As the UK’s foremost repair specialist working with many of the country’s large housebuilders, Plastic Surgeon has had a ringside seat from which to watch the roll out of the Code for Sustainable Homes. And while the points based system, ultimately aimed at making UK dwellings carbon neutral, has only recently affected spec’ developments, the social housing sector was tasked with leading the changeover.
At the starting point – perversely termed Level 3 – designers could score sufficient points in ways many residents would not notice: such as widening the wall zone to increase insulation. But now Level 4 is mandatory for social housing, and many housing associations are voluntarily building to Levels 5 or 6, so the changes are far more visible, with solar panels, wind turbines, bat boxes and many other ‘bolt-ons’ in evidence across new estates.
Energy saving and the environment is at the heart of the Code, and because Plastic Surgeon gets ‘up close and personal’ with so many building components, we have also noticed a lot of the subtle changes.
As airtightness and heat loss are so crucial, the openings in the building envelope have become a focal point, so the damaged doors we repair are often double rebated and thicker, while the window frames that the bricklayer has scraped or covered in mortar stains are increasingly now fitted with triple-glazed units.
Inside the house, water saving is an important points scorer, so not only are taps restricted, but the chipped toilet cistern we have to fill and colour match will feature very low, dual flush volumes. And when we are called in because the plumber or tiler has cracked the gel coat on the bath with something heavy, it will have been made narrower to further reduce water consumption.
One aspect of the Code for Sustainable Homes, though, concentrates mainly on the build process, rather than the on-going performance of the property; and that is avoiding waste.
Designers can gain extra points by having a formal waste management policy, as well as by using materials that contain a high recycled content: which is of course very much in harmony with what we at Plastic Surgeon have been promoting for years.
Not only are our customers saving themselves significant cost through avoiding the replacement of damaged items, but they are also able to use the information we provide through our VisibilITy software, to show exactly what tonnages have been prevented from going to landfill.
It is no surprise then that a growing number of housebuilders view us as an essential part of their sub-contractor network: helping them improve their sustainability profile, and to achieve the very high standards RSLs demand for their residents.
Further to this, the affordable housing providers themselves are also growing in number amongst our client list, as they seek to carry out their planned and responsive maintenance – as well as void property management – under strict budgetary controls.
There are no points awarded under the Code for Sustainable Homes for simply using our services, but at Plastic Surgeon we strongly believe we are part of the bigger picture.