The introduction of the specialist KBB design package, ArtiCAD-Pro, has contributed to a fall in the number of refusals from tenants for new kitchens from 30% to just 5%.
Rhys Lewis, Systems and Performance Manager at the Council: “In the past we used a drawing package to produce 2D plans and designs for proposed new kitchens, but many tenants found them difficult to interpret, and sometimes simply refused permission for us to carry out the work because we could not show them how good their finished kitchen would look. Not only was this a great shame for the tenants, but it meant that when such a property became available, we had to refurbish individual kitchens on an ad hoc basic, rather than as part of an overall plan. This was both time-consuming and more costly.”
The Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS) clearly defines the required standards for all council-owned properties. This includes the requirement that all kitchens must be less than fifteen years old. Caerphilly County Borough Council is required to meet this standard and has pledged to invest £200m to transform their tenants’ homes by 2019/2020.
Unlike a number of other councils whose housing stock has been transferred to private companies, the people of Caerphilly voted resoundingly in a ballot in February 2012 for Caerphilly CBC to retain ownership of its properties. Numbering 10,920, the properties vary enormously in age and condition. Between then and 2019, the Council has allocated a budget of £40.7m for new kitchens. Caerphilly County Borough Council believes that the programme of works provides a ‘once in a generation opportunity to transform people’s lives and life chances, providing a lasting legacy for the area.’
Working with ArtiCAD
Caerphilly County Borough Council chose ArtiCAD-Pro in preference to other CAD packages because it “was way ahead in functionality”. The decision was taken in December 2012 and training of the Council’s Housing Department’s surveyors took place in January 2013.
Using ArtiCAD-Pro loaded onto their laptops, the Council’s surveyors visit the properties. They enter the dimensions of the room into the software, including the placement of white goods. High quality 3D visualisations of the new kitchen, together with a floor plan, are produced and printed within the tenants’ homes. This is in stark contrast to the old 2D package where each line of each component in the kitchen had to be individually drawn. The amount of time spent on drawing designs and plans has thus been massively reduced with ArtiCAD-Pro. And any changes requested by tenants can be made instantaneously and then shown to them on the revised design.
Rhys Lewis: “Using the 2D package, we had to make at least two visits to each property whereas with ArtiCAD-Pro, we only have to visit once. We are saving a considerable amount of time – as well as ensuring that tenants can see exactly what they will be getting and are happy with it. The foremen and other trades will also able to use the drawings and price lists from ArtiCAD to order materials, rather than having to copy them out as was the case with the old system, which was time-consuming and could be prone to introducing errors.”
Tenants are able to choose from a selection of tiles, worktops, cupboards and handles which they can view in ArtiCAD-Pro, as well as seeing some actual samples. Although ordering from the suppliers is currently not automated, the Council is planning to move to a single source supplier at the end of the year with the aim of automating the entire design, ordering and installation process, using ArtiCAD.
Caerphilly County Borough Council has adopted ArtiCAD-Pro to enable the WHQS Project team to provide tenants with a more customer focused design service by providing them with high quality 3D visualisations of their new kitchens. This customer focused approach involving tenants in the design process is just one element in an overall strategy to transform homes, lives and communities.
As part of its major investment programme, in 2012 the Council set up a task group consisting of seven tenants and seven councillors to perform a scrutiny role together and oversee the implementation of the programme, as well as a tenant sheltered/older persons group and a tenant repairs and improvement group. Both the Council and tenants have signed up to the Tenant Empowerment Grant application that will “focus on delivery” of WHQS and the services provided by the Council to its tenants. Customer care and support, tenant engagement and participation, and consultation and communication will be a cornerstone of the entire programme of works, which are due to be completed in March 2020.
Rhys Lewis: “ArtiCAD-Pro is an important contribution in our radical new approach to working with tenants. Although no formal satisfaction survey has been undertaken – as it is too early in the programme – anecdotal feedback is very positive and tenants are very satisfied with the new 3D images. However, it is already giving us ideas that there are other areas of property management and refurbishment that we could visualise – again with the aim of making everything as clear as possible for our tenants. I don’t know how we managed with old 2D design software; the functionality that ArtiCAD-Pro provides has transformed the way we deliver our kitchen programme.”