For landlords and specifiers in social housing, there is a constant quest for balancing budgets with longevity throughout their properties – particularly when it comes to kitchens. Bob Andrew of Elfin Kitchens explains how the latest pre-built compact kitchens offer long-lasting quality, without breaking the bank
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there are over 4.5 million households in the private rented sector in the UK. This includes properties owned and run by housing associations and local councils, where budgets are often tight, yet products and facilities are required to stand the test of time. Even though some properties are being rented on a temporary basis, sometimes for short tenures, the shadow of maintenance and repair always looms large – particularly over shared kitchens, which are in constant use and at frequent risk of suffering damage. This has led to durability becoming an essential factor when specifying a kitchen in rented accommodation, especially when there are numerous fire and electrical safety regulations to consider. The last thing landlords want to do is spend essential funds on replacement cupboards and appliances. Taking money off the bottom line causes a rental property to become more labour and cost intensive than it needs to be; with this in mind, it is wise to avoid traditional, timber-based kitchen cabinets, which are not always built to last. Similarly, towards the bottom end of the market, doors and drawers are regularly constructed from low grade materials (such as chipboard) leaving them open to water ingress and other damage.
So, having identified some potential pitfalls, what is best kitchen option available to landlords and social housing managers? When looking for something that’s both practical and durable, as well as stylishly designed and easy on the eye, pre-built compact kitchens tick all the right boxes. Not only will they last for the duration of a tenancy and beyond, powder coated steel units – such as the models offered by Elfin Kitchens – look great and remove the need for constant maintenance. With a pre-built compact kitchen, durability is guaranteed, with the unit constructed of powder coated steel, combined with a stainless steel sink and drainer. In addition, this design and robust construction removes the need for constant maintenance, while also reducing concerns over ‘makeshift kitchens’ appearing in tenants’ rooms. Utilising a pre-built kitchen offers further advantages, such as arriving fully assembled on a pallet. With all cupboards and appliances already measured up to fit neatly together, installation time is greatly reduced, as much of the work has already been done – and no manual labour is required. Top quality compact kitchens also arrive for installation complete with an appropriate waste kit which, in turn, helps to reduce plumbing costs. The best compact kitchens also benefit from versatility, especially in terms of design. Indeed, there are well constructed units that come in a broad choice of colours to suit a range of interior styles, which can even create a high-end ‘bespoke’ look.
Of course, a pre-built kitchen is only as good as the practicality it affords the tenants. It still needs to have all the necessary facilities to store, prepare and cook food, while fitting in a potentially restricted floorspace. As a result, it requires a well-conceived design – an aspect that separates quality manufacturers from the competition. The more experienced and established companies offer a wealth of options, not only in terms of unit size(s), but also the configuration of appliances. Whether it is extra cabinets for storage, larger worktops for food preparation or a choice of cooking appliances, these are all options available to landlords. For example, larger properties can utilise pre-built kitchens comprising a built-in combination microwave oven and grill, ceramic hob, dishwasher, sink and integrated fridge. Alternatively, in a smaller studio space, a pre-built kitchen could simply consist of a sink, hob and fridge. Most importantly, whatever the final kitchen looks like or contains, it has to be suitable for the application in hand, its intended users and the space available, while remaining proportionate to the expected rental yield from a property. By choosing a quality manufacturer offering high quality, compact kitchens, landlords and social housing managers can ensure they are getting strong, durable units that are not only built to last, but will also help reduce overhead costs over time. Plus, good-looking kitchens boasting the latest appliances will satisfy tenants’ needs for the duration of their rental period, ensuring a happy balance between property owners and occupants.
Bob Andrew is managing director of Elfin Kitchens