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Small Houses

Updated on June 8, 2013

Small Houses

At one time, new houses in Britain were the smallest in Europe, and the reason? The lack of building regulations regarding living space at that time, according to experts. In Denmark, homes built to regulation had twice the floor space as the small houses that were built here.

In Essex a company had built flats so small that they had only a 34 square metre floor area with a living room measuring three metres by 3.6 metres. In comparison, the average new home in France was 112 square metres.

In 1961 the chairman of the Central Housing Advisory Committee, Sir Parker Morris recommended minimum standards for space and design in British housing. The Committee recommended that a semi-detached house for 4 people should have a floor area of 72 square metres minimum. In 2011, some very powerful people, among them the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson and award-winning architecture critic Ellis Woodman, were astonished at the way that builders were bending the rules and producing homes of such a tiny area that they were being termed, 'rabbit hutch houses.'

Smallest house in Britain

Situated in Conwy, North Wales, the house is only 10 feet by 6 feet. In 1900 the owner was 6foot 3inches tall and couldn't stand upright anywhere.
Situated in Conwy, North Wales, the house is only 10 feet by 6 feet. In 1900 the owner was 6foot 3inches tall and couldn't stand upright anywhere.

No regulation

The Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba), brought out a report in 2011 recommending minimum sizes for accommodation. The report states that , 'Although minimum space standards for England do not currently exist, new minimum space requirements based on daily activities and the space needed for them have recently been introduced by the Greater London Authority (GLA).'

The standards set a minimum internal floor area for the number of bedrooms and the number of people the home is designed to accommodate comfortably. But even these standards are very small areas. A 1 person 1 bedroom flat is recommended at 37 square metres, while a four person three bedroomed flat is recommended at 74 square metres.

Sisters Susan and Dorothy bought their new three-bedroom house on a private estate in Devon in 2007. Soon after moving in they regretted it and are trying to sell.

One sister said, 'We made a big mistake when we bought it. They call it a three-bedroom house - but really it's only big enough for two.' The largest "double bedroom" is just 3.4m (11ft 2in) by 2.5m (8ft 2in), with barely enough room for a double bed. The other two bedrooms are even smaller. The ground floor is just as tiny, with a small kitchen and a lounge-diner.

Change of mind

Some years ago my wife and I were thinking of moving house as both our daughters were moving out and we would be rattling around in a large house on our own. We went to see some of the new builds that were just finished in the area. After viewing some of them, we came away vowing never to buy a new house. The ground floor area of one small house, from front door to back door was smaller than the area of the living room in our existing house. Now, twenty years later our grandaughter's friend lives in one of the small houses that we saw, and they had to take the bedroom doors off and lose them as they couldn't be opened with a bed in the room. Their upstairs is open plan.

It's about time the regulations were changed.

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    • scarytaff profile imageAUTHOR

      Derek James 

      5 years ago from South Wales

      Thanks,mizjo. It amazes me that people will accept these sub standard homes. they must be really desperate.

    • mizjo profile image

      mizjo 

      5 years ago from New York City, NY

      There was a featured article in the New York Times a few months (maybe a couple of years, I'm not sure) ago about a woman living in a 30 sq.ft. apartment in New York City. I don't know how high the ceiling was, but knowing New York building standards now, it couldn't have been too high. There wasn't a single item out of place, and she slept in a climb-up loft just her body size. I guess this beats your 'smallest house in Britain'!

      Interesting article, and I'd like to visit that house when I'm over there.

    • scarytaff profile imageAUTHOR

      Derek James 

      6 years ago from South Wales

      Thanks for commenting, wheelinallover.

    • wheelinallover profile image

      Dennis Thorgesen 

      6 years ago from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S.

      I lived in one of the houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. I was amazed at least in that house there was more square footage in the dining room than any other room in the house.

      It was one and a half stories with the upstairs broken into two bedrooms. There was about 4 ft standing room for an adult but a small child wouldn't bump his head at the lowest point. The total floor space was smaller than the three bedroom house I live in now.

      It was one of the few built locally with a summer kitchen. It resembled a small garage and was 15 ft from the house. The kitchen inside the house was so small there was not 30 inches of walking room once the fridge and stove were put in.

      It would have never held the twelve we have had living here at one time even using the full basement for bedrooms.

      When I was building houses we built a few small houses by United States standards. Even those never felt cramped like the style Frank Lloyd built. One of the mistakes (for farm raised Americans) was his small kitchen. The ones we built always had the kitchen as the largest room. You would be amazed what farm raised people will give up for an eat in kitchen. We always used an open floor plan which made the viewable area bigger.

      According to what you said in this article my current kitchen and dining room are as big as the houses being built there. Thanks for SHARING.

    • scarytaff profile imageAUTHOR

      Derek James 

      6 years ago from South Wales

      Thanks for commenting, Dale.

    • Dale Hyde profile image

      Dale Hyde 

      6 years ago from Tropical Paradise on Planet X

      Most interesting! The "unusual" always intrigues me! Thanks for SHARING! Voted up.

    • scarytaff profile imageAUTHOR

      Derek James 

      6 years ago from South Wales

      Cheers, Gaizy.

    • Gaizy profile image

      Gaizy 

      6 years ago from Denbigh, North Wales, UK

      Very true Scarytaff - The incredible shrinking house syndrome seems to have taken over everywhere - Thanks for SHARING.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 

      6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      you're welcome, scary!

    • scarytaff profile imageAUTHOR

      Derek James 

      6 years ago from South Wales

      Thanks for visiting, PDX

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 

      6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      very informative HUB. as an american, I always wondered why houses in that part of the world always seemed really small. Now I know!

    • scarytaff profile imageAUTHOR

      Derek James 

      6 years ago from South Wales

      Thanks, Eddy.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 

      6 years ago from Wales

      What anamazing hub scarytaff, I have never been to visit this shop but will definitly try to now in the not too distant future.

      Thank you so much for sharing nd here's an up up and away from me.

      Take care and enjoy your day.

      Eddy.

    • scarytaff profile imageAUTHOR

      Derek James 

      6 years ago from South Wales

      Glad you enjoyed it No.7

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 

      6 years ago from Upstate New York

      This WAS interesting. Those houses have less space than my apartment. It made me feel I'm living in a palace here! Thanks!

    • scarytaff profile imageAUTHOR

      Derek James 

      6 years ago from South Wales

      Thanks for reading and commenting, alocsin.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 

      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I love small houses -- easier to clean and keep track of, and it forces you to keep only things of value to avoid clutter. Voting this Up and Interesting.

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