Figures sought from the Department of Work and Pensions have suggested a rapid increase in the number of over 50’s, stating that nearly half the adult population within the UK will fall into this category by 2020. Government initiatives involve an increase in lifetime homes to suit this growing demographic, enabling homes to be future proofed and designed with accessibility and independence in mind. Lifetime Homes support the vision for the people to stay in their existing homes rather than moving to residential homes later on in life.
The Challenge for Social Landlords moving into the post recession world of bathrooms is a mine field of balancing decreasing budgets with new concepts and innovative phrases like Inclusive design and future proofing. Who do I need to talk to? What products should I specify? Where do I start?
The solution does exist. It can save you money and most importantly it hits all those KPI’s that we are setting ourselves like aesthetically pleasing, practical, multi ability user friendly and future proofing.
The key is that we need to be talking with the right people, asking the right questions and listening to what the market has developed. The biggest mistake we can make moving forward is thinking we know best or not being willing to embrace change.
Talking to a market leading company in the field of social housing bathrooms, be they general use or adaptations bathrooms, Nicholls & Clarke, also known as N&C have been operating in this market for almost 140 years. Under the brand name, N&C Phlexicare, they are established manufacturers and distributors of over 6000 independent living products.
N&C were asked by a housing association in Leeds of around 4000 housing stock, to help them save money and re invent their bathrooms. They achieved this by firstly re-writing the bathroom specification in collaboration with the tenants committee and the HA, to a design specification that was very attractive yet did not cost a penny more than they were currently spending. N&C also then partnered with the HA and offered in depth product training seminars and technical training sessions to the new in house installation teams, allowing the HA to save circa £1000 per bathroom refit as opposed to outsourcing the labour aspect.
N&C were chosen as a manufacturer that were unique in the sense that they offer the true one stop shop concept direct to the social landlord, so the specification encompasses every aspect of the bathroom product portfolio from the primer on the walls, wall tiling, vinyl floors, sanitaryware, adhesive and grouting solutions, bathing and showering solutions, through to IPX4 ventilation and all the accessories including mirrors and shaving points etc.
To date, this HA has opted to revamp not only their planned maintenance specification, but also their regeneration, voids and reactive maintenance specifications. The amount of money they are saving from one single specification from one manufacture that takes one phone call/email or fax to place one order, and comes on one delivery, and is on one single invoice is allowing them to maximise on their budget.
Investing in home adaptations can result in significant cost savings. For example, N&C where asked come up with a solution of both future proofing the homes with a non-institutional look in a bathroom adaptation with InCommunities.
They achieved this by simply changing a few key items in the bathroom such as upgrading the wall tiles to achieve a modern new built house type look at no extra cost. Instead of using a set of half high doors they used Freespace and award winning showering enclosure system that is multi-user friendly for those that require assistance and other members of the family as a very practical showering solutions that achieves inclusive design. The grout was changed from normal cementuous grout to a resin based grout, this is slightly more costly, however it totally eradicated the need to rake out and regrout every time the property is void due to grout discolouring or staining etc, saving huge amounts of money long term. They used chrome grab rails instead of white plastic rails. Cost savings were made by getting everything from one manufacture and paying one invoice the administration fees saved alone will out way the additional cost, not to mention the long life and maintenance free, future proofed bathroom that they now have.
Simple things like working with the manufacture to ensure all BS standards are met with regards to the product installed sound basic, but you will be surprised how much cheap Chinese bathroom products are fitted into social housing that does not conform.
Ensuring that the manufacturer whose products you are specifying pay full UK corporation tax, instead whittling away their company profits in offshore tax free havens. These taxes would go a long way to funding the very same social housing providers who specify them, instead the rich get richer and the squeezed get squeezed even more. Work with organisations that understand and have the same passions as yours.