THE BENEFITS OF
The shift towards offsite across the
Richard Tonkinson, executive director of bathroom pod manufacturer, Offsite Solutions, looks at how
factory-built bathrooms are driving efficiency and offers some practical advice for specifiers.
Take account of access for delivery of the pods
to site, particularly on constrained sites.
3. Look at economies of scale – standardised
designs with minimal variations allow cost
savings and time efficiencies by using the
repetition of the production process. A
good manufacturer will have an extensive
library of pod designs. Pods can be bespoke
but specifiers need to allow for modelling,
prototyping, production engineering, machine
programming, production line set up – and the
manufacture of GRP moulds.
4. How to integrate pods with building services
Connections to services are made externally
so access should be allowed as part of the
installation process. A good manufacturer will
design the pods to facilitate installation, using
for example mechanically-fitted pan connectors
and the option of pre-wired junction boxes to
reduce work on site.
5. Pod installation
• Make sure the building structure can support a
pod, although the weight of a steel or GRP pod
NOVEMBER 8 | BUILDING PRODUCTS
construction industry is being driven
by the shortage of skilled labour,
compounded by Brexit; issues with
consistent quality, and the construction industry’s
poor record of on time and on budget delivery.
The publication of reports such as the recent
House of Lords committee review into offsite
manufacture has further highlighted the need to
move more work offsite.
There is now unprecedented demand for
bathroom pods – for high-end apartment
schemes, mixed-use developments, social housing,
build-to-rent, student accommodation, healthcare,
care homes and hotels. More contractors and
developers are taking an offsite approach to
bathroom construction. Reducing the number of
activities and trades on site results in significant
programme savings, quality improvements and
waste reductions of up to 50%.
• Steel-framed pods – allow traditional ceramictiled
finishes and a high level of design
flexibility. Applications include large-scale
apartments, student residences and hotels.
• GRP pods – lower capital expenditure and easy
to maintain and clean. Widely used for student
accommodation, social housing and hospitals.
• Concrete pods – less common due to the
higher loadings. Used occasionally for secure
institutions such as prisons.
New innovations in pod technology:
• Hybrid concrete/steel pods – a concrete base
and steel-framed walls for high specification wet
rooms, with less weight than full concrete pods.
• Demountable GRP pods – a sectional structure
for projects with restricted access. Panels can be
sized for access via the main entrance or façade
openings for refurbishments.
• Hybrid GRP pods – an enhanced finish and
improved aesthetics for GRP pods, such as
ceramic tiling, back-painted glass panels and
recesses. Applications include build-to-rent and
premium student accommodation schemes.
• Floorless pods – for projects where a
continuous level floor finish is required
throughout a building or for schemes requiring
bathroom floors with no threshold and where a
slab recess is not feasible.
How are pods installed?
Factory-built bathrooms are delivered on a supply
only basis and the main contractor organises
installation via the M&E contractor. The exception
is demountable pods, where the manufacturer
would undertake installation and assembly.
Ten GRP pods can be delivered to site in two
hours – or six to eight steel-framed pods. It can
take around 80 hours for a bathroom to be built
on-site requiring around seven different trades
and 10-15 operations plus drying times. A pod
can be manufactured in 14 hours with just one
supplier, which means improved quality, reduced
defects and remedial works.
Key specification considerations
1. Early engagement – essential to achieve
optimal efficiency by designing pods into the
early stages of a construction project.
2. Consider access – accommodate pod
installation in the build-up of walls and floors. Continued on page >>>