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Roof Condition Survey for a Primary School: Case Study

Brief: Our client was concerned about the condition of the roof of their school building, and requested a condition survey so they could secure funds and prioritise repairs.

Property: A primary school building dating from circa 1900, with two more recent extensions.

Instructed by: The Site Manager.

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The building

  • The property was in use as a primary school.
  • The oldest part of the building was built around 1900, but the property had been extended, with 20th and 21st century single-storey additions.
  • The roof was hipped and covered with a clay tile. There were also sections of felted, flat roof.
  • Our inspection comprised an external inspection of the roofs, and an internal inspection of the loft space.
School Roof Survey

Key survey findings

  • Our commercial surveyor found that parts of the roof were in a very poor state of repair.
  • The most urgent works required were to the areas of flat roof.
    • We found poor valley detail that was blistering because of poor workmanship. This deterioration was expected to affect water tightness, and could therefore lead to further external and internal damage.
    • The central flat felt roof covering was also uneven and blistering.
    • Upstand details were poor in some areas, and could let in water and wind-driven rain.
      • We recommended that roof coverings across the flat roof sections should be replaced, requiring a budget of approximately £135K.
  • Other repairs needed in the immediate term included:
    • redecoration of timber fascia boards and soffits
    • repointing of ridge tiles
    • immediate redressing and reinstatement of flashing in areas of damage, to prevent water ingress.
  • In addition, we found several damaged lead weatherproofing installations that had reached the end of their serviceable life.
  • Many valleys and gutters were blocked, preventing rainwater from draining away. Clearance of these in the short term would prevent long term problems due to standing water.
  • The main hipped roof had previously had patch repairs.
    • In the immediate term, watertightness could be maintained by futher repairs and repointing; however, the condition of the roof meant that the maintenance required would be above average.
    • We recommended that proactive overhaul of the roof (estimated at around £100K) would be required to provide long term weathertightness.
    • We also recommended that upon overhaul, a membrane should be installed between the roof timbers and tiles, to protect against water ingress.
    • We would also suggest upgrading joist-level insulation throughout the original roof space to improve thermal performance.
Flat roof survey
Blocked valleys on roof survey

Funding for School Building Condition Improvements

  • Condition surveys are essential for proactively planning repairs and maintenance to educational establishments, such as schools.
  • Evidence gathered in a survey report can be used to support funding applications.
  • Government grants available to support schools maintain their buildings include the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) and the School Condition Allocation (SCA) – eligibility depends on the size and type of school.
  • SCA funding is administered to multi-academy trusts and voluntary-aided bodies. In these cases, condition survey reports and planned preventative maintenance schedules support spending decisions by setting budgets and prioritising works.
  • Smaller educational establishments can apply for CIF funding to maintain and repair academic buildings.
  • The funds are allocated for serious problems with a building’s condition – problems that affect the ability of a school or college to run safely and smoothly.
    • It could be a problem with the structure or fabric of a building. Examples include roof or window defects, cracking, or replacement of modular buildings.
    • The funding can also be used for health and safety issues, such as asbestos removal or fire-safety improvement.
  • To apply for CIF funding, the government recommends that the bid includes a recent condition survey by a suitably qualified, independent surveyor.
    • Qualifications for surveyors could include RICS or CIOB membership.
    • Independence means that the surveyor must not have any conflicts of interest. For example, they must not have quoted or tendered for the works that are required.
  • Condition surveys should include photographic evidence of the defects, showing the full extent of the condition.
Blocked gutters on survey

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