Thursday, 29 September 2011

Builders' profits get bigger; we get bigger... but our houses get smaller

A while ago I read in a report from the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, that Britain had the smallest new build houses in Europe. Indeed the average floor space in the UK was half that in Denmark. No surprise there though, I thought. If there’s a table of good things, like recovery from surgery rates, Britain has a habit of being towards the bottom of it; whist, if it’s a table of bad things, like single teenage pregnancy or dependency on drugs, Britain is heading up the table. So the smallest houses tag didn't really surprise me.

But the other day I read that not only are our houses smaller than others, they are actually under the size recommended by architects for living in. Apparently the average family house is 8% smaller than the recommended size. The most recently built houses are actually only 75% as big as they should be. In a typical 3-bedroom family house, this translates to the purchaser being diddled out of 2 double bedrooms’ worth of space!

Of course this means that builders, who already make a handsome profit (given that the price of a house bears absolutely no relation whatsoever to its actual worth), are making even bigger profits by cramming more houses per hectare on to their land.

So what, you might ask. So, I guess there is enough stress in living a family life without there not being enough room to swing a cat, or rather to store all the bits and pieces that people need, or at least think they need in today’s world.

In my block, I am the only person who lives alone, and I think that my flat is crowded. How the others in the block manage is beyond my comprehension. But think of the strain that living in a tiny box puts on relationships and on family life. In tiny rooms already crowded with oversized furniture, even a couple of items out of place makes the room untidy; bedrooms with just enough room to squeeze round the bottom of the bed, and up the sides must be a living nightmare.

At the same time as our houses get smaller and smaller, we get bigger and fatter. In 1951 the average British woman had a waist of 27". Today that average is 34". No comparable figures are available for men, however, army uniforms from that time suggest that the average man would have had a 32" waist, whilst now he has a 38" waist (and no... that's your waste, not where your trousers sit!)

Is it then any wonder that we read that 10% of Scots are on anti-depressants?

If I had to live in that room at the top, I'd be on Prozac!


I just had to mention this. I noticed a sign in the window of a (now defunct) Dundee Bar advertising:


Here's to Scottish education...................... getting better.


  1. Yep, when I was looking at flats for my sister a few years back, I was stunned by how small many new builds are. I intend to start looking for a flat myself soon, and I may end up completely ignoring new builds. Some of the flats I've seen would be better off being knocked down and rebuilt - preferably with better materials, more care taken to make sure the skirting boards actually meet the floor... AND NO BLOODY LAMINATE FLOORING!

    There should be strict guidelines on how small a room can be. There should also be strict guidelines on how a room can be advertised by estate agents - for instance, it should not be possible to describe a room as a "double bedroom" if you can only just fit a double bed in and no more. Same goes for single "bedrooms", which are really just glorified box rooms with a bed squeezed in.

  2. Tris

    Re Vote.

    Why no button for who cares, they are all a bunch of merchant bankers.

    If the London leader cannot remember the name of one of the candidates for leader of the North British branch office they are in a worse state than ever.

    P.S. If whats his name gets elected Alex Salmond will have great fun with that at FMQ.

    P.P.S. Looks like another Jack Mc Donald AKA Mc Connell moment from London Labour.

  3. You're right Doug. One of the things I found in a mate's flat, was that the materials were shockingly bad and the workmanship, even worse.

    There was a distinct lack of sound proofing both within the flat and between flats.

    You could hear children running about on laminate flooring. So that's another thing we're in agreement with. A nightmare to listen to your neighbours all day.

    I also agree that there should be minimum sizes enforceable by law. If rooms get any smaller people will have to dive onto their beds from the door, and store their clothes in the garage.

  4. Well, to be honest Dubs.... I didn't think of it.

    Once someone has voted you can't change the poll, sorry. I wish I had thought to put it in...but if I had, I expect everyone would have chosen it.

    It does look like he's coming up on the outside to fly past Lamentable and Tom Tit.

    I'll look forward Alex demolishing what's his name again.

  5. tris

    loosen planning regs get cheaper plot prices and then more and bigger housing simples.

    as for me older house with larger rooms and just me and mrs niko to roam around in and Taz and somtimes grandson, daughter every now and then

    mind when younger lived with me 7 brothers and two sisters Mum and Dad in three bedroomed hoose..Labour council of course

    The First time i slept in a bed on me own was when old bill put me in a cell overnight thought i was in the lap of luxury

  6. My cottage is ancient and was built when Scotland was independent the first time around lol. And it's baltic in the winter so I wouldn't mind a wee cosy flat until the Spring.
    Is that Ming's London studio flat in the pic ? I can see the scatter cushions and bespoke casting couch.

  7. Ha ha ha ha Niko. Cheaper land prices maybe. Cheaper houses? Yeah right. Bigger houses = fewer on the plot = less profit ~ no chance

    Business will make a fortune.

    Lucky you, Niko. It must be nice to have a house where you take take more than 4 steps without turning a corner.

    So what did the rozzers lift you for Niko? Tell all. No super injunctions for you, my man!

  8. Ohhhhhhhhhh, now that IS lucky Monty. Marvellous to have a place that remembers the last time we were a REAL country. (Mind you if it's in the Baltic, I'm not sure how that can be so....) OK, only joking. What kind of heating do you have? Whatever it is it must cost you a fortune? Is there not some programme to help with insulation?

    Nah. That's not Ming's place. The decoration in Ming's is much nicer, and the floor space much greater.

    After all we paid for it.

  9. tris

    theft by housebreaking non-Dwelling.........

    The good old days young lad starts out on his chosen career (chosen by the English conservative society which created him)

  10. tris..

    I've got gas central heating but am fitting a wood burning stove and collecting gas cylinders from former gypsy sites for cooking.
    As the SNP switch Scotland from reliable power generation to wind and wave power we'll see rolling blackouts as the norm. Plus of course energy costs will rise as we have to provide the increasing subsidies to keep the wind farms and wave power generation companies and landowners fully funded.

  11. Oh dear Monty. It sounds like maybe you should emigrate somewhere hot... or get a council flat...:)