School property project stages

Find information about your role as a school board during school property projects. All 3 stages are covered within this guidance and include duties like engaging a project manager, managing conflicts of interest and more.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Boards
  • Principals and tumuaki
  • Proprietors
  • Property managers
  • Project managers
  • Other contractors

Boards have a governance role in project management. Your responsibilities are detailed here including the restrictions around delegation of duties.

Role of the project manager in school property projects

Developing a project brief for your project

The project brief is a summary of the project, including the objectives, time frame and budget.

The first draft of the brief can be used to tender for a professional project manager. It should have enough information to:

  • provide the scope and scale of the project
  • provide bidding project managers a sense of what the role will involve
  • confirm that all board members are agreed on the work to be done.

In developing the brief, you should consult with interested parties who will use the buildings and facilities, such as staff, students and parents.

Project managers

If your school already has a project manager, such as under a long-term contract, they can develop and manage the brief from the start, with your input.

Development plan

If your school has a development plan, it will contain some of the information you need for the project brief.

Checking the brief

The project manager will work with you on the brief as it is updated to check that the objectives are still being met and for approval from the board. Your delegate or the full board will need to sign this off each time.

Setting up a project file for your project

You will need to set up a project file to store information about your project. This file includes the project brief and all other information such as:

  • correspondence and emails
  • contracts
  • variations.

Construction phase: Managing variations

Your project manager will add to the project file as documentation is developed. Use the project management checklists to make sure all relevant documentation is included. At the end of the project, you will close the project file. 

Obligations under the Official Information Act 1982

As a board, you are an agent of the Crown and bound by the Official Information Act 1982. If a request is made under the Act, you must provide access to or copies of information in the project file that is relevant and appropriate to the request, unless there is good reason to withhold the information under the Official Information Act.

Official Information Act 1982 – NZ Legislation(external link)

Engaging your project manager

Does your project require building consent?

You must use a professional project manager. They will ensure all work complies with the Ministry requirements. Read more about procurement to find out how to engage one using the Ministry’s procurement processes.

School property procurement

Project manager engagement

What if my project does not require consent?

You can use a non-professional project manager (eg board member or caretaker). You are still required to follow the Ministry’s project management requirements.

We recommend working with a professional property manager for projects of high value (even if they don’t need building consent), such as replacing all your carpet.

Find out more about project manager engagement, including information about our Project Manager panels.

Project manager engagement

Appointing a school representative

A school representative is someone appointed by the board to represent the school’s interests. They provide oversight on the project, monitor its’ progress and are a member of the project control group.

Your school representative must have a role or relationship with the school so that they can effectively represent the school’s interests.

They may be:

  • a member of the board, such as the principal
  • a teaching staff member
  • another school employee
  • a school community member who is actively involved in the school.

You should select a candidate who has:

  • an affinity with or knowledge of the school and the project
  • excellent relationship management skills
  • effective leadership skills
  • excellent communication and networking skills
  • good problem-solving skills
  • sound judgement
  • the ability to provide continuity and effective handover and delegation.

Appointing a project control group

The project control group oversees your building project, and are appointed by the board.

It is likely to include:

  • school principal
  • project manager
  • board chair or board representative
  • school representative (who can be the same person as the board representative).

Project manager role

The project manager chairs the group. They meet at regular, pre-arranged times to:

  • discuss project progress
  • provide financial updates
  • monitor the project objectives
  • make recommendations to you for approval.

For small or less complex projects, the process is likely to be less formal. A project control group is still recommended for this supervising role.

Communication lines

The project control group decides on the communication lines for your building project. The following diagram demonstrates a typical arrangement:

Property management roles and functional relationships in a school building project

Property management roles and functional relationships in a school building proj

Schools, project management and consultants contribute to project management and relate to each other as members of the project control group. The Ministry and contractors each have lines of communication through members of the project control group.

Engaging a full-time builder for your project

A full-time builder for your project can be engaged as either a board employee or a contractor.

As a board employee

The scope of work must be:

  • fully covered in their employment agreement
  • in line with their collective or individual agreement.

You pay for their labour from your operational funding. You cannot charge these costs to the project.

