Are micro homes the answer to the UK’s housing problem?

Viral videos promoting this new fad have been circulating the internet for the past year or so but the question is; do micro homes really serve a purpose in today’s UK housing market?

First of all, what is a micro home? Whilst they do vary in size, a common description is a home that measures less than 37 square metres. The reason for which the size is so specific is because 37 square metres is the minimum space standard set by the government for a one-bedroom flat. There are reservations surrounding the current topic as many believe minimum space standards are there for a reason and an infringement on that would be an infringement on basic human rights.

Last year alone, 7,809 micro-homes were built in the UK, just over a 2000 increase from 2015, with popularity only growing. However, it is not unsurprising that there is a strong backlash from those who have coined the term “dog kennel” homes. With living becoming more and more expensive, especially for young, first time buyers, surely it seems like an obvious economic solution, right?

The issue that arises is the fact that although it may be a good way to get a foot on the housing ladder, what if it is just about downsizing? Downsizing in the sense of achieving more profit for the big companies rather than saving money for the young buyer. While prices are enticing, buyers may lose out in the long run.

It seems as if these micro-homes are targeting a specific market –– first time buyers. One of the reasons why there has been such a surge in building these tiny homes is due to the crash of 2008. In 2008, loans to first time buyers stood at 47% and despite recovering since then, figures still stand at levels below those seen before 2003. Big cities like Liverpool, Birmingham and London are certain ‘hotspots’ for these types of home for obvious reasons; they are easy to build, relatively cheap to install and offer good locations at affordable prices.

However, the misconception is that less space equals less comfort when this is perhaps not necessarily true. The point of a micro-home is efficiency; they possess qualities that incorporate a smart use of space rather than just providing a hovel in which to dwell. Many are equipped with furniture that can be transformed as and when you need it to be, including: desks that turn into dining tables, storage drawers in beds etc.

Ultimately, if first time buyers are willing to live in such environments until they can save enough to buy a larger property in the future, then is there a problem? If it is only a stepping stone on the way to a better property then, yes, it could work. But, if micro housing comes to replace the default means of housing whilst houses for first time buyers continues to be impossible to obtain then the very principle and initial reasoning for micro homes becomes redundant.



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