Designer    Focus 12 Feb 2018

Everything you need to know about bathroom pods, explained by Richard Tonkinson

From student accommodation to luxury apartments and social housing, bathroom pods have revolutionised traditional construction methods. They radically reduce onsite activity – from around seven different trades to just one supplier – yielding improvements on quality, cost, and waste.

There are two principal pod types:

Steel-framed pods: These offer a premium aesthetic and a high level of design flexibility with traditional ceramic tiled finishes. Applications include large-scale apartments and high specification student residences.

GRP pods: Widely used for student accommodation and social housing, they require lower capital expenditure and are easy to maintain and clean. GRP pods from Offsite Solutions use a panellised system which creates vertical walls and 90° corners for improved aesthetics by avoiding tapered walls.

The installation:

It can take around 80 hours for a bathroom to be built onsite, requiring around 10 to 15 operations plus drying times. Whereas a pod can be manufactured in 14 hours with just one supplier. The bathrooms are then delivered, at which point the housebuilder organises installation via their mechanical and electrical contractor. Five GRP pods – or four steel-framed pods – can be offloaded per hour.

Other design considerations:

  1. The thickness of the pod base, which can be varied according to the project, might cause a step.
  2. Marble and granite don’t transport well, and their non-uniformity might cause difficulties.
  3. A delivered pod can weigh more than a site-constructed bathroom.
  4. The steel-framed pods have eight point loads to account for in the structural loadings.
  5. The footing should be level to +/- 10mm tolerance for accurate installation of a pod.


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