For educational construction and renovations, there is no quick and simple summer schedule. Recent trends call for increasing the time that students spend in the classroom each year. Michigan recently changed its attendance requirement to 180 days per year – an increase of ten days in just two years. Many of our local districts already finish their school year mid-June, assuming no extension for snow days during the year. Teachers and staff continue using school space that month to complete all grading and record-keeping after the final school year ends. The school still needs time to move out of renovation areas, as well as additional time to move back in at the end of the summer.
Additional pressure is applied to projects as more schools look at balanced calendar programs, summer school programs, or revenue-generating uses of the building like day camps. It’s no longer enough to ask “when will school be out?” but rather “what activities are scheduled in the building this summer?” Any non-construction use will likely require the construction of fire-rated partitions between construction areas and other areas of the school – work that impacts schedules, budgets, and temporary egress. With rising complexities to this type of project, what steps can we take to ensure success over the summer?
- Perform early and more detailed planning.
Have a full understanding of every activity to occur in the building during construction and incorporate each one into the schedule, budget, and logistics plan(s). This not only increases efficiencies, but also ensures safety for everyone in and around the building.
- Bid and award contracts early.
The volume of construction has grown significantly in the past three years. Getting a trade contractor committed to the project before he or she is too busy on other bids and contracts has never been more important. This also allows ample time to procure materials. (I’ve heard of windows with a previous lead time of six weeks taking up to 12 weeks to arrive!
- Finally, plan on the unexpected.
You never know if the school year will be extended after bids are received. Create a well-defined plan at the project onset so if circumstances change, you can be agile and accommodating in your response to them.