Serengeti’s great plumbing migration

The plumbing for all 188 apartments at the Whistling Thorns and The Lakes Phase 2, at Serengeti Lifestyle Estate to the east of Johannesburg, which are already sold out, was awarded to Industrial Plumbers, which had previously completed Phase 1. A luxurious development, aesthetics trumped all else.

By Eamonn Ryan | All images by Eamonn Ryan

Beneath the sink and out of sight.In Phase 1, each of the six-unit complexes was fitted with a 1 000ℓ hot water tank with back-up elements and a 19Kw Kwikot heat pump on the roof. For Phase 2, the design engineers have changed the hot water system due to its unsightliness and the expense of having to hide the roof-based heat pump under a cover. A new supplier, EMS, is consequently doing the hot water system on Phase 2 and designed a system whereby two heat pumps are on the ground floor and nothing on top, using EMS’s own branded pumps. Industrial Plumbers provides the mains connections and EMS simply connects its pumps.

Each block of six units has a single 1 000ℓ tank with the heat pump. Industrial Plumber’s Pieter du Toit says the development’s management is gauging the system to see if it provides sufficient hot water supply. Other blocks have eight units for the same system. The reason for this, explains Du Toit, is that the aesthetics of the development trumped other decisions: everything had to be hidden from view. “Consequently, hot water supply may be tight in winter when people traditionally use more hot water. For instance, some of the more upmarket units have free-standing baths which take a lot of water. There are back-up water elements in the tanks to supplement the heat pumps and provide more hot water as needed. But it’s not as energy-efficient as heat pumps.

“All the plumbing, except the heat pumps on the roof and the tanks behind the stairwell, is hidden. The ducting was mostly hidden within the columns which join up the two floors and links to the bathrooms.”

The more popular units face the golf course fairway and were sold first. Some had dramatic views of the fairway, with glass walls enabling one to have a bath while enjoying an unrestricted view of the green.

Aesthetics trumps everything else at Serengeti, with all plumbing invisible behind closed doors.Phase 2 is at an advanced stage of construction with Industrial Plumbers due to finish on site before the end of the month (September). “We try to work in coordination with the roof contractors, but as soon as they start with the building structure, we have to move to another for safety reasons. They have a block of, say, five days to complete a structure, whereafter we can move in.”

The wet services design was done by Mike Gough of MG Consulting, who provided the sanitary schedules and design drawings for Industrial Plumbers to follow. Being geologically a dolomitic region, a concrete raft of criss-crossing reinforced trenches provides the foundation to give stability and the plumbing has to be positioned beneath this raft rather than within it for the reason that it shifts, and anything within it would compromise the foundation.

The main water and sewer lines were installed from the water meters by the groundwork engineers, BSM Baker, to each block, from where Industrial Plumbers takes over. From there the pipes are routed via ducts, while the pressure regulator valve (PVR) and fire water discharges are positioned just before the latter goes into the hose reels while the water supply is reticulated throughout the building to each unit.

“We install all the baths, sinks and toilets up to and including the point of the shower rose, in addition to the connections to the water supply. We chose our own suppliers, except for the hot water system, which is EMS. We do everything from the water meter to the tap spout,” says Du Toit. The cross-over point from plumbing construction to plumbing maintenance is a sensitive issue, he says. A clean plumbing system is handed over, but other construction trades often don’t pay sufficient attention to the plumbing, meaning that rubble and soil can end up in the main line and bite you a few months down the line.

“The same happens when other contractors later, for instance, put nails through our pipes and it is not immediately evident. Later, when the water is switched on and trickles down the wall it appears to be a construction plumbing defect. At that stage, we need to knock holes in finished walls and ceiling, resulting in a lot of patching. This in turn can result in entire walls having to be repainted to cover the patches.

“All the piping we use here is Geberit Mepla, a multilayer crimped pipe, which in my opinion cannot be beaten by any other pipe. The well-known problem with copper is that it gets stolen and you are not reimbursed for it – it can be repeatedly stolen.

“Everything above ground is PVC and everything below ground HDPE,” says Du Toit.

