At JBH Refurbishments we refer to the months of July and August as ‘school refurbishment season’. You would be mistaken to think that schools are ghost towns in the summer holidays, it’s quite the opposite. Despite the students taking a long break, schools are a hive of activity as they prepare for the next academic year.
If you are planning a school refurbishments, here are our top tips for preparation, finishes and important considerations.
September Preparation Starts In Spring
At the end of the summer term, schools become occupied with contractors and teachers, working together to create a warm and welcoming environment ready for September.
Preparing school buildings for the next academic year starts around March and April. This is the time most schools begin thinking about what areas of the building need repairing, redecorating, carpeting, or refurbishing. From a contractor’s point of view, this is the ideal time, as it allows time to:
- Survey the property
- Schedule the works
- Order supplies
- Allow for snagging
It’s important that anyone responsible for overseeing school maintenance and refurbishment speaks to their school refurbishment contractor at least six weeks ahead of the work commencing onsite to ensure the work is completed on time.
Lead times for school refurbishments vary depending on the project and available supplies.
Having worked with schools across London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex for the best part of 20 years, we are pros at school refurbishment season. We understand the processes required to ensure schools are safe, clean and ready for the year ahead.
What Is a School Refurbishment?
School refurbishments are necessary to keep the building safe and a pleasant environment to teach and learn. These are buildings that withstand enormous footfall and wear and tear. Even the newest of school buildings require some level of TLC during the summer months.
The most common areas to undergo a school refurbishment are:
- Washrooms and toilets
- Dining halls
- Corridors and common areas
The type of refurbishment depends on the requirement. For example, one school may require a like-for-like refurbishment, whereby we strip out the old carpets, walls, ceilings and lighting, then fit new replacement fixtures to upgrade the finish.
At the other end of the scale, we also deliver school refurbishments that alter the entire layout, design, function and technology.
School Refurbishment Ideas and Solutions to Common Problems
Over time, the way we use our school’s interior spaces has evolved. Just like our homes and offices, school interiors have been reshaped, modified and revamped. While the exteriors largely stay the same, the interiors have been adapted to meet teaching methods. In many cases, adaptation to the building have taken place over decades, causing a medley of alterations.
This is especially true of victorian schools that once-upon-a-time catered for individual classrooms for a small number of children that have since been extended and remodelled numerous times.
Even new-build open-plan schools have been adapted. Too much open space effected the acoustics and impacted on teaching methods. Therefore, they were divided into the traditional classrooms layout.
You see, every school building is different and every school has different needs. It’s therefore important to have a fit out contractor that can advise on the best solutions for your school interior.
To help you get started, here are a few suggestions for upgrading your school interior based on our own experience working with primary and secondary schools across the London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
Hygienic Finishes in Washrooms
Starting with the school washroom; this is a notorious area within a school that withstands wear and tear, and most importantly needs to be cleaned frequently.
At JBH, we build washrooms to withstand a high volume of traffic. There are some fundamental finishes that we always recommend when completing a school washrooms refurbishment.
Hygienic cladding is the best wall covering in busy washrooms. This impervious surface is hardwearing, easy to clean and leaves no nooks and crannies for dirt to gather, and bacteria to grow. If you really want to zhoosh up your washrooms, it comes in all colours and a variety of patterns.
Non slip vinyl with a cap-n-cove edging is yet another great finish for maintaining a hygienic washroom. It’s easy to clean and durable.
Worried about flooding or water usage? Automated taps reduce flooding caused by taps being left on, while automated sensor flushes promote hygiene, reduce the risk of blocked toilets and use less water.
Acoustics Encourage Focus
Next, is classroom acoustics. Noise levels and reverberations in a school need to kept to a minimum to allow students to concentrate.
In recent years, collaborative and open plan spaces were briefly introduced in new build schools. However, many have since been remodelled, due to lack of focus from students, and teachers were unable to project their voices within the expanse of space. As a result, we have divided open plan spaces with jumbo partitions, acoustic glass and installed acoustic panels to absorb the reverberations.
Having smaller, dedicated classrooms and workspaces provide prime opportunities to focus and learn.
There’s more information about the acoustic requirements in schools in the Department for Education’s Acoustic Design for Schools: Performance Standards Bulletin.
Creating the Ideal Classroom Environment
Although classrooms receive a high volume of traffic in a school day, they don’t undergo as much wear and tear as common areas – such as corridors and washrooms. That’s because the majority of the time students are sat still and learning. Therefore, our focus in the classroom is less about the finishes and more on creating an ideal place to concentrate and learn.
Acoustics and climate control are key to creating an ideal learning environment. Having already touched on acoustics, we draw our attention to fresh air supply and climate control, which help to:
- Maintain concentration levels
- Reduce fatigue
- Reduce the spread of illnesses and aggravated allergens, which can lead to absences
By installing a commercial HVAC system, you can monitor and manage the climate as required, and circulate fresh air. There are many efficient HVAC systems now available to schools and commercial buildings, including ground and air source heat pumps and heat recovery systems.
There’s more guidance on school ventilation in the Education and Skills Funding Agency’s Bulletin BB 101: Ventilation, thermal comfort and indoor air quality 2018.
Missed School Refurbishment Season?
If you are responsible for organising a school refurbishment but feel you have missed the summer holiday school refurbishment season, don’t panic! There might be opportunities throughout the year to complete your school refurbishment. You can talk to our team for professional advice on 0333 207 0339 or get in touch via our contact page.