Potential Planning Changes
February’s ‘leak’ that Government is considering amending Planning Law to permit presumed consent for householders
to add another 2 floors on top of their houses, puts ‘micro’ homes firmly in the picture. Although an article in
UK Construction Week’s ‘Construction Buzz’ wonders who would buy them, as reported several times in these insights , they are finding favour in many countries, not just the UK.
Smaller than 37m2
The number of "micro-homes" in the UK is soaring, as the chronic lack of supply in the property market means
developers are slicing up buildings to create multiple dwellings. Categorised as micro because they are smaller
than 37 square meters – about the size of a tube carriage – are permissible because of the so-called
"Permitted Development Rights” (PDR), an act introduced by the Government in 2013.
No Need for PP
This legislation allows builders and developers to change the use of buildings without the need for planning
permission, including changing offices into residential homes. Since the act came into force, the number of
micro-homes in the UK has rocketed. Almost 8,000 were built in 2016, the highest number on record, according
to Which? analysis of Land Registry data. Most are being built in urban areas such as London, Liverpool, and Bristol.
‘Which’ warns of Depreciating Assets.
However, buyers are now being warned that purchasing a micro property could leave them with a depreciating asset. Which? found that these properties don’t necessarily grow in value like their larger counterparts, while some mortgage lenders won’t lend on them at all.
Half price at £280,000!
While micro-properties offer a cheaper alternative to regular houses – in 2016 they sold for an average £279,000, less than half the average price of a London home sold in the same period (£580,000) – they might not be as valuable over the long-term.
Best Price Growth = 50 to 120m2
Which?'s investigation combined information on property sizes from the Government, with house price data from HM Land Registry, and found that properties with floorspace of between 50 and 120 sq m had the best price growth,while homes smaller than the national minimum space standards (37 sqm) did not perform as well.
David Blake of Which? Mortgage Advisers said: "With the average London micro-property selling for £279,000,
smaller homes can represent a more realistic opportunity for many but can also be harder to mortgage.
“Smaller properties can put lenders off due to concerns around the future value of the investment. However,
there are mortgage lenders who are receptive to properties of this nature, if demand is high enough and
UK Homes are Smallest in Europe
British families live in some of the most cramped conditions in Europe, with the UK having the smallest homes
by floor space area of any European country. The average new build property in Britain covers just 76sqm
compared with almost double that amount of 137sqm in Denmark.
The Downside on Downsize
Overcrowding in homes can lead to depression, the breakdown of relationships and physical symptoms such
as asthma, past research has found.
Capitalising on Existing Resi-space
‘Building upwards’ makes space when there is not enough open land with development permissions to tackle
the UK’s housing crisis. The question then is, should this be for further full sized ‘maisonette’ homes similar,
if not identical in floor plan to the existing house, or should it be more along the lines of ‘super bedsits’,
which many new-build offerings seem to be?
Demand for Skills & Experience
Whatever the case, it will demand more of the small number of people with the knowledge and experience to do this. The challenges faced in surveying, designing and engineering ‘penthouse’ style developments, as well as the special needs of design and build for such structures, particularly where householders wish to remain in
residence while the work I done around them, is not inconsiderable. Furthermore, unless part of some
comprehensive re-development, which seems unlikely, most of the work will need to be quite individualised and
Prefabrication Is Key
Factory prefabrication of elements like walls and floors can always be considered for OSM (Off-Site-Manufacture). There is also little doubt that integrating the use of more components that are produced off-site under factory controlled conditions, can go a long way to helping to prevent accidents on-site. This includes the availability of carefully selected complimentary components and methods to speed up work on site as well as providing unusual and hard to find environmentally sound, eco-friendly, sustainable and complimentary building products and components that facilitate merging with local vernaculars.
Your Partner in Development
Whether you are an architect, builder or private client, almost certainly you will (at least soon) be aware that
building sites can be very dangerous places. Working with our teams we believe will help you to provide safer
sites as well as better value and more readily marketable homes. Our specialist services deliver best value
and protect the interests of land owners, house-builder developers, professionals and private individuals
seeking to build their dream home. Our off-site construction systems also reduce the amount of material that
gets wasted on site, helping to avoid land fill, hazardous waste separation and handling, They also deliver
better value for you and your customers.
PLEASE CONTACT US FOR AN INFORMAL DISCUSSION AS TO HOW WE MIGHT WORK TOGETHER
Call us to arrange a factory visit and discuss your ideas and needs with our in-house team of professionals for your next project. You’ll be glad you did!