Cramped Living? Think again!

If there is one thing nearly all of us wants it’s a bigger house so it’s of little surprise that when RIBA decided to tell the world this week that new homes were simply too small they got such wide spread publicity.  What was surprising – to me at least - was their failure to put their findings into any sort of context – and to whip up a media storm with little thought for the consequences.

You see for the most part we all want more – but at what price?

Let’s start from the beginning.  According to RIBA a typical three-bed  new home is 8% too small.   Apparently we build “shameful shoe-box homes” and are responsible for “cramped living”.  Sorry but that is ridiculous.

We build homes that meet local planning policy guidelines. If we submitted a planning application that saw us putting sprawling five bed detached homes in an area where house prices were already out of the reach of many this would not be popular. In the current climate getting a mortgage is difficult enough.  The last thing we need to be doing is making it even harder.

What’s more housebuilders are under pressure from central and local government to make best use of the land available.  Because there is a limited land supply in this country - land given over to residential development is limited.

The third problem with this report is its total failure to mention the mere matter of the housing shortage.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – we are staring down the barrel at the worst housing crisis since WW2.  I would love to pontificate award winning-design over lunch sometime but for now I have got to crack on and do my bit to get the housebuilding industry moving again.

Consider this: owing to the problems we have faced over recent years our industry is delivering around 100000 new homes a year against a predicted requirement of around 250000.  Already we have more households than homes and this is only going to get worse.

Quite frankly unless something changes and fast half of us will be thrilled to have a home at all by 2030 and the fact that it is 8% smaller than we might like won’t even feature on our radar.

My fourth and final comment on this report is that it doesn’t remotely reflect what people who buy new homes actually think of them.  Year after year our customer satisfaction scores at Miller Homes climb ever higher – and that is echoed across the industry. In fact we are fiercely proud of our product and would never sell anything that we ourselves wouldn’t be happy to call home.

We are also doing everything we can to help aspiring home owners (and existing ones too) to achieve their dreams. Our range of purchase incentives is designed to aid home buyers and bridge the affordability gap – and we have helped hundreds of people to move who had given up hope.

In conclusion then - the Home Builders Federation (HBF) recently said of this report that it was looking at housing statistics in a ‘vacuum’. I think that was putting it kindly – but I agree with the sentiment.

Like I say we all want more – but at what price?  If it’s making homeownership something just for the rich and making more people homeless – I’m out. And so I expect are you.


By Sue Warwick National Marketing and Sales Director