What every SBM needs to know about managing capital construction projects

Managing any type of capital construction project on school premises is a complex task, bearing in mind such vital considerations as health and safety, and whether the building works will be taking place during term time.

Below are some key elements to bear in mind:

Project Management

Given that governors, head teachers and senior management teams invariably lack the expertise and time to manage capital construction projects appointing an experienced and competent project leader is an important first step.

If the project is going to take place in term time it is important to minimise the inherent dangers caused by placing construction works close to pupils, staff and visitors.

The engagement of experienced project managers who are familiar with health and safety legislation and experienced with separating construction from the day-to-day running of the school is vital.

Funding

Funding for capital projects is available from the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and if this is a requirement it is important to get professional guidance, advice and bid writing expertise in order to maximise the probability of securing funding.

Design and Planning

It is essential to appoint an architect designer who understands the needs of the education sector and who has the technical knowledge to enable your school to realise its vision for new buildings or improvements. It is also key that that they have a thorough knowledge of the planning regulations and approval process to ensure the project can be built.

Procurement

Once the project is specified, the appropriate surveys performed and planning approval granted, the next task is to manage the procurement process. Typically, a demonstration of best value is required, meaning that tenders must be invited and contractors selected based on competence, safety track record, financial status, insurance cover and licensing.

Health and Safety

In an ideal world every construction project needs to be completed on time, on budget, and safely. Not only do project management competencies need to be demonstrated, but also a keen awareness and understanding of the health and safety legislation impacting on the use of contractors.

The school must be closely involved in the identification of any potential hazards, and in the evaluation of risks. A detailed risk management plan must be included in the planning specifications, highlighting safety rules, risk control method statements and procedures for recording and reporting accidents, incidents and near-misses.

Once construction work begins routine contact between the school representative and the project manager is crucial, to check that all is running to plan and to ensure that the works are being carried out without unnecessary risks to staff, pupils and the public.

Inspection and Sign-Off

At the end of the construction project a thorough inspection and project review are recommended. It is important for lessons to be learned and for any snags to be addressed prior to sign-off being obtained.

Strictly Education are experts in the project management of capital works projects. Our dedicated property consultants will help you to develop a project brief and define the project objectives and can assist in managing all aspects of the tender process, bid-writing, contractor selection and works management.

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