Challenges of the job

Industrial Plumbers asked for the installation sequencing to be changed, in order to minimise damage to the baths while tiling was being done.contractors in the rush to complete on time.“Luckily,” says Du Toit, “any lesson to be learned we had already learned as we paid our school fees during Phase 1. Phase 2 is exactly the same layout with only some of the finishes such as tiles being different. The lessons from Phase 1 related to the sequence of work, which was specified in the schedule of works but required some considerable modification during the actual work. For instance, according to the programme, the shower bath is installed and then the tiler has to tile the shower bath from the top to bottom. We found it is preferable for the tiling to be done first, stopping just above the area of the bath, we install the bath and the tiling is only then completed. Otherwise, the tiler stands on the bath to tile, damaging it and sometimes requiring a new bath.”

These sequence-of-work issues were resolved with the main contractor, though it would nonetheless put the sub-contractors under time pressure. “The same applies to all the shiny taps and fittings. Towards the end of the project everyone is under time pressure and the taps end up getting scratched, for which the plumber is liable. Our response to that is to protect these items by wrapping them in bubble wrap,” he explains.

Changing the sequence of work is commonplace in every job, he says, yet these changes are seldom incorporated into future sequences – the same old sequence that was found not to work is automatically used again in the next project.

“The most unique feature of the Serengeti plumbing system is that it is almost entirely invisible – pipes are not to be seen anywhere, only the tap, bath, basin and shower finishes are visible. It is also silent.”

One of the challenges of the project was that by now most of the units in Phase 1 were occupied, and the considerable amount of construction still taking place had to be done during highly curtailed work hours of 08:00 to 17:00. “People opt to reside here because of its out-of-the-city quiet, charm and privacy, and that characteristic had to be maintained throughout construction.”

This means there is a veritable traffic jam at 08:00 at the contractors’ entrance as everyone arrives for work. Many of them live conveniently in Tembisa, a 20-minute drive away even in peak hour traffic.

suppliersWater and energy efficiency

The project has energy- and water-efficient systems specified wherever possible. Du Toit says that Hansgrohe provided aerated shower roses which reduce the volume of water without affecting the experience of showering. “When showering, you’d think you’ve used five litres when you’ve only consumed two. Such ‘green’ taps are becoming standard in new projects. The problem remains free-standing baths which have to be filled for a satisfying experience.

“Energy efficiency is obtained via the heat pumps and the tanks, and thereafter any efficiencies can only really come from how the hot water system is used. There’s been a big debate between solar systems and heat pumps, but which is preferable comes down to how hot water is being used. Where hot water is not often used – yet when you want hot water it must be immediately available – solar heating is good. Where hot water is used every day, a heat pump is useful in reducing electricity consumption. Both systems will have a back-up element which defaults to the mains electricity,” he says.

The future

Work at Serengeti is by no means finished. Plans are afoot for a shopping mall, hotel and more.

The Whistling Thorns development has been introduced to Serengeti Estates specifically to offer a broader range of housing options to the public in Kempton Park. It is located on the second fairway of the Serengeti's nine-hole golf course, and comprises of 188 luxury apartments, with architectural design by DHK Architects, laid out over three individual unit blocks. The buildings are spread out over a five hectare site, with plenty of green space between apartment blocks creating a mood of seclusion and enhancing the feel of tranquillity, which is the estate’s hallmark.

There are three property styles: the larger three-bedroom units of 139m² face directly onto the Championship Whistling Thorn Golf Course; a second north-facing building offers two- and three-bedroom apartments measuring up to 120m²; while the third apartment type comprises of 12 luxury apartments laid out over two floors.


 

 

 


PA PlumbdrainLogo100 PlumbingOnline150 TP
Editor
Sales Director
Internal Sales
Subscriptions

Product of

IMD logo White

Interact Media Defined (IMD), is one of South Africa’s leading multi-media magazine publishers READ MORE

Talk to us

JHB T : +27 (0) 11 579 4940
CPT T : 0861 727 663
E : admin@interactmedia.co.za

13A Riley Road, Bedfordview,
South Africa 2007

PRIVACY & COOKIE POLICIES

Cookie policy
Privacy & Cookie policy
Privacy policy

© Interact Media Defined