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  • Cicero Construction

Steps to Follow for a Successful School Renovation



Renovating a school offers an opportunity for a community to invest in its own future and provide a safe, welcoming environment for all students. More importantly, renovation offers new possibilities to make the school an academic environment in which children can thrive.


A community has one of two choices when it comes to an outdated school: renovating or tearing it down. Of course, new construction is considerably more expensive than renovation, and typically requires a longer timeline measured in years, rather than months. Renovations, correctly planned by an experienced contractor, can have excellent results much faster at a vastly lower price.


If the community decides on a renovation, the final cost will be largely dependent on the condition and age of the existing building. A much older school may need new HVAC, electrical and plumbing. One that has been in service for only a decade or two, in contrast, will require less extensive upgrades such as high-speed Ethernet cabling to replace an ageing coaxial network.


Renovation costs will also be determined by the goals set forth by the district, such as:

  • Improve student safety and building security

  • Expand classrooms and administrative offices

  • Redesign floor layouts including construction of new additions

  • Update mechanical and technological infrastructures

  • Reduce building energy consumption and improve sustainability

  • Bring the school up to current building codes (i.e., fire, ADA).

A school renovation project should not only enhance the facility but also student academic performance and job opportunities. For instance, upgrading the school’s technology will better prepare students for a life beyond the classroom, especially where the school space reflects the modern workplace. Multiple studies have shown that good school design is a key factor in academic excellence and in improving the well-being of pupils, as well as in helping to attract and retain the best staff and teachers.

Renovations of this magnitude can be overwhelming, often filled with hurdles the school district and your in-house project team will need to address. That is why it’s important to create a plan or “roadmap” for each step of the process. Here is a rough overview of the process for your school renovation journey.

  1. Building Data Collection: Gather all files on the original school design, its electrical, HVAC and plumbing systems, and any other structural details. It’s essential to share this information with the renovation team.

  2. Collect Stakeholder Input: Conduct a survey to gauge opinions about the current state of the school and what changes students, staff, and neighbors would like to see made. Meet with school board members to collect ideas on what kind of environment they believe students need to succeed.

  3. Initial Design and Layout: Share your goals, structural information, and input so that an initial layout can be created by the architect and engineer.

  4. Prepare the Budget: Establish a detailed budget for a school board presentation.

  5. Final Review: Review and approve all final contractor quotes, construction details and schedule, and generate a purchase order.

  6. Renovation Begins: Plan the work and work the plan. School renovations often have a narrow window to be completed, usually over summer vacation or extended holiday breaks. Here is where the renovation contractor’s skills are crucial in areas such as permitting, material deliveries and storage, scheduling subcontractor work, and conducting inspections.

  7. Project Delivery: Although the project is done, a qualified general contractor will continue to act as a liaison between the school and the project’s sub-contractors and material suppliers should an issue arise.

Whether you’re renovating a single classroom or constructing a major addition to the school from the foundation up, Cicero Construction Group can ensure a safe, quality-driven, cost-effective project. Contact one of our team members today to discuss your school renovation needs.

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