We read about the sports hall at Dunraven school in Lambeth (26 March,) with surprise at how much someone is prepared to pay for a sports hall and amazement that you were heralding it as good value.
At £1.8m or so, it is an almost incredible three times the price of our most recently completed sports hall. The size, function and fit-out are the same. True, we won’t get headlines for using shipping containers, but we will get references for other schools who are accountable for the expenditure and want best value.
We have asked ourselves whether using shipping containers is really “sustainable”. Re-using rather than recycling is good, but in practice we think that this is probably an inefficient use of steel. It would be interesting to see the figures on cost and tonnage. Additionally, how much work
went into adapting the containers and how much more difficult and expensive was the fitting out? The appearance is certainly subject to taste.
How else is the “spare” £1.2m pounds used? We note that the ground was bad and had to be piled. The consultants have taken some £200,000 (which is £190,000 more than
our client has spent, as we included all technical design, and the planning process). We have been designing to “lean” principles for 20 years. To treble the cost is something we cannot understand.
We are now constructing a “seven-court” hall for less than £600,000 and negotiating others. It is interesting that we only get these jobs from private schools or from county schools that have their own spending authority. This seems to be because they seek best value whereas the authorities have consultant-led procedures where design and build is not favoured, and the budget is set accordingly high.
David Caulfield, business development manager, Directline Structures