Happy at home
Apartment blocks today are going above and beyond to offer amenities to help improve resident wellbeing. Richard Benson, KFH’s Block Management Managing Director explains why this is so important.
1 November, 2023
It’s long been accepted that the condition of our housing can influence our physical health. A warm and dry house will discourage damp and, for example, reduce respiratory problems. What has become very evident over the last two years is how housing also has a huge influence on our mental health and wellbeing. For good and bad reasons, working from home has meant for many of us that our properties have been where we spend most of our time.
In a report for Shelter in 2017, even before the pandemic, 20 GPs who were interviewed on the subject reported that the condition of a property was one of the main housing problems referenced in the context of their patients’ presentations of mental health problems. It is a fact that repairs and refurbishments have been less possible during the pandemic, but buildings are much like people: they age and need to be looked after if they are to be at their best.
The lifespan of a building can be significantly extended by the right kind of refurbishment. But more importantly than that, refurbishment can significantly change our feeling about where we live. An overcrowded, poorly maintained or even unsafe environment increases stress and anxiety. But even if these are not the kind of issues that affect us, a good environment makes us feel better about ourselves.
Our homes, both in terms of their location and the physical building itself, influence almost every aspect of our lives – from how well we sleep, to how often we see friends, to how safe and secure we feel. Refurbishment, even if conducted as part of a more significant project, offers some clear benefits.
The process of improving our living space can range from cleaning, redecorating and re-equipping the buildings to more substantial upgrades such as retrofitting with the aim of making a building more energy efficient and ultimately more sustainable.
With so many blocks in the Capital having been built in the 1930s, 60s or 70s, energy centres or boiler rooms can become inefficient. Aging communal pipework can result in increasing heat loss and spiralling bills – something at the front of everyone’s minds at the moment. But even less ambitious refurbishments can range from upgrading the visual appearance of hallways and lifts (which may be a straightforward redecoration-only scheme) to something more significant that may include the replacement of floor coverings.
Refurbishment will often include the maintenance and repair of existing structures as well as the modernisations. At the heart of any successful refurbishment are communication, planning and reliable delivery. We know from experience that these elements are essential for everyone’s peace of mind and have systems and people readily available to manage refurbishments through to successful conclusions. Issues such as any necessary disruption from noise or dust or temporary changes to the building lighting or access need consideration.
Our London client base is one of the largest and longest established in the Capital, tracing its roots back to the company’s formation in 1977. We advise Resident Management Companies, Right to Manage Companies, as well as investor landlords and house builders, and understand the importance of a built environment for the people living in it. Our property managers make it their job to do everything they can to help residents across the Capital make the most of where they live. After all, if we want to improve the health and wellbeing of everyone in London, there can hardly be a more important place to start than where people spend most of their life.
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