Architects say new houses are 'shameful shoebox homes'

 

Harry Rich, of Riba, says house buyers are being left with no choice

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Many new houses in the UK are "shameful shoebox homes" which are too small for family life, the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) has said.

It says average three-bedroom houses are 8% smaller - the space of a single bedroom - than the recommended minimum.

The institute, which looked at 3,418 three-bedroom homes in England, based its findings on building regulations which have come into force in London.

The House Builders Federation says that bigger homes could prove unaffordable.

Riba's Case for Space study discovered the average two-storey three-bedroom home for five people was 8 sq m (86 sq ft) too small.

It claims the shortfall in space is the same size as a single bedroom with a bedside table, wardrobe, desk and chair.

The most common new three-bedroom house was found to be smaller still, with 77% of the recommended minimum space - a shortfall equivalent to two double bedrooms.

The institute's research was based on the 96 sq m (1033 sq ft) London Plan space standards which have just been introduced in the capital. There are currently no UK-wide standards.

'Cramped life'

Start Quote

Consumers are provided with very poor information when they are buying new homes”

End Quote Harry Rich Chief executive, Riba

Riba chief executive Harry Rich said new houses were causing some people to endure a lower quality of life.

"Our homes should be places that enhance our lives and well-being," he said.

"However, as our new research confirms, thousands of cramped houses - shameful shoe box homes - are being churned out all over the country, depriving households of the space they need to live comfortably and cohesively."

The institute wants consumers to get better information from estate agents and house builders.

For example, it is calling for floor area to be included in marketing material and floor plans to include furniture, so that people can get a clearer idea of the size of a property.

"Consumers are provided with very poor information when they are buying new homes," Mr Rich said.

"In the UK people buy homes based on the number of rooms. In the whole of the rest of Europe pretty much, and certainly North America, you know how many square metres you are buying when you buy it - and that's not available to UK consumers."

'Lack of affordability'

The Home Builders Federation, however, said that if new homes were built bigger, some people would be priced out of the market.

"If you increase standards you're going to increase costs," said head of planning Andrew Whitaker.

"That's going to mean houses are going to become more expensive and we're already suffering from a lack of affordability for young people and first-time buyers."

The Department for Communities and Local Government says it is "putting local communities themselves in control" of house building.

A spokesman said: "Under our planning reforms neighbourhoods will be able to design and vote on their own plans for the future of their areas, giving them the chance to exercise meaningful choice over the type and size of homes that are built, and giving developers the chance to benefit from a smoother process for getting planning permission by working with local people from the start."

 

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  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 813.

    I fully agree with 810 Emzdad. Immigration and out of control breeding are our worst enemies. Don't pay people money for having more children, penalize them after the second one.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 812.

    I don't care what shape my house is as long as it's soundproofed, weatherproofed and the plumbing works. On the other hand, I DO care what shape the houses across the street are if I've got to look at them all day.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 811.

    Remember the "must have" crazes of the past 3-4 decades? First it was double glazing, then came fitted kitchens and bathrooms, followed in quick succession by conservatories and fitted bedrooms. Then we had awnings and window blinds and power showers which every self respecting lady must have. All the advertising for these extras was focussed at the ladies as I know from having been in advertising

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 810.

    Too many people on the island. Solution? Stop immigration and reduce the population. Then we can have the house sizes we used to have in the 50's. Even council houses were spacious. But as a previous poster says, why not go upwards to 3 levels as opposed to 2?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 809.

    Hang on a minute didn't families of 6 kids live in small terrace houses fairly happily? And we have a large population for our land mass (unlike France with has roughly the same pop. but is 3 times the size) as long as homes are designed and built properly space itself should really be an issue.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 808.

    There is no direct link between poor design and low cost. Poor Design is simply poor design. It's quite possible to build much better homes at lower cost. Most other European nations manage to do this with no bother. The UK business is notoriously badly run. Some believe it's a dirty business run by shady characters with no interest in quality or value for money. If not, why is there no choice?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 807.

