Adrian Pavey of Nationwide Windows and Doors argues that social housing professionals need to think about more than just the final product.
It’s easy for installation companies who work in the private sector to have a tunnel-vision approach of focusing solely on the final product and how it impacts the building or home it is being fitted into.
For those working with local authorities and housing associations, however, there are many more things to consider.
Everyone working in the social housing sector has a responsibility to improve not just the homes they work on, but also the community in which they work, and leave a positive impact on those in that community.
These things are not separate, though.
Refurbishment, upgrade and repair work in people’s homes carries additional complexities than when working on newbuild or empty properties. Safety and making tenants feel comfortable is so important in the work we do; they are trusting you to come into their home, so there needs to be that level of respect.
These differences between occupied and empty homes were addressed for the first time during the COVID briefings in 2020, where guidance for tradespeople working in homes was first introduced, showing that in order to make tenants happy it’s vital that they feel safe.
One of the main KPIs for local authorities is tenant satisfaction, and placing a greater emphasis on the service plays a huge role in this.
When tenants are having work carried out in the home, the local authority is being represented by the supplier, which means they need to know that they will provide an excellent service to leave tenants happy with the work being carried out. If they’re happy with how their windows and doors are fitted, for example, they will have a much more positive feeling towards their housing provider.
They don’t need to know the detailed regulations, but they will want the windows to help save money on their bills and keep them safer, as well as being fitted by installers who are polite and friendly.
In recent years, there has been lots of pressure on local authorities and housing associations to increase the performance of housing.
Environmental and safety regulations have meant social housing providers need to be more conscious of their impact on the planet and need to be building homes which are efficient and secure. Arguably, the best way to improve the efficiency of housing is through windows and doors, and there are many options available to help improve a home’s performance.
Fire safety performance is also vital, and this too can be improved through doors. After Grenfell, much more stringent safety standards were put in place, and we were at the forefront of this.
In either case, local authorities are often under pressure to conform with new regulations first, and as these are constantly changing, it’s important to work with a supplier who is investing in innovation for better products to improve homes.
It’s important to also give back to the communities in which we work. The best way to do this is to support local charities and community schemes who give directly back to the people of that community.
Companies can often just tick boxes when it comes to regulations and meeting certain standards, but committing to making a genuine difference to people’s lives is something which is very important, especially to those working in social housing, where community is everything.
Social housing poses many different challenges to local authorities, housing associations and suppliers. The number of different areas which they need to focus on is much greater and there is a responsibility for everyone to improve their communities as well as homes.
Community is at the centre of everything that local authorities do, so it can’t be neglected. In order to improve tenant satisfaction, it’s vital that everyone is dedicated to improving communities, housing and homes.
Adrian Pavey is commercial director at Nationwide Windows and Doors.