The news today that modern housing is smaller than it ideally should be does strike me as a case of ‘pot and kettle’. The report has been produced by the RIBA (the Royal Institute of British Architects), but surely they are the people who have been designing the British house owner into a small box for the past 30 years?
The report confirms something that anyone who has looked at a new home in the last few decades will be only too aware of, the average new three-bedroom house is ‘missing’ the equivalent to a single bedroom (8 sq m), and is therefore 8% smaller than recommended minimum. The institute based its findings on new building regulations which have just come into force in London.
Now it is fair to say that there are no national standards on house size, and the new London standards are a step forwards, but anyone visiting other parts of Europe would be only too aware of the ‘challenging’ size of UK homes.
But, this is a double-edged sword and is not a simple problem to solve. Land prices are driven by the density that a builder can develop homes at, the smaller the homes the higher the density, and the higher land values go. Consequently over the years residential land values have risen on the back of increasingly ‘tight’ densities.
Land values have fallen since the banking crisis started, but will this be enough to make homebuilders ‘generously offer’ larger plots and dwellings? I doubt it. We also need to address the quality of the modern housing stock. The phrase ‘built to a price’ seems apt for much of the modern estate housing.
This is something that needs Government intervention, and if we are honest that is highly unlikely! So either buy a new rabbit hutch or refurbish an older property – I know which approach I would take!