Lisa Tomlin, CEO of Carpet & Flooring – one of the UK’s largest independent flooring distributors – discusses how social housing providers can benefit from the flooring specified in their properties.
Carpet and Flooring
Social housing is a crucial service in our society, and with the recent budget confirming nearly £1.1bn of allocations from the Housing Infrastructure Fund, there will be nearly 70,000 new homes built in high-demand areas across the country. Moreover, a further £400m fund has been allocated to build on brownfield sites, meaning there will be even more properties to manage across the sector.
However, as the quality of social housing properties increases across the country, social housing providers now need to balance an increasing demand for not only safe and functional properties but combine that with interior design that lives up to the show home standard.
Essentially, as the social housing market grows, so do customers’ expectations of the properties they reside in. It is no longer enough to provide a house; it has to be in line with market demand for high-quality, trend-led housing. This creates a dichotomy for social housing providers between building design-led and long-lasting, durable properties. One way to do this is with the flooring and associated products that are specified within your properties.
Often an afterthought and a last-minute selection in properties, the floorcovering you choose for your properties can not only leave you with more satisfied customers but can also save you money and time in the long run. So, we’ve listed some considerations below that could potentially benefit your development.
1. Wipe-clean flooring
It’s inevitable; accidents will always happen, especially when homes are occupied by families with young children or the elderly. Spills of drinks, muddy shoes and scuffs are all commonplace and can result in floorcoverings in properties requiring deep cleaning, if not a full replacement. In rooms where spills are more likely, such as bathrooms, kitchens and dining rooms, an easy-to-clean floorcovering such as luxury vinyl tile (LVT) or cushion vinyl should be specified to ensure it stays in top condition for longer. Cushion vinyl, which is warm and soft underfoot, and LVT which often comes with a ‘wear layer’ making it particularly hardy, not only make maintenance easier in these rooms as they are water-resistant and easy to clean, but also have health and safety benefits as they are more slip-resistant than most other hard surface floorcoverings. This makes them an ideal option that fulfils multiple needs.
2. Carpet replacement
For rooms that require a carpet, such as bedrooms, consider specifying a carpet tile over broadloom. With no real visible difference once laid, if one carpet tile does become significantly damaged, it is easy to replace that one area, as opposed to the whole floorcovering which would be necessary if a broadloom carpet had been specified. Not only does this reduce the cost of the product dramatically, but a shorter labour time means reduced labour costs and much less impact on the daily life of the resident.
It may seem obvious, but it is advisable to consider the colour of your floorcoverings carefully. Whilst it isn’t as much of a problem with wipe-clean flooring, like LVT, it is much more difficult to clean carpets, so white and pale beiges are not recommended. Dark greys and browns disguise stains much more easily, making the property look in better condition for longer.
In areas of a property that experience high footfall and will be seen by everyone entering the property, like entrances to apartments and hallways, a highly durable product is ideal. In this instance, we’d recommend installing entrance matting in porches to reduce damage to flooring further in the property. In hallways, products like LVT can be swept clean, yet maintains an element of luxury. In areas such as bedrooms, where there will be significantly lower footfall, there is an opportunity to introduce a luxury carpet to provide a sense of style and comfort to the property, which will again appeal to many residents.
The considered use of zonal demarcation can also help differentiate areas of a property, especially if an open-plan design is used. Using floorcoverings to separate the kitchen from the dining area and the living spaces from the hallway; for example, can help customers class these as different spaces within the home and adapt their uses and interior design choices accordingly.
4. Underneath your flooring
One area in particular that can impact the occupants of social housing is noise pollution. Whether it’s a loud television from an older neighbour, annoying footsteps from hard floorcoverings or excessive shouting, as many as 25% of adults say they lose sleep due to noise from neighbours which will inevitably cause complaints to social housing providers. So, if noise complaints are a particular concern to you, the correct specification of underlay can help. As it can’t be seen, people often skimp on underlay specification; however, high-quality acoustic underlay creates a barrier to sound, ensuring any noise is minimised by up to 33 dB, which is a perceived volume reduction of 89.85%.
5. External floorcoverings
Unkempt gardens and excessive gardening costs can be a problem. Visible by not only residents but anyone that passes by a property, an ill-maintained garden can reflect badly on the property, neighbours and community in general, so care should be taken to avoid this at all costs. One cost-friendly way to do this is with the specification of artificial grass. Initially, artificial grass was considered a high-priced option for those that wanted a perfectly manicured lawn 24/7, but it has now become much more accessible.
Not only will installing artificial grass ensure your properties remain in peak condition, but by specifying it, you’ll reduce maintenance bills as there’s no need for mowing, weed pulling, fertiliser or pesticides. Plus, they’re often guaranteed for up to 10 years.
By being more considered in the specification of floorcoverings in your properties, you can ensure your customers are satisfied whilst saving time and money – allowing both to be re-invested into properties to ensure the highest quality of homes for residents. And to benefit from the considered specification of floorcoverings, they don’t always need to be specified at the design stage and can easily be retrofitted into existing properties. So, if the flooring in your properties wasn’t a key consideration until now, it’s not too late.