Invasion of the Teeny Tiny Houses
Nobody can have failed to notice that there’s a building boom going on in the UK right now, with new estates popping up all over the place. Building activity is happening on the outskirts of many towns and villages and on reclaimed industrial land that once housed docks and factories as the construction industry and housebuilding companies strive to meet the government’s demand for new housing stock. However, if you’ve visited one of these completed homes, you may be surprised to discover how tiny so many of them are.
It seems that the average home has shrunk by 20% since the 1970s – not an attractive prospect for buyers with growing families who want to purchase a new build. Homes are getting smaller which has resulted in the top few national housebuilding companies reaping larger profits and bigger bonuses. Some of the largest house builders are reporting a significant increase in profits due, in no small part, to the government’s help-to-buy scheme. So, what’s going on?
The simple answer is greed. Homes are crucial to our lifestyles and it seems that some businesses are exploiting this with profiteering. The housebuilding industry claims that the combination of shrinking houses and rising prices is the result of higher land values. With the traditional farming industry on the decline, greenfield farmland is much sought after by developers. A farm owner can make up to 50 times more if they sell land for building rather than for continued farm use. Once the land has been purchased, it’s then the case that the developer will want to maximise profits by building as many units as possible on the land, driving up prices across the housing market with the consumer eventually getting a lot less bang for their buck!
This has a detrimental effect on house sizes, hitting everybody in the housing chain. Housing developers have a free hand as successive governments have increased deregulation. Without planners in place to control land prices and build speed, everybody suffers. Council planning departments have become more or less powerless to exercise control, moving away from the days when Britain was internationally admired for its planners. The planning process has all but been destroyed by deregulation and austerity.
The construction industry rarely takes into account wellbeing when considering house building – it’s all about maximising profits which has resulted in these tiny houses we see on today’s new build market. As people have less and less space available to them, there is likely to be an adverse social effect as families struggle to live comfortably within their environment.
People here in the UK who move into the newly built homes are struggling to find enough space for their furniture and belongings – we’re seeing living rooms that aren’t big enough to hold a sofa and two chairs, bedrooms that don’t’ have space for clothes storage and homes where there’s not enough room for the kids to sit at a desk to do their homework, meaning they either sit at the kitchen table (if there’s enough space for one) or sprawl on the floor.