Zero maintenance garden rooms, made by a North Wales company using aviation technology, could be used with other measures to tackle the housing crisis, according to an AM.
Rubicon Garden Rooms managing director John Lyon outlined to newly-elected Alyn and Deeside AM Jack Sargeant how the company’s buildings could offer short-term housing quickly, for homeless people or in an emergency.
Mr Sargeant, who won the Flintshire seat in February, has undertaken to discuss the potential quick-fix with colleagues in Cardiff.
He was at the company’s HQ in Shotton to officially open Rubicon’s new showroom – and was stunned to discover that the company’s factory was once the office of his father Carl, whom he succeeded as the Alyn and Deeside Assembly Member.
Mr Sargeant – who trained in engineering – also met some of Rubicon’s team, including 17-year-old apprentice Caleb Williams, who attends Coleg Cambria, plus latest recruit Joe Fife, and discussed the company’s expansion plans for a network of franchises across the UK.
The showroom has a display of Rubicon’s buildings, which are made from a wood fibre composite material devised by founder John, who was inspired by his 20 years as an engineer at Airbus. The bespoke top-of-the-range units are presently used for everything from home offices to art or music rooms, yoga studios, teenage dens and annexes for dependent relatives.
He said: “It’s great to be able to see this new showroom for Rubicon Garden Rooms – it’s a wonderful facility and I would encourage people to come and have a look.
“It’s interesting for me to see the engineering to that goes into the buildings. As a former engineer, I really appreciate the skills and hard work that has gone into the buildings.
“The buildings are a real credit to the team and I wish the company every success.
“The availability of housing, both private and social, is of course a big issue for people in Alyn and Deeside and indeed across Wales. I’m glad Flintshire County Council are building the next generation of social housing, but it’s true to say we need to ensure a mix of housing stock. I was very interested to hear the company’s proposals of using the buildings for housing, incorporating kitchen and bathroom facilities. This innovative idea is a real opportunity to explore.
“I’m already planning to discuss a range of housing issues with the County Council and the Welsh Government’s Minister with responsibility for housing.
“I was also very pleased to see that Rubicon is committed to training and apprenticeships: it’s an issue that I’ve discussed with our major employers, such as Airbus and Tata, but it’s equally important that smaller companies undertake to train the workers of the future, and equip them with the skills they need to ensure this area remains at the forefront of manufacturing.
“This is the second official opening I have undertaken during my short time as AM – the first was opening a new facility at Connah’s Quay Cricket Club, where my grandad goes every weekend.
“However, it was a real surprise when I came here, as I realised that Rubicon’s factory unit was my dad’s old office, which he shared with Mark Tami, before they got the present office in Connah’s Quay High Street. I recall going to it when I was younger – it’s a small world!”
Rubicon Garden Rooms managing director John Lyon said: “I was delighted to welcome Mr Sargeant to open the new showroom and to hear that his father Carl was a previous tenant on this site.
“It was very useful to be able to discuss with him about our proposals for using our buildings to provide homes for people, with their own kitchen, bathroom and studio living-sleeping space.
“We can install the buildings quickly, in just a few weeks, and at a low cost, especially compared to providing B&B accommodation or building a bricks and mortar property. Our buildings are timber framed and fully insulated to ensure they are cosy yet cheap to heat, with large double glazed glass doors and windows that fill the space with daylight.
“The buildings are zero maintenance and can even be moved to a new location, if required, making them ideal for short-term provision.
“I am heartened to hear that Mr Sargeant will be raising this with colleagues in Cardiff. We have also been liaising with local authorities in both Wales and England and I hope that we will be able to move forward on this in the near future.
“The company is going from strength to strength and we are expecting to sign up our first franchisees later this year – the showroom will also be a good chance for them to understand our range of buildings. My five-year plan is to have a network of franchises around the UK, with the manufacturing coordinated from our offices in Shotton.
“The new showrooms have been designed to highlight to customers the range of different options that are available – from fully equipped home offices with bathroom and kitchen facilities, though to hobby rooms and family leisure space. We are expecting to see an increasing number of visitors to the site to see the buildings at first hand.”
The external material of the garden rooms, made from wood fibre, simulate wood, stone or slate to enhance comfort, zero-maintenance and aesthetic appeal. The company has just been accredited for its commitment to customer service, under the Buy With Confidence scheme run by local authority Trading Standards teams.
More details at rubicongardenrooms.co.uk or call 01244 552813