Summer Projects Start Now: A School Construction Checklist

For grade school and college students, summer is a time to get away from the books and take a break from work. For school facilities teams, it is the exact opposite: Summer is the busy season, when the bulk of renovations, repairs and maintenance projects are completed.  But the work starts now. Here’s what schools should do now to set themselves up for a successful summer.

1. Prioritize Your Projects

Chances are you have more than one project on your summer to-do list. This is the time to gather all relevant stakeholders and discuss them. Take the opportunity to weigh the needs of your facilities against each other and decide what projects must be finished this summer, what projects must get started this summer and what can wait. Having everyone on the same page will keep expectations reasonable and create support for facilities goals.

Miami-Dade Public Schools’ Administrative Director Francis Hoar sums it up nicely, “By planning intelligently we can focus our limited resources effectively, take advantage of aggregate planning and bulk purchases but most importantly prioritize our work plan to ensure it is directly supporting learning environment in our classrooms.”

2. Plan Holistically

Just because school is out doesn’t mean all activity comes to a halt. Student teams and clubs meet during the summer. Faculty and administrators are often working on campus. Many schools generate revenue renting space to churches and other organizations. All of this must be considered when thinking about summer construction projects. Now is the time to create contingencies, decide what to do with these constituencies and inform them of any changes.

Robert Unger, Director of Construction Management for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), offers this advice, “Ensure your project is coordinated with any activities that may be going on at your school over the summer. Some of these you may not be aware of unless you ask. Any little disruption can impact getting the project done in its limited window.”

3. Assemble a Top-Notch Team

Summer is the busy season for your local contractors, too, and the best construction professionals in your area are in high demand. If you wait too long to engage with them, their calendars will fill up.

“Get your bidding done so that contracts can be in place and contractors can do administrative work and procurement work, so that they are as ready as possible for the day when they can get on site when school is finished,” says Robert Unger.

The traditional construction procurement process can take months to complete, so start now or turn to alternative procurement methods like Gordian’s Job Order Contracting (JOC), to get qualified professionals on-site faster. JOC allows for the completion of multiple projects with one, competitively-bid contract so you’re ready for this summer and summers to come. Schools may be able to access JOC at a volume discount using ezIQC®, which makes contracts available through cooperative purchasing networks.

4. Budget for the Unknown

It’s common to uncover unseen facilities problems in the midst of a project. You might find that parts of the structure are in bad condition or that there are inconsistencies from the paper blueprints to the physical building. Budgeting early ensures you have the funding on hand for the projects you’re planning and the ones you aren’t.

And while you’re doing so, look into how you can leverage additional funding sources. Large levels of federal funds have been released specifically for schools to complete renovation work through the American Rescue Plan and ESSER funds. If you need extra funds or want to add special projects to your priority list, look into how these funds can be used to improve safety or social-emotional learning (SEL) experiences for your students.

Watch this on demand webinar for insights into how school districts and other public entities are taking advantage of an unprecedented funding environment to complete critical projects.

5. Order Items With a Long Lead Time

You can’t order a new HVAC system from Amazon. Some equipment and materials can take weeks to get on-site and if you wait until the spring to order these items, you’ll waste half your summer and fall short of your goals.

Right now, summer break feels like it’s a long way off, but it will be here before you know it. By acting now, you can ensure you have the support, funding, equipment and materials you need to complete your summer construction projects.

About Gordian

Gordian is the leader in facility and construction cost data, software and services for all phases of the building lifecycle. A pioneer of Job Order Contracting, Gordian’s solutions also include proprietary RSMeans data construction costs and Facility Intelligence Solutions. From planning to design, to procurement, construction and operations, Gordian’s solutions help clients maximize efficiency, optimize cost savings and increase building quality.