Educational Outbuildings: A Buyer's Guide

Knowing where to start when taking on the build of a new educational building can be an incredibly daunting task. We’ve created an easy to follow guide covering everything from planning and project management to finance and design to help make things as easy for you as possible.

You can use the easy to follow navigation to find the sections most relevant to you as well as being able to download the document in full.


Planning and building a new educational building can be a challenging task, requiring extensive planning and knowledge. This handy guide from The Stable Company will give you an overview of everything you need to know before you start.

Why do you need more classroom space?

The number of primary school pupils is growing fast. The Department for Education has predicted that there will be around 4.85 million children in England’s primary and nursery schools by 2020 and recent projections by the Greater London Authority have said that the school-age population in the capital alone will jump by nearly 100,000 between now and 2017. There is a desperate need to have more school places for these children. Creating a new building, however, takes time, money and meticulous planning - from working out timescales and budgets to securing planning permission and preparing the site for construction work.

Benefits of Timber School Outbuildings

Extra space to learn and/or play Covered play area option for outdoor play on rainy days Smaller class sizes for improved learning Space designed specially for a learning environment Environmentally friendly Long lasting Speed of build on site Making use of a disused space or land Significantly cheaper than extending the existing main building Comfortable and stylish Secure.

Planning your building

Planning a building for educational purposes can be a complex matter. You will need to consider some basic things first:


What do you want to use the building for? is it simply as a teaching space or do you require storage, toilets, kitchen, staff rooms, sports or even an ancillary room such as a library. Whatever the use, consideration needs to be given space and size and how the building will interact with the rest of the school.


The cost of a new building varies hugely dependent upon what you want to use the building for and if there are any special needs that you want to fulfil. A small, stand-alone teaching space for one-to-one work might cost in the region of £20,000 to £30,000, while you should expect a free-standing double classroom, with central lobby, toilets and cloakroom to cost between £140,000 to £160,000. Larger blocks and extensions to existing buildings will be considerably more, typically between £1200 and £1500 per square meter.


The first public building which most children use and come to know intimately is their primary school. A large part of the pupil’s early education derives from the influence of the building, the surrounding grounds, and the whole ethos of the school and its organisation.

The following considerations should be made. How will the building blend in with its surroundings? What type of materials do you want to use? Could you consider using a green room for instance to promote wildlife and turn the building into its own learning environment? If the interior space requires planning you should ensure that you have sufficient room to achieve your buildings objectives.

A popular choice is to buy a free-standing building that has been prefabricated off-site and then delivered to the school. The new building may be a short walk away from the existing school, however, this can be rectified by putting a covered walk-way or shelter.

Additional decisions concern materials, roof types (schools choose anything from cedar to green roofs covered with a carpet of plants), the number of children the building must accommodate, the space required, and the layout of the building. There are some useful guides for this of the Department for Education website. Business bulletin 98 and 98 give some very useful guidance on school design, classroom sizes, furniture arrangements and things to think about.

Project Management

Creating a new building is a major decision for any school and a major spend. Therefore is requires careful consideration and planning. Schools need to be happy with the company they appoint and confident that they will guide them through the project and do a good job. Ideally you need the company you choose to be able to manage the entire process for you from design idea through to handover of the building. However, you may choose to manage certain elements of the project yourself.


Many schools have limited space so the site for a new building may be predetermined. But if there are a number of possible sites, talk to your building company and consult planning experts to check that your idea is practical and feasible. Look for obstacles that could cause a problem such as trees, steep gradients and overhead power cables. Consider also where utilities to the building will come from. It is best to get expert advice as early as possible for this.

Planning Permissions and Building Regulations

This section will examine two specific permissions that you will need to consider when building a building for an educational establishment. There may be other permissions that you require, but these two are always required.

Planning Permission

Planning permission looks at the overall design of the building, its use and where on the land it will be positioned. For all buildings it is highly likely that you will require planning permission to achieve your goal of a new outdoor room.

Before you engage with a building company, it is worth you contacting your local Council to ask for some pre application advice. The Council should be able to guide you on what they are looking for and give an idea on whether your idea is likely to be favoured.

During an application, you will need to give consideration to neighbouring properties. A lot of schools are in built up areas, surrounded by private dwellings and other buildings that may be directly affected by your new building. Try and engage with the local community early on if you feel there may be a little resistance to your ideas, this way, when an application is presented to the Council, you are in a much stronger position to get your point of view across.

You also need to have justification for your new building, so make sure you have identified the need clearly. The new building will add additional resources and demands on your school such as parking, pupil numbers, staffing, space etc and all of this will need to be considered in your planning application.

You will need to give detailed drawings and locations of the building design that show clearly what you intend to build.

Finally, you will need to allow some time for your application to be processed. This is normally about 8 to 12 weeks. During this time you cannot start on the build, so if you are wanting a building urgently, you need to consider this lead time in your overall plan.

Building Regulations

Building Regulations looks at the performance of the buildings to do its job properly. It looks at the structure of the building, energy performance, accessibility, fire risk, lighting, heating, etc.

A building regulations application is submitted through building control. They will require detailed designs and specifications for the building so that they can be satisfied before the building is built that it is fit for purpose. This information will be required to be signed off before building works can begin. The building inspector may ask you to change some of the specification to suit the needs of the application or may require additional information to help them assess the application. You need to be prepared to answer their questions and work with your building company to provide the relevant information. No all building companies will do this free of charge and remember to allow time to gather all this information together.

During the construction phase of the build, a building inspector will visit several times to check that works being carried out are as per the agreed plans. Further changes may be required to design at this stage and the building inspector will inform of this. A final inspection will be required to sign the building off.

