Britons duped into buying “shoe-box” homes

| September 14, 2011
”Britons

Britons are being duped into buying new homes that are too small to live in comfortably, with house builders and estate agents demonstrating a distinct “lack of transparency” over floor space.

According to research from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), thousands of brand new homes are failing to provide the space families need, with the average new three-bedroom property (built by one of the UK’s top housing developers) likely to be smaller than the recommended minimum size.

As a result, children are being deprived of space in which to do homework while families can’t relax properly or even have visitors to stay, the RIBA claims.

In its Case for Space report, which is based on 80 housing development sites across England, the Association found:

The floor area of the average new three-bedroom home is only 92% of the recommended minimum size, with the missing space equivalent to a single bedroom.

The most common new three-bedroom home encountered in the research is only 77% of the recommended size, and therefore missing the equivalent to two double bedrooms.

The average single storey one-bedroom home is 93% short of the recommended minimum size – missing out on space equivalent to a single bed, a bedside table and a dressing table with a stool.

By way of remedy, the RIBA and the Future Homes Commission have launched a national housing campaign aimed at building a comprehensive picture of what people want and need from their homes.

The HomeWise campaign also 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.

House builders and estate agents to include the floor area of properties in their marketing material and indicative floor plans with furniture.

Energy performance certificates (including floor area) to be provided up-front rather than only after contracts have been signed, which according to the RIBA is currently too frequently the case.

The Government to work with the house building industry to produce an industry-wide voluntary agreement on data about the size and quality of new homes.

Speaking today, RIBA chief executive, Harry Rich, said: “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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