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Thu March 04 2021

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Interserve and architect face £7m claim for leaky school

3 Sep 14 The contractor and architect of an award-winning new school building that leaks are facing a £7m claim.

Dartington Primary School... eco-friendly but not watertight
Dartington Primary School... eco-friendly but not watertight

The BBC is reporting that Devon County Council is seeking to recover the huge repair costs from architect White Design and main contractor Interserve.

The school, Dartington Primary School in Totnes, was designed to be zero-carbon. It opened in 2010 and the Devon and Cornwall branch of the Forum for the Built Environment named it its Building of the Year. Devon Building Control Partnership also awarded the school its Best Sustainable Development accolade and the Civic Trust commended it.

The new school cost £6.1m to build. But within three years it was leaking so badly that pupils had to be moved to temporary accommodation. Repair works are expected to take up to two years to complete.

A council report last year stated: “Shortly after completion, evidence of water ingress became apparent and works have been on-going in an attempt to resolve the problem. Following a prolonged period of repair work, which had limited success, Devon County Council commissioned a technical specialist to undertake an intrusive investigation and report on the continuing water ingress problems.”

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The classroom units have a prefabricated timber panel structure with almost no steel or concrete used within the building envelope. Pavaclad woodfibre insulation system is used to insulate the external walls. This comprises NBT’s Pavatherm Plus woodfibre insulation installed in a continuous layer over the timber panels, which are then finished externally with coppiced sweet chestnut cladding. The primary weather proofing material of the pitched roof areas is provided by sweet chestnut boards, and on the flat roofs via a single roof membrane.

Structural engineer on the original construction was Rambol, project manager was NPS and quantity surveyor was Ridge.

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