Service voids and enclosures – worth thinking about

When undertaking a major refurbishment you always find that you have a mass of tangled electrical wires, pipes and conduits around the house. They run through floors, down and across walls. This is because over time people have renewed wiring, installed new equipment like electric showers, central heating etc. This all leads to a catalogue of independent changes that has left the house / building with a confusing and often awkward service connections.

So when undertaking a major refit we would suggest that it is worth bringing all the services together in a coherent manner. This not only tidies up what is there, but also makes the whole building more future-proof as one can make access to all the pipes, wires etc better and more readable. By also making some dedicated service voids with access points one can make it all cheaper and easier to maintain and repair as necessary.

Service layouts should also be kept in accessible places so that you can refer back to the layouts at a future date, so we would recommend starting a Home Log so that you can start to read the house and what has been done to it over time. This makes people’s lives easier in the future as well as for you.

This idea is not only for major refurbishments, it is also worth thinking about for smaller jobs. For example, this week I spoke to a lady who had a problem with her shower. A leak from an unknown source is occurring, but she cannot gain access to the underbelly of her shower tray without taking it all apart. This is a major inconvenience and an expense that might not yield the solution. However if there had been a ‘trap door’ fitted to the ceiling below the shower unit, access would be simple and the problem resolved without the need for a plumber / builder. Simple solutions like this might not be as ‘clean’ on the eye, but practically what a saving it would have been since it was only a few years ago when a similar problem happened and the builder had to go through the ceiling for access, so rather than a conventional plasterboard finish being applied, a simple trap door would now be saving the customer a lot of time and hassle.

So I think that it is worth while having well labelled (and possibly photographed) service routes that can be accessed easily even if it does mean a little bit of extra record keeping and some non-continuous surfaces.