The Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) is an annual bidding round offered by the government for academies and sixth form colleges to apply for capital funding, with the objective of identifying buildings in need of repair and ensuring they’re safe. While the initial bidding stage doesn’t begin until the new school term in September, Sunny Lotay, national commercial manager at PermaRoof UK, discusses how it’s never too early to prepare for your submission and how suppliers can assist local authorities with the bidding process.
CIF funding improves the facilities of schools, academies and colleges – so applying for the capital grant is essential for the development, maintenance and safety of education establishments.
The CIF provides financial support for a wide range of schemes, having funded 1,400 projects across England in the 2019-2020 academic year, but does tend to prioritise certain applications – namely roof, window and central heating replacements.
Bidding for CIF funding opens at the beginning of the autumn term and is awarded in the spring – normally around April. But for any college or sixth form thinking they might be in need of flat roof repairs, the time is now to start preparing, and that’s where experienced commercial specification managers can provide vital support in securing the grant.
Carrying out surveys
The first step in any potential flat roofing project is to investigate the condition of the roof and conduct a survey to find improvements that are required to bring it back up to regulations – from checking thermal regulation and fall of water discharge, to structural soundness and whether there are enough outlets.
A survey of this kind is essentially looking to pre-empt any problems before they occur and provide a solution to the roof’s current state. This means that, depending on the results of the survey, there might not be any action required. As a result of this, when finding a specification manager to carry out the survey, it’s important that you opt for someone who is able to offer no obligation, completely free of charge surveys, core testing and condition reports, like PermaRoof, which can then be used to support a CIF submission – if one is required.
Arranging quotes and guaranteeing warranties
Once the next steps have been identified, getting a quote for the work that needs to be carried out can support your CIF application as it evidences exactly how the funding will be utilised.
As schools play a significant role in society, it makes sense that when refurbishing existing sites, materials that guarantee longevity are specified – creating a legacy for generations to come. Warranties are the most effective way to guarantee quality assurance – providing vital protection and security – and will be beneficial in your application in showing sound investment.
Choosing a full system from a reputable brand will usually mean the inclusion of a warranty – giving you further peace of mind. But do remember to check the guarantee you are being offered as some cheaper options may only offer a five-year warranty, whereas more reputable brands, such as Firestone, will deliver up to 20 years.
At PermaRoof, we have access to a national network of registered installers who will be able to provide a quote for the project, with full support and warranties assured. All our contractors have learned the correct method of installing our flagship system – Firestone RubberCover single ply EPDM – and come with a warranty as standard.
However, this doesn’t mean our commercial team steps back. We stay on-hand to provide project management and a full consultative approach, offering that much-needed peace of mind that the correct contractor and solutions are being sought and provided.
Collating the findings
Once the full roof survey has been completed, the report written and full quotes arranged, it’s time to collate the findings into a report to be submitted to the CIF. What’s worth bearing in mind is that every case is unique and has its own timeline – there is no one size fits all. Funding can either happen quickly or it can take up to two years.
Usually, funding will be gained retrospectively after completion, however, depending on the severity of the project, there are occasions where it can be awarded while the project is ongoing or even beforehand.
Bringing in the experts
The UK’s educational establishments are vitally important to our country’s future. The fact they remained open to support vulnerable students and the children of key workers throughout the course of the Covid-19 pandemic is a testament to the fact that schools simply can’t close – regardless of what is happening in the world, there will also be a need for certain school places.
Therefore, it’s in everyone’s best interests to ensure the buildings themselves are maintained to the highest possible standard – and CIF funding helps to contribute towards this.
Whether contractors and suppliers are brought in to assist with a reactive issue (for example a leaky roof) or a proactive approach (such as a full roof overlay), ensuring you’re getting a comprehensive service that offers a guiding hand from initial consultation through to tender and final sign off means academies and sixth form colleges can focus on educating the next generation – some of whom could decide to pursue a career in building products.
For more information on PermaRoof, please visit www.permaroof.co.uk or call 01773 608839.