Builders face block on 'rabbit-hutch' homes

Aug 20, 2013

British buyers are put off from buying because new houses are smallest in western Europe

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HOUSEBUILDERS could be forced to construct larger homes under proposals to curb the proliferation of "rabbit-hutch" properties.
Don Foster, the communities minister, will today launch a consultation on "minimum space standards". In an effort to cut red tape for builders, he is also expected to scrap up to 90 housing standards, including a stipulation for multiple phone lines in home offices.
In March, Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, said the previous Labour government's density targets, which said at least 30 homes must be built on every hectare of land, had left families "trapped in rabbit-hutch homes".
The Financial Times says the move will be seen as "the coalition's quid pro quo for fuelling a recovery in the house-building sector with its Help to Buy mortgage support scheme". Although the scheme has given a boost to the housing market, many buyers are still put off by the small size of new homes.
The average new house in Britain is now the smallest in western Europe. Sizes have nearly halved over the last 80 years as landowners tried to squeeze the maximum profit from their plots.
In 1920, the average semi-detached new-build in the UK was four bedrooms and 1,647 sq ft. The equivalent now is just three bedrooms and 925 sq ft, according to a survey by the Royal Institution of British Architects (RIBA).
Harry Rich, RIBA chief executive, welcomed the review. "Our public research has repeatedly revealed that space in new homes is a major concern," he said. "Our surveys have revealed that 60 per cent of people who would not buy a new home said the small size of rooms was the most important reason."

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Do you really think that if the density per hectare is scrapped that builders will build larger properties? neither! Wouldn't it be better better to specify a minimum sq ft per property (based on no of bedrooms)?

As a tradesman what is more alarming is the fact that many of these "shoebox houses" are only built to last 30-40 years,and why do new builds not have compulsory solar panels where possible,it is relatively cheap to install them in a new build but our eco-friendly government does nothing but artificially inflate the property market.

We are an overpopulated country. Is it any wonder? Anyway, why do we need rabbit hutch homes? Surely you could add a basement or a third level? Be innovative! I dont think anyone in middle England would want to sacrifice lots of countryside in order to build low density housing and houses the equivalent of French homes (France is massive). We are a small island and need to go our own way. I have seen some great three level properties with the same floor space as a 1920s detached, less footprint, but same size garden, just an extra lot of stairs! The floor space may have gone down by a third since the 1920s, but our population has also gone up by a third.... and I cannot see that stopping any time soon. Covering SE England with houses from coast to coast is not the answer.

Ever since the 1870's, room heights, then floor plates, then glazed areas, shrank by 10% every decade.

Now we are where we are, with the kitchen diner lounge not big enough to swing a cat.

Legislating minimum space standards is long overdue, as volume housebuilders have for too long controlled what we are served.

They don't care, all that matters is units sold, for a price that can be afforded.
Once, these units were 2000 sq ft/ 24000 cu ft in size, now they are a mere 800 sq ft/ 6400 cu ft for 'middle England' - you see, comparable homes have really shrunk by 10% every decade.