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17 May 2012

Homes too small to store household basics

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by Gill Montia

Homes too small to store household basics

Some of Britain’s homes are so small and lacking in storage space that people are taking extreme measures to squeeze into their living space.

New research from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) highlights the case of a household where the vacuum cleaner has to be stored off site and reveals that in some households, BOGOF supermarket food deals are being kept in the boot of the car through lack of kitchen cupboard space.

According to RIBA, some homes are too small to accommodate even basic household items and in a new report, the body attempts to establish what people need and expect from their homes and what they think needs to happen to improve the home-buying experience.

The study, which will be used as evidence by the Future Homes Commission, highlights the eight key features that people need and want from their homes as follows:

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 i.e. 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.

The research also reveals that many people feel the bedrooms in some new homes are too small and many are also in favour of size regulation for rooms in new homes.

Commenting on the findings, RIBA chief executive, Harry Rich, says: “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.”

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