A school building consultant is the sole professional appointed by a school to implement and oversee all building projects. The consultant is responsible for the management of building projects from start to finish, including appointing all other professionals required to complete the outlined works and applying for funding.
The school building consultant’s remit extends to advising the school on all building matters, including repairs and maintenance, refurbishment, alterations and extensions in order to meet a set level of condition, suitability and sufficiency of a school’s premises.
It’s the school building consultant who will obtain all the necessary surveys, reports and statutory approvals for any project in the process of being planned, The consultant will also advise on any legal issues relating to a project, and generally ensure all aspects are in place for the successful delivery of building projects and works.
The consultant will usually be appointed by the body responsible for running a collection of schools, such as an area’s diocese or a MAT. Single academy trusts, free schools and independent schools can alternatively seek out and appoint a school building consultant of their own.
A school, or group of schools can benefit from the services of a specialist school building consultant in several ways. One area that headteachers and school governors will particularly value is the provision of a building development plan, usually covering a 5-year period. These plans can be used to prioritise ‘condition’ and ‘development’ building projects, and provide an agenda for other initiatives the school may wish to develop.
The school’s appointed consultant will typically visit the school twice a year to discuss whether the requirements have changed and report back on completed projects.
Another benefit of working alongside a consultant with experience of the education sector is their knowledge of routes to funding. The right school building consultant will be able to advise on available funding streams and submit bids that stand a better chance of meeting relevant funding criteria.
Dealing with building projects is a time-consuming process. With headteachers and governors likely to be already swamped with paperwork and red tape, having a trusted building consultant on hand can dramatically reduce the time needing to be spent on dealing with building works.
Instead of having to liaise with multiple contractors, a diocese or LA, the DfE, EFSA and others, your school’s headteacher and governors will have a single point of contact for all matters relating to the maintenance and improvement of the school’s buildings who can act on behalf of the school in all relevant communications.
At Lea Hough, we act as a school building consultant for a number of schools in Lancashire, Cumbria and Greater Manchester. We’re an approved consultant for Blackburn CE and Carlisle CE Dioceses and have undertaken several projects for Salford RC Diocese. We’ve been regularly appointed by MATs, single academy trusts, free schools and private schools in the North West, and seek to provide a comprehensive tailored service for every school, large or small.
The property consultancy services we offer range from thorough assessments of existing school buildings, through to the identification of potential projects, overseeing of funding applications, planning, design and specification services, tendering and project management. The professional advice we’re able to offer mean you can rest assured that your school is in safe hands.
Michael Harrison is a partner and chartered building surveyor at Lea Hough.