Brand new houses or apartments can be a very tempting proposition for house buyers with their sparkling new fittings and contemporary open plan spaces. Even the smallest new homes have at least two bathrooms and in the UK where, traditionally, period homes have always achieved a premium price, the appeal of new build homes is ever increasing.
New build homes have always had a certain appeal with their shiny new kitchens and bathrooms and free of someone else’s clutter but are they really as spacious as they seem or are show homes designed to give the illusion of space with neutral colour schemes and the use of undersized furniture? Research from the UK government’s national archives by CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) has assessed whether there is actually sufficient space in new homes for the furniture that couples and families need for everyday living and for the storage of personal possessions. Is there genuinely enough room for residents to cook, eat, relax and socialise in new private sector homes?
The CABE research reveals that many purchasers of newly built homes do not feel that the space in their homes is sufficient for basic everyday activities and it suggests that new private homes require more space to be fit for purpose. In a densely populated country such as the UK it might be thought that there simply is not the space available to build larger new homes or that the price of larger homes would make them unaffordable to the majority of home buyers, but further research by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) shows that even in other European countries with the same density of population, the average house sizes are larger.
Prior to 1980 minimum space requirements for local authority housing were defined and these were generally adhered to by private sector house builders. However, these standards no longer exist, although minimum space standards are still required for social housing but, not surprisingly, according to CABE much of the new build private sector housing no longer meets the basic space needs of the residents. Consequently the UK has substantially smaller new homes than almost all other European countries.
11,000 households were interviewed as part of CABE’s research and the results revealed that the space required by homeowners was not readily available. Two or three bedroom houses, originally designed as family homes, but frequently occupied by young couples without children still did not provide adequate space, even with the extra bedrooms. This suggests that some so-called “family” homes are not adaptable enough to function well for growing families without extending them.
Adequate storage is another basic necessity of every home, whether it’s small or large. Everyone needs somewhere to store clothes, household equipment, food etc., but the majority of new homes simply do not have enough storage space. Moreover, due to the limited space for furniture items it is not possible to buy freestanding storage units and actually fit them into the main rooms of new homes.
Of course new homes have their advantages but if you are looking for space to have the freedom to buy whatever furniture you like, plenty of storage space for all of your belongings or, at least, room for your own storage units, think carefully about the advantages of a brand new home and whether the disadvantages might not actually outweigh the advantages, particularly in the longer term as your family grows and your storage requirements increase.