Autumnal Tour for Lead Member of Housing

This morning I was delighted to be part of a short whistle stop tour of our Council properties under going some maintenance and improvement works, for Housing’s Lead Member Cllr. Oliver Donachie.

Brian, our very own Council Property Maintenance Projects Manager and Brim from MiSpace, who are our contractors to carry out the works on our notorious ‘Tin Town’, were our tour guides.

First stop on a pleasingly fresh autumnal morning was Wavell Road, Pinehurst, where a property was part way through the Encapsulated Wall Insulation (EWI) Process. This property is being prepared for tenants who may need to be temporarily housed whilst works are being carried out in their home and they're unable to stay (for people who work nights for example) and a new kitchen had just been installed. Prior to the new kitchen going in we learnt how the previous floors were wooden and needed to be replaced with a concrete flooring.

In the street, scaffolding is up on many properties to allow the wall encapsulation and loft insulation works to be done. Skips have helped tenants to clear out old/unwanted items as part of this new lease of life on their homes and the remainder of their items, which aren’t day to day necessities into storage.

We discussed how the Council’s Grounds Maintenance team are also following our route of properties having this extensive amount of work done, 220 properties in total and costing over £7 million, so that they can also spruce up the areas and assist tenants in the tidy up of gardens as we move on to the next batch of properties. We’re aiming to complete 90 of the 220 by Spring 2017. They really will look like new estates.

We moved on to Kelham Close in Parks where tenant Sara had just had her new kitchen installed. Sara is delighted with the work and although the kitchen is yet to be decorated, she is already able to use it.

“It is fantastic. I’ve loved having the work done, it’s been completely stress free and I’ve enjoyed the company from the contractors who have been brilliant. My daughter helped choose the kitchen units and colours and is also really impressed with the standard of work being done and of the kitchen units being installed”.

The new layout of the kitchen naturally created what’s known as ‘the cook’s triangle’, as pointed out by Oliver; an efficient way to lay out a kitchen. The new design makes way for Sara’s fridge to be in the same room, allowing her to go from fridge to cooker to sink in minimal steps – something which will greatly assist her when her health is low.

Next on our tour was a quick nip round the corner to see our Kitchen team in action and pass on the praise for their work from Sara. They were just at the initial stage of plumbing in the new pipework for the new kitchen layout, having ripped out the old to make way for the new.

Oliver asked the team how long it took to install a new kitchen. It’s a golden question and one that even Oliver is asked, and the answer on average is about 3 days; but that does depend on size, condition and on how much the electrics and plumbing needs to be moved around to accommodate the new lay out. Our team of kitchen fitters are a dab hand at all works, from plumbing to tiling and installing the units. With certified subcontractors for Electrics and Gas to assist in these areas due to the legalities, by managing all of this it allows a smooth transition from old to new with a continual service and continuity with whom the tenants are dealing with.

Our satisfaction rate for this service is 98%.

We then moved on to our final stop, to meet the roofers. This was again in Parks where a series of properties were having new roofs. On average only a day is needed for the old roof to come off and a new one to be laid. The chimneys are receiving new lead and new fascia boards are also finishing the job off nicely.

Out of all of our stops today, it was great to hear that the majority of our contractors and subcontractors were small local businesses. The weather was mentioned a few times, as to how it might slow work down over the coming months, but ‘buffers’ (additional days), have been allowed in the planning for that odd wintry day we might get in the months ahead… So come the end of spring, we’ll be on target with our plans.


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Call Us: 01793 445503   /   Email: getinvolved@swindon.gov.uk   /  Write: Swindon Borough Council, Civic Offices, Euclid Street, Swindon, SN1 2JH

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