The UK's shrinking houses

From mobile phones to tins of Quality Street, our world and the things in it seem to be getting smaller. Our houses are no exception, according to a new study from Spring, which found that homes have been decreasing in size every decade since the 1950s.

Related topics:  Construction,  Property,  homes,  houses
Property | Reporter
18th April 2023
series of model houses of different sizes on grass
"Following sustained periods of soaring house price growth combined with the increasing cost of borrowing, modern-day house hunters are chasing less space for more money"

The research from national home buying service Spring’s MoveSmart platform, utilising data from Propalt, goes back to the 1930s, highlighting that rooms were at their smallest during this period, with the average living room spanning 172.6 sq ft, the master bedroom of 165.7 sq ft and kitchen 132 sq ft.

These figures steadily climbed until the 1960s and 1970s before starting to decline significantly after this, as Government planning policy steered towards higher density housing on brownfield sites instead of spacious housing on greenfield sites.

Interestingly, today’s homes are closest in size to their 1940s counterparts.

In more recent years the change in size has been less pronounced, although housing prices, not just new builds, have still risen exponentially with high double-digit growth in many areas. During the 2000s, the average size of a living room was 212.5 sq ft which now stands at 194.9 sq ft, a decrease of 8.06%.

The average size of a master bedroom during the 2000s was 144.5 sq ft, which now stands at 142.4 sq ft, a decrease of 3.05%, while the average size of a kitchen was 144.5 sq ft, now standing at 142.4 sq ft, a decrease of 1.05%.

Although smaller than their conventional counterparts, the delivery of new build homes across the UK is crucial to plug the gap of the housing shortage caused by growing population figures. New build homes are highly energy efficient compared to older housing stock in the UK and are also perfect for first-time buyers looking to get their first step on the ladder who don’t want the surprise factor that comes with an older property

Samar Shaheryar, CO-CEO of Spring, comments: “Following sustained periods of soaring house price growth combined with the increasing cost of borrowing, modern-day house hunters are chasing less space for more money."

“The data tells a fascinating story of economic, cultural and societal changes, starting with the 1930s housing boom that helped Britain recover from a double rip recession, through to the rise of home entertaining in the 1950s signalling an increase in living room sizes.

"Then came the 1970s which saw the volume housebuilder make its mark, with rooms since getting progressively smaller as some developers strived to maximise the number of available plots on a piece of land while housing policy pushed for higher density development.”

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