    Ten years ago I moved out of a small modern house into an older spacious house and what a relief it was to have that feeling of freedom again. The worst aspect of modern boxes is the stress that is caused by having to squeeze past other occupants and around furniture etc. Insufficient living space is a major contributor to social ills in my view.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 806.

    I'd don't know why so many houses in England and Wales are only two stories, in Scotland (particularly in the cities) this is quite rare and 3 or more is the norm. As the most significant cost of housing is generally the land value an extra story would produce a significantly larger living space for a minimal extra cost.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 805.

    Back in the mid 1970s, certain Tory barrons were facing wipeout as they had invested unwisely in a spurious boom in commercial property. So they asked their 'mates', the estate agents, to tell sellers there houses were worth 'more' - the plot price scam. It worked so well, they were astonished - were we all so stupid? It appears so, they keep pulling the same trick and we don't learn!

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 804.

    No-one likes to live in a cramped space, but I'm afraid the developers are right. If they built bigger homes, they'd price most buyers out of the market. A small home, it seems, is better than no home at all.

    I am also somewhat amused by the number of architects wringing their hands about this. Who is it who designs these shoe boxes in the first place? Oh, yes. Architects...

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 803.

    A land fit for heroes, we fought WW2 for the right to be 2nd class in our own country & live in rabbit hutches.
    Still the British public know their place, and will never squeak up, unless its authorised

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 802.

    Property is so much cheaper in France and Germany. Why? Because developers build spacious appartments fit for families which are much more affordable than houses with gardens. In France I lived in an appartment twice the size of my London flat and it cost almost half the price. Berlin homes are even cheaper! Maybe our national obsession with owning a house is the root cause of shoebox Britain

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 801.

    I am horrified by the space in new build places. They are more like holiday homes not places for people to live. Under no circumstances will I move to a new build in this country - tiny gardens, lack of private space. But worst of all 2nd bathrooms that are almost larger than the smallest bedroom in a 2 bedroom flat. Declare the floor area.

    Buy an older house and enjoy the space!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 800.

    Song by the Manic Street Preachers 'If You Tolerate This, Then Your Children Will Be Next.' The BBC is hand in hand with the government, and they want to demonise and ruin the working class in this country, don't stand for it, this standard of housing is not acceptable. We want better. We are not slaves, our children need space to grow.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 799.

    Shameful indeed. Absurdly over-priced in whatever category you choose. Tiny inadequate houses, miniscule Flats or Apartments in which cranial damage to a cat is inevitable during the swinging test. I too have suffered injuries because of my cramped domicile, as I found it was almost impossible to change my bed linen by myself. I need to re-arrange the furniture to get safe access to the bed.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 798.

    Honestly, this isn't about buyers - do you really think that people in the UK are uniquely careless about their cash - buying anything with no thought about value? What rubbish! The problem is in the supply. There is no competition - it's clear from the uniformly low quality available. On price -that's about demand for somewhere to live. Limited supply in a relatively wealthy nation = high prices.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 797.

    "If you increase standards you're going to increase costs," said head of planning Andrew Whitaker. That's going to mean houses are going to become more expensive and we're already suffering from a lack of affordability for young people and first-time buyers."

    Or you could increase standards but make less profit, keeping houses at the same prices.....if you'd prefer.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 796.

    We need a programme to name and shame. Watchdog does not want to know, i contacted them so many times. I bought a new home off barratt, three years now. There are still 3 major issues unresolved!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 795.

    We recently moved into a lovely wee village, where everyone is friendly and you feel safe. There is a development under construction, mostly shoeboxes, with plans to build more. I have lived in several towns where overbuilding has ruined them, turning them into little more than commuter towns with no character. More needs to be done to prevent places like this being swallowed up by development.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 794.

    670.chris berridge - and in the Editors Pick too! LOL

    "There is no shortage of homes, only an excess of people... the government create this artificial shortage"

    Your thinking is insane! How do PEOPLE constitute an ARTIFICIAL demand? The government create people? Sex ed has definitely deteriorated!

    I suppose the answer is genocide - well I bet we all feels silly for not thinking of that before!

 

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