It’s rarely glitzy or glamourous, but behind the scenes, planned maintenance plays a critical role in preserving and future-proofing independent school’s assets while supporting a healthy and safe environment for those using the buildings.

How can you future-proof school assets?

A big capital expenditure project, such as a new building, has PR sparkle, but the rest of the school needs to keep up appearances, and regular maintenance can be more cost-effective.

Maintenance programmes can also dovetail with retrofit work to meet sustainability goals and ensure health and safety compliance.

Planned maintenance doesn’t necessarily mean large amounts of money, but a regular programme, spending smaller amounts, can mitigate bigger, potentially more expensive problems occurring,” says Michael Holford, Partner.

Guttering is a good example. Clean gutters won’t feature in the brochure but will reduce the risk of water ingress and the costly repairs that follow. 

External decoration is another simple example; a regular coat of paint helps avoid more serious weathering damage, which can lead to rotting.

First impressions are also important for visitors. “Your front door may be part of a beautiful architectural element that is very inviting, but if you don’t paint it regularly, it will give a shabby appearance,” says Eloise Kench, Associate Partner.

A building surveyor can help you define your maintenance programme 

A good maintenance program is also about understanding the buildings, what is required to keep them in tip-top condition, identifying potential problem areas and planning budgets around this. 

Something relatively simple, such as how a space is cleaned, could be inadvertently causing damage.

In one school, wooden flooring in a first-floor dining room was being regularly mopped to keep it clean, but as a result, dry rot developed,” says Michael Lunt, Associate Partner.

In another example, vinyl flooring in a bathroom wasn’t properly sealed, which became a significant problem when there was a leak. 

The water on the floor was attributed to the usual bathroom splashes and mopped up by cleaners. But in between cleaning, the water was seeping through the floor and damaging the structure beneath, which had to be replaced. An expensive unforeseen maintenance as it was not visible as all fittings and floor coverings needed to be removed.

Planned maintenance programmes can aid sustainability goals

Aside from preventing costly repairs, integrating maintenance into sustainability goals can help budgets go further and make buildings healthier and more comfortable for pupils and staff. 

Research shows that green retrofits are estimated to reduce operating costs by as much as 10% a year. And improved indoor air quality through good ventilation supports health and well-being, reducing sickness and improving productivity. 

Decision points in planned maintenance programmes offer the opportunity to improve the sustainability performance of the asset and potentially save costs.

When an item needs replacing, that is an opportunity to bring in a more sustainable solution, moving the school closer towards the overriding goal of healthy, low-energy buildings,” says Thomas Roundell Greene, Head of Sustainability.

Small wins could be instigating a programme to switch to LED lighting or reviewing insulation to make sure it’s appropriate and correctly fitted. 

Window maintenance is another area. Windows can be overhauled and draft-proofed to keep buildings warmer and more energy efficient. 

Double glazing, where it doesn’t already exist, is the ideal, and the landscape around such replacements in listed buildings is changing. Some schools have worked with English Heritage to install double-glazed sash windows on upper floors. 

Options that you might have had an out-right ‘no’ to a few years ago are becoming available,” says Kench. “You can take a mix-and-match approach; do the bits you can for now, such as top floors.

How can you use technology to reach sustainability goals?

Technology may be able to help with maintaining a building. Installing a building management system that can monitor heating, lighting, and ventilation can help keep the environment in the school comfortable while optimising energy efficiency. 

However, these systems only work if they are understood and used correctly. A simple mistake might be putting the thermostatic controls in the wrong place, resulting in rooms being too hot or cold. 

In one case, a new heating system was always left on, forcing the cleaners to open doors and windows. 

How can you reach health and safety compliance with planned maintenance?

As well as working alongside sustainability goals, planned maintenance can help with health and safety compliance.

Older, listed buildings are complex, and existing fire and safety systems may no longer be fit for purpose. Safety standards also change, so regular reviews are a good idea. 

A retrofit will also require the building to be reviewed for fire protection and means of escape, particularly if there is a change of use.

This might be ensuring appropriate fire doors are reviewed and upgraded and fitting new doors to current standards. Vision panels also need to be fitted to classroom doors for safeguarding.

Older buildings, particularly those that are listed, might have beautiful ornate features such as gargoyles, which can become eroded and weakened by the weather with a potential safety risk if they fall,” says Lunt.  

Gaining high-level access can be difficult for some buildings, but a simple drone survey can check their condition, flagging if there are any necessary repairs. 

General building surveys, as part of planned maintenance, can help identify potential problem areas and provide a good overview, highlighting if a specialist needs to be appointed for specific issues.  

A planned maintenance report is a good starting point; keeping it as a live document working alongside the bursar and property team can help with budget planning.  

Planned maintenance is about taking care of and future-proofing important school assets while ensuring the health and safety of buildings for pupils and staff.

How can Carter Jonas help you with your planned maintenance programme

Carter Jonas can provide consultancy advice relating to planned maintenance programmes to help you preserve and future-proof your asset, whilst complying to health and safety regulations and meet your sustainability goals.

Our experts are also well placed to identify economies of scales when reporting, ensuring high level works are grouped together to reduce access costs.

For further information on this subject, please get in touch with one of our experts.

Get in touch
@ Michael Holford
Michael Holford
Partner, Building Consultancy
0113 824 2383 Email me About Michael
Eloise Kench
Associate Partner, Building Consultancy
0117 403 9955 Email me About Eloise
Michael Lunt
Associate Partner, Building Consultancy
01865 404421 Email me About Michael

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