Over Half of New Build Homes are Too Small, Says RIBA
By |Published On: 6th December 2015|

Home » Uncategorised » Over Half of New Build Homes are Too Small, Says RIBA

Over Half of New Build Homes are Too Small, Says RIBA

By |Published On: 6th December 2015|

This article is an external press release originally published on the Landlord News website, which has now been migrated to the Just Landlords blog.

More than half of the new build family homes under construction by private house builders in the UK are too small, according to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

The average new three-bedroom house is lacking space equivalent to a bathroom, its report states, while many are missing space the size of a double bedroom, if judged against the Government’s minimum reasonable space standards launched in October.

Homes outside London are the worst affected by this “rabbit hutch” trend, found RIBA after measuring a sample of new homes on 100 developments.

Over Half of New Build Homes are Too Small, Says RIBA

Over Half of New Build Homes are Too Small, Says RIBA

The organisation identified two of the leading house builders that are the worst offenders. From a sample of new three-bed homes surveyed, RIBA found that Barratt Homes’ properties are on average 6.7 square metres smaller than minimum space standards and homes by Persimmon are typically 10.8 square metres too small – around the size of a double bedroom.

President of RIBA, Jane Duncan, says: “Tiny rabbit hutch new builds should be a thing of the past. But, sadly, our research shows that, for many people, a new home means living somewhere that’s been built well below the minimum space standard needed for a comfortable home. The Government must take action to ensure a fairer minimum space standard is applied to all new homes across the country.”1

RIBA warns that the lack of space is “depriving thousands of families of the space needed for them to live comfortably and cohesively, to eat and socialise together, to accommodate a growing family or ageing relatives, or even to store possessions including everyday necessities such as a vacuum cleaner.”

It identifies Persimmon’s Staynor Hall development in Selby, North Yorkshire. Its Hanbury three-bedroom, two-storey house has a floor space of 70.7 square metres, when the Government says the minimum space for a three-bed house for a family of five should be at least 93 square metres.

These space standards are optional for local councils to use. House builders have opposed them, claiming they reduce customer choice.

The Executive Chairman of the Home Builders Federation (HBF) – which represents firms including Barratt and Persimmon – Stewart Baseley, says: “Overwhelmingly, the people that matter – buyers of new build homes – are happy with their houses and how they are designed.

“Imposing space standards and so restricting what builders can build takes away choice from home buyers. This would not only prevent more people from buying their own home but also exacerbate the acute shortage of housing that we have experienced over several decades.”

A spokesperson for Barratt adds: “We make the best use of space and our customer recommendation score is over 90%, the only major national house builder to achieve this.”

In London, minimum space standards have been in force since 2011. As a result, new homes are significantly bigger. The average three-bed home in the capital is now 25 square metres bigger than in Yorkshire – the area with the smallest new homes.

New three-bed properties in the West Midlands are also more than seven square metres smaller than the minimum standard.

The RIBA report states: “On average, every new three-bed home in Leeds, York or Scarborough is missing out on the equivalent of a double bedroom and a family living room.”

RIBA had highlighted another issue with housing space – the conversion of office buildings into homes after the relaxation of planning rules in 2013. Last year, 20,000 of these homes were built, but the lack of regulation means they are some of the smallest available.

The report claims: “Across the country, two-person ‘apartments’ of less than 14 square metres (the size of a typical bedroom) are being delivered. Under the national space standard, the minimum floor area for any new home is 37 square metres – almost three times the size.”1

1 http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/dec/02/rabbit-hutch-homes-should-be-thing-of-the-past-say-architects

About the Author: Em Morley (she/they)

Em is the Content Marketing Manager for Just Landlords, with over five years of experience writing for insurance and property websites. Together with the knowledge and expertise of the Just Landlords underwriting team, Em aims to provide those in the property industry with helpful resources. When she’s not at her computer researching and writing property and insurance guides, you’ll find her exploring the British countryside, searching for geocaches.

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