16 May 2012 | By Tom Lloyd, Inside Housing

Much British housing is cramped and fails to meet the needs of its occupants, a study has found.

The research from the Royal Institute of British Architects and Ipsos MORI has found examples of people who are forced to keep their groceries in the back of a car, or their cleaning equipment with relatives, because of a lack of space in their home.

Ben Page, chief executive of Ipsos MORI, 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.’

The research was undertaken to find out the key qualities people want in their homes. The findings (see box, below) will feed into the work of the Future Homes Commission, an inquiry that is producing recommendations for housing design.

The study found people would like an independent body to regulate the quality of new homes, and free information to help consumers compare the performance of different properties.

Harry Rich, chief executive of RIBA, said: ‘It has been over half a century since a government-tasked committee researched how households live, yet the size and designs of homes being built now are still defined by that great but out-of-date report – from a time when we had sewing boxes in our living rooms and indoor toilets needed regulating.

‘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.’
What people want from their homes

The report found eight key features that people want from their homes:

  •     Long-term and short-term storage for functional items
  •     Dedicated space for domestic utility tasks
  •     Large windows for natural light, large rooms and high ceilings
  •     Large main living area
  •     Layouts which take into account technology used within the home
  •     Space for private time away from other members of the household
  •     Private space outside or access to green public space in urban locations
  •     Options for different home layouts