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 - Architecture and planning
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Plumbing

Plumbing requirements may vary in a let property as compared to a family home. Plumbing design standards in the U.K. are awful and so there is lots of potential for improvement (and tenant disappointment). Modern living styles demand modern plumbing solutions. Furthermore, careful changes to the plumbing can impact on far more than the heating and hot water. Boiler types are summarised below:

  • System boilers and hot water cylinder. If a new boiler and hot water tank is being installed a system boiler should ideally be chosen because of the many advantages versus very small cost disadvantage. Advantages are:

    Good hot and cold balanced water pressures. Younger tenants and overseas tenants will certainly require decent showering pressures and flow rates. Many of our tenants check this as the U.K. has such an appalling plumbing reputation!

    - No hot water 'drop offs'. So the shower stays hot (and still runs) when someone else runs a tap elsewhere!

    - Water tank can be mounted at any position in the property. In many properties the attic is a good option. Any cold water tank from the old plumbing can be removed. With two tanks removed it is often possible to release the space into a new design increasing the living space such as enlarging a smaller bedroom thereby generating more rent.

    - Hot water tank 'recovers' from cold to hot in less than 10 minutes. So, by the time the shower is over it is virtually recovered. Multiple showering and bathing possible which may be important when 3 tenants go to work at the same time!
     
  • Combination Boilers. No hot or cold water tanks. Water flow rates are not great and 'drop offs' in flow and pressure are a huge problem. They are cheap and may be suitable for a small apartment where cost is the primary issue.
     
  • Gravity fed hot water. Traditionally a cold water tank (typically in attic) feeds a hot water tank below. Water from both hot and cold water tank is fed by gravity. NEVER install these systems. They are the dinosaurs of heating systems although many plumbers love them as they understand them well and are forgiving to faulty installation. However, pressures are useless and all the tanks and pipes take up space. If using an existing gravity fed system adapt with pumps (see pumps below) but only as a medium term solution to a later upgrade to a more efficient and better system boiler.

Other plumbing considerations might be:

  • Radiators. A simple move of position or change to a different type can create more space or allow an area to be re designed. Use of 'designer radiators' can help achieve this as well compliment a room design.
  • Ceramics. A new contemporary loo and basin can really modernise a bathroom if accompanied with decent bathroom design. Bathrooms are often shabby (as they can be extensive to refurbish). Some simple cost effective changes can soon pay for themselves.
  • Thermostats. Individual thermostatic valves on each radiator cost a few pounds each but is essential in a rented property where individual room heating control is required. EPC certificate valuations are also improved.
  • Under Floor Heating. Wet systems (part of radiator system) or dry systems (electric) should be considered especially under tiled areas such as bathrooms. Dry systems are more reactive (nearer floor surface) and cheap to install. Wet systems are cheaper to run and work especially well in larger areas where a more constant heat source is required. Installation is more involved.
  • Pumps. Useful when needing improved shower pressures from an existing conventional hot water tank fed heating system when the expense of a system boiler and cylinder is being deferred.

To summarise, the plumbing design is important and must be integrated with the property plans. It impacts far more than can be first imagined. Water flow rates, hot water recovery rates and even the generation of more floor space all contribute to maximising rent

 

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