The value of prefabricated plumbing

By: Kelly-Ann Prinsloo.

Prefabricated plumbing modules and technology have been around for ages, but does this technology work in the South African context?

 

Prefabrication is all the rage right now. The quicker and easier something is to install or assemble, the better. From the trendy, modular furniture that you build like a puzzle, to prefabricated bathrooms that allow you to change the colour of your tiles the way other people change their towels, prefabrication is a marvel of modern convenience.

One South African plumbing company is getting in on the prefabrication game and in the process, changing the way we think about plumbing installations.

A change is as good as a holiday

Valsir-Uneeq, a giant in the world of HDPE piping and underfloor heating, has long been in the business of innovation. With the Valsir MFV system, the generally painful ordeal of renovating a bathroom is made easy. The system offers the installer more time due to faster installation, helps an installer to cut costs, provides better quality control, and leaves the installer with less wasted materials than a traditional plumbing installation.

The MFV system consists of the installation of load-bearing equipped walls, partitions and spaces, which allows for the renovation of existing bathrooms or the creation of completely new bathrooms. When the homeowner gets bored with their bathroom, a new one can be quickly and easily installed, without the time-consuming mess that comes with traditional renovations.

Challenges to overcome

Prefabrication, like all modern technologies, is not without its challenges; the biggest of which is getting a foothold in the South African market. This is indeed a challenge Valsir faces, according to Leonardo Steffano,Valsir’s commercial director. “Getting plumbing contractors to understand the thinking behind prefabrication is the biggest challenge,” he says. “When they understand the benefits and the advantages, for sure they will use it. In terms of installation requirements, it requires a mindset change from brick walls to pre-fabricated modules and dry wall systems.”

In the South African context

Prefabrication is very popular in Europe: where space is limited and clean, uniform design is preferred. But how does something so European work in the South African context?

In Valsir’s case, adjustments have been made to suit the South African climate. Steffano says, “The MFV is a very flexible system in terms of design and installation and can suit all building requirements in South Africa.” He adds that although Valsir is still in the early stages of getting the MFV system out into the market, it has been installed in high-rise buildings where the repetition of plumbing fixtures is preferable and, therefore, the perfect fit for prefabricated bathrooms panels. “Valsir will launch the MFV system at Plumbdrain/SANI’TER Africa 2016, when it will be made available to the entire South African plumbing industry — not only for projects but also for domestic plumbing.”

“When they understand the benefits and the advantages, for sure they will use it.”

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