Case Studies

Laurence Deacon Court – Plant Room Upgrades

Laurence Deacon Court – Plant Room Upgrades

Alpha Living LogoClient: Alpha Homes
Customer: Laurence Deacon Court
Service: Boiler Room Replacements
Project value: £150k
Project completion: October 2021


Built in 1981 and operated by Alpha Living, Laurence Deacon Court is a development of five sheltered housing units comprising of 70 one and two bedroom apartments and bungalows. The development is designed so that residents have the benefit of their own space and front door, but also shared spaces open to all, with regular social activities.

Scope of Work

Our role was to run a rolling programme of complete replacement of the Plant Rooms in each of the five blocks. With vulnerable residents, one key element was the need for temporary heating during the works. This was provided by our own temporary heating solution.

Each of the individual blocks had two cast iron Hamworthy Purewell boilers providing 85kW each. They have been well maintained by ourselves over many years, but as part of an ongoing PPM plan, they had reached the point where replacement made better financial sense than continuing to maintain them. With only 50% operating efficiency – even when new, they were proving extremely costly to run.

Each plant room is now fitted with two 90kw Potterton Sirius units. These operate at 97.3% seasonal efficiency and 87.7% overall, so will show an immediate saving in running costs. They are supported by new and more efficient ‘A’ rated twinset pumps. Each apartment has its own small hot water cylinder that’s fed from the boilers.

With the old system, the whole 170kw capacity of the boiler would need to be fired up to top up the hot water tank when some had been used. The new system modulates between the two boilers and only fires up as much capacity as is needed. This can be as little as 20% capacity of just one individual boiler, that modulate in turn to prolong life.

In each of the plant rooms, the stack was relined with stainless steel flue liners with solid stainless steel cascade headers, the systems were pressurised using pressurisation units with a flood alarm facility. Boiler interlock systems were installed to comply with current building regulations with thermal links above each appliance.

As our work was in the plant rooms and not the individual apartments, we also completed a full freshwater system flush, added magnetic Air/Dirt separators and added inhibitors to the system, to ensure a long life and reduced ongoing maintenance.

With the systems fully commissioned, working with Potterton, we were able to offer a five year breakdown cover on the boilers as long as the correct maintenance procedures are adhered to.

Contract Management

The project was managed by Phil Higham of the Kimpton Small Works Team. Talking about the project, Phil said

“Keeping the residents warm and with access to hot water throughout was paramount. So, we brought in our own temporary boilers, that were connected into the system before decommissioning the old one. We then worked sequentially, moving from block to block, to replace each of the systems in turn.

We have completed literally hundreds of these types of projects, so this one ran incredibly efficiently and was completed in only 15 weeks.”


There were a number of significant challenges in the job. The first of which was the threat of asbestos lining in the plant rooms. With a specialist drafted in to check, this proved not to be the case.

The second challenge was the critical need to keep the residents warm and with access to hot water throughout.

The third was the scale of the plant rooms, which are tiny and made working on-site a challenge in its own right. All of the old plant had to be removed, before we could even think of installing the new plant.

When it came to the financial aspect of the job, the potential savings were huge. With both the efficiency of the new boilers and their ability to only deliver what is required as it is demanded, running costs could reduce by well over 50%. Even with the current gas price hikes, there is potential for a huge ongoing cost reduction that will make the payback for the upgrade far, far faster.

With gas prices being of such concern, the ability to remove a large percentage of ongoing running cost is one that is making more and more financial sense. We have written about these ongoing savings in the purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) sector and the arguments for upgrade for ongoing savings are exactly the same in the sheltered housing sector. Payback can be as little as 3-7 years depending on quite how inefficient the old system is.



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