Making off-site construction work for washrooms

When it comes to construction time is money and even the slightest delay on site can prove costly. In response to the pressure of increasingly tight deadlines, off-site construction has come into its own as the industry has sought more efficient methods.

This blog addresses how off-site construction, which would traditionally involve manufacturing a series of complete prefabricated modules or pods, transporting them to site and piecing them together like a giant puzzle, can be readily adapted to suit the installation of individual elements such as washrooms.

Individuality of design – factory manufactured to bespoke standard

Offsite construction has long been acknowledged as a preferred solution for projects where volumetric modules form a large part of the overall construction including large multi-storey hotel and student accommodation blocks.

But such projects aren’t the only ones which can benefit from off-site methods to keep things on track and ensure deadlines are met.

Off-site can also be used to great effect for individual areas such as washrooms as Washroom Washroom’s off-site service demonstrates.

Rather than constructing washroom spaces as modules ready to slot into place, a different approach is to build a complete run of washrooms full-scale, to the exact site measurements in an off-site factory. Once complete, the washrooms can then be disassembled and stored ready to transport to site exactly when required before being rebuilt in place as planned.

The benefit of this approach is that each washroom can still be individually manufactured so that bespoke elements can easily be incorporated into a design to suit a client’s needs – meaning there’s no need to compromise on quality or uniqueness.

While drawings, plans and CAD models are a useful basis to work from, not all clients can visualise the finished design or see how different materials will work together. Full scale mock-ups provide clients with a clear picture of the finished space at an earlier stage.

This is another advantage of off-site construction as clients can see the washrooms exactly as they will appear in the finished building, even down to the placement of windows, doors and light fittings, several weeks or even months ahead of installation. Any changes or design alterations can be made at this stage without risking delay to the project overall.

A flawless finish

In recent years, the demand for exceptionally high quality materials and finishes has rocketed, especially in the office sector and particularly in London and overseas – something which in addition to squeezed timeframes has cemented the importance of off-site.

When dealing with expensive, high quality materials which can be difficult to source and often have long lead times, there is no room for error as the finish has to be flawless to match the quality of the materials used. Not only that but any damage can result in further delays as more unusual materials can often be difficult to source.

Creating bespoke design elements, sourcing the exact finish required by architect to meet a client’s specifications or colour matching can take time. By working together on a precision full-scale mock-up away from site months ahead of the scheduled installation on site allows time to develop the design and adapt it where necessary without fear of holding up the rest of the project. Any amends or minor alterations can easily be made at this stage too – resolving any potential issues before it even gets to site.

By delivering materials and products to site just in time it also minimises the risk of damage to any finished elements of the washroom by storing them safely away from a busy construction site.

Speed is of the essence

Contractors are under increasing pressure to deliver projects to ever shorter deadlines, with virtually no margin factored in for any delay. As well as reduced timeframes, working to condensed schedules can also mean that various different trades are more likely to be required to work simultaneously around each other on site, further adding to the pressure.

Off-site manufactured washrooms, which are pre-plumbed and ready for installation, can take away some of this pressure. The reduced installation time and smoother delivery process leaves the way clear for other trades to work, reducing the risk of mistakes and any delay.

Off-site methods such as this allow installers the flexibility to work away from the confines of a busy construction site, preventing any avoidable mistakes and reducing the risk of costly delays – while also involving clients in the design development from an early stage.

By Trevor Bowers, director at Washroom Washroom