Washroom Washroom

Overcoming the challenges refurbishments raise: a Washroom Washroom article

  • 15 Oct 2019

Washrooms are a key part of any office or commercial building so its unsurprising that they are often used as a marker by which to judge the rest of the building.

In the London office market where competition is particularly fierce, refurbishments can help buildings to remain let and therefore profitable, which has led to the recent boom in the commercial refurbishment sector.

Trevor Bowers, director at leading washroom designer, manufacturer and installer, Washroom Washroom, explains how the team have dealt with the challenges refurbishment projects can pose to deliver smooth-running projects on time and on budget.

Working around the confines of an existing layout

When it comes to any refurbishment project, fitting new washrooms into existing floorplans and around existing utilities within a building demands clever design solutions to maximise the available space without compromising on design.

This is where BIM comes into its own as it provides an excellent way to trial different layout and configuration options, making sure that the requirements of the planners, end users and clients alike are met.

With the majority of Washroom’s product range available as component BIM objects through the National BIM Library, the whole team can see at the earliest possible stage, how different elements of a design will fit together in the finished building.

Washroom Washroom

BIM also helps the team to foresee any potential issues prior to getting to site, meaning product designs can be amended to suit the space and its limitations before manufacturing commences rather than on site.

This makes the process much smoother and reduces snagging on project completion.

Working around pre-determined layouts and not having the luxury of a blank canvas that comes with new build projects means that space can be limited on refurbishments.

Self-contained superloo cubicles are an excellent solution to this as they can be used to create unisex facilities which in turn take up less of the floorplate than a more traditional layout with separate male and female washroom areas.

Washroom Washroom

Creating the perfect match for any look or style

Projects where old buildings, whether a warehouse, grain store or mill, are repurposed completely to create new office facilities, are becoming increasingly common, but are not without their challenges.

When it comes to working on buildings with a strong history and potentially plenty of period features, the brief will often stipulate that any new additions should be sensitive to its heritage in order to blend in seamlessly with the period and style of the building as a whole, while also created a modern workspace fit for 21st century office staff.

It’s important to be able to deliver the look an architect may want while being mindful of the overall durability of any materials specified to ensure it will stand up to use in a high traffic area.

So instead of specifying a rusted metal finish for example, an alternative material designed to replicate this would be preferable.   

The refurbishment of International House, itself an old warehouse close to Tower Bridge in London, was designed to make the most of its style with exposed brickwork and services highlighting its past life as a warehouse.

The distinctive washrooms which Washroom delivered for the project feature dark green metro tiles in a herringbone pattern with contrasting grouting, plus unique feature mirrors, pendant lighting and bespoke vanity units – all designed to complement the industrial heritage of the building. 

Washroom Washroom

Live environment

One particular challenge of smaller-scale refurbishment projects, which can sometimes be over-looked, relates to the actual installation process itself.

As Washroom installs as well as designing and manufacturing washrooms, showers and changing areas, it’s something the team is able to anticipate and offer solutions to at an early stage.

Creating washroom off-site and delivering products and materials to site on a just in time basis speeds up the installation process on site – it’s just one way to make a complex refurbishment project quicker and more efficient.

Washroom has also completed plenty of refurbishments in buildings where office staff are still working so the team knows the importance of working considerately to keep noise a disruption to a minimum – which often more often than not involves working through the night and out of hours.

The company’s Washroom Refresh service, which updates existing washrooms rather than replacing them completely, means that a team can complete a washroom refurb in much less time – within just a weekend in many cases. 

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