Adding space, made easy


Ann Boardman of Saniflo highlights how, despite the uncertainty of the past few months, homeowners have carried on investing in upgrading their properties, and drainage connections are key to how their spaces can be reconfigured or added to

Homes and gardens have never looked so good after a boom in ‘lockdown projects’ over the last year. The good spring and summer weather spawned a generation of gardeners, while autumn and winter witnessed a renovation frenzy including extensions, conversions and room upgrades. A trend that also gathered pace was the addition of garden buildings – whether as offices, home gyms, workshops, salons or simply as a place to relax outdoors.

A survey published by Lloyds Bank in 2019 highlighted that the average British worker spent 492 days of their lives travelling into work – or around 10 days per year. Working from home – or the garden office – at least a couple of days per week was already becoming popular prior to the pandemic. Add in the work-from-home mandate and the situation was quickly compounded. For many, the financial benefits from travelling less meant the cost of new facilities could be quickly recouped. Ditto for one-man businesses that benefit from a dedicated work space at home while saving rental costs for offices, studios or workshops.

One of the most important considerations when converting or adding any space is the need for a water connection for a cloakroom, bathroom or kitchen. Emphasis on work-life balance is driving the trend for self-contained spaces that include a WC, basin and small kitchens – helping to keep work distinct from home.

These extra facilities mainly rely on the availability of pumps, lifting stations and macerators for drainage solutions. Garden rooms will often be situated too far away from the existing drainage infrastructure and may not have sufficient gradient for the installation of gravity drain pipes. Moreover, garden-sited buildings can sometimes sit below the level of the manhole or mains drains. In both situations an underground lifting station can provide a quiet, seamless solution to discharging black and grey waste.

Designed to be quick and easy to install, a lifting station simply requires a water and electricity supply and can then be connected to multiple points such as WC, basin, shower, kitchen sink etc. The unit is activated automatically by incoming black water which switches the pump on to discharge the waste to a septic tank, water treatment plant or the nearest manhole.

One householder in Norfolk was able to erect a boat shed with holiday accommodation thanks to a 110-litre lifting station that was installed adjacent to the structure. Self-contained in its own compact manhole, with the cover flush to the ground, it was installed unobtrusively yet with exceptional access for servicing and maintenance. Waste is pumped to a treatment plant some 50 m away and 4 m above the location of the boat shed.

A similar underground lifting station rescued the extension on a stone property in Lancashire when the builders discovered the fall on the drainage pipes was insufficient to reach the property’s septic tank. The unit was retrofitted just outside the extension and connected to multiple kitchen and bathroom fixtures and provides the power to push the waste out through the drainage pipes to the septic tank.

Basement conversions in prime cities and built-up urban areas have also continued to boom – especially new kitchen diners that lead out to garden areas ‘bringing the outside indoors’. These spaces usually feature multiple appliances including dishwashers, washing machines (often in adjacent utility rooms), wine fridges, sinks and even ice makers.

Pumps are the enablers for these projects because waste will always need to be lifted up to street level drains. A whole host of solutions are available including small, compact pumps for grey water waste only, that can be concealed within a kitchen island or under a sink. Alternatively, for larger conversions that include a cloakroom or bathroom, a larger floor-sited pump can be simply positioned on a flat surface (usually concealed in a cupboard or behind a wall) and connected to a range of kitchen and bathroom appliances. Models with twin pumps are particularly suitable to ensure continuity of service, while it is also advisable to pick a solution that features an alarm system to provide early warning in the unlikely event of a failure.

Whatever the lockdown project, there is almost always a pump that can help overcome drainage issues.

Ann Boardman is head of marketing and product development at Saniflo UK