How small is too small?

Small houseWe recently mentioned how much the average home size in South Africa has decreased over the past few years – pretty much in line with the trend towards smaller homes all over the world.

Now comes the news, though, that consumers in the UK might be starting to resist the shrinkage, even though the average home there is still much bigger than many of those being built for low-income owners here.

“Developers faced with sky-high land prices are now often cramming a lounge, kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom into just 46 sqm – which is the same size as a Jubilee Line tube carriage,” the Daily Telegraph reported recently.

It also quoted the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) as saying that outside of London, there were no minimum standards and regulations for home builders on the size of a house or flat, and that a room was required to have natural light from just one window measuring 45 cm x 45 cm, with the result that “thousands of people are now living in a cramped, dark, artificially lit environment”.

The average British home is now 76 sqm, according to the RIBA, and has shrunk from 5,2 rooms to 4,8 rooms – and owners are not happy.

“A third of homeowners (32%), say they would like more space, and 20% would like more natural light. In fact, for those living in a home that is two to 10 years old, a lack of space is their main reason for wanting to move out,” the Telegraph reported.

“Three quarters consider a lack of space a ‘key problem’, and 69% say they do not even have enough room for their possessions.”

And the RIBA report on which the Telegraph article was based says research suggests that consumers are right to be worried about homes shrinking beyond a certain point and becoming just too small.

“A lack of space has been shown to impact on the basic lifestyle needs that many people take for granted, such as having enough space to store possessions or even to entertain friends. And in more extreme cases, a lack of adequate space for a household has also been shown to have significant impacts on health, educational attainment, and family relationships.”

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