RIBA accuses house builders of ‘shameful shoe boxes’

Research by the Royal Institute of British Architects has found the average new three bedroom home produced by the volume firms is 8% smaller than the basic recommended minimum size.

The RIBA said: "This squeeze on the average home is depriving thousands of families the adequate space for children to do homework, adults to work from home, guests to stay and for members of the household to relax together."

The findings feature in Case for Space, new research published today. The researchers found the average one bedroom home, from a sample of 1,159 homes across 41 sites in England, has a floor area of 46 sq m (495 sq ft). This is 93%, or 4 sq m, short of the recommended minimum for a single storey one bedroom home for two residents. The missing 4 sq m is equivalent to a single bed, a bedside table and a dressing table with a stool; 3 sq m is the equivalent of a 3 seat sofa and a desk and chair.

Housebuilder

Average size of 1 bedroom flat and maisonette

Number of sites in sample

Number of homes in sample

Persimmon

49 sq m

6

43

Berkeley

47 sq m

8

334

Taylor Wimpey

47 sq m

5

93

Bellway

47 sq m

4

151

Crest Nicholson

47 sq m

5

209

Galliford Try

46 sq m

3

105

Barratt

45 sq m

8

158

Lovell Partnerships

43 sq m

2

66

The average three bedroom home from a sample of 3,418 homes across 71 sites in England is 88 sqm (947 sq ft). This is 92% (about 8 sq m) short of the recommended minimum for a two storey three bedroom home for five residents. Eight square metres is the equivalent of a single bedroom with furniture; 7 sq m is the equivalent of a galley kitchen and a coffee table.

The most common three bedroom home was 74 sq m, which is smaller still. At only 77% of the recommended size it is missing 22 sq m and equivalent to two double bedrooms and contents.

Housebuilder

Average size of 3 bedroom house

Number of sites in sample

Number of homes in sample

Berkeley

98 sq m

9

217

Galliford Try

90 sq m

9

352

Barratt

89 sq m

9

420

Taylor Wimpey

88 sq m

8

412

Persimmon

88 sq m

10

799

Bellway

86 sq m

8

635

Lovell Partnerships

85 sq m

9

263

Crest Nicholson

84 sq m

9

320

Regional data

Averages calculated are mean and by site (not by unit, which is how the other averages are calculated)

Region

Total number of sites

Number of housebuilders

Number of sites with 1 bedroom homes

Average 1 bedroom home in sqm

Number of sites with 3 bedroom homes

Average 3 bedroom home in sq m

East of England

8

8

4

55

7

88

East Midlands

7

7

4

47

7

87

London

11

7

11

48

6

119

North East

2

2

1

35

2

89

North West

11

5

2

51

11

84

South East

14

7

7

48

13

96

South West

12

8

5

46

11

87

West Midlands

7

7

6

44

6

94

Yorkshire and the Humber

8

6

1

37

8

83

The RIBA said the report "exposes the lack of transparency existing around the size of UK homes – details are simply not recorded or publicly available. Home buyers repeatedly fail to get detailed information about properties for sale or rent, and are rarely given the overall floor area; consumers can therefore be left confused about the actual amount of space they are purchasing."

The Future Homes Commission, a national inquiry chaired by Sir John Banham, will now engage with people to build a comprehensive picture about what people want and need from their homes. The RIBA's HomeWise campaign calls for consumers to demand better information from estate agents and house builders so they can choose the most ideal layout, size and design of their new home. The RIBA also wants house builders, providers and estate agents to include the floor area of properties in their marketing material and indicative floor plans with furniture as well as the number of bedrooms.

Harry Rich, RIBA chief executive, said: "Our homes should be places that enhance our lives and well-being. 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.

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Good coverage of the story, but hardly surprising. It’s the old Mars Bar factor innit? In brief the idea that when you can no longer charge more for the same product, the only way to enhance profits is to deliver less for the same, make it smaller. Anyone who’s seen the raft of tiny "townhouses" that developers are throwing up nowadays won’t be in the least bit surprised…

By Wellwell

Finally the RIBA gain a profile by addressing socially relevant issues again. It’s been a while.

I always like to advise my clients that since Victorian times, room sizes (and heights) have shrunk by 5% every decade. We are now in the situation that we are undercutting even tight-squeezed societies like Japan! For the benefit of the land-owning and developing folk, that is.

This must be reversed. Legislate minimum space standards now.

By the whalley ranger

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