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School building work – How to make sure you have the right construction partner

June 7, 2021, 9:25 GMT+1
Read in about 9 minutes
  • Parminder Mew examines the factors schools ought to consider and prioritise when appointing a construction firm in 2021...
School building work – How to make sure you have the right construction partner

With children now back in school, we’re regaining some degree of normality within the realms of education.

However, while schools across the UK continue to adapt, we face a range of considerations which have not disappeared from our priority lists, including necessary construction work.

Moreover, while we navigate the fragility of current restrictions and the realities of Covid-19, this task now comes with an abundance of new, important factors to consider – we must ensure we’re investing in a reliable construction partner, protecting the already disrupted education of our children and, ultimately, not making any mistakes which could be detrimental to the quality of learning demonstrated within our institutions.

However, appointing a construction firm is no easy task, with Covid-19 added to the mix, it has only become increasingly complex. We are slowly easing children back into a stable educational routine, while complying with all safety regulations, playing ‘catch-up’ following home learning (which was understandably difficult for many parents), overcoming our own health concerns as educators and more. As such, pressure to choose the right partner is prevalent.

But, what should we be looking for? Only by finding a business which perfectly complements your institution’s goals, values and struggles can a longlasting partnership be formed – with some expert guidance, this can be achieved.

Is the firm reputable?

As with any service provider, it’s of course important that you find and work with a reputable construction firm.

More specifically, a business which is known to deliver a consistent and high-quality service, listening to the needs and preferences of their customers to exceed expectations. Construction work can feel like a box you would simply like to tick as soon as possible, however careful due diligence is necessary.

Ensure the firm you collaborate with is well-recognised, demonstrate necessary training, comply with all relevant regulations and, most importantly, communicate well.

Are they adaptable and flexible?

Construction work can be a significant distraction for students, something which is particularly concerning following months of disruption to their learning.

Now that they’re being welcomed back into school, further disruption is something we need to avoid. As such, speak with any firms you’re considering and discuss how adaptable and flexible they can be.

For example, are they able to operate at varying hours, or hours which would best comply with your students’ learning? Are they able to complete the project in a particularly timely fashion, lessening the period within which your students may be distracted?

These are all important considerations and by choosing a business that’s willing to work with you, the project will be overseen without difficulty – while your students can continue to enjoy being back at school.

Are you supporting a small business?

2020 was an incredibly difficult year for the construction industry, especially small businesses who continue to face uncertainty. Collaborating with a small business is a very positive step if you’re looking to oversee construction work in 2021; this will highlight your school’s commitment to the community and efforts to support smaller firms – something which won’t go unnoticed.

Meanwhile, small businesses will be able to completely immerse themselves within your institution, understanding your unique needs and doing all that they can to exceed expectations.

They will truly cherish this support and are equally eager to support educators. For these businesses, every project goes far beyond a financial agreement.

Have they worked within the industry previously?

The needs of schools, and the restrictions you face, are certainly unique and complex. I would suggest partnering with a firm who have previous experience within the education sector. By doing so, you can trust that they’ll be capable of delivering the standard of service that you require, while they’ll understand how they can best fulfil your needs.

At Darcy Construction we are always thrilled to work with schools, ultimately enriching the learning environments of pupils and educators. We feel this is a responsibility for construction businesses, for it supports the needs of the nearby community and makes a lasting difference to every child’s learning experience and the school’s ability to support their growth and success.

These projects are an honour to be a part of and through having worked with various institutions, we understand that they’re incredibly important to get right.

Can they demonstrate exemplary reviews?

When researching possible firms, carefully consider any reviews they’re able to demonstrate. Specifically, any reviews and feedback from businesses within the realms of education. This will undoubtedly eliminate any uncertainty you’re feeling, giving you insight into the type of work they’ll oversee, how they operate and the experiences they’ve previously delivered to customers. As a business owner, I’m always willing to be an open book. This should never not be the case.

Do they operate using a tailored structure?

Most larger construction firms prioritise medium-sized projects, while they follow a rigid operational structure which doesn’t always complement a client’s preferences.

Working with a firm that’s able to provide a transparent and adaptable service will make a noticeable difference.

For example, at Darcy Construction every client is assigned a designated team who ensure your work is consistent, without quality being compromised.

The team is collectively responsible, ensuring your project is managed in an efficient manner. Meanwhile, you will be allocated a construction manager, site manager and commercial manager to ensure nothing slips through the net.

They will work with you to oversee a project which meets your timelines and expectations; if during our initial conversations it comes to light that something doesn’t work for you, or could be done better, this will be put into place.

We are flexible, collaborative and open minded, as any construction firm should be. These are conversations you ought to be having with any interested parties, initiating a clear and open line of communication moving forward. In my experience, this is the key to forming a long-lasting, fruitful relationship.

Vital factors

In conclusion, there are a range of vital factors to consider when appointing a construction firm in 2021. The struggles experienced by the education sector over the past year have only made finances tighter and educational expectations more weighted; therefore, this isn’t something that should be simplified or underestimated. Instead, construction firms should be carefully researched, open discussions should be had and, ultimately, you should prioritise working with businesses who are flexible and understanding of your circumstances. In doing so, a project can be completed which is incredibly positive and fulfilling for both parties.

For more information about Darcy Construction visit darcyconstruction.co.uk. Or feel free to contact Parminder directly on LinkedIn where she is happy to help. linkedin.com/in/parminder-mew-36614a39

What you should consider

When appointing a construction firm in 2021, there are several essential things to consider and prioritise.

  • 1. Is the firm reputable?
  • 2. Are they able to be adaptable and flexible?
  • 3. Are you supporting a small business that recognises your unique needs?
  • 4. Have they worked within the industry previously?
  • 5. Can they demonstrate exemplary reviews?
  • 6. Do they operate using a tailored structure?

It’s pivotal that any firm you appoint is able to work in accordance with your needs; as children’s learning experiences have already been disrupted, maintaining a supportive, enriching environment is of the utmost importance.

Meanwhile, consider how much experience a firm has within the educational sector and choose small businesses, demonstrating your support for these agencies after what’s been an incredibly difficult year.


Parminder Mew is the owner of Darcy Construction, a highly-respected construction business based in Hampshire.