Has your school received funding for building works?
If you have been lucky enough to receive Condition Improvement Funding or other funding for building works, here are a few things to think about.
- Do you need permission to do the works you want to do? Most academies have leases from the Local Authority and will probably need the Council's consent for the works in a licence for works if there are any structural works or new buildings.
- There should be proper design and build contracts with the builder and architect (or other professional team). We would recommend getting a specialist construction lawyer's advice for any building project as they are usually high value and relatively high risk. Often design and build contracts are either overlooked or poorly drafted by architects and builders based on industry standard precedents that favour them not you the client. Without a proper contract how will you be clear what work is being done, when it is being done, what it will cost, when you have to pay, what the defect rectification periods will be and what warranties will be given and to whom will they be given?
- If you are contracting with the builder then your landlord if you have one (usually the Local Authority) might want collateral warranties (so if something goes wrong then they can also sue the builder/architect etc) and vice-versa if the LA contract with the builder for you.
- Planning permission and building regulations. This is not only about seeking approval for new buildings, but can be needed for works done in existing buildings and all works done must comply with current building regulations (i.e. standards of design, materials and workmanship). An important point is to remember to get the certificates that the works done comply with all the requirements when the works have been finished. Certificates should be lodged with the planning department and are important as they relate to health and safety of everyone at the school.
- If you are adding capacity to the school or a change in age range or characteristics is a significant change consent required? Also changes to PAN may require changes to the funding agreement or admissions changes. See the DfE's guidance note "Making Significant Changes to an Existing Academy Guidance"
- Remember the monitoring and reporting requirements in the funding terms and conditions. If you do not comply you might not get the funding payments leaving you with an obligation to pay the builder but with no funding for it! You must be well organised and have someone project managing the process.
- Remember your procurement obligations. Generally you will need to issue a competitive tender to ensure you receive best value.
We can assist with dealing with consents issues and we can recommend specialist lawyers to deal with construction and design and building contracts. Do get in touch with your usual contact at Wrigleys for further information.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article further, please contact Tim Wrigley or any member of the Wrigleys' Education team on 0113 244 6100.
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The information in this article is necessarily of a general nature. Specific advice should be sought for specific situations. If you have any queries or need any legal advice please feel free to contact Wrigleys Solicitors