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UK Architects Sound Alarm for Space

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2015

By Jill M. Speegle


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British architects say they are fed up with “tiny rabbit-hutch homes,” with the release of new findings on the size of homes in the United Kingdom.

For several years now, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has called for change in terms of minimum space restrictions and light standards for new homes.

Their efforts have, to a certain extent, driven change. In London, for example, new homes are getting bigger, officials say.

London
©iStock.com / ivanastar

The average three-bedroom home in London is now 108.5 square meters (about 1,168 square feet), 25 square meters larger than in Yorkshire, RIBA reports.

But in places like Yorkshire and West Midlands, home sizes are still well below what the group considers appropriate.

The Space Case

“Over 50 percent of new build homes are too small for families,” the institute reported after looking at 100 random new builds across the UK being developed by the top homebuilders in terms of volume.

Families are being “deprived of space needed for them to live comfortably and cohesively, to eat and socialize together, to accommodate a growing family or aging relatives, or even to store possessions,” the architects report.

The average three-bedroom home in London is now 108.5 square meters (about 1,168 square feet), 25 square meters larger than in Yorkshire, the institute reports.

More can be done, RIBA says.

Process ‘Too Complex’

In October, the government rolled out new rules to allow local authorities to set minimum space standards for new homes, but they are optional.

RIBA
RIBA

The report notes that on average, buyers of new three-bedroom homes are missing 4 square meters—the equivalent of a bathroom.

RIBA claims the process to adoption is also unnecessarily “complex and onerous.”

“The level of administration required means that it will take several years for local authorities to adopt any changes,” the institute warns.

Further, RIBA notes that the space standards don’t apply to all new builds, for example, for new housing developments that are created under new regulations permitting the change of use from office to residential use.

Standard Sizes

Under the new standard, a three-bedroom house for a family of five should be a minimum of 93 square meters (1,001 square feet). The floor space for any new one-bedroom home should be a minimum of 37 square meters (398 square feet), according to the standards.

Outside of London, RIBA says three-bedroom homes are being constructed as much as 25 square meters square meters shy of that benchmark. Moreover, in the office to housing conversion projects, two-person apartments are being built that are less than 14 square meters (150 square feet), RIBA says.

The report notes that on average, buyers of new three-bedroom homes are missing 4 square meters—the equivalent of a bathroom.

National Call

Thus, RIBA is calling on government officials to implement a national space standard “that applies to all homes, in every location.”

“Tiny rabbit-hutch new-builds should be a thing of the past,” said RIBA President Jane Duncan. “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.”

“We urgently need new homes, but building small homes or cutting corners when converting office buildings to flats is short-sighted and fails the people these new homes are meant to serve. The Government must take action to ensure a fairer minimum space standard is applied to all new homes across the country.”

The institute believes minimum space standards should be incorporated within building codes.

Meanwhile, homebuilders in the UK have taken a stance against such restrictions saying they hinder a customer’s choice, reports relate.

ABOUT THE BLOGGER

Jill M. Speegle

Jill Speegle is the Editor of Durability + Design News. She earned her B.A. in journalism and English as well as her J.D. from the University of Arkansas. In Sketches, Jill shares her thoughts on a number of topics that may be of interest to the D+D community, including architecture, interior design, green building, historic restoration, and whatever else catches her radar.

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Tagged categories: Architects; Associations; Contractors; Designers; Developers; Home builders; Residential contractors

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