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Are New Homes Short of Space?

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) seems to think so.

As part of a wider consultation, the DCLG is considering introducing basic space standards in an effort to curb increasing concern around the building of small homes. Arguments over the acceptable amount of space needed to live have seen issues raised relating to the health and general well-being of individuals.

The outcome could have serious implications for developers; the DCLG consultation in relation to housing standards is due to report in October 2013.

Rising Living Standards and Shrinking Living Spaces

Although general living standards have improved remarkably since the 1920s, average living space in homes has dropped by more than a third.

A recent survey by the Royal Institute of British Architects showed the small size of rooms was the prime reason 60% of people would not buy a new home. In contrast, 80% stated that they would be more likely to buy or rent a property which conformed to minimum space requirements.

What Would the New Measures Entail?

The introduction of minimum space requirements would seek to allay concerns that existing homes are not large enough to support routine activities or provide adequate storage space. Measures would also be included to tackle a lack of natural lighting.

New rules would see the introduction of ‘space labelling’; a process requiring the overall internal floor area of new homes to be presented in a clear and consistent manner for potential home buyers to easily compare between similar properties.

The introduction of these types of standards may have an effect on the viability of certain developments if they are implemented but the news is not all bad for housebuilders.

Cutting Red Tape for Developers

The consultation also includes proposals by the DCLG to cut red tape for housebuilders. Out of the 100 existing housing standards applied by local authorities surrounding housebuilding, over 90 are up for abolition.

Moreover, guidance which currently stands at 1,500 pages is set to be reduced to fewer than 80. Examples of the types of standards the Government is proposing to abolish include detailed rules such as those requiring certain buildings to collect their own rainwater.

However, none of the tabled changes affect building regulations or planning law.


The proposal for minimum space requirements has broadly been welcomed; meanwhile the wider proposals will hopefully help alleviate the current confusing standards imposed on house builders and support growth in the construction industry.

The removal of needless red tape and condensing of guidance should benefit property developers in particular, allowing builders to save time and money in order to build high quality homes. For more information about the consultation and the proposals, contact Peter Gourri today by email or telephone 0207 611 4848.

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