Design stage of school property projects

The design phase of a school building project is managed by the project manager. Boards of trustees provide the vision for the project and are involved at each stage of plan development. In developing plans, designers follow the Ministry’s Computer-Aided Drawing (CAD) specifications.

Managing the project designs for a project

The design phase of a school property project involves developing the plans for the project.

Role of the project manager

As project manager, your role in the design phase is to:

  • engage the design team
  • sort out the consultants’ contracts
  • liaise with everyone with an interest in the project
  • manage the budget
  • coordinate the plan development
  • fulfil any local council requirements
  • get the board of trustees’ sign-off for the plans.

Role of the board of trustees

The board of trustees is your client and has the main interest in the project. It:

  • is a party to the design contract
  • provides the design team with its vision for the building
  • is involved at each stage of plan development to make sure the design meets its educational goals.

Design consultants

The number and type of design consultants needed for the project will depend on the size and complexity of the project. It could include:

  • an architect, who can design and coordinate all building elements, services and site works
  • an architectural designer, who specialises in building design and construction
  • an architectural draftsperson, who can draw plans and form basic ideas – could be a good option for small projects
  • an engineer, who must be used if the project requires any technical engineering design solutions or specialist engineering services
  • an interior designer, if your main designer doesn’t do this work
  • a landscape designer to design the outdoor spaces
  • a quantity surveyor trained in construction methods and costs – they use the design drawings to estimate how much labour and material is needed and to estimate costs.

Make sure any designers engaged for the project understand the Ministry’s design standards (see: Design standards for school property).

This should be part of the consultant procurement process (see: Procurement for school property projects).

Consulting on plan development

You must consult the board of trustees at all stages of the plan development. Use these consultations to check that the design consultants are delivering a product that meets the school’s needs.

There are 3 main stages of plan development.

1. Concept plans

The designer prepares rough sketches of the school’s ideas for the project. These concept plans include:

  • a floor plan
  • details of site condition
  • a budget
  • any Ministry or legal requirements.

Use the concept plans to consult with anyone who may be affected by the outcome of the project, such as:

  • the school principal
  • other consultants as they are engaged, such as the engineer and quantity surveyor
  • students – as the most frequent users of school property, they may have some views on what they would like to see in the school
  • school staff, drawing on their experience in the existing environment
  • the school community, such as parents, local council and affected community groups like sports groups.

You can also use the concept plans to check if you need to submit outline plans to, or get resource consent from, your local council. The quantity surveyor uses them to develop a rough estimate of costs.

This is a good time to discuss with the board their ideas about:

  • materials, such as exterior cladding
  • interior fittings and fixtures, such as joinery and the location of power points.

2. Preliminary Design

The designer prepares a preliminary design which articulates the ideas promoted at the concept stage. These preliminary plans include:

  • a floor plan, elevations, diagrammatic sections and site layout
  • details of site and compliance conditions affecting design
  • confirmation of budget
  • any Ministry or legal requirements.

Use the preliminary plans to consult with anyone who may be affected by the outcome of the project, such as:

  • the school principal
  • other consultants as they are engaged, such as the engineer and quantity surveyor
  • students – as the most frequent users of school property, they may have some views on what they would like to see in the school
  • school staff, drawing on their experience in the existing environment
  • the school community, such as parents, local council and affected community groups like sports groups.

You can also use the preliminary plans to check if you need to submit outline plans to, or get resource consent from, your local council. The quantity surveyor uses them to develop a rough estimate of costs.

This is a good time to discuss with the board their ideas about:

  • materials, such as exterior cladding
  • interior fittings and fixtures, such as joinery and the location of power points.

3. Final designs and cost estimates

The designer then draws up the more detailed final plans with detailed specifications, including types of products. Use these plans to support the statement of requirements for the procurement of construction works for the project and to apply to the local council for building consent.

Manage risk

To help you manage risk, you should have a risk and issues register.

Project managers are responsible for following risk management good practise throughout the design phase.

Risks and issues should be discussed at the regular Project Control Group and site meetings.

Depending on the risk, you may have to:

  • Adjust timelines to accommodate delays and other tasks
  • Adjust the budget so costs stays within budget (including making changes to specifications).

If there is no risk or issues data, hold a risk-identifying workshop with the Delivery Team and relevant stakeholders.

Risks and issues register

The risk and issues registers should record as a minimum:

  • Identification date
  • The person managing the risk/issue
  • A description of the risk/issue
  • Potential impact on the project (risk)
  • Actual impact on the project (issue)
  • Responses to the risk/issue
  • The date by which you need to resolve the risk/issue

Using the Computer-Aided Drawing (CAD) specification

We have prepared a CAD specification for the format of new and updated school site plans. Ensure your design consultants use this specification when developing plans for new school property or alterations.

Download the specification [DOC, 246 KB].

School plan example

The Asset Register plan template [PDF, 745 KB] includes an example school plan to show how the specification is intended to be used.

Having copyright in the designs

Our standard contracts identify who gets ownership or ‘copyright’ for the building documentation.

If you ask for them, the design consultant must give you:

  • the drawings
  • CAD drawings
  • specifications
  • reports
  • manuals
  • any other documents or information they used or prepared when producing the designs.

The board can reuse these documents and pass them to other schools.

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