A couple of weeks ago I started a new project for a client who wanted to update a flat she had owned for twenty years – and had done nothing to. The flat is a weekday base in London to save her husband commuting to the City from Lincolnshire (which is doable but costly and very tiring at two and a half hours each way.) Needless to say, bits were falling off in various rooms and as their son now has his first job in London, they are mindful that in a few short years he will take over the use of the flat.
So the brief on this project was rather like a jigsaw puzzle. The refurbishment needed to suit both the style of the flat (Victorian, complete with fireplaces and tessellated floors) and the tastes of two generations. Both the kitchen and the bathroom were going to be stripped out and started again – though the appliances were to remain and be updated as required. The client had stressed a good quality fit out, but no ‘bells and whistles’. I knew I needed to look for a solution that would offer value but without the price tags associated with designer brands. Where the boiler was concerned though, it was close to the end of its natural life and as the flat had always suffered from terrible water pressure in the shower, updating the boiler was a priority. Not only that, the boiler had a stored water tank and not enough height between the top of the shower head and the bottom of the water tank to create a ‘fall’, so the lack of pressure was being caused by the existing system.
When you’re about to start a complete overhaul of a property that hasn’t had anything done to it for a long time, one really important thing to remember is that modern appliances (shower heads, washing machines, dishwashers, even radiators) have minimum tolerances for optimum performance. If you have an ancient boiler and heating system and you try adding in modern fittings, it is entirely possible that you will overwhelm the boiler output and end up having to replace the boiler and pipework as a secondary measure – after you have already done the main building works. This really is the wrong order to undertake your refurbishment! If there is any doubt about the health of your boiler, replace it as a part of the building works before you need to do anything else to the pipework. Boiler regulations now require 22mm input pipes, most plumbed before 1995 only have 15mm pipework. You can see why this is important, the boiler won’t actually be receiving as much water as it should for modern fittings and usage.
As the flat is one bedroom and doesn’t have a high water usage, removing the tank and opting for a combo-boiler system that heats the hot water on demand was the choice we recommended. (Combi-boilers are also good options for larger properties but the boiler will need to have a higher output to accommodate more use.) And right about this time I was contacted by Honeywell to ask if I would review their new Evohome system. As it ties in so nicely with my current project, I was happy to investigate further, but I have to stress I haven’t tried the product.
What the Evohome system does, is allow you to zone and control the heating you use for each area of your home. This can be done by changing the radiator valves to Evohome ones which are wireless and communicate directly to the control pad and your boiler. This means you can have the heating come on at different times in different areas of your home by regulating the temperature in the individual zones. The valves work with any modern boiler system and the Evohome control panel can be accessed remotely by smart phone or tablet if you happen to want to change the programme while you are out. This is particularly handy if you work late or your plans change suddenly. I love the idea of being able to start the heating earlier in my front room/kitchen on a freezing winter afternoon. Simply picking up the phone and sending a message to my boiler sounds the best thing about the school run I’ve heard in a long time! And it is something that I will certainly investigate when I do my kitchen refurb, because the reading I’ve done suggests that being able to micro manage a heating system reduces fuel wastage by more than 20%. Think about all those evenings when you need the heating on before you go out, but won’t be home until after the programme ends for the day. That can now be controlled according to your needs – and your pocket will benefit. I really like that idea.
This is all good research when you are planning a new kitchen and bathroom and certainly needs to be considered because no-one likes to do the work twice, least of all the contractors themselves! So what I’m getting at is that efficiency is more than how a kitchen or bathroom performs, it is also how that space uses fuel and water and being aware of how your appliances function. Yes, I know it sounds dull, but this is all part of planning your interior space and as each home is required to have an Energy Performance Certificate done as part of the sale process, it is just as well for you to get the benefit while you are living there!
And in jigsaw fashion, once you know you have a heating and water system that will cope with your usage, planning the type of fit out for your kitchen and bathroom will fit naturally into place.
This is a sponsored post – many thanks to Honeywell Evohome