Keith Ridding, Regional Sales Director – Bathrooms at Geberit, offers advice on specifying bathrooms for new and existing homes and highlights the importance of developing strong relationships with suppliers.
Affordable housing providers can face a difficult task when it comes to procurement. In the purchasing process, it’s not uncommon for housing associations to become a balancing act, juggling tight budgets, deadlines and stringent regulations.
Regulatory and financial constraints, such as the introduction of the 1% decrease in social rent costs and welfare reforms, means that more than ever, affordable housing suppliers need to be tactful with their budgets. And finding opportunities to save time and reduce costs, from initial construction, right through to repair and maintenance should be front of mind for procurement teams.
A sustainable way for housing associations to generate long-term savings and increase quality is to develop relationships with tried and tested suppliers. By harnessing this relationship, procurement teams can better understand the products, and suppliers can better understand project requirements — not to mention the added benefits of keeping a consistent level of service without the fear of encountering a dip in maintenance standards.
Current housing standards require a new bathroom to be fitted if it is old or is in poor repair. Failing these, housing associations will fit a new bathroom suite or undertake a partial refurbishment. So, with housing associations becoming more proactive in developing current housing stock and building attractive new homes, what are the key considerations and best practice methods when specifying bathrooms in new or retrofit properties?
Using established bathroom manufacturers
When it comes to purchasing for your affordable housing project, look no further than a trusted and reliable manufacturer, with a dedicated bathroom team. Working with established market leaders who are focused on the market and have extensive experience in the industry, gives affordable housing projects the best chance of running smoothly.
Generally, reputable suppliers will have the knowledge to understand what solutions are suitable in any public housing context, ensuring all tenants are housed and happy.
These manufacturers know that product durability and stock continuity is key to fulfilling housing targets and obligations, this, combined with a responsive and proactive attitude to controlling all aspects of production planning and delivering unrivalled parts availability, can make for a seamless project.
Often, suppliers of this calibre will have dedicated teams providing first-rate planning, logistical support and contractor training, advising on everything from bathroom safety to product specifications. For example, Twyford provides a free, comprehensive CIPHE accredited training day for all installers including sub-contractors and apprentices. With a choice of visiting either the Warwick training academy or the training being delivered on site.
Quality and durability
It’s not only how the bathroom is used that needs to be considered, but what makes it a comfortable place in the future too. After all, we ask a lot of our bathrooms — water damage, heavy-duty cleaning products and steam to name a few, can present all sorts of structural and health issues for tenants, leading to unnecessary future maintenance costs or in worse cases, major refurbishment. Therefore, it’s important to use a reputable supplier that offers bathroom products with guaranteed quality and robustness.
When purchasing brassware, look for designs with solid brass composition casting, ceramic cartridges and chrome plating (to BS EN428) to ensure functionality, safety and durability. Importantly, find a supplier that offers extra security measures such as Twyford’s 25-year guarantee, which promises to deliver performance for years to come on ceramic products, steel and acrylic baths.
It’s no secret that having a stylish home can improve personal wellbeing, and with modern life becoming ever-more demanding, it has never been so important to create a bathroom space that promotes feelings of calm, wellness and contentment.
Affordability will always be a major factor in public sector housing, but today, quality of life is also key. As a result, the societal shift to improving wellbeing is attenuating the specification of bathrooms on purely functional means.
To meet the growing trend, housing associations should consider affordable and attractive bathroom products. There is an array of solutions out there, one example being the Twyford E100, Alcona and Option ceramic ranges.
Getting the installation right
Affordable housing providers may look after hundreds or thousands of properties, so having the ability to quickly install fixtures and fittings is another important consideration in order to reduce costs and reduce downtime. Any bathroom manufacturer worth their salt, will have invested heavily in extensive research about installation methods, especially those that operate in the affordable housing sector.
More often than not, credible suppliers will have systems in place that enables bathrooms to be fitted through factory-fitted professional fittings. Using these processes, housing associations can streamline the installation process, saving time and money in new-build and refurbishment projects.
More than ever, modern housing projects are incorporating eco-conscious designs and elements, and this is no different for the bathroom. Government initiatives such as the Clean Growth Strategy mean that homes and commercial buildings are coming under greater scrutiny than ever before when it comes to their green credentials.
A best practice method here, especially for new-build and private rental, is to look for companies that are leading the way in water saving innovations. For instance, Twyford has been committed to reducing toilet flush volumes with the new Flushwise dual flush push button toilet, which uses 60% less water than a standard toilet.
Housing associations face many challenges, the need for more housing stock, faster and economical construction and maintenance, as well as a duty to reduce their effect on the environment. To combat these challenges, housing associations should seek out the services of trusted and reputable bathroom manufacturers that stand for quality, industry expertise and high performance.