Graham + Sibbald were instructed to undertake condition surveys of 25 primary schools to identify maintenance requirements over a 5-year period. The purpose of collecting building condition information was to improve the management of school building stock and in particular:
- Identify backlog maintenance items
- Assign a description of the condition and a priority grading to building elements requiring attention
- Create a priority list of repair schemes from the data collected
- Ensure that centrally-funded schemes are prioritised in a fair and transparent manner
The completed reports would comment on the condition of building fabric (internal and external), the condition of Mechanical + Electrical Services and provide accurate costings to bring each element into a good standard of repair within that 5-year period.
Effective communication was therefore critical to the projects’ success, both in terms of co-ordinating the surveys with each respective school, but also to ensure the clients brief was met on each occasion. As a number of different teams undertook the surveys from different offices, it was also essential that consistency was maintained between each report in terms of quality, writing style and technical approach.
Regular meetings were therefore held between key staff members and also with the client to ensure requirements were being met at every stage of the project. In order to achieve consistency between all reports, regular updates were provided to each surveyor and draft reports were given to the client for constructive feedback.
This ensured the service offered and reports provided were always in-line with their requirements, and as this was the first time we had delivered a project of this nature for this particular client, we offered a number of different presentation formats to them in order to give them added value and substantial control in the product.
Key challenges around the project predominantly related to accessibility and working around live school environments. This meant restrictions were in place with regards to sensitive photography and ensuring no children or staff members were disturbed or distracted during teaching times. Whilst some of the schools were surveyed out of term-time to alleviate such issues, a number of schools still had to be surveyed within term-time in order to meet the Clients deadline.
All of the completed reports had to be returned to the client in advance of the current financial year end, to allow the Council to adequately plan for works required during the following financial year. In order to achieve this, surveyors often had to attend early in the morning before the schools officially opened, and also stay late in the evenings once all students had left the premises. Surveyors also had to work closely with school staff to ensure rooms were only surveyed once fully vacated, which required a large degree of flexibility and adaptability to maximise break times and classroom timetables.
The result was a comprehensive report for each school, which was delivered on time and without any disturbance to the schools. Whilst it would have been advantageous to undertake the surveys during the summer holidays, the surveying teams worked collectively and diligently together, to meet all of the stakeholders’ requirements.
The reports were delivered within the Clients required timeline, despite a number of variations requested to the reporting format and additional information required which was not included in the original brief. We adapted to the Clients’ needs throughout the project, improving on any sections as required, expanding wherever necessary and providing additional information at no further cost. The reports have been well received by the Client, but also a Carbon Neutral Advisor for all of the Greater Manchester Authorities, with the reports being used as a benchmark for other local Councils to adopt.
Accurate costing was provided to the client to give them a reliable maintenance forecast for each school over a five-year period. This ensured the client could plan appropriately and with confidence in respect of each defect found, its severity and priority level against other notable issues.