Experts in 'shoebox' homes warning

HousesThe Government must not give the go-ahead for a new generation of "shoebox" homes without enough space and natural light to be built in its attempts to tackle the housing crisis, architects have urged.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) said it had found strong public support for bigger and brighter homes, including the introduction of a minimum set of space standards which could have a profound impact on a family's quality of life.

Riba, which has previously likened some new-build homes to "shoeboxes", said that four-fifths (80%) of people surveyed on its behalf said they would be more likely to choose a home if it met minimum space standards.

The new research has been published as the Government prepares to make an announcement on its Review of Housing Standards in England within the coming weeks, which Riba fears could result in existing housing standards being watered down or removed.

The institute, which looked at how happy people were with the home they lived in, found that dissatisfaction was generally higher among those living in newer properties. It found that people living in homes which were 10 years old or less tended to be the most likely to be considering a significant modification to their home or moving out.

Some 45% of people living in a home which was between three and 10 years old said they were planning to make a change to it, while 26% of those living in a home of this age said they were considering moving.

A lack of space was found to be the most likely reason for a house move or modification for people living in homes of this age.

Across people living in houses of all ages, high energy bills were the biggest source of dissatisfaction with the home people were living in, followed by not enough space and a lack of natural light.

In a report published a couple of years ago, the body pointed to evidence suggesting that new homes in the UK were the smallest in Western Europe. It said that consumers in Ireland could expect new homes to be 15% bigger.

Riba argued that the way in which a home was designed had huge implications for how people live, including their mental and physical wellbeing.