Building a home is far different from building a school. While a contract for your home with the builder will usually have the plan, the materials to be used, time of completion and the costs, building a school goes a step further. It has to be remembered that it should also cover children’s safety, health and hygiene and child specific features. The laws relating to building schools are very stringent and it is always advisable that you carry out intensive research in this matter and have detailed discussions with the school regulatory bodies before taking the first step.
Finalising a contractor – After the location of the school is finalised the next step is to identify the contractor and builder. It is not as simple as it seems. Contacting a top builder might not do if that firm is not accredited with the local school district or board. Get a list of building contractors who are authorised to build schools in your area. The contract that is ultimately finalised between the builder and you has to be vetted by the local school district.
The next step is carrying out due diligence while finalising your builder and this will help you know if the contractor can be relied upon. Get a list of school projects that the contractor has worked on before. For each of the projects find out the grade levels it was built to accommodate and the area under construction. Both should match the school that you have in mind.
Construction costs, whether the project was finished within the stipulated contractual time and any penalties paid due an error on the part of the builder are some of the other things that also needs to be looked into while verifying the antecedents of the builder.
Professional liability insurance – Most contractors have a professional liability insurance of around a million dollars while in reality a school project can cost ten times that. You can get the contractor to increase the coverage but that might in turn mean higher fees charged by them. Alternately, the school district can ask the contractor to have a specific project liability insurance that covers your school project from all defective work carried out by the engineers, architects, surveyors and anybody connected with the project.
Contract issues – Clarify contract issues with both the architect and the construction manager. Some of the aspects that should be taken into account are scope of basic services and fees, standard of work, review of work carried out by consultants and other trade contractors and independent testing agencies. Ensure that there are no conflicts among various project agreements. However, these factors are quite complicated and definitely beyond comprehension of the common man necessitating legal advice in this regard.
While school districts do have safeguards in place that make sure that contractual agreements are followed to the letter, there is no harm in exercising caution in this regard. Get in touch with a law firm of property and business lawyers in Melbourne or wherever your project might be to take care of the legal aspects, especially the contractual side of building the school.
You can also have surety bonds linked with the bid packages to ensure that the performance bonds remain valid and in effect till all the contracted work has been completed and in some cases even years after the project has been completed.
These are some of the legal aspects that should be taken care of when building a school. As said, it is preferable to leave these matters in the competent hands of business lawyers.