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Pulling the plug on traditional build methods

Andy Wilkinson, Director at Taplanes, on why offsite builds are taking the education sector by storm and particularly for bathroom projects

Posted by Ed Brown | June 04, 2018 | Sustainability

As with other areas of construction, the education construction sector is facing a number of challenges. While this has perhaps always been the case, the current hurdles facing the sector are proving particularly difficult to clear.

Projects, whether new build or refurbishment, are becoming increasingly complex. There is a need to comply with new and ever more stringent standards, for example in sustainability, as well as the need to meet increasing client and end user expectations.

As a result of these and other factors, costs, both in terms of the price of materials and labour, are inevitably rising. In particular, labour costs, and even the future availability of skilled labour in the construction industry, are being brought into focus as a result of the Brexit process.

So now, perhaps more than ever before, there is a pressing need to explore new and innovative solutions which can deliver projects on time, to standard and most importantly on cost.

This has led to the rise in popularity of alternative modern methods of construction. Within that, an increasingly pertinent option is to consider the use of offsite building methods.

Indeed, the UK Government now appears to be encouraging the use of offsite builds. As a result of proposals in the 2017 Budget, and commencing in 2019, it plans to favour modern methods of construction in many publicly funded projects (including education construction) wherever it offers the best value for money.

So, there is a possibility that those who do not consider and/or specify offsite builds moving forwards may struggle to secure such projects.

Although there are many kinds of offsite build, bathroom pods are one area of construction that are a natural fit. This is certainly the case for the education accommodation construction sector.

Bathrooms can be fully bespoke; designed and built to suit any project, whether new build or refurbishment. As most of the build is done away from site, bathroom pods are quick and easy to install, with a minimum of skilled trades required and therefore reduction of hours spent on site.

Bathroom pods are hygienic and easy to maintain, both from the point of view of the property owner or facilities manager and the end user alike. As a result of innovative plastic weld technology and the patented sectional joints, the pods are 100% watertight. With the polypropylene material used, problems like cracked tiles, mould, and failed mastic and silicone seals – which can lead to problematic and potentially expensive leaks – are eliminated.

An additional benefit, often not fully appreciated, is that the polypropylene is fully recyclable. This helps to reduce the carbon footprint of a project as well as providing a sustainable, quality assured building solution for the future.

Taplanes have successfully designed and manufactured bathroom pod solutions which have delivered all these benefits to a range of higher education & independent school establishments. At Jesus College in Cambridge, Taplanes provided shower cubicles for their new build college conference facility ensuite accommodation at West Court, where a glossy hotel finish that could handle high usage was required.

We supplied the college with our Prima shower cubicle, which provided a sleek and simple product that would fit in a stylish high spec en-suite accommodation facility and provide a robust, durable and secure barrier against water ingress.

In conclusion, although they are by no means the only solutions available, bathroom pods are one of the most effective, able to face ‘head on’ the current challenges in the education construction industry.

They are a proven technology rather than an experimental one. They deliver consistent quality at scale and are fully sustainable. They can be installed quickly and easily in order to deliver projects on time, to standard and on budget.

We are confident that, in times when there is a trend away from traditional construction methods, they will have an important part to play in meeting the many challenges in education construction.

And with the backing of the Government, it’s clear to see why they are taking the sector by storm.

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