Human beings have inhabited interior spaces from the beginning of time. The only reason we live in interior spaces is the comfortable environment they provide – however subjective this may be. The composition of an interior space is what made the difference between spending a night in a cave warmed with fire and one without. This is what made the difference between the bath houses that were for the patronage of the Iringo’s of the Roman Empire and the spaces that housed those that maintained the bath houses. How many times have we walked into Savannah or Mocca Lounge or good old Java and thought to ourselves ‘How about that!?’ 2 hours later and Ksh 600 poorer but having derived the satisfaction of  indulging in the ambience that these spaces provide, we are all too oblivious of the damage done to our pockets.

Fire Alarms and Broken lifts

Ever stopped for a minute and asked yourself, who is the genius behind breathing life into this space? How many times have we felt betrayed when the dispenser at your office’s washroom breaks down or does not even exist? Or when you have to take a flight of stairs because the lifts do not work any more. All these are minor inconveniences, at least when compared to the deadly consequences of a fire in a building without a fire detection, alarm and suppression system. Life threatening or not, these are the things that make life in an interior space bearable.

It is no mean feat to achieve these conveniences. Back to our bath houses in ancient Rome. These were not simplistic undertakings. Baths required a way of heating up the water, keeping the water hot and still fresh. Heating the water was no easy task. It was done using a furnace and the hypocaust system that carried the heat around the complex. The water was supplied constantly through 640 Km of aqueducts (an engineering feat of its own) but all this water was useless if it was not heated. The bath house was just another interior space. What makes the difference between a café, a supermarket, a hospital, a class, an office and your home? The services that one accesses at each of these locations. It is not rocket science, just engineering; Building Services Engineering to be precise.

Often overlooked, building services engineers are the proverbial stone that the builder refused, literally. The difference between an interior space in Pipeline and a similar one in Kileleshwa is a service engineer. It is not just enough to build a house, you will have to live in it. For you to live in it, it must be a home. Only a services engineer will turn it into a home. Imagine your house without the sockets, the dimmable lighting systems, the water reticulation system, the convenience of a water closet, the air conditioning or a world with those hefty power bills you can’t seem to explain. Yes, that is a world built by architects and civil & structural engineers only.

Your Local Plumber is Not A Service Engineer

A services engineer is not your local electrician or plumber. Granted, these professionals are integral in the provision of these services but they cannot replace the wealth of insight that can be offered by a services engineer. However, insight is just that, insight, as one would argue. What such an argument fails to appreciate, is that insight is only solid if it is bound not just by the code of professional practice but a minimum level of standard that is considered safe for human use. Standards, however, are not just about safety, they consider the life of the installation and all the variables associated with it. Such variables as the economic implications of operating the installation, the technical variations in operating parameters for example increasing or decreasing load of an electrical installation are considered.

All too often we hear of electric faults that cause fire or even that drain that seems to block every two months or the frequent power outages in a building or the high power bills that cannot be explained or the browning of lights in the morning. An investigation into these cases and it becomes rather obvious that while the installation may have been done to standard as far as materials and workmanship is concerned, the life of the installation was not considered. The result is an installation that ordinarily should last at least 15 years and is already not offering the services for which it was intended 3-4 years down the line.

Design, Safety and Comfort

Let us engage services engineers as we engage architects, quantity surveyors and civil & structural engineers in building our homes. They will not only design your installation down to the layout detail for safety and comfort, but also ensure the installation is cost-effective during its build as well as operation phase.

[Image Credit: Nairobi JavaHouse]