What do I need to consider when installing a canopy?
Canopies can offer a significant contribution to schools making the most creative use of their space and resources. They also help provide access to the outdoors and allow children to enjoy outside activities while being protected from the worst of our unpredictable weather.
But, as with any relatively big project, there are a few things you need to take into account before you get going. Here, we look at some of the key pre-installation considerations.
What will you use your canopy for?
As with anything else, keep the purpose of your canopy firmly in mind from the outset. Will you use it for extra storage space, as a dining space or to create an additional play area? Or will you use it for any other activities or purpose, or as a walkway? Be sure that the design of your proposed canopy meets these requirements. The age of your pupils will clearly be a factor in this decision.
Will you need to secure planning permission for a canopy?
School canopies are treated as buildings for planning purposes, and so schools do need to assess whether planning permission will be needed. However, your proposed canopy could fall under General Permitted Development Orders (Parts 32 or 12). Part 32 grants an exemption from planning permission for schools if a structure is under 5m tall, situated over 5m from a boundary and occupies less than 25% of the cumulative total floor space of the current building, or 100 square metres (whichever is smaller). Part 12 allows local authorities to approve constructions less than four metres high, whose volume is not more than 200 cubic metres, and which are situated further than a metre from a boundary.
Clearly, this is always top priority. Ask your supplier about their structures’ safety standards and integrated safety features, such as concealed gutters and downpipes and whether the roof meets non-fragile regulations. Canopies also need to comply with wind and snow-loading standards.
If you’re having a term-time construction, ask whether staff are DBS-checked, whether and how the area will be sectioned off – essentially, you need to understand how your provider will ensure safety of staff, pupils and visitors at all times.
If pupils are running around near exposed posts from the structure, consider adding post protectors for heightened safety.
Minimising disruption during construction
Will deliveries take place outside of the school day, including children’s pick-up and drop-off times? Will staff agree not to access school buildings? How and when will vehicles access your site, and where will they park? Is access to the site restricted? (which may mean expensive lifting equipment or extra machinery is needed).
Finally, ask how your proposed provider will dispose of all building waste in a safe and environmentally friendly way.
Positioning of your canopy
Deciding on the best spot to locate your canopy is another key decision – and it might be more complex than you’d realised.
Ideally you should think about how easy it is to access the selected site; wind and weather exposure (you might need end panels for extra weather protection) are there any soffits, pipes, drains or other installations in the area which might have to be taken into account?
Our surveyor will be able to offer advice on all these factors during their site visit.
Groundworks & Drainage
A canopy is a permanent structure and as such will require concrete foundations. We usually include these as part of the price.
However, you also need to consider how the rainwater runoff from the canopy will drain. Is there a drain or drainage channel nearby to take the water?
These are just some of the things you’ll need to think through before confirming your school canopy order. There are also a number of factors involving the structure itself, from roof shape to colours and the materials used.
Talk to us at Kensington Systems about what you want to see in your school – then we’ll arrange a site visit and take things from there.