The RIBA has called for a ‘kitemark system’ to improve housing design standards after reviewing the nation’s latest residential projects
The document Improving Housing Quality – Unlocking the Market (attached) sets out the institute’s aims to improve the current quality of residential projects and boost the satisfaction of home owners in England.
Part of the problem, says the institute, is with profit-driven developers who favour schemes with more bedrooms, which can be sold for higher prices. This often, it is claimed, results in cramped and sub-standard homes.
The RIBA suggests the proposed ‘kitemark system’ would offer buyers alternative methods of comparison for homes, ‘indicating that the home meets an advised minimum size for a certain number of occupants’. They believe this would eventually shift the developers’ focus and encourage ‘longer-term improvements in standards’.
Statistics quoted from the CABE Housing Audit 2004-2006 state that in England only 18 per cent of home buyers described their house as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ – meaning that an overwhelming 82 per cent of clients were dissatisfied. More recent research by CABE and the RIBA, in their 2009 ‘Space in New Homes: What Residents Think’ publication, revealed that ‘buyers of new homes [also] have concerns over a lack of space and an inconvenient layout’.
The RIBA believes the problem is ‘deep-rooted’ in Government policy, housing markets and the structure of the development industry
The RIBA’s new report makes clear, however, that the problems ‘are ‘[not] necessarily the fault of developers’. On the contrary, the RIBA believes the problem is ‘deep-rooted’ in Government policy, housing markets and the structure of the development industry.
It proposes the ‘kitemarking’ as a tool for consumer choice and continues that ‘it may be advisable for all advertisements for individual houses to be forced to show the overall floor area, the size of the main rooms and/or the price per sq ft’.
The RIBA has also said that, while these plans are going to be difficult to enforce in a recession, a ‘lack of confidence and training among planners’ and the low levels of ‘ambition and inspiration for young architects’ may be to blame for action not being taken sooner on this issue.