Modular buildings for new spaces at schools

Learn about the process to procure a modular building, and the following maintenance requirements and conditions of keeping a building on your school site.

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  • Boards
  • Principals and Tumuaki

Boards considering a modular building will find key information in this guidance that details the procurement, upkeep, and conditions they must follow. 

Using modular buildings to provide more space

If there's a requirement to build a new space at your school, consider using modular buildings.

Modular buildings are:

  • built to exceed the minimum standard used for permanent school buildings, making them suitable as temporary or long-term space solutions
  • installed quickly with minimum disruption to your school
  • suitable for many different sites
  • built in a factory, making the process quicker and safer than an onsite build
  • easy to relocate from one school to another.

Modular buildings are flexible, so can be used for teaching, staff and student support spaces, such as:

  • science laboratories
  • technology blocks, including food, woodwork, metal work and electronics
  • dance and drama studios
  • toilets and changing rooms
  • administration and reception areas
  • libraries.

All modular buildings are built in factories to a high-quality standard. They:

  • incorporate information and communication technology
  • exceed minimum requirements on a range of extreme site conditions, including wind, seismic activity, snow and coastal exposure (this allows them to be placed on many different sites)
  • meet the Innovative Learning Environment criteria, the Designing Quality Learning Space standard, and all weathertightness requirements.

Designing learning environments

Designing Quality Learning Space guidelines

Weathertightness Design Requirements for new school buildings

Modular Buildings Toolkit for Schools

This toolkit details the Ministry’s modular buildings programme. It covers roles and responsibilities, building, colour and layout options, delivery and fit-out timeframes and much more.

Modular Buildings Toolkit for Schools [PDF, 1.4 MB]
(Last updated on 31 July 2020)

Procuring a modular building

The procurement process for getting a modular building purchased and delivered to your school is a lot quicker than for the usual new build project.

This is because you don't need to tender for a design team or contractor, or produce design and tender documents.

Having our private service provider ('provider') build the modular buildings in a factory is also quicker, and safer, than building on the school site as the construction takes place in a stable environment.

Procurement phases

There are 3 phases in procuring a modular building:

  1. Project initiation: Funding is confirmed and your school is included in the demand forecast for modular buildings.
  2. Project planning: Your project is planned and your school signs the conditions of use for modular buildings.
  3. Project delivery: Your modular building is designed, constructed, delivered and installed. There's a post-occupancy evaluation after the accommodation period.


 An MTB is procured and delivered in 3 phases

Phase 1: Project initiation

Confirming the funding for your new space project

You must already have funding for new space confirmed before we'll consider a modular building for your school. This funding may come from redevelopment programmes such as weathertightness remediation or the Northern classroom delivery programme.

Weathertightness remediation

Funding may also come from other redevelopment programmes such as:

Christchurch schools renewal programme

New teaching space funding

For non-teaching spaces:

School Property Guide (SPG) funding

For replacement buildings:

5 Year Agreement (5YA) funding 

Note: You apply for loose furniture and equipment funding through the Furniture and equipment grant.

Furniture and equipment for state schools

Once your funding is confirmed and added to the asset management application (K2), contact your property advisor to see if a modular building is right for your school.

Applying for a modular building

Your property advisor will contact the contract management office to begin the project approval process. This includes looking at your school with you and an external project manager to decide whether a modular building can go on the site.

If your site is suitable, your property advisor will do a submission to the contract management office.

Approving the submission

If your project is approved, you and your property advisor will be advised by the contract management office in writing and project planning will start.

Including your school in the NTP programme

Once approved, your school’s modular building is included in our demand forecast — we use the forecast to help us plan for and meet demand for modular buildings.

Your modular building will arrive approximately 4-6 months after this, depending on the complexity of the project.

Phase 2: Project planning

The NTP team will send you a briefing pack which contains:

  • an outline of the design process and options for you to consider before your design meeting with the provider
  • standard modular building base plans
  • Conditions of Use for modular buildings to sign which includes your property management roles (including maintenance requirements), our management role, and the provider’s role. Note: this will soon be available for you to download.

You must sign the Conditions of Use document and return it to your property advisor. We then issue a work order for the provider to start your modular building project.

Phase 3: Project delivery

Sign the contract and start the project

After the project design is approved, we sign a works order with the provider, which is a notice to start the next stage of the project. The provider then applies for building consents.

Receive the construction management plan

The provider issues you with a construction management plan which includes:

  • a site-specific health and safety plan
  • risk register
  • quality plan
  • traffic management plan
  • security plan
  • a site condition report.

Carry out site works not associated with the modular building

You must carry out and pay for any of the work not directly associated with delivering the modular building. Talk to your property advisor about the funding streams to pay for this work.

Prepare and deliver the modular building onsite

Before the provider can deliver your modular building, allow them access to your school so they can:

  • construct foundations
  • install service connections directly linked to the modular building.

