Frequently Asked Questions

Prototype Plans Miscellaneous Questions
Why doesn't the Department of Public Instruction provide architectural plans for schools as a way to save money? When and how should plans be reviewed by School Planning?
What is the Prototype School Design Clearinghouse? What  reviews are required for modular classrooms or trailers?
What is a Prototype School Design? What types of  projects don't need to be reviewed?
Can we buy the prototype plans cheap from DPI to build a new school? How can I be considered for the design of school projects?
What are the potential savings of using prototype plans? Our school's flat roof always seem to leak.
What are the other advantages of prototype school designs? Do shingle or metal roofs perform better than low-slope roofs?
Are there disadvantages? Where is School Planning and Where Can I Park?
Why are Prototype Plans better than Stock Plans? Why do we have Modular Classrooms?
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  Download  School Number Assignment Request Form?
Download List of Projects Reviewed by School Planning?
Do you have a question or comment?  

 

 

 

 

 


 

Why doesn't the Department of Public Instruction provide architectural plans for schools as a way to save money?

The idea of the state developing stock plans for schools is a very old one. Other states have tried the concept. In the fifties, the state of New York developed three stock plans--one for an elementary school, one for a junior high school and one for a high school. Only one school was ever built from the plans that cost $2,000,000 to develop. California studied the concept in detail and found that the state would have to maintain a large staff of architects, engineers and drafters to make the changes necessary to adapt stock plans for use in various locations across the state. No state that has tried or studied the use of stock plans has found it to be economical.


 

What is the Prototype School Design Clearinghouse?

The 1996 Legislature established a study committee to develop ways to improve the school design delivery system. It was observed that large school systems and architects working in more than one school system often repeated recent successful school designs to save both time and costs. As a result, a recommendation was made to establish a clearinghouse of recent school designs built in North Carolina. The Legislature directed the State Board of Education to establish a central clearinghouse for access by local boards of education that may want to use a prototype design in the construction of school facilities. This system is expected to result in cost and time savings in school design; provide broader access to architects that specialize in school design; and increase awareness of current trends in school design. The clearinghouse is in operation on the Internet and is continuously updated. The designs of twenty-five new schools are now available. Floor plans, site plans, photographs, and building information for each design are shown. In addition, planning guidelines, publications, and links to other planning information are on the web pages.


 

What is a Prototype School Design?

A prototype school design is planned from the beginning to be repeated at several sites. The design must be generic enough to accommodate typical educational programs for typical size schools and adapt to school sites that are available in the area without major modifications.


 

Can we buy the prototype plans cheap from DPI to build a new school?

No, the plans, the design, and all rights to re-use the design are the property of the original architects and engineers that developed the design. The Clearinghouse gives information to contact the designers and even provides a direct e-mail link to many of them. The owner then contracts directly with the designers to adapt the prototype design to their site and other requirements and to assist during the bidding and construction of the new school.


 

What are the potential savings of using prototype plans?

Design fees are not a large part of the total construction costs, but savings on fees are possible if modifications to the design are kept to a minimum. The big potential for savings is planning time, especially the pre-planning phase when the decisions of what to build are made. Design time is also shortened, less reviews, revisions, and delays. Getting out to bid sooner means less increase due to inflation. Contractors who are familiar with a prototype plan may give favorable bids to repeat projects.


 

What are the other advantages of prototype school designs?


 

Are there disadvantages?


 

Why are Prototype Plans better than Stock Plans?

Prototype plans provide much greater diversity than would be possible with stock plans and at minimal cost to the state. There's no use buying a cow just to get some milk.


 

When and how should plans be reviewed by School Planning?

Plans for all school projects (all new schools, additions and renovations-regardless of size) should be reviewed by School Planning at each design phase (Schematic Design, Design Development and 95% Construction Documents).  School Planning recommends that the Designer schedule a sit-down review with key architectural and school decision makers and School Planning staff.  In this way, key design issues and their considerations can be discussed openly and decisions made expediently.  Call Pam Ray at (919) 807-3554 to schedule a meeting with any staff member.  For a map showing our location and parking click here    


 

What reviews are required for modular classrooms or trailers?

Modular classrooms are a specialized type of construction and building codes and bidding laws for the purchase and installation of these are very similar to on-site, stick-built buildings.  Click Here to refer to a more detailed document on necessary procedures on Modular Classrooms


 

What types of  projects don't need to be reviewed?

Only those maintenance projects where in-kind replacements are planned.  This type of project includes such projects as replacement of boilers/chillers with new ones of the same types, painting, carpet/tile replacement, etc.  Generally, all school projects (all new schools, additions and renovations-regardless of size) should be reviewed by School Planning.  Small scale projects such as press boxes, dugouts, modular classrooms, etc. also require review by School Planning.


 

How can I be considered for the design of school projects?

Each school district (LEA) selects and contracts individually with designers as their need arises.  The state is not involved in the process nor do we know when local school systems plan to begin a new project.  Designers may wish to obtain a copy of the "Education Directory" (http://www.ncpublicschools.org/nceddirectory/) and contact the local superintendent or their assistant in charge of facilities (Asst. Supt. for Auxiliary Services, Maintenance Director or the like). 


 

Our school's flat roof always seem to leak. 

In the 50's and 60's many school buildings were constructed with dead level (flat) roofs using coal tar bitumen. This material is expensive and difficult to use today.   Experience has shown that with modern roofing materials, a minimal (1/4" per foot or more) is necessary to allow water to drain completely within 24 hours.  This is easily obtainable with tapered roof insulation plus you have the extra bonus of improved thermal insulation and substantially lower utility bills.  When properly designed and installed, with special attention to penetration and roof edge details, modern built-up or single-ply low slope roofs can give excellent service for 20 or more years. 


 

Do shingle or metal roofs perform better than low-slope roofs?

Roofing Shingles (or more expensive metal) on residences are a  reliable, low cost method of roof covering.   Schools, however, are much wider, longer and use different, more fireproof construction materials than typical wood frame dwellings.   These factors present many more challenges to the design of a good, long lasting roof.  Many schools have had major failures and persistent leakage with shingle and/or metal roofing.  On a typical house, the ridge may be 6 to 8 feet high. On a 60' to 80 foot wide school, the ridge becomes much, much higher.   A great deal more volume must be constructed and, in turn, walls between spaces must be extended much higher to seal off sound and smoke.  These factors add substantially to the overall cost of construction and usually result in a less than effective payback without any improvement in longevity or performance.  Further, because of the sheer size of the roof, and the use of steel (non-nailable construction), many special precautions and unusual details must be employed to provide water-tight conditions. 


 

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