As a contractor

If you engage the builder as a contractor, you must follow full project management processes for:

  • procurement
  • qualifications
  • insurance
  • design certification.

You must follow Ministry procurement rules when a builder engaged or employed by the school buys materials for building projects. 

Licensed building practitioners website(external link)

Police vetting for contractors

Every contractor who is likely to have unsupervised access to students at a school during normal school hours must be police vetted. The school board is responsible for determining the conditions of access for contractors and obtaining police vets.

Police vetting for school property contractors

Managing conflicts of interest

If an actual, potential or perceived COI exists, it must be declared and correctly managed.

In procurements valued at $50,000 or more, all school representatives must sign a COI declaration before the procurement begins.

For more information and examples of how to identify and mange conflicts of interest.

Conflicts of interest (COI) in property procurement

Delegating project management functions

To keep the project moving, you can delegate some of your board’s functions and powers for the project so that approvals can be done quickly, without having to wait for a full board meeting.

You can delegate board functions to:

  • one or more board members
  • the principal or any other employee(s) or board office holder(s) at the school
  • a committee of at least 2 people, at least one of whom is a board member.

To delegate powers, you will need to make a formal board resolution agreeing to the:

  • decision-making level to be delegated
  • delegation level and scope.

You will need to give each delegate written notice of their delegation(s). Clause 8 of the Education (School Boards) Regulations 2020 gives you the power to delegate in this way.

Clause 8 of the Education (School Boards) Regulations 2020 – NZ Legislation(external link)

Points to remember when delegating powers and functions:

  • You must record all delegations in the project file.
  • You cannot delegate your board’s general power of delegation. This means you can’t ask anyone other than the board to make the delegations.
  • As a board, you remain responsible for the actions and decisions of the delegate(s) acting under the delegation.
  • You can revoke the delegation at any time.
  • A person with a financial interest in the project cannot be a delegate.

Project file

Financial delegation

You can only delegate financial functions to the school representative. Project managers:

  • must not have any financial delegation for using school funds
  • must have all project costs and expenses signed off by the school representative with financial delegation or the full board.

You can only give financial delegations through a board resolution. You must:

  • set out the nature and conditions of the delegation in writing
  • provide the delegation by notice to the delegated person(s), as required in clause 8 of the Education (School Boards) Regulations 2020.

Clause 8 of the Education (School Boards) Regulations 2020 – NZ Legislation(external link)

Chapter 3.3.18 of the Financial Information for schools handbook

Managing health and safety actions during school construction projects

You’ll need to manage a number of health and safety actions throughout the lifecycle of your school construction project.

The Health and safety actions during school construction projects checklist will help you navigate the different stages of your construction project. These actions include pre-construction health and safety activities though to those that you’ll need to do to close and complete the project. The checklist also includes important links on Health and safety requirements for you during school construction projects.

Health and safety actions during school construction projects checklist [PDF, 384 KB]

Engaging parents to work on your project

If a parent of a child at your school tenders for a contract, the relationship must be entirely professional. You should make sure:

  • no one pressures the parent to give a good deal
  • the parent is qualified for the job and supplies warranties that the work meets trade practice.

If you engage the parent to work on the project, you:

  • should expect their work to be to a professional standard
  • will need a process in place to deal with any situation where the contractor does not perform or performs poorly.

Having working bees for your project

You can hold working bees to get work done on your building project. However, if the project needs a building consent, you will have to engage a professional project manager to:

  • confirm the scope of work
  • sign off the completed construction.

Giving board approval

Board approval is required throughout various stages of the project. This may involve a full board meeting or approval by your delegate.

The approval stages include:

  • approving the project brief
  • approving the procurement plan and tender documents
  • signing contracts for consultant engagement
  • signing off on the designs
  • approving any variations, for example in the material used or design changes
  • approving payments.

Working with the design team

Your school representative will need to work with the design team at each stage of plan development to make sure they understand your vision for the project and the design meets your educational goals.

Keeping people at the school safe

Boards are responsible under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 to keep staff and students safe at all times.

Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 – NZ Legislation(external link)

Your project manager will help you meet your responsibilities by managing the day-to-day health and safety hazards during a project, including:

  • keeping the construction site isolated from students and staff
  • managing safe access of vehicles and materials
  • using safe building materials
  • managing contractors.

