New British homes 'shameful shoeboxes': architects

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The Independent Online

Many new houses in Britain are "shameful shoebox homes" which are too small to allow families to live together happily, an architects' body said Wednesday.

The floor area of the average new three-bedroom home is 88 square metres (947 square feet), some eight square metres short of the recommended minimum, according to research by the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba).

Riba chief executive Harry Rich said: "Our homes should be places that enhance our lives and well-being.

"However, as our new research confirms, thousands of cramped houses - shameful shoe-box homes - are being churned out all over the country, depriving households of the space they need to live comfortably and cohesively."

The study of three-bedroom houses was based on a sample of 3,418 homes across 71 sites in England.

The research was based on the London Plan space standards which have recently been introduced in the capital.

Riba says consumers need better information from estate agents and house builders and called for floor area measurements to be included in marketing material as they are in many other countries.

"Consumers are provided with very poor information when they are buying new homes," Rich said.

"In the UK people buy homes based on the number of rooms. In the whole of the rest of Europe pretty much, and certainly North America, you know how many square metres you are buying when you buy it - and that's not available to UK consumers."

However, home builders said making homes bigger could put prices beyond the reach of many potential buyers.

Andrew Whitaker, head of planning for the Home Builders Federation, told the BBC: "That's going to mean houses are going to become more expensive and we're already suffering from a lack of affordability for young people and first-time buyers."

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