A brand new school in 7 steps - Step 5: Setting up contracts

The success of any building project rests on the team you commission to deliver it. So, in the latest instalment of our school build blog series, we’ll be looking at setting up contracts – from identifying the right procurement route to finding a team that shares your values.

Traditionally, commissioning a new school-build has typically taken a traditional tendering route, with individual companies invited to bid and compete for a place on the project.

Tendering can work well, but it is not fast or straightforward. The onus is on you to select from a pool of potential delivery partners, prepare specifications and compare proposals. You will need the time to do it, and the confidence that you are selecting the right people for the job.

A faster, failsafe option

Today, many local authorities and developers are choosing frameworks as a procurement pathway. Frameworks are set up to deliver work of a certain scope of works or services, often directed towards a specific project value and importantly, each supplier on a framework will have already completed a rigorous tendering process to become part of it.

They will have committed to fixed, competitive rates, , and have an exceptionally high standard of work, service, often with social responsibility commitments built in. The organisation operating the framework will have already checked their credentials, financial stability, assessed their capabilities and agreed competitive rates, so you are free to commission them quickly and confidently.

Why frameworks work

When it comes to building a school, timescales are almost always tight. You can lose valuable weeks to the tender process, while the framework approach gives you reliable, pre-qualified delivery partners who can get your project off the ground sooner.

All publicly funded Sunesis projects can be delivered through frameworks like Scape Procure [link], which is committed to creating a collaborative environment, actively performance managing each project and ensuring that significant levels of social value are secured as a part of the project.  We are also able to help create your new school through other frameworks. If speed and simplicity is a key requirement for your project, frameworks can be an easy way to create the additional school places you need, freeing you up to plan the things that are equally as important; that is what needs to happen to make your school run and perform well too.

Independent commissioning

As well as being able to work through frameworks, we are also able to work with you independently, through any other procurement routes. That is also the case with many other suppliers, so if a framework isn’t right for you, there are other ways to bring in the experts you need.

Procuring in the pre-designed market

If you’ve chosen to commission a pre-designed school, you’ll find that decision makes the procurement and contracting process easier too. Costs are usually agreed at a very early stage in the project, leaving only the constraints of the site to work through and any design amendments left to confirm.

The provider of your pre-designed building should be able to advise on the other contracts involved, particularly if they offer an end-to-end service rather than just a product. Look for a company that can give you this guidance, as well as a transparent approach to assembling your team, and the support you need to meet your time and cost targets.

Already got preferred suppliers?

If you’re a private developer who is already built strong relationships with preferred suppliers, your chosen pre-designed school specialist should be ready to work with them too. You will often find they ask your contractors to agree to a certain specification, and stick to the design as drawn, both of which create clarity and enable the building to work at its best.

Step 5 actions:

  * Be clear about your timescales
  * Consider the benefits of frameworks vs tenders
  * Choose suppliers with proven track records
  * Use effective project managers to define details

Whether you’re a local authority or a private developer, if you’re weighing up your school build options, at Sunesis we’re ready to help. We’re education specialists with a genuine understanding of the pressures you’re under, and we’re always happy to talk new projects through. If you’d like to find out more, just call us on **07950 717 804 **or email enquiry@sunesis.co.uk.

Next week: Step 6: Building your school 

Last week: Step 4: Getting planning permission