The project manager should meet regularly with you to report on and discuss safety issues.

Getting local council sign-off before using a new building

If your project required building consent, you can't start using the new building until the local council has issued a code compliance certificate, or your project manager has already arranged a certificate for public use.

Local council requirements

Be aware that you could be fined up to $200,000 a day for each day you allow anyone to use the building without a code compliance certificate.

Conflicts of interest

A conflict of interest can arise during procurement or at any time in the project. Use the regular project meetings to discuss any potential conflicts. 

At the end of the project, you will be responsible for closing the project file, discharging the project manager and returning any unspent project funds to the Ministry.

Complete the building update form

Ensure that your project manager completes the Building Update Form at the end of the project. We use this form to update physical records and project items within K2 in preparation for capitalisation.

If K2 isn't updated, you won’t get the appropriate Property Maintenance Grant (PMG) funding, which is calculated based on the school’s buildings area.

Accounting for project funds

In your accounting system, you must separately account for money you receive for property projects. Treat these funds as income. You hold the money on the Ministry’s behalf until you spend it.

To meet accounting requirements, you must:

  • credit funds to a liability account when received
  • keep a separate account for each capital works project — for financial management and control
  • include a disclosure note, in the financial statements, on the amounts received and spent during the year for each project — you must do this even if there's no year-end liability.

Returning unspent funds to the Ministry

Any unspent 5 Year Agreement (5YA) project funding will be available to you to use on other 5YA projects.

5 Year Agreement (5YA) project funding

For all other Ministry-funded projects that come in under budget, you must return the savings to us. In this way, K2 has an accurate record of the actual project cost.

Closing the project file

At the end of the project, you'll close the project file. You must:

  • include all the final paperwork in the project file
  • store the file securely — you'll need the guarantees it contains if a building defect becomes apparent
  • keep the project file for the life of the building
  • keep all procurement process records, including unsuccessful tenders, for 7 years under the Public Records Act 2005.

Public Records Act 2005 – NZ Legislation(external link)

Your project manager will close the project itself.

This includes:

  • doing a final inspection and post-occupancy evaluation
  • sending documentation to the Ministry
  • getting local council sign-off.

Discharging the project manager and disestablishing the project control group

Your final task will be to discharge your project manager and disestablish the project control group.

Review the project manager’s performance and discuss any non-performance issues. If the project manager has a long-term contract with you, their performance will help you decide whether to continue the contract or not.

Meeting maintenance requirements for the building

Typically, a product manufacturer guarantees its product will perform in a certain way for a set time. For example, a roofing manufacturer may guarantee that the roofing will be leak-free for 10 years. A warranty is the same thing as a guarantee.

Many guarantees are only valid if you maintain the building product in a certain way. For example, you may need to arrange for:

  • annual cleaning of exterior cladding to prevent damage from moss and mould
  • a qualified technician to carry out an annual inspection and maintenance of a heating system.

The project manager collects all the guarantee and maintenance care documents from the contractors and building suppliers for the school. You must include maintenance requirements for building products in the school maintenance programme.

Fixing defects found after the end of your project

If anyone finds defects after the project has been completed, check your maintenance programme. If the defect results from a lack of or inappropriate maintenance, you must pay for repairs from your Property Maintenance Grant (PMG).

Property maintenance grant (PMG)

If you believe the defects are caused by faulty products, workmanship or design, you must seek recovery from the designer and/or contractor.

Minor defects

For a relatively minor defect, such as a crack in the plaster coating on exterior cladding, you may simply ask the contractor to fix it. In this case:

  • check the contract to see who is responsible for the repairs
  • write to the contractor outlining the issue and requesting a meeting to discuss it.

Complex problems or issues that cannot be resolved directly

You may need to follow through with the dispute steps in the contract if:

  • the contractor doesn't respond to your attempts at contact
  • the issue can't be resolved
  • the problem is complex.

Funding when you can’t get remediation

You may be unable to get remediation. For example, this may be because:

  • the contractor refuses to pay, but
  • you can't justify the need for third-party intervention or court action.

In these situations, the school representative can discuss with the Ministry how to fund the remediation work. You must use the procurement and project management process for the remedial work.

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