Micro-homes: Why are properties in the UK shrinking?

Micro-homes: Why are properties in the UK shrinking?

There are multiple benefits to investing in a new-build, including cheaper energy bills, better insulation and more modern fixtures and fittings. However, new data has revealed that properties popping up in Britain today are getting smaller.

New homes being built in the UK today are on average 32% smaller than they were in the 1970s – shrinking from 24.9 square metres (268 square feet) to 17.1 square metres (184 square feet), according to analysis from LABC Warranty.

Living rooms, master bedrooms and kitchens have all seen a reduction in space over the past 40 years, while the average number of bedrooms in houses being built today has fallen from 3.53 to 2.95. The research concluded that today’s properties are a similar size to those that were constructed in the 1940s.

A spokesman for LABC said: “Overall, Britain built the biggest houses in the 1970s. But from the 1980s onwards Britain’s houses started to regress.”

The average living room in the 1970s was 24.89 square metres, compared to today’s 17.09 square metres – a reduction of around 31%. Master bedrooms have shrunk from 14.71 square metres to 13.37 square metres, while kitchens have contracted from 14.96 square metres to 13.44 square metres.

The reasons behind the fall

As the UK continues to experience a housing shortage, building higher volumes of smaller homes is something a number of developers have been doing in order to maximise output, particularly in certain urban areas where demand is high and space comes at a premium. Through smart design, the homes can still provide the same high quality of living as larger spaces, as every part of the property is made full use of.

Another reason for the shrinking average property size is the increase in the number of office buildings being converted into flats. By using permitted development, developers can bypass minimum size rules normally implemented by local councils, and without having to apply for the same planning permission, and such conversions provide essential accommodation in high-demand cities and towns.

Demographically, households have been changing over the last few decades, with an increase in the numbers of people living alone, particularly young professionals, as well as millennials living together in small groups as a way of saving money. People also tend to buy their first home and start having a family later in life, which could be another contributing factor explaining the reduction in average property size as well as bedrooms.

Modular homes are another growing trend, as they are much cheaper and faster to build than traditional bricks and mortar, meaning they could begin to provide a further boost towards the UK’s housing stock shortage, and such properties tend to be slightly smaller on average.

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