Perhaps we need to lower our sights — not in terms of quality, but size.
With the Bank of England increasing interest rates and the cost of living continuing its upward trajectory, something has to give. And that’s where smaller homes come into play.
The size of the average flat in Britain is 463sq ft and the average price is £254,000.
Cute cottage: As the cost of living continues to rise, a tiny house will save you money in the long term
However, Wavensmere Homes is selling one-bedroom flats measuring 430sq ft on its Belgrave Village development in Birmingham and some are going for as little as £185,000.
The developer claims a flat of this size need not feel claustrophobic.
‘Our interior designers guard against that,’ says Wavensmere Homes sales director Donna Smith. ‘It’s a question of making the best use of limited space, so the living room/kitchen is open-plan, and much of the furniture — such as the wardrobes, dishwasher and fridge-freezer — is fitted and made to measure. We even have special bike storage units.’
Small modern flats also mean significant savings on heating. Air source heat pumps, natural ventilation and low-energy appliances all help lower bills.
Located on a 12-acre regeneration site outside the city’s Low Emission Zone but within walking distance of the city centre, the 438-property development has young buyers like Marilin Liiv in mind.
‘I had been paying £900 a month to rent a place in the city centre, with nothing to show for it, so £202,000 to own my own flat made sense,’ says Marilin, 29, who works as a tax analyst in London.
‘I like the fact there is going to be parkland nearby, the co-working space will be useful, as I sometimes work from home, and I’ll also use the gym quite a lot.’ Marilin moves in later this year.
Elsewhere, Barratt has flats from 398sq ft at Eastman Village in Harrow. Prices are from £323,000 to £601,000. And Cala Homes is selling a 332sq ft flat in Aberdeen for £123,950.
It is little wonder the price of property is sky high at present — scarcity fuels demand and we simply haven’t built enough homes.
In the three decades before 1990, we built 7.5 million. In the three decades after 1990, the figure was 3.3 million and all the while the population was soaring.
This has opened the door to niche housing suppliers such as The Tiny Housing Company, who build prefabricated homes for singletons for about £60,000.
One of these tiny, two-storey homes has everything you’d expect in a ‘normal’ home: a fitted kitchen, shower, dining area, living room and one or two bedrooms. The difference is that it is only 30 ft long and 8 ft wide.
Although most commonly used as novelty Airbnb rentals, these homes are far from being glorified caravans.
They have a full quota of eco-friendly extras, including triple glazing, highly insulated walls, flooring and roof space, and for an added £7,500 they will even come fitted with a solar package.
The sad truth, however, is that acquiring land and satisfying the planners are two major problems; a source of irritation to the company’s co-owner, Dane Smith-Burchill.
‘Councils put aside land for the travelling community,’ he says. ‘We should have legislation that ensures tiny homes meet high architectural standards and sideline special sites for them, too.’
In Landbeach, Cambridge, house builder The Hill Group has recently donated six small modular homes to Emmaus, a charity which supports the homeless.
It is the first part of a £15 million pledge by the company to build 200 more of these homes by 2025.
Fully furnished for a single person, these SoloHaus homes reduce electricity bills to £5 a week and cost only £57,000, not including the site.