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Much of British housing is “cramped and poorly planned”, the chief executive of Ipsos MORI has said after new research on public attitudes was published by the organisation and partner the RIBA.
The RIBA Ipsos MORI report ‘The Way we live now: What people need and expect from their homes’ – the first of its kind for over 50 years – examined the needs and expectations people have for their homes, how they use the space in their homes and how they choose a new property.
It will be used as evidence by the Future Homes Commission, a national inquiry established by the RIBA which is developing recommendations for how houses should be designed and delivered in future.
More storage space was highlighted as a need when choosing a home, as was better-designed space and more flexible layouts.
The report found examples such as individuals storing their vacuum cleaner at their mother’s house and supermarket food kept in the boot of the car.
The report said the desire to get on the housing ladder was a major cause of such scenarios, with people choosing homes that are too small for their needs.
Chief executive of Ipsos MORI, Ben Page said: “The research graphically shows just how cramped and poorly planned much of our housing is today, and the extraordinary lengths people go to cope with it. RIBA is absolutely right to draw attention to it.”
The two organisations said the report proved that consumers wanted the establishment of an “independent, cross-professional body to regulate the quality of, and provide free information about new-build homes” and “free information” to help homeowners compare issues such as noise, light, safety and environmental performance.
But policy director at the Home Builders Federation, John Slaughter, said further regulation would be a “backwards step” and questioned Page’s comments.
“It is surprising that the monitoring company employed to carry out an independent survey is making such value judgements on the results,” he said.
“The survey looks at a range of types and ages of housing to reach its conclusions, but the fact is that the new homes industry is already delivering outstanding levels of customer satisfaction with 9 out of 10 consumers saying they would recommend their builder to a friend.
“While we are always looking at ways to improve new housing it is important to understand the constraints on delivery – something the report fails to do.
“For instance, the recommendation to set up a further ‘regulatory body’ at a time when it is recognised that red tape is restricting housing construction and failing consumers is a backward step and reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the house building process.”
Harry Rich, RIBA chief executive said: “Until today there has been no evidence base that sets out how we are living now and what we want from our homes. 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.”
According to the report, the eight key features that people need and want from their homes today are:
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- we want our 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.
Surveyors report increased Q1 activity in face of ONS data which showed 3% contraction
The latest RICS Construction Market Survey suggests the sector edged upwards in the first three months of 2012 – contrasting with the sharp fall in output suggested by official economic data.
Some 8% more chartered surveyors reported increases rather than decreases in workloads during the first quarter of the calendar year, described as a “notable improvement” on the negative reading seen towards the end of last year.
The institution said the finding reflected a “marked contrast in performance between the private and public sectors”, with the former picking up in the commercial sector in particular, while public sector construction remained depressed.
Last month the Office for National Statistics said a 3% decline in construction sector production was a significant factor in the UK economy’s return to recession.
The RICS said an important aspect of its latest construction sector survey was that some 21% of respondents expected workloads to rise over the coming 12 months – the most positive reading since 2008.
RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said there was a cautious level of optimism developing. “Workloads rose across the sector, albeit modestly, and this looks as though it could continue over the next twelve months,” he said.
“Promisingly, this could also result in an increase in the numbers of jobs created in the sector.
“There are of course still significant hurdles to overcome. Finance for development remains a problem as does macro-economic uncertainty. On top of this, the public sector will continue to scale back its capital spending programme putting ever more pressure on the private sector and institutional investors to deliver.”
Surveyors in most parts of the country saw either a rise or a steadier trend in workloads from the beginning of January to the end of March.
Those in London and the south-east reported the highest rises in overall activity, while those in the north recorded the first positive reading since the final quarter of 2007. The picture in Northern Ireland was described as “more problematic”, with activity levels still slipping.
Overall input costs – such as raw materials and labour – continued to increase in the three months to March as a net balance of 29% more respondents reported rises in outlays. The most significant increases in costs were seen in materials, while staffing costs remained flat.
New data from Savills Building & Project Consultancy underscored the RICS findings in relation to commercial property.
It found rising development in the sector in April for a second consecutive month, with the Total Commercial Development Activity Index, a net balance monitoring the overall performance of the UK commercial property sector, registering an 8.1% increase in April, following a 13.1% rise in March.
Michael Pillow head of building consultancy at Savills said the figures raised further questions on the official statistics in relation to construction output.
Rebound in housing market runs out of steam
Published: 08 May, 2012
UK: The more optimistic outlook for the residential property market looked to have run out of steam in April as prices edged lower, says the latest RICS UK Housing Market survey (7 May 2012).
Across the country, 19 percent more chartered surveyors reported falls rather than rises in house prices. Alongside this, expectations for future prices reached their lowest level this year with a net balance of 17 percent more respondents predicting further drops (from -3 percent).
Demand from potential buyers was relatively flat during April as five percent more surveyors reported increases rather than decreases in new buyer enquiries (from +10 percent in March). Meanwhile new instructions, a good indicator of supply coming onto the housing market, was once again stable as one percent more respondents reported falls rather than rises in new homes coming up for sale. While flat, the level of supply has not seen any significant drops since July last year.
Following the upturn in activity seen towards the expiry of March’s stamp duty holiday, in April transaction levels entered negative territory for the first time since September, as six percent more respondents across the UK reported decreases rather than increases in transaction levels.
Across the UK, London was again the only part of the country to see prices rise, albeit at the slowest rate since the middle of 2011, while the West Midlands and Wales saw the most significant declines with net balance readings of -43 and -39 percent respectively.
Looking ahead, while surveyors’ predictions for future prices saw a notable dip, expectations for transaction levels once again remained positive with a net balance of +15 percent more respondents expecting sales to rise over the coming three months.
Peter Bolton King, RICS housing spokesperson, commented: “With the recent surge in activity brought on by March’s stamp duty holiday coming to an end, it is unsurprising to see that prices across much of the country are continuing to fall.
“Renewed concerns over the economy and talk of a double dip recession dominating the headlines in recent weeks may well have served to undermine consumer confidence. What’s more, the continuing lack of affordable mortgage finance is still hindering many first time buyers who cannot afford to get a foot on the property ladder.”
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