Categories: Industry News, Pagabo News
Statistics released last year with regards to the level of work needed across school estates and the lack of associated funding raised alarm bells. Now, following the recent announcements of large quantities of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) being found in educational buildings, the cause for concern is even greater. David Llewellyn, Head of Construction and Infrastructure at Pagabo, takes a closer look at this worrying situation and explores potential solutions.
The closure of more than 100 schools due to RAAC being found couldn’t have come at a worse time. Parents all over England now face unexpected uncertainty as they wait to hear further information from the Department for Education (DfE), with the governing body announcing it is working closely with education leaders to ensure remote lessons are limited.
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Firstly, it’s worth explaining exactly what RAAC is. It’s a lightweight, bubbly form of concrete found in roofs, walls and floors. On first viewing it looks like standard concrete but it’s far weaker and known to be more likely to collapse.
Secondly, the children’s safety is of paramount importance and if a material has been found that doesn’t meet the necessary health and safety requirements, action has to be taken. Having said that, the government must now have a contingency plan in place with solutions that will allow these schools to re-open and begin welcoming students as soon as possible – particularly for any instances that require extreme remediation works.
One of the avenues that could provide a speedy solution is direct award via a compliant framework agreement - this would negate the need for an open market tendering process, a blessing when time is of the essence.
Effectively, a public sector body initially selects a preferred contractor for a specific project, often relying on previous collaboration to help make the decision. The framework provider then takes care of quality and pricing, before the client puts together a business plan to present to the powers that be, outlining why the chosen contractor is the most suitable choice for carrying out the work.
In terms of a timeframe, it’s difficult to say exactly, however, a client can directly award a project as quickly as they are able, depending on their governance, availability of pre-construction information and contractor availability. All they would need to do is sign the relevant Client Access Agreement and agree the contract with the contractor. If opting to follow a further competition procurement process, it is then likely to take between seven to ten weeks (depending on if it is a Single or Two Stage tender process) and again, how quickly the project could commence would depend on contractor availability.
Direct award offers a streamlined and cost-efficient pathway to initiate various projects, while adhering to essential compliance requirements that need to be met for projects funded by local authorities, which may well be the case with some of the works now required.
When selecting a contractor, the client will consider which route should be taken and for this particular issue, there are a number of potential avenues that could be utilised to get to the right specialists, quickly. From our own portfolio, a variety of options would be suitable based on what the specific works needed would be:
Regardless of which option the key decision makers go for, it’s important the decision is both well thought-out and made quickly, two things which seldom go together. It’s imperative these children return to their schools as soon as possible.
It’s also important the industry learns from what has happened to avoid anything like this occurring again, although that is easier said than done with the tight purse strings available.
Interested in finding out more about our existing suite of frameworks? Then get all the information you need below: