Restoring & Modernising a rundown school
The client bought a former Victorian school building in May 2019. For many years, the building was no longer required by the former owners, and was occupied by local artists as a means of security. During this time the building had not been maintained and had outdated services and plant and machinery.
The client, an Independent Schools Group, wanted to modernise and open the school to new students in September 2020. This was one of two deadlines, as they also required a marketing area consisting theatre, general classrooms and admin offices, by January 2020; their main student recruitment period.
We were contracted as Principal Contractor, and the project split into two distinct phases. Phase One being an open book contract and Phase Two a standard JCT contract.
This was a full building refurbishment which included renewing all electrical, security, plumbing and network infrastructure. The HVAC systems were completely replaced and modernised with VRF condensing units. All the windows in the main building, over 300 previously wooden sash windows were replaced with efficient upvc sash windows. The client required general purpose classrooms, two theatre spaces, science and food technology labs, dining and kitchen area, staff and student toilets, outdoor play areas and a design and technology workshop. We refitted the whole main building including structural and external repairs, repartitioning of spaces, and interior design and decoration.
Undertaking a project of this nature, due to the age of the building, inevitably had some unexpected problems during the course of the programme. We expected that there would be issues – for example requiring a new electric substation and restrictive planning conditions from Westminster Council. However, we never expected a worldwide pandemic and the subsequent COVID restrictions in the middle of the project. We had numerous trades wanting to pull out during the lockdown and some factories were furloughing staff and closing down. Our close relationships with our subcontractors meant that we could progress the build. While we were not immune to the impact of the restrictions, we managed to reprogramme and accelerate packages when the restrictions eased to get the majority of the building complete.
Principle Contractor | Refurbishment
Contract sum | Area
£8m+ | 40,000 sq ft
What the Client says
“We have worked with Mike and TFI before, we went with Mike because we had a very short and ambitious timeframe to get the school open. This was non-negotiable for us as we would have fee paying students arriving by September 2020. We are renowned for our innovative school building design, as we believe the student’s environment is conducive to their ability to learn. However, we demand value for money, and Mike and his team would often advise us of alternative solutions to achieve the desired look but within our budget. When COVID restrictions were announced we were naturally concerned, but we knew that Mike would do everything possible to meet our deadline. We passed our Department of Education inspection in good time, and we welcomed our first cohort of students on their planned first day of term!”