ISD 728 Prairie View MS 7

How to Extend Construction Schedules Beyond the Summer Season

Use these strategies to avoid end-of-summer time crunches and unexpected costs

Schools commonly prefer to complete construction and renovation projects during the summer. Since students are out of school and the building is quiet, it is typically the first choice. However, attempting to pack every renovation and expansion project from start to finish into one summer can be costly and stressful, especially if not planned properly. The overheated construction market only increases the challenges.

While school officials may anticipate having three full months to carry projects over the finish line, it hardly ever works that way. Events like graduation, summer school, sports practices, teacher training and classroom move-ins nibble away at summer’s edges. In reality, the summer construction window is usually closer to 2 ½ months! Come the end of summer, regardless of project status, students must return on the first day of school. There isn’t room for extensions.

Summer projects can be more expensive because they may require overtime and weekend pay for workers to meet deadlines. Additionally, summer is a popular season for construction projects in every sector, so material costs and labor demands are typically higher.

Using more of the academic year requires strategically planning school renovation and expansion projects, but doing so can help save money and headaches. When possible, completing construction outside of the busy summer season could save as much as 10% as opposed to a “summer slam” project. Below are four ways to approach summer construction schedules to create less expensive and more seamless projects.

Compress classrooms to free up space

To make year-round construction possible, try shuffling and compressing classroom use to create space for projects. If possible, it’s best to have 6-8 rooms available to ensure there’s enough critical mass to begin the renovation or expansion projects. Clearing rooms allows schools to work on different chunks of the building while class is still in session. What should owners consider if a building has to be occupied during construction? Check out this recent blog to learn more about the importance of well-coordinated and communicated activities to maintain site safety and security.

Prepare staff for quick move-out
Communicate project plans with teachers and staff well in advance, and help them plan ahead for a quick and easy move-out. Create a trickle exit plan that clears the most pertinent areas first, and share a checklist for teachers to follow that begins weeks before the last day of school. Thorough communication can alleviate surprises and inconveniences for both contractors and occupants and help many owners reduce stress and ensure successful project outcomes.

Submit bids early

Given increasing materials costs and the challenges with the supply chain, the sooner contracts are awarded, the better. In the current market, bidding as early as September of the previous year is advisable. Even then you may need to pre-order some extraordinarily long lead time materials. Be aware of potential off-site storage costs when equipment arrives prior to summer installation timelines.

Proactively plan for summer activity

To prepare for summer-only projects, complete early preparations in the weeks leading up to break. Consider clearing out areas of the campus students don’t need to use during the final weeks of school. For example, the boiler can typically be turned off several weeks before summer, or, if weather permits, physical education classes can be moved outside and work can start in the gymnasium or be used for storage. If the project involves the cafeteria and kitchen, encourage students to bring bag lunches the last couple weeks of school and eat in their classrooms to begin work in those areas. Planning proactively best supports an on-time and on-budget project.

Paul Aplikowski, AIA, LEED AP, partner, can be reached at Dan Kritta, AIA, LEED AP, partner, can be reached at

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