€40m repair bill for WBS builds lower than expected

€40m repair bill for WBS builds lower than expected
A plan is currently being finalised for Ardgillan Community College, part of which remains closed.

The repair costs of fixing a series of serious fire and structural problems at dozens of schools across the country has reached €40m to date.

A memo expected to be brought to cabinet today is to outline the costs so far of the Department of Education’s Schools Remediation Programme.

The Irish Examiner understands that this cost of €40m for the works at schools constructed by Western Building Systems (WBS) is less than previously expected.

The Department of Education remains engaged in a number of legal actions against the Co Tyrone-based company, mainly due to how the project has been managed and due to the approach taken by contractors, the Department of Education building team and engineers.

In some cases, the scope of remediation works necessary in some schools was less than previously expected, and works were also completed ahead of schedule.

Of the 40 schools built by WBS during the Celtic Tiger era’s rapid building programme, 14 schools are understood to have been completely fixed. Remediation work on a further eight schools is due to begin in the new year.

It had been expected that this remediation work on the 22 schools would have concluded over the summer.

Plans have also been put in place for a further 17 schools, where work is due to begin by next summer. However, the defects identified in these 17 schools are understood to not be as severe as in the first 22.

A plan is currently being finalised for Ardgillan Community College, part of which remains closed.

Education Minister Joe McHugh launched a detailed investigation into schools built by WBS in 2018. After initial investigations, a number of schools were re-opened, under the condition that various levels of repair work took place to ensure the buildings were safe.

WBS has insisted it is not at fault for any errors in the sites.

“Every school we have ever built was assessed and certified by the [Department of Education],” it said.

“Yet the Department alone is now deeming some of these schools defective. Evidence of defects has never been published.”

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