Stanmar recently conducted a survey of independent schools to learn more about current trends in facility construction. The results illustrate a strong demand for new facilities as schools constantly work to differentiate themselves and provide the best possible experience for their students.
Of the 27 institutions who responded, the majority (89%) reported that they have had a building project on campus within the past three years, or are planning to build within the next three years. In fact, the majority of respondents (52%) replied that not only has their school built in the past three years, but that there are also plans to build in the next three.
Of the schools that responded positively to having a recent (or upcoming) project, 71% reported having projects that were greater than $5 million, while 29% responded that their project would cost less than $5 million. Over 40% of respondents indicated indoor athletic facilities were next on the docket – the highest single specific facility type identified. Institutions appear to be anticipating a higher fundraising capacity in the coming years as they consider new construction instead of solely adaptive reuse or renovation projects.
CLEAR CONSTRUCTION VALUES REQUIRE AN OPEN MIND
In our opinion, the most important and intriguing statistics were around values. When asked to list the two most important factors when considering a new facility, the majority of respondents said that programming/functionality (89%) and cost efficiency (63%) were the two most important factors. Interestingly, aesthetics of the building and staying on schedule (both polled at 11%) were much less important to schools.
Many schools (50%) indicated that their preferred building method is design-bid-build, in which the design process is finished, and then bid on by multiple construction firms. This is the most common, ‘traditional’ approach to new construction in independent schools – however as institutions look to balance aesthetics, program, and cost, it is driving consideration of design-build (20% of respondents) and other delivery methods (30%). Twenty years ago, we don’t believe such a wide range of institutions were open to other methods of design & construction.
Stanmar has used the design build approach to help us balance cost, program, and aesthetics without any compromises in quality for over 40 years. Our approach enables us to Guarantee a Fixed Price for the turnkey design, engineering and construction of our projects early in the process. Most importantly, it allows institutions to fundraise confidently knowing there are no surprises or painful value-engineering exercises in their future. As institutions educate themselves about their building options and look deeper into getting the best value on upcoming capital projects, we are not surprised that they are open to new approaches to their projects. We believe it critical for institutions to understand their options to know what’s right for them.