The provider delivers the modular building to your school site, installs it on its foundations and connects all of the services.

Complete the project

Once all the project work is complete the provider submits the practical completion documents to the contract management office for approval.

Your modular building is ready for use

Once our office gives approval, your modular building is ready to be occupied. The provider then gives you:

  • training advice and manuals for the systems in the modular building, such as mechanical and ventilation systems
  • a maintenance plan for general cleaning and planned maintenance for you to follow.

Notify us of any defects within 6 months

The defects liability period is 6 months. If you find faults during this time, you can contact the NTP team and the provider then fixes the faults. A defect means any error, omission, shrinkage, undue deterioration or other fault associated with the modular building.

Complete our evaluation form

After 4 months — the accommodation period — we send you a simple post-occupancy evaluation document to complete. This helps us improve our product and services.

Maintaining your modular buildings

You're responsible for maintaining your modular buildings and we provide maintenance funding through your Property Maintenance Grant.

Make sure you plan your maintenance in line with the provider’s maintenance and cleaning plan, so you’re covered by warranties and keep your modular buildings in its best condition.

Upgrading your modular buildings

You can pay for upgrades to the buildings using 5YA funding or board funding, such as fundraising or grants.

Board funding for property projects

In both cases:

  • you need our written agreement
  • we retain ownership of the building and have the right to relocate it if it’s no longer needed at your school – this includes any upgrades paid for with board funding.

Providing upgrades to the modular building without written agreement from the Ministry may affect the warranties and guarantees.

Modular building repairs

You'll need to contact the contract management office immediately if your modular building requires repairs from damage to:

  • the weathertightness envelope of the building
  • any part of the building’s structure
  • HVAC systems, or
  • the electrical system.

During the term of the contract the provider is responsible for any repair work required to the items above. Works carried out by other contractors may affect the warranties and guarantees within the contract.

Conditions for keeping a modular building at your school

Modular buildings can provide both short and long term space solutions. However, there are conditions governing when you can and can’t keep them at your school.

You can’t keep a modular building if it’s needed for a major emergency event at another school, for example, after a natural disaster, or it doesn’t meet the following conditions for keeping a Modular Building.

  1. The modular building fulfils part of your teaching space or School Property Guide (SPG) entitlement.
  2. Although you have surplus teaching spaces, you’ll need more teaching spaces within the next 2 years, due to predicted roll growth.
  3. You have surplus space but the modular building is built to a higher standard than other buildings on your school site, and it isn’t cost effective or possible to bring other buildings up to the same standard. In this case, you must agree to rationalise other buildings to bring your space within your SPG entitlements.
  4. You have surplus space, but there are other buildings on your school site that are due to be demolished within 2 years. If you’ll be entitled to extra space after the demolition, you can keep the modular building instead of building a new room.
  5. You have surplus space but the modular building is being used as temporary accommodation while work is being carried out on other buildings.
  6. You wish to buy the modular building and we agree to sell it to you. This means the modular building will become board-owned property and will no longer count towards SPG entitlements. You’ll need to maintain it using board funding.

If a modular buildings is removed, the provider restores your school site back to its original condition as much as possible.

Using modular buildings as temporary accommodation

If you’re using a modular building as temporary accommodation while work on other buildings is under way, the provider will remove it when you no longer need it.

Temporary accommodation situations also include:

  • emergency responses
  • roll growth that’s unlikely to be sustained
  • replacement buildings at schools with declining rolls.

We’ll discuss with you how long you need the modular building for in temporary situations. This helps us with forecasting and providing modular buildings for future host schools that need short term classroom solutions.

Examples of modular buildings at schools

A modular building at Vogeltown School, Wanganui. [JPG, 258 KB]
A new modular building at Vogeltown School, New Plymouth.
Children working in a modular building at Vogeltown School, Wanganui. [JPG, 150 KB]
Children working in a new modular building at Vogeltown School, New Plymouth.
Children working in a modular building at Vogeltown School, Wanganui. [JPG, 213 KB]
Children working in a new modular building at Vogeltown School, New Plymouth.
Children playing outside a modular building at Vogeltown School, Wanganui. [JPG, 158 KB]
Children playing outside a new modular building at Vogeltown School, New Plymouth.
A modular building at Vogeltown School, Wanganui. [JPG, 170 KB]
Children outside a new modular building at Vogeltown School, New Plymouth.
The inside of a new modular building at Vogeltown School, New Plymouth. 

The inside of a new modular building at Vogeltown School, New Plymouth.
Children working in a modular building at Vogeltown School, Wanganui. [JPG, 177 KB]
Children working in a new modular building at Vogeltown School, New Plymouth.
Children working in a modular building at Vogeltown School, Wanganui. [JPG, 145 KB]
Children working in a new modular building at Vogeltown School, New Plymouth.

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