Innovation in social housing started 100 years ago this week

I was told last week that the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) was about to mark 100 years of its existence at the end of this week.

I found this incredible, so like most people took to the internet and looked it up. Sure enough, the foundations for what was to become CIH started on 8th December 2016 with the establishment of a pioneering organisation called the Association of Women Housing Managers set up by Irene Barclay.

But her work was building on the truly innovative work of Octavia Hill, a middle-class woman living in London who saw the injustice of the squalor and the slums, and who with the help of backers started to buy up housing from private landlords and created the first social housing schemes where tenants paid an affordable rent and the homes were maintained by the landlord. By 1874 she had 15 schemes in existence with over 3,000 tenants.

It is incredible to think that our own business owes its very existence to someone who had a vision for housing nearly 150 years ago which remains as relevant today, and is perhaps becoming even more so.

As we enter our 30th year maintaining windows and doors in social housing we remain committed to finding innovative solutions which make the union between social landlord and resident better.

This year we have carried out two schemes in high rise occupied living accommodation which have saved clients significant amounts of money, made truly beneficial environmental impacts, and made the lives of residents tangibly more comfortable.

From the earliest days of installing windows the life-cycle of the product has gradually been extending. As windows have outlived initial guarantee periods in good condition, the expectancy of the product in terms of its useful life to the landlord has been pushed further out. BRE and other technical guides have gradually extended the life-cycle expectancy of windows in their documents to 25 years and beyond dependent on materials.

But in all of this there has been an understanding that certain working parts need to be changed more regularly – handles, hinges, gaskets, seals. Although this isn’t always adhered to, it is at least recognised and it is something which is very important and landlords need to take more heed of. But now we have pioneered two new services to extend the life of windows even further.

In high rise blocks where windows have been installed, and a subsequent EWI scheme has followed, we have now found a way to completely refurbish or totally regenerate windows without disturbing or needing to replace the existing framework. This means no disturbance to the structure of the building or the EWI, little disturbance to residents and the big ticks in the box, great cost savings, and significant extensions to the life expectancy of the originally installed product.

As social landlords wrestle with how to maintain their assets against a background of rent reductions and other pressures, these two new services will offer them great choices. Suddenly the costly prospect of having to replace windows for a second or even third time have gone, and the life-cycle of their assets within their business plans can be extended significantly.

We have said before, it is incumbent on all suppliers into the social housing sector to continue to innovate new products and services; to be innovative and committed to what is more than a commercial opportunity.

There is always business for all, but we will all do well to remember and share the vision of Octavia Hill who created the first social housing schemes over 150 years ago and to Irene Barclay who took her work forward and created what became the Chartered Institute of Housing.

Congratulations to the Chartered Institute of Housing for their outstanding work over the last 100 years, long may it continue.

Will Chan is Business Development Manager for Mila Window and Door Maintenance in the South East. Mila Window and Door Maintenance has been offering repairs and maintenance services for 30 years and has completed over 1.1 million jobs in that time. For more information @milamaintenance 0808 100 8881

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Written by : Tristan Cooke

About the author

Having been with the business since 1997, Tristan became Managing Director of Mila Maintenance and Installation in September 2015.

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