Financing your Educational Outbuilding

‘This government’s overriding priority for capital investment is to ensure every child has a place at school. Demographic pressures have put strain on schools in many parts of the country. That is why we have more than doubled funding for new places to £5 billion in this parliament. By May 2013, this investment had already helped to create an additional 260,000 school places with more still to come. Today I am announcing an additional £2.35 billion to support local authorities to plan and create new school places that will be needed by 2017.’

Funding for your educational outbuilding can be access through your Local Education Authority, or through an extended capital scheme from the central Government. Contact your LEA for more details, as each area will have different rules for this.

In addition to the sources of funding mentioned above there are a number of other funding options available for schools but finding out which ones your school is eligible for isn’t always that straight forward. We’ve gathered together a few resources below which we hope you will find helpful. This is by no means an extensive list but should provide you with a good place to start.

The Department of Education

The Department of Education provides information on school buildings design, funding for voluntary-aided schools and the launch of the comprehensive review of all capital investment in schools, early years, colleges and sixth-forms.


Pebble helps schools achieve their funding potential by using their knowledge and experience to help you identify funding opportunities and write winning applications to make a real difference to your school community.

Grants 4 Schools

Grants 4 Schools offers one of the most comprehensive and up to date funding information services available to UK primary and secondary schools.

Fundraising for Schools

Fundraising for Schools is an independent monthly magazine, containing up-to-date and accurate information about all the sources of extra funding from which your school could benefit.

The Big Lottery Fund

The Big Lottery Fund provides grants from £300 to over £500,000 to organisations ranging from small local groups to major national charities.

The Arts Council

The Arts Council fund arts activities that engage - people in England or that help artists and arts organisations carry out their work. Schools will only be eligible here if the project will provide a wider benefit to the community, to artists and to the arts.

Community Sustainable Energy Programme

The Community Sustainable Energy Programme is an open grants programme run by BRE as an award partner of the BIG Lottery Fund. Only schools with a commitment to microgeneration technologies and energy saving measures will be eligible.

The People’s Millions

The People’s Millions is a partnership between The Big Lottery Fund and ITV, where the public help decide which local community projects get up to £50,000 of Lottery funding.

Making a successful application: Be innovative

If you can demonstrate that your project will have wider appeal, benefiting the community as a whole and not just the school itself then you’re more likely to have a successful application. Think about how the building could be used by others on an evening or weekend, could you create a proposal based around sustainability, heritage or the arts?

Do your research

Ask the local community, find out their opinions and get them involved. You should talk to pupils and families, local youth groups, sports clubs and organisations, housing shelters and voluntary groups to see how the building could benefit them. By taking the time to talk to your local community you’ll be able to create a stronger proposal which benefits as many people as possible and therefore enhances your chances of being accepted for funding.

Give yourself the best possible chance

If you’re going to be successful you’ll need to ensure that you meet all of the criteria with your application. Competition for funding can be incredibly tough and if you’re struggling to meet certain criteria we’d suggest that you either change the emphasis of your proposal or look at alternative funding options.

Things to ask your Construction Company

1. Where are they located?

Can they come and discuss the plans with you on a regular basis as the work is carried out?

2. Can they help with the planning application?

Some companies will only construct the buildings for you, whereas some companies including The Stable Company will be with your from the initial planning stage right through until handover and beyond.

3. Is finance available?

The cost of constructing a new building can be restrictive. Ask the company if they have finance options so that you can spread the cost.

4. What warranty do they provide?

A new building should come with a guarantee that it will be usable for a long period of time. Ask about their aftercare and warranty period.

How can the Stable Company help you?

The Stable Company are able to manufacture any type of buildings suitable for educational use, from a 60 square metre building suitable for 30 children to self-contained pre-prep building. Most are rectangular, but they can also be L-shaped or T-shaped.

From the first initial consultation to the handover of the building, The Stable Company can be with you every step of the way, helping you with all aspects of your new educational building.

How can The Stable Company help you with planning for your new building?

The Stable Company offers a planning permission service which can help guide you through the planning application process. You can choose from two levels of service, with The Stable Company providing either just the drawings or carrying out the entire process on your behalf.

Level 1: Drawings only

What can you expect?

Production of elevation drawings and plan view to local council standards Six copies of the drawing printed onto A1 paper. Fee: 2.5% of project value plus VAT*

Level 2: Planning application

What can you expect?

Purchase of a set of digital Ordnance Survey maps for your property / land Completing and submitting all the planning application forms Production of elevation drawings and location plans, printed onto A1 paper Completion of design and access statement. Fee: 5% of project value plus VAT*

* Subject to planning permission approval and the purchase of the quoted building, the planning or drawing fee is deducted from your deposit payment, making our service free to customers who purchase a building from us. Our planning fee does not include the local authority planning fee and this must be paid separately with the application. A copy of our detailed terms and conditions are available on request. These are usually provided to customers at the time of quotation.

How can The Stable Company help you with building regulations for your new building?

Building regulation planning is separate from the initial planning process, which is permission to build on the land. Building regulations deal with the rules around aspects covered earlier in this guide.

For an educational building of any size, building regulations will be required. A building regulations application must contain detailed drawings, drainage plans, utilities plans specifications and any relevant calculations. You may also need to provide a detailed ground survey, tree survey or such like to answer specific site conditions. Some of these reports may take additional time and money and are specific to your project, so make some contingency for this happening. The Stable Company is a registered organisation to the Local Authority Building Control (LABC). This reduces lead time as the local authority already know the type of buildings that we produce. All building regulations submissions are placed through our registered scheme and they will work closely with your local council to ensure the project is completed to the specification.

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