The average annual running cost of schools is in the order of £6,000 per 100m2 of gross internal floor area, according to the latest life cycle cost study carried out by BCIS.

Architectural drawing of the BCI campus

The running costs of schools can vary significantly depending on a variety of factors including possible use for after-school activities, or as a community facility. The BCIS figures provide a benchmark figure based on a wide range of sources.

The running costs are the costs-in-use built up from five cost categories covering fabric and services maintenance, cleaning, energy and other utilities.

Primary schools - Elemental costs


The estimates are based on over 20 studies covering various aspects of the costs. Two of the main reference sources are:

  • BCIS Occupancy cost plans (OCP) – These 20 year plans are produced for two different building types each year and look at actual buildings chosen as typical of the building type. They offer useful guidance on the work that should be carried out on buildings of the same function.
  • Schools Financial Benchmarking (SFB) – This annual study, prepared jointly by the Audit Commission, The Department for Education and OFSTED,   collects actual data from a wide variety of schools and looks at many aspects of income and expenditure. The resulting report does not split the maintenance and renewal costs into Fabric, Services and Redecorations.

BCIS also has a reference rule of thumb (based on its Economic Significance of Maintenance study) that across the whole economy, maintenance costs are 2.5% of the reinstatement cost of a building.

As an example, in secondary schools this represents £3,560 per 100m2 for the maintenance and renewal costs, to which the cleaning and utilities costs must then be added, to give a total running costs figure.

The table below shows estimates of annual costs for three categories of school in £/100m2. It should be noted that some sources used do not provide costs for complete elements and BCIS takes this into account when updating the estimates annually.

 Estimated average running costs £/100m2 gross internal floor area - Schools

  BCIS estimates BCIS sources
Nursery Primary Secondary OCP Primary* SFB Primary SFB secondary
Fabric renewal/ maintenance 1150 1200 1100 917 - -
Services renewal/ maintenance 1650 1600 1500 1610 - -
Redecorations 300 350 300 566 - -
Total maintenance/ renewal costs 3100 3150 2900 3093 1712 2026
Cleaning 1450 1800 1900 6048 888 1321
Utilities 1200 1100 1200 564 1416 1768
Total running costs 5750 6050 6000 9705 4016 5115

 *Note that the costs in Occupancy cost plans are specific to individual buildings, and these may vary significantly from the mean costs due to a variety of reasons.

The life cycle cost module is published in BCIS Building Running Costs Online and covers 109 building types.

Within the service the estimated annual average costs can be used to generate an expenditure profile over periods up to 60 years and can be presented as current cash or net present value based on chosen discount rates.

Full definitions of the cost categories are given in the service.

To access the study users select ‘Life cycle costs’ from the main menu then select one or more building types; the costs can be rebased for time and location to provide the estimates of annual average expenditure. An expenditure profile can be generated by selecting the building type and clicking on the calculate tab. Users can then enter a floor area and choose a period of time for which the spend profile is to be calculated.

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