News Are tiny homes going to provide a housing solution?

Published by Lewis on 5th June, 2017

We recently wrote about so called “Naked Homes”. This is the fairly radical trial of 22 homes to be built in London that are almost entirely stripped back to basics, with only essential plumbing, no partition walls or flooring. The next concept that is worth some exploration is the “micro home”. 

Before passing judgement, in the UK, housing standards set minimum floor areas and room widths for new builds. For office-to-residential conversions, the nationally described space standard does not yet apply. This has allowed companies like Inspired Homes to build developments of apartments that can be around 40% smaller than the space standards.

There will undoubtedly be demand for these properties if they are priced competitively, due to house prices and rents, particularly in London being so high. The concept of living in small spaces is something that might be more familiar in Japanese cities and New York, where space is at such a premium that people have had to adapt to living in very small homes. 

Is this the kind of development we need more of in the UK? It's difficult to say. Whilst these homes will sell, one has to wonder if the housing standards were set for a reason in the first place. Is the trend going to be to continue to try and cut down on the costs of building homes to make projects more profitable for developers, and what then will be the resulting housing stock from this period of building?

According to the Royal Institute of British Architects, in a report released in late 2015, only half of new homes built were large enough “to live comfortably and cohesively, to eat and socialise together, to accommodate a growing family...or even to store possessions including everyday necessities such as a vacuum cleaner”.

As already noted, high house prices dictate that properties like the Naked House or Micro-Apartments will sell if they are priced well under traditional property market values, but are these the kind of properties that the UK needs now and in the future?