Developer Shaviram Group’s project at Norwich House involved converting an office to residential occupancy without altering the building’s outward-facing commercial building facade. For this reason, contractors DRG Solutions and fabricators and installers Keepout Windows were tasked to provide and install high-quality window systems from polymer supplier REHAU that would maintain the building’s original look while providing luxury comfort for the new apartments inside.
|Location||Camberley Town, Surrey|
High-quality redevelopments have been Shaviram Group’s (Shaviram) main business since the property developer and investor’s establishment in 2013. Specialising in transformations between office and residential buildings, the company saw the value in converting Norwich House from a commercial office space into 78 luxury apartments. Its location at the heart of Camberley town centre in Surrey offered easy access to transport links and local shops or restaurants, highlighting an untapped potential for residential property.
Meeting restrictive measures
Due to planning conditions surrounding change-of-use projects, Shaviram was required to uphold Norwich House’s original aesthetic appearance in the redevelopment. To ensure a high standard of modern comfort while keeping to the building’s style, the developer paired with the contractor and long-standing partner DRG Solutions (DRG), due to its expertise in the conversion of commercial buildings. Keeping the aims of the project in mind, Shaviram looked to install new window systems that would fit the building’s outward commercial look, while simultaneously maximising security, thermal efficiency and sound attenuation for residential occupants.
To ensure high-quality products that could meet these expectations, DRG subsequently contracted fabricator and installers Keepout Windows (Keepout) to manufacture and fit solutions. David Hoffman, Sales Director at Keepout, commented:
“We’ve been working with DRG for about 6 years, and are now its main supplier and installer for windows. The reason for this is because the company trusts us to provide high-performing solutions that deliver optimal performance, so it is key we can continually source and provide market-leading frames.”
The fabricator and installer has been supplying windows since 2008, and with its pursuit of quality frames in mind, began to opt for REHAU solutions four years ago, citing their overall quality and leading levels of customer service the company provides. This has allowed them to foster a close working relationship with the polymer supplier’s team, including Kevin O’Neill, Commercial Manager for REHAU and Keepout’s main contact on this project.
David explains: “REHAU, and particularly Kevin, have consistently been a great help due to their continued technical support and on-site visits to Norwich House, and to other ventures as well. Their expertise in specifying appropriate solutions to suit differing requirements is a major part of the process for conversion projects of this kind, and we always appreciate the service and assistance they offer.”
Following advice from REHAU on the Norwich House project, 420 windows in anthracite grey were sourced from the polymer supplier’s TOTAL70 range. Crafted from high-quality PVC material and with a contemporary appearance matching the former office’s traditional curbside look, these frames were regarded as the best option for fulfilling the project’s requirements while providing a high level of performance.
David, explains: “When it comes to converting commercial properties, TOTAL70 is often our preferred choice due to its versatility and quality. We provide these frames with full confidence that the installer will be satisfied with their quality, and this has continually proven the case.”
Obstacles to implementation
Work on the development began in February 2020, and the frames were implemented during a complex aspect of DRG’s conversion and construction process. Specifically, internal stud walls needed to be raised within the larger former office space to delineate the different apartments. This, in turn, could impact the windows surrounding these walls and conflict with planning conditions.
David, explains: “Keeping structured openings consistent is a complication we often encounter in conversion work. In order to overcome this obstacle on this project, on-site personnel used vinyl panels to in-fill where they needed to build an internal wall behind. This panelling helps us to maintain previous frame parameters and generally eases the installation process, but adaptable window solutions are also required alongside the panels to help make this work. Consequently, it was important that the windows supplied were not just of high performance – they also needed to be adaptable so they could be installed around the internal structural changes that were made during this build.”
Challenges around window maintenance also presented further obstacles for Keepout. Specifically, while casement frames were considered the appropriate style for meeting the parameters set out in the planning conditions, it soon became apparent that this specific design could restrict cleaning access for certain parts of the building.
“Some elevations were inaccessible from a maintenance point-of-view,” says David. “Because of this, certain windows we had previously specified had to be changed to tilt-and-turn windows, as otherwise it wouldn't be possible to carry out reach and wash operations from the ground later on.”
The tilt-and-turn mechanisms available within the REHAU TOTAL70 range meant these windows could be tilted upwards from the top or fully opened from the side, granting full ease-of-access for cleaning maintenance on all elevations. Keepout was able to quickly provide and install a quantity of these alternative frame models, all in the anthracite grey foil required to preserve Norwich House’s outside look. As a result, despite these new requirements, the necessary windows were interchanged without disruption to the conversion process.
Location, location, location
Due to Norwich House’s busy town centre location, acoustic ventilation was also a major factor to take into account to ensure future residents would be comfortable. Nigel Ibbotson, Contracts Manager at DRG, discussed with Keepout the potential need for add-ons that would increase the standard of thermal efficiency and sound attenuation.
“Things like this can sometimes be missed on certain builds, but I find that if you pay that extra attention-to-detail, solutions and innovations can be found that enhance the building’s quality,” explains Nigel. “This proved to be the case on this project, where the installation of trickle vents meant we could improve quality-of-life for the future apartments’ occupants.”
After consulting Keepout on the issue of noise pollution, these trickle vents were included as add-ons during the window installation process. This accessory, which features small openings that allow fresh air to pass through when the window is closed, enables the apartments to benefit from reduced external noise without compromising ventilation.
Another concern arose regarding the building’s orientation — specifically, the fact it faced out onto a main road. Localities of this sort are liable for council surveyance to ensure noise reduction is of a sufficient standard. However, as the TOTAL70 range included window profiles with 70mm depth and triple glazing capability, efficient sound suppression could be provided. With these noise attenuation measures in place, DRG were confident that the windows would meet council standards without the costly requirement of upgrading in the future.
It's what's on the inside
The project was finished on time with a certificate of completion received in October 2020. Clive Braude at Shaviram voiced his satisfaction at the project’s completion, saying:
“We’re thrilled building control was signed off to the original deadline. It goes to show the programme’s success in achieving its main objective of preserving Norwich House’s external commercial aesthetic. The new REHAU window systems Keepout installed has enabled us to market a luxury standard of apartment comfort for potential purchasers, and that resonates perfectly with our ethos of providing high-quality redevelopments.”