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Schools: Should You Refurb or Rebuild?

Schools: Should You Refurb or Rebuild?

In business, decisions around buildings are going to be critical. There are so many factors to consider: location, suitability, adaptability, health and safety compliance, initial and ongoing maintenance costs. For owners of commercial buildings there are business rates to take into account, and what the implications are for a revaluation following either a refurb or a rebuild.

In some instances, the decision between a refurb or a rebuild may, in effect, be a foregone conclusion due to availability of existing land, constraints around listed buildings and other aesthetic considerations.  Research points to the education sector, in particular, often favouring refurbishment over rebuild in an attempt to keep building costs down.

Brian Sayers, Head of Education at The Beattie Partnership, in Manchester, explains, “As an example, in order to get a new library, a school might take the decision to completely strip out an existing building and re-fit it, as opposed to commissioning a full rebuild which would allow for a more state-of-the-art facility”.

Refurb -v- Rebuild Costs

Brian explains further, “The Beattie Partnership have recently produced a guide to the 2017 rating revaluation for the education sector. Some of the findings point to a considerable gap between tender costs and final build costs.  Anyone making the choice between a refurb or a rebuild needs to look very carefully at what is being put on the table upfront”.

Refurb Rates Savings?

There are also questions around how much of a rates saving a refurbishment can actually deliver. Recent Valuation Office practice guidelines suggest that the practice, where a business could claim a rates ‘holiday’ during refurbishment works, can no longer be taken for granted.

Furthermore, the extent of a refurbishment, including the choice of materials used, compliance matters and the impact on neighbouring buildings can have a considerable impact on the rateable value of the finished building.

Brian concludes with his advice for schools in particular, but businesses in general, “The key thing, when you are considering going ahead with your building project, is to liaise with your rating adviser on the impact of the changes on your assessment. While there may be hidden costs you hadn’t considered, there may also be savings to be had”.


The Beattie Partnership are continuing their research in to the impact of build costs on business rates and you can call them on 0161 228 2224 for further information.