Still not understanding the cost of housing

So we\’ve this lovely piece on self-build housing.

Building costs in Almere vary depending on how much the buyers do themselves, but she says they average from €800 per sq m to €1,800. That\’s around £72,000-£160,000 for someone wanting the same sort of floorspace as the typical British three-bed semi (around 105 sq m).

Yup, that\’s about right. Have done something with very similar sums down here. Although 105 sq m is pretty bloody small as floor space for a 3 bed house (ie, two floors). In fact it\’s tiny.

However, here\’s where they go off the rails:

Keeping homes affordable is key to the Homeruskwartier project, which means creating plots for self-build flats as well as houses. Tellinga cites one group of 25 individuals who built a block of flats. Including the plot and building, the cost of each flat was just £69,000, without any subsidy. Cutting out the developer\’s profit – and those expensive marketing suites – saves a small fortune.

No, that\’s not what reduces the costs, not at all.

Deon Lombard, an architect from Twickenham, is sceptical that the Dutch approach will work in Britain because of the \”stranglehold, inherent conservatism and lack of vision in the British planning system\”.

His own repeated attempts at self-build have fallen foul of Richmond upon Thames planners and the Planning Inspectorate, leaving his plot of land, purchased in 2001 in the hope of building a family home, lying fallow.

That\’s it.

They are comparing the cost of building a house once you have managed to gain planning permission with hte cost of a house including the cost of having to gain planning permission.

And, as we know, planning permission has a scarcity value.

So, if you really wanted to make self-build part of the solution (and why not?) what you would do is simply say that if you\’ve a plot of land that\’s roughly around and about where we\’d be happy for someone to build a house (ie, not in the middle of Hyde Park) and you own that piece of land, well, get on with it then. Have fun.

Ah, yes, silly me, I\’d forgotten. That is what the Coalition is trying to move towards (however hesitantly) and My God aren\’t people screaming about it?

11 comments on “Still not understanding the cost of housing

  1. Well, on a quick look at the web, the cheapest 3 bed new-build near me is 87m2, the most expensive 129m2, so 105 doesn’t seem to be too far from a reasonable guess. Houses may just be getting smaller.

    But ignoring developers’ profits isn’t sensible – neither is ignoring the savings they make because they are building in bulk to well proven plans and schedules, rather than bespoke one-offs (for those doing the actual building, even if the self-build is from a kit.) Nor the costs involved in getting planning permission.

    It’s one of these things that is clearly “more complicated than is acceptable for a soundbite.”

  2. Sorry, and the price for the cheapy, £145k. For the more expensive, £182k. So somewhere between £1400 and £1700 per sq m. At the upper end, admittedly, but still within their self-build bracket (and, of course, there is opportunity cost to doing things yourselves.)

    Despite developer’s profit and “expensive marketing suites.” Anyway, almost any housebuilder’s marketing suite I’ve ever seen is either just one of the higher end properties, with a couple of rooms temporarily kitted out as offices (which, like the show-houses, will later be sold, or may even be the show-house) or, more normally, a largish portakabin. We must be deprived compared to the Dutch.

  3. To concur withe SE@ 1, if Tim thinks 105m2 is tiny for a 3 bed semi that may say a lot more about Tim than UK housing.
    If you want to see tiny, have look at what’s gone up on developments the last few years. I can recall a ‘3rd bedroom’ that measured 8’6″‘ x 6’9″

  4. bloke in spain

    Nothing new about tiny 3rd bedrooms. When I was a child we had a standard 3-bedroom semi built in the 1930s. My bedroom was 6’6″ by 8’6″.

  5. What was in the vernacular of the time, a ‘box room’. Bet you had a 2’6″ bed to go in it?

    Never sure if something that has the room to put a bed but little else should be dignified with the description of ‘bedroom’. More a cupboard to keep kids in.

  6. UK houses are getting smaller and ever so small compared with Europe.See>Shoebox homes become the UK norm on the Net which gives examples where standard furniture won’t fit in new builds and European comparisons.It’s TW who is still not understanding the cost of housing: it’s the cost of land .(Something which his close study of the works of Adam Smith should equip him to deal with by suggesting a permanent tax of land values.)

  7. bloke in spain

    No, it was an iron framed bedstead that took up nearly half the room so must have been at least 3′. But “bed” room is an accurate description of a room that small, isn’t it? Like “bath” room, in my house – originally that’s all it contained. Now it has a sink and toilet as well it’s a bit cramped!

  8. Just in case anybody is interested, in the smaller house from my example, the 3rd bedroom is 11’4″x7’4″, in the larger, it is 8’8″ x 9’0″.

  9. FC
    I think we have to accept that in the 80 years since those 30’s semi’s were built, living patterns & expectations have changed. It’s quite possible a child or young adult’s entire possessions could have fitted in a small suitcase. The architects tended to sacrifice the space in the smallest bedroom to gain space in the master bedroom & accommodate the bulky bedroom furniture of the era.
    I probably should have made it clearer in the original comment that they certainly hadn’t tried to do that with the modern semi. The other two bedrooms were exceedingly cramped.
    Incidentally, the reason I had the dimensions in my head was because the owners of the house needed a storage solution which ended up being a platform bed with hanging space, drawers & a desk under . What puzzled me was why the bed couldn’t go across the room. Looking up the file it turned out the widest point dimension was 6’9″. Another foot odd had been pinched off of part of one wall to allow for the wardrobe in the next room!
    You have to feel some sympathy for folk who buy these sort of places. When they viewed the development, they only saw one of the larger houses ‘dressed’ as a show house with minimal furniture. Empty, the smaller versions look deceivingly spacious, especially so because of the low ceilings. Most people can’t get there heads round turning dimensions on paper into reality. When I saw it they’d been there a year & were still trying to find furniture to fit. Doesn’t help that a lot of the Ikea stuff they fancied & could afford is made noticeably oversized. Beds are over 2m long & in both single & double wider than UK traditional.

    Turning to the self build notion that is the subject of the post, I was reading of the requirement being brought in that new houses have to be ‘carbon neutral’. If mains gas isn’t possible, oil or LPG is now out. It has to be pelletised wood or heat pumps. £5000+ for the former, up to £18000 for ground source for the latter. Little of that will be a DIY proposition.
    And they want more affordable housing?

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