Contract administration for school structural alterations
Allcott Commercial’s team includes experienced chartered RICS surveyors and ICE/IStructE structural engineers who specialise in contract administration.
Brief: Structural assessment and beam design for the removal of a classroom wall, followed by contract administration of the building works.
Property: Private school in Birmingham.
Instructed by: School bursar.
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- The school wished to remove a wall between two first floor classrooms.
- This was complicated by the fact that there were a number of roof trusses attached to a wooden beam going across the area.
- Allcott Commercial was instructed to inspect the solid internal wall between the two existing classrooms, to get an understanding of whether the wall was load bearing, and to inform the scope of work required to remove it.
- We produced a specification for the works that was used in a competitive tendering process.
- We were instructed to carry out contract administration of the project. This involved managing and overseeing refurbishment and wall removal.
Initial structural investigation
- At the time of inspection, the rooms were unoccupied and we were able to access the roof void above the rooms.
- The building in question had traditional solid brick wall construction, with external walls being approximately 380mm thick. Whilst there appeared to have been some extension vertically in the past, the part of the building where the classrooms were located appeared to be all original construction.
- Our inspection identified that the internal wall to be removed was 100mm total thickness and was assumed to comprise either concrete or clay blocks in the order of 65–70mm wide.
- Inspection of the roof void revealed that a steel truss was located directly above the wall, which provided support to both the roof purlins and the ceiling joists. The trusses appeared to be in good condition with no signs of distress or significant corrosion.
- Based on these observations, we were satisfied that the wall to be removed was not acting structurally and provided no support to the roof. Furthermore, given the thickness of the external walls, it was not considered to be providing lateral restraint to the front or rear elevations.
- Therefore, the wall could be removed without the need for additional structural support.
- To avoid the risk of overloading the timber floor joists, we advised that the contractor should be instructed to remove demolition material progressively from the building. It should not be allowed to build up on the floor.
- We produced a specification for the works and managed the competitive tendering process.
- A key consideration was the fact that the works would require strategic planning and programming throughout, owing to the busy environment of the site.
- The ability to protect the client’s existing services (such as power, lighting, heating) safely and adequately was crucial, as was speed of delivery.
- One contractor made several omissions; the other two came out with very similar costs. Both had good profiles and showed they were able to complete all aspects of the work within the required timeframe.
- We carefully analysed the proposals and made a recommendation to the client based on the contractors’ ability to complete the project on time and on budget.
- Inspections were undertaken weekly until completion.
- Inspection reports included details on who was on site, which materials were present at the site, the current progress and quality of the work, and any security or safety issues.
- The project was completed successfully and provided the school with the space necessary to improve their teaching facilities.
Read more about our contract administration work here.
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