building management, and some of the schools may be in a poor condition. The team can survey the condition of all the Trust schools and put together a management plan which will determine which work is urgent, and which can wait for 5 or ten years.

D3 Associates’ role in this project will be will be to provide architectural drawings, project management, cost management, and building surveying. They will also act as Contact Administrators and Principal Designer under the CDM Regulations.

“We are involved in all projects from start to finish,” explains Geoff, “we get the experts in to identify the causes of an issue, prepare budget estimates, and with academies like this we assist with funding bids for refurbishments, repairs and extensions. If the bid is successful, we then prepare the detailed design and go out to the appropriate local contractors who tender for the work.”

In the case of this Primary Academy in Darlington which we introduced last time, Geoff spoke to the Headteacher and then

  1. Roof specialists SIG Design and Technology were brought in to carry out the roof surveys.
  2. SIGD&T’s Ian Dryden used his expertise to carry out a detailed condition survey sufficient to provide evidence for a funding bid, including evidence for where the roof is failing and the reasons why the work needs to be done quickly.
  3. Ian’s specification for the work allows Geoff to obtain a budget cost from local contractors, which helps the school know the funds needed for the project. Schools generally must provide 20% of the funds, so it is important to have an accurate estimate of the cost of the project, so schools can plan to get that sum together.
  4. Once the bid is approved, Geoff runs the tender process to select a contractor to carry out the work.
  5. Once the project is underway, Geoff carefully manages the project to ensure it stays on budget – crucial for schools who are not in a position to go over budget.
  6. SIG D&T carry out inspections throughout the project and on completion of the final inspection and handover, SIG issue the relevant flat roofing warranties to the school for their records and provide advice and assistance on maintenance.

We asked Geoff:

What are the main issues a School Business Manager should be aware of when re-roofing a school?

“Firstly, avoiding risks on site is essential whenever work is being carried out. Many projects will take more than the six weeks of a school summer holiday, so timing is essential. Close management of the school on how works will proceed is always important, so as not to interfere with the operation of the school.

“Secondly, we need to clearly identify the work that needs to be done. A schedule of works including the drawings and specification (a detailed description of the work) is essential, so the contractor knows what work is required and can price accurately.

“Choice of contractor is also important. We will pick a tender list of 5-6 contractors who have experience working in schools and are financially stable with a good safety record. This will considerably reduce the risk to a school of having works done. As well as the value of local experience a contractor can bring, schools often like to work with a local builder because it can start a mutually beneficial relationship which can often develop into other work in future.

“Fourthly information is key. We need to give the contractor as much information as we have, so the contractor can carry out their risk assessments for the project, to highlight all the risks associated with the job. The contractor’s Construction Phase Plan, which sets out all aspects of how they are going to do the work, must be approved by the Principal Designer, and any mitigation needs to be in place, before work begins.”

As part of his role the Principal Designer (PD), Geoff will explain to the client what their role is in providing information required. “As school business manager, you’ll need to make time with the Headteacher and Caretaker to talk through with the Principal Designer all the information you have about how the school operates, who uses the school buildings and when. This will enable the PD to brief the contractor properly to ensure that all risks are addressed.”

“For example, on another school we determined that work would have to be carried out during the school holidays. It was a school on a small site with many buildings and only a school playground to set up the site buildings. The contractor would have to set up scaffolding in the playground, so it was confirmed that safety of students couldn’t be guaranteed whilst the works was carried out.“

“Finally, there are always some activities going on in schools during the summer holidays. This particular school has a nursery which runs throughout the summer, and there may be other contractors coming in during the break. So in many cases the ‘holiday times’ and ‘term times’ can attract the same risks.”


Blog Source: SG DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY | Reroofing a School Building During Term Time


I’m Joseph, and I started this blog as a way to share ideas with others. I wanted to create a space where people could share their thoughts and feelings, and where we could all have a good laugh. Since then, the blog has grown into something much larger than I ever imagined. We have posts on everything from humorous essays to comics to interviews. And our weekly columns cover sports, video games, college life, and software.
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