Choosing the most appropriate builder for the construction of new school buildings, the refurbishment of existing ones or merely the ongoing maintenance required by schools, does not need to be difficult. There are certain fundamentals which will make your decision very easy and straight forward. Taking a common-sense approach to choosing the builder means the first step is:
Choose a builder with school-specific expertise
Most builders have a ‘jack of all trades’ approach to construction. The school environment requires specific knowledge and experience so do not consider a builder that is a generalist.
· Their website will portray their specialty or ‘jack of all trades’ approach
· Previous projects should extend to the type of work you require
· Ensure they have a ‘preferred supplier’ status with a multitude of schools
Building Scope of Works
Plan a rough Scope of Works for your project, which should include:
· the extent of the build
· whether it is a renovation, extension or new build
· type of finishes (high, mid or low quality)
· type of appliances (high, mid or low quality)
· timeframes (during school or out of school)
Knowing your budget and the factors which will influence it, will allow you to focus on the desired outcomes. i.e. a seldom-used building requiring an upgrade may be costed differently to a school gymnasium which will be used all day, every day! The quality of construction, the fixtures and fittings and even the timing will impact the budget. The timeframes will impact your budget because if you require the construction to occur whilst the students are on holidays for two weeks but the job requires three weeks, then you would expect to pay a little more for the builder to resource the construction more intensively.
The budget will be impacted positively by an experienced school building company because they will already have the processes and procedures required to build safely within a school environment. An inexperienced construction company will take a lot longer whilst they navigate through this OHS minefield working safely with children.
Before engaging with builders, research their backgrounds and qualifications. You want to make sure that they are both reliable and trustworthy. Ensuring they are Master Builders and hold the suitable licenses (DBL or DBU or CBU) required for your project is essential. Also Checking to see whether they are on the preferred supplier list of schools should also be essential to considering them as your school builder.
Victorian Building Authority
To check if the builder is licensed, contact the VBA https://www.vba.vic.gov.au/
Master Builders Association of Victoria Search
To confirm your builder is a Master Builder contact Master Builders Association by calling
03 9411 4555 or www.mbav.com.au
For peace of mind also ask about their insurance cover during the construction period and any previously completed projects.
Quality builders will be proud of their work and should be happy to show off their relevant school portfolio.
Only deal with the decision makers
A key component to making your final decision should be that your primary contact is the company Project Manager and or company Director , the decision makers. Day to day your contact will be the Site Supervisor however you should have the comfort of knowing that the Project Manager and or Director is available to answer any questions or resolve any area's of concern that you may have.
Know exactly what you want – be specific!
It is very important that you know what you want, the purpose, function and outcome! It could prove to be a costly mistake to leave something out and have to add it midway through a project.
Working with an experienced builder will allow you to ask questions about outcomes and costings which are based on their previous experience with similar projects they successfully completed.