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British homes lack basic storage, says RIBA

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A new study shows people are unhappy with the amount of storage space in their homes, with some unable to find a place for the hoover

The RIBA and Ipsos MORI research looked at how people use their homes and what they look for when seeking a new place to live.

Feeding into the institute’s Future Homes Commission – a national inquiry into the design and deliver of UK housing stock – the programme identified eight key factors which shape domestic expectations.

Storage space topped the list, with respondents calling for spaces suitable for long-term and short-term storage.

Some households were so challenged by a lack of space that extraordinary solutions had to be employed such as storing the vacuum cleaner at a relative’s house and keeping groceries in the boot of a car.

Ipsos MORI chief executive Ben Page said the research showed UK housing to be ‘cramped and poorly planned’.  

RIBA chief executive Harry Rich said: ‘It has been over half a century since a government-tasked committee researched how households live, yet the size and designs of homes being built now are still defined by that great but out-of-date report – from a time when we had sewing boxes in our living rooms and indoor toilets needed regulating.

‘Until today there has been no evidence base that sets out how we are living now and what we want from our homes. This new research provides important evidence on which we can base some changes to the way our homes are designed, delivered, marketed and sold to us.’

The study concluded that consumers would like an independent body to regulate the quality of new homes and free information to help compare noise, light, safety and environmental performance.


Consumers’ eight key housing needs


1. Long-term and short-term storage for functional items, and for personal possessions people have chosen to keep during their lives

2. Dedicated space for domestic utility tasks, such as vacuum cleaners, washing, drying and ironing clothes as well as storing rubbish and recycling

3. Large windows for natural light, large rooms and high ceilings– these are typically referred to as ‘period features’. A ‘sense of space’ is vital to people’s wellbeing, and expectations of a new home are often shaped by the homes we have lived in previously.

4. Large main living area - for social functions such as eating and entertaining and relaxing.   People typically prefer to have an element of open-plan layout to accommodate entertaining friends or family, regardless of age or lifestyle. 

5. Layouts which take into account technology used within the home- we want our homes to have enough sockets and storage for technology to enable us to arrange furniture and rooms in different layouts. 

6. Space for private time away from other members of the household– across all age groups, and especially where generations live together, private space makes an important contribution to our sense of wellbeing within our homes. Noise reduction within and between households is also essential.   

7. Private space outside or access to green public space in urban locations – this is important for wellbeing for all, and particularly crucial for families; parents like a safe place for children to play outside.

8. Options for different home layouts. Despite some universal needs such as flexible space to entertain and socialise, there were different needs and expectations according to the life stage or the size and age of households and families, which meant that there was no single, standard layout that would cater for all people.



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