Archive for May, 2010

Genesis HG skills up for tough times ahead

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

London-based Genesis HG is responding to challenging times by skilling up their Development &  Regeneration  teams.  We  were  commissioned  in late 2009 to  undertake  a  training  needs  analysis  of  all  staff  using    HATCs    Competency    Development  Framework as the basis for assessment.  The result has been a targeted and focused development  programme  aimed  at  enhancing  the teams’ knowledge and skills in key topics  of project management and property development.  We applaud Genesis’ moves to position them- selves so that they can compete more power- fully in the future.

London and South East housing up to ‘one-third smaller’ than minimum requirements

Monday, May 10th, 2010

A new report by the HATC Ltd, supported by the Royal Institute of British Architects, today reveals how housebuilders are often building properties up to one-third smaller than the minimum requirements set out in good-practice benchmarks. The research, titled Room to Swing A Cat? reviewed the range of sizes of new flats and houses being marketed by private housebuilders in London and the South-East in August 2008, and compared them to new benchmarks by the Homes & Communities Agency, the National Housing Federation’s 2008 standards and Greater London Authority’s 2009 London Housing Design Guide.

 

All of the property types examined as part of the research were on average smaller than current good-practice benchmarks by up to 31%, meaning that the smallest dwellings in the sample were just over 2/3rds the recommended size.

 

Other key findings included:

  • Nearly 60% of the 1-bed flats in London had no built-in storage space at all. Where storage was provided it averaged (for all dwelling types) 0.4m2 of floor area per person (approximately the footprint of a kitchen base unit).
  • Housebuilders tend to treat bedrooms of 8m2 or more as doubles (according to their marketing details) with several single bedrooms at 5m² or less even though legislation regarding over-crowding[1] uses a minimum sizes of 10.2m² for a double and 6.5m² for a single bedroom.
  • Assuming the dwellings are occupied by the number of people for which it designed, each resident has an average of approximately 10m2 for eating, living and sleeping in the 2-bed and 3-bed dwellings. Assuming the bedroom accounts for 5m2, this leaves another 5m2 for eating and living: roughly the size of a wheelchair turning circle or standing with arms outstretched and turning.
  • Nearly half (47%) of one major London development consisted of 22m2 studios and 33m2 1-bed 1-person flats – 37% and 16% good-practice benchmarks respectively.
  • The Habitable Area of the dwellings is generally approximately 60% of Gross Internal Area i.e. 40% of the space was bathrooms/toilets, kitchen/utility, corridors and (where provided) storage.

 

HATC Ltd’s 2009 report, Resident Satisfaction with Space in the Home, highlighted that 90% of dwellings in London and the SE were under-occupied but the residents were still dissatisfied with the space in their home. This report suggests why: the dwellings tend to be small to start with.  Even if they are not, additional bathrooms can simply erode the habitable area, so the rooms don’t work. In a 2-bed flat, the main bedroom often doesn’t have space for a wardrobe and chest of drawers, so they are put in the ‘spare bedroom’ but leaving no room for a bed. So that dwelling might work as a 1-bed 2-person flat, but it is laid out and sold as a 2-bed flat – at a significantly higher price.

 

Andrew Drury, Managing Director of HATC comments:

 

“We need to ask the right questions when buying property otherwise we can pay a lot of money for bedrooms that are effectively large cupboards with a window, or a garage that is actually a utility area with no space left for a car. We need to know how many square metres we get for eating, living and sleeping and whether the rooms are big enough to work. Regulation can help, but so can raising consumer awareness, such as the Swing A Cat website that we support”.

 

David Levitt, Chair of the RIBA Housing Group said:

“This is an exceptionally valuable piece of work which sheds much needed light on what has actually been provided by housebuilders over the last few years. It establishes the urgent need for an official review of national housing standards, either by some kind of effective and workable consumer driven initiative, which enables prospective purchasers to firmly reject any new housing which is clearly not a sustainable addition to the national housing stock, or failing that,  by official regulation across all tenures.”

 

Elanor Warwick, Head of Evidence at CABE said,

“Sadly the UK is the only country in Europe where homes are sold or rented by the number of bedrooms they have, rather than the space provided. Homebuyers frequently complain that the market offers only cramped flats, crammed with multiple tiny rooms and too much space lost to circulation.  This study proves it is a real problem, not just one of perception. It’s time for public dissatisfaction to be taken seriously. Everyone should have enough space for something as basic as sitting round a table to eat together, and storage.”

 

 

 

Notes for editors

  1. The report can be downloaded from www.hatc.co.uk
  2. Sales details for 86 houses and flats were obtained from London (31%) and places in the South-East that are approximately 1-hour travel time from London (69%). The sample was restricted to properties in Council Tax bands up to D (£250,000 – £325,000 depending upon location). The sales details were measured, and the following information obtained for the seven main property types examined:
  • Gross Internal Area (GIA);
  • Net Internal Area (NIA – excludes toilets/bathrooms & corridors);
  • Storage space;
  • Utility space;
  • Kitchen area;
  • ‘Notional corridor’ areas (space needed within an open plan room to move from one area to another)
  • Habitable Area (the remaining space, i.e. the space available for living, eating and sleeping).
  1. The seven property types examined were:

 

  • 1-bed flats in London
  • 2-bed flats in London
  • 3-bed flats in London
  • 1-bed flats outside London
  • 2-bed flats outside London
  • 2-bed houses outside London
  • 3-bed houses outside London
  1. HATC Ltd is a consultancy specialising in housing. HATC helps deliver housing projects and programmes, undertakes research and policy development as well as training and competency development. Based in Yorkshire, it has a national client base among housing associations, councils, government agencies and private developers.
  2. This report is linked to the CABE-sponsored HATC research into Resident Satisfaction with Space in the Home published in August 2009 and which received significant national coverage.
  3. Other HATC-authored publications in the arena of housing standards that have been published by other organisations:
    1. Standards & Quality in New Development: published by the National Housing Federation 1998 (1st edition); 2008 (2nd edition);
    2. Achieving Building for Life: published by the Housing Corporation / CABE; 2009
    3. The Gross Internal Areas and Net Internal Areas were measured in accordance with the RICS Code of Measuring Practice 6th edition.
    4. The good-practice benchmarks referred to (the Homes & Communities Agency’s draft standards, the GLA’s London Housing Design Guide and the National Housing Federation’s Standards & Quality in New Development) are generated by considering the amount of space needed to allow the household to accommodate a typical range of furniture, and the anthropometric data regarding space to move around the furniture, use the furniture (door swings / pulling drawers out etc) and undertake normal activates such as dressing, talking, watching television etc.
    5. Schemes that were being marketed in the late summer of 2008 would probably have been designed in 2005/2006, when property price inflation was approaching its steepest.
    6. www.swingacat.info is a website sponsored by Gentoo Housing and supported by HATC Ltd, Design for Home and Touch Creative.


[1] Housing Act 1985 Part 10 S.326

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