The importance of maintaining quality standards and completing work within acceptable time frames have long been key considerations when planning social housing maintenance, heating efficiency improvements and safety upgrades, such as fire sprinkler systems. With the new tenant satisfaction measures (TSM) due to come into force in April this year, these criteria are likely to become even more important.
Although concealing pipework for sprinklers, heating systems and utilities will form only part of the full scope of RMI activities provided by HA and LA’s, the potential for minimising the impact on tenants, while maintaining satisfaction levels, can be aided using Encasement pre-formed pipe boxing and casings.
For social housing providers, large quantities of exposed pipework can present several challenges as part of the property management process, especially when dealing with older housing stock requiring upgrades such as retrofit fire sprinklers or fuel-efficient low-carbon, heating system improvements.
There are often exposed interior pipes that need concealing to improve safety or aesthetics, while covering exterior pipework is also common practice, as it provides protection from accidental damage, as well as acting as a weather barrier and a deterrent to potential tampering or vandalism.
For fire sprinkler systems in new build properties, the pipework can readily be incorporated, as they can be hidden within risers and ceiling voids, but for retrofitted installations, this is rarely an option. In most cases, surface mounting of sprinkler pipework is the only practical cost-effective solution. A similar situation exists for heating system refurbishment programmes.
The upgrading boilers to more fuel-efficient models, with their associated new radiator pipework, or the installation of low-carbon heating solutions, such as ground source heat pumps and shared loop arrays, all involve the surface mounting of pipes. In many cases, other utilities, such as electrical cabling, will also need to be concealed.
A key advantage of surface-mounted pipework is the simplicity and comparative speed with which it can be installed by skilled contractors, which helps keep costs under control. Clearly, choosing a method of concealment that is also quick and easy to install, makes sound economic and practical sense.
From direct experience of working with contractors on countless UK social housing projects, information acquired by Encasement has shown that its pre-formed pipe and fire sprinkler boxing can be fitted in less than half the time of traditional site-made boxing methods.
A further advantage of pre-formed casings becomes apparent when assessing ‘whole life’ costs, which can escalate significantly when routine maintenance visits are considered. In most situations, site-made casings are damaged or destroyed during their removal, as screw heads are usually filled and painted over, making them impossible or extremely time-consuming to dismantle, re-assemble or re-construct.
With preformed pipe boxing solutions, it is usually a simple process of removing the securing screws and then the individual lengths of boxing can be removed and replaced quickly and easily.
For interior use, Encasement’s Riva; Versa 5 and Versa 8 pre-formed plywood pipe & fire sprinkler boxing, alongside its boiler pipe casings, have become the preferred solution for many HAs and LAs and are in widespread use in social housing projects across the UK.
Where exterior services, need to be concealed, such as distributed heating and ground source loop array pipework, or electrical cabling and air source heat pump installations, Arma metal casings provide a highly effective solution. Bespoke manufactured to individual project specifications from 2mm thick aluminium, as standard, they provide tough and durable protection.
All Encasement plywood boxing is manufactured from UKTR-compliant, sustainably sourced timber and is pre-finished with a white decorative resin-impregnated paper, as standard, which removes the need for painting, further helping save time and money on site.
Suite 7, Papyrus Business Parc
Cambridgeshire PE4 5BH
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