Extraordinary ensuites

Chris Tranter of Bristan explores how housebuilders can harness the possibilities in ensuites using showers to entice prospective buyers.

According to Direct Line, an ensuite can add as much as 5 per cent to the value of a house, with 70 per cent of estate agents reporting that an extra bathroom can help to sell a house – likely a serious consideration for forward thinking buyers.

Equally, with a whole generation of younger people choosing to rent rather than purchase, there is still a major opportunity for those buying to let. In fact, the number of people residing in private rental accommodation has more than doubled over the past decade to 4.7 million, the equivalent of 20 per cent of all households.

And, given that many are renting well into their thirties, private washroom space like an ensuite is a luxury which many believe is well worth paying for, making it a key feature for prospective landlords, and as such should be a serious consideration for housebuilders and developers.

When it comes to designing the perfect ensuite, the shower is often seen as the centrepiece of the space. With this in mind, it’s vital to select an option which not only offers ease of fit, but provides style and safety too.

Electric showers

Historically, electric showers were seen as unglamorous, necessity products. Often likened to ‘a kettle on the wall’, these nondescript white boxes were unlikely to wow potential buyers and often did not fit with the stylish overall aesthetic of modern developments.

Today however, there are design-led options which tick all of the boxes for developers and buyers alike. These contemporary models feature a host of buyer-friendly options, including warm-up modes and digital displays, as well as practical benefits such as thermostatic control for a safe showering experience, and ‘eco’ modes which help cut down on water usage, and therefore utility bills (another bonus for landlords offering rent inclusive of bills).

In terms of ease of fit, many electric models now include multiple water and cable entry points for flexibility of siting, and reduced labour time on site.

Concealed valve showers

Favoured in recent years for their minimalist look, UK homeowners love a concealed shower valve. The sleek, understated design of concealed options is a real crowd-pleaser, and the flexibility allowed by concealed shower valves allows for a range of fixture pairings, such as fixed heads, handsets and body jets.

This is reflected in market research from MTW, which shows the concealed valve sector outperforming the shower market as a whole, and double-digit growth predicted up to 2022. The reasons for this, aside from obvious aesthetic considerations, link to wider minimalist bathroom trends, for example frameless shower enclosures, wetrooms and low profile trays. Traditionally, however, concealed valves could be troublesome for developers, as all too often the size of the shower valve is not considered early enough in the process, and is discovered to be too large for the wall cavity.

Fortunately, there are now solutions available on the market which cater to even the slimmest cavity areas. When choosing a concealed valve, options are available which can be fitted into cavities as small as 35 mm, the tightest space likely to be found in a UK home. Valve adjustability is also an important feature, as this provides the necessary flexibility to ensure the perfect fit every time.

Bar showers

Another excellent ensuite option is the bar shower. Unobtrusive and timeless, a bar shower is a classic choice which is stylish enough to please home-hunters, and sturdy enough to reassure prospective landlords.

What’s more, from an installation perspective, recent advancements have made fitting bar units quicker and easier than ever. For example, wallmounts have recently entered the market which are able to isolate the water supply on the wall with just the turn of a screw, allowing for quick and easy fit, retrofit and maintenance.

This enables housebuilders to save time and labour costs while also negating the potential for any water damage during installation. As these wallmounts are able to isolate the water supply on the wall, the bar shower itself needn’t be fitted until a later stage of the build process, protecting it from potential damage or paint splatter while work is still ongoing in the bathroom.

For housebuilders looking to add something extra special to their developments, and who wish to present buyers – whether they be prospective landlords or home hunters – with a tempting investment proposition, a design-led ensuite can be the perfect solution. Finding the perfect shower not only adds the wow factor to an ensuite, but also saves on time and resources.

Chris Tranter is Bristan’s senior product manager