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UK Property Floor Space Smallest in Europe

Rabbit Hutch Britain – says The Daily Telegraph.

The smallest new houses of 15 Western European countries says The Mail.

But is this a problem?

There are many benefits to small space living and we’d like to consider the up sides as well as the down sides here.

There are downsides, we can’t avoid stating that. In the UK the average new build house in 76 square metres, and that’s one of the smallest in Europe. Our overall housing stock averages out at 86 square metres and only Portugal, Greece and Finland are smaller. However when you look at Hong Kong, where the average new home is only 45 metres square it suddenly seems that we are living in spacious luxury.

At the worst extremes a lack of space can lead to health concerns including depression and tension resulting from a lack of privacy, and while a 45 metre square flat could be great for a singleton, trying to live in it as a family could bring a bigger challenge.

New properties tend to sacrifice storage space, and it’s hard to notice that when you’re lured by the bright shiny beauty of the show home.

But let’s consider for a moment the advantages.

So you have no storage space? Well how about you consider all those things you’re looking to store. I’m guilty of this too, instead of wallpaper, our flat’s walls are decorated with thousands of CDs that I’ve amassed over the years, and yet every single one of them is also stored on a hard drive that takes up less space than a book. Oh and books, yes I’m guilty again, I can’t resist the temptation of a paper tome at home, even though I love my Kindle.

Let’s not even start on how many clothes someone actually needs.

Our supposed need for space must be directly linked to our decades of consumerism and our amassing of so much “stuff” that we no longer need, or perhaps never needed in the first place.

En-suites have much to answer for. It’s nice to be able to roll out of bed and into the shower without seeing the rest of the household, but if we’re saying we’re short of space then the family bathroom is the way to go, let’s sacrifice those ten minutes of comfort and enjoy more living space instead.

If we look to New York or Japan for inspiration we’ll find beautiful homes that offer comfort and luxury, yet at a fraction of the size that we probably think we need.

Get a boat builder to design your living space and you’ll benefit from a multifunctional space where the things you need every day are all at hand, but those that are less frequently used might take longer to access.

The huge advantages of small space living relate to cost and effort.

Smaller spaces are cheaper to build, use less resources, and moreover are cheaper to heat.

If anyone tells me they just love cleaning I’ll find it hard to believe – so why clean a huge space when you could get away with less work.

In a RIBA survey 47% of people complained that their new homes weren’t big enough to house their possessions – but what if they didn’t have those possessions in the first place?

Let’s take a different approach to living where we own the things we regularly use, and hire, or borrow those that we have occasional need for. We’ll save money, save space, save resources, and we can leave the sprawling mansions for those who can afford to have someone else in to look after them.

I’m going to practise what I preach. I’m planning a space that needs to be office, and living studio, with kitchen and bathroom and I only have 29 square metres. It’ll be a challenge, and I know it’ll involve discipline, but I’m hoping that with the right insulation and careful consideration the space won’t even need to be heated unless it’s really cold outside. It won’t quite achieve PassiveHaus standards, but a couple of people in this room should be enough to heat it. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Let’s live with less and it might just mean we live better too.

Images courtesy of ashabot and Brodie Karel

online poll by Opinion Stage

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