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Why Are New Build Houses So Rubbish?

101 posts in this topic

Councils have minimum density requirements these requirements lead to housing to meet these density requirements.

This coupled with affordable housing having to be pepperpotted with open market housing leads to low cost low level housing.

It is very difficult to build large houses as the density will be lower than the councils policy. It is then also difficult to build decent sized houses on decent plots as those who want to buy these houses do not want to live next door to affordable housing.

This has lead to the cut paste developments we see in every town and city where the small 2.5 bed house with an 8m garden is most common.

This is the safe option for developers as it ticks the council policy box and delivers affordable so politicians can then pat themselves on the back.

If a developer seeks high quality detached houses in most areas the need for a large % to be affordable kicks it in the nuts.

Funny thing is, affordability is purely a function of land price.. A couple working a combined 60 hours a week on minimum wage could afford a 3-bed semi quite happily if a building plot with permission cost £5k.

Other problem is supply and demand; the actual supply of new build property is quite small so the 'demand' can't be fussy about the quality.

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The really irritating thing is that the central cause of all of these problems is easily fixed. Land itself isn't expensive - a quick search of farmland prices and you'll see it's rock-bottom. £40k for a dozen acres maybe. The only thing that makes it silly expensive is once you have planning permission. I don't see why local councils can't just buy or compulsary-purchase-order the land they want to develop on at agricultural prices and then grant it planning permission afterwards. They could then sell plots for people to build their house on. All that lovely profit would go to the council. Put in a few restrictions to stop them concreting over everything in sight in a mad grab for cash and you've got yourself a workable system.

I'm surprised the quality of new build houses isn't in the news more often. They're shockingly bad, caused in large part by stupid planning policy dictated from central government. They're the slums of the future and only an idiot would buy one unless they really couldn't afford anything else.

I think the whole Nimby-ism thing regarding new houses could partially be addressed if the new houses were actually good. Nobody really wants a new housing estate built next to them, but it makes it much worse if it's tightly packed, badly-built rabbit hutch housing you just know will be inhabited by the dregs of society in a few years once the shine has worn off. However if it's a nice estate, your own house benefits from the halo effect and could actually rise in value as a result.

We should really compile a list of the most mind-numbingly obvious good ideas they could use to improve housing. You don't need to set up a 3 year £25m quango to study it to come up with stuff like this - it should be plain old common sense.

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The average cost of building a house is £24,500???

Yes houses are relative cheap to build when building in volume.

Remember, it's not the space shuttle, it's a pile of bricks with some wood and slates on top, some wood and glass jammed in the holes and and layer of plasterboard added to the inside.

You don't HAVE to spend £8000 on a kitchen and £5000 on a bathroom, kitchens for £800 and bathrooms for £500 work just as well.

Windows and doors come in standard sizes for less than £100 a pop.

Houses don't NEED underfloor heating with premium granite tiles, and staircases don't need to have been designed by an artist.

Edited by RufflesTheGuineaPig

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Councils have minimum density requirements these requirements lead to housing to meet these density requirements.

I think they have minimum density requirements for Council employees too.

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Agreed, they are cheap modern day slums.

If you can't have a good old fashioned log fire it sucks even more...

There seems to be a fashion at the moment for building three storey town houses, and the only thing that separates these things from a scene from Oliver Twist is that they are new at the moment. But given twenty or so years and I agree these could be the slums of the future.

Often these are built in a circle so that you have an inner court where no light penetrates.

What the f**k are the planners trying to do and what possesses people to buy them. The point also about limited supply of new must be the explanation. However, is newness worth living in Whitechapel circa 1890.

Given the choice between brutalist 1970s concrete blocks and noughties high density three storey town houses, the depression factor aint much different.

Edited by crashmonitor

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This seems to be more of a problem the closer you get to the SE of England. Mate of mine has bought a new build (4 bed detached) just outside Glasgow and paid just over £200k for it. I went round to take a look at it the other week expecting it to be awful, and I was pleasantly surprised by a few things.

The things I found that were good were:

(1) Space between him and his neighbours was actually ok (enough to fit a car on both sides)

(2) Decent enough sized back garden with 6 foot privacy fences all round.

(3) Driveway big enough for 3 cars (maybe four at a push) with a wee front lawn between the front of the house and the pavement.

(4) Living room at the back, with french doors onto back garden so nice and bright

(5) Good size kitchen and pretty nicely done integrated units and appliances

(6) Laybys for visitor parking at frequent intervals throughout the estate (was very surprised by this after reading the usual threads on here about parking restrictions in new build areas).

The downsides I could see were:

(1) Small bedrooms

(2) Not a great deal of storage space (although the loft is a good size, but not exactly handy for storing stuff that is used a lot)

(3) As noted, the garage is more of a storage area than somewhere you can actually put a car.

(4) No carpets anywhere inside and no grass or slabs on the back garden (just mud) so a lot of money needing to be spent right away by the new owner

Could he have got a nicer 1960s house for the same amount of money? To me, he probably could. But when I looked round it I actually found myself thinking, you know what, this is actually alright.

Him and his wife plan to live there for pretty much the rest of their lives, so it's not like they are bothered about the change in value of their home over the next few years. There's all the usual arguments about opportunity cost and all that jazz, but I think they want kids soon which wasn't practical in their 1 bed flat.

Edited by Jie Bie

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One of the issues that seems to have been overlooked is the cost of a new build propoerty. You are looking at £1000 per square meter for a pretty average finish (and yes I quite accept that you can build for less if you are good at DIY, have a mate who is a builder and the like, but for most it is not an option). Part of the reason for this is the cost of materials. You would have thought in a recession that prices might fall but it is quite the converse for a number of reasons: imports being more expensive, quantitive easing, low carbon, a few multi nationals owning all of the supplying companies, etc. The 200m2 house that is the norm in North America costs over £200k to build here. The big builders are not making massive profits - have a look at the net margins in the most recent results. At the moment, it is pretty much impossible to build economically for residential. It's another reason why land density is so high and house sizes so small.

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So totally agree, new houses are awful. I looked at a place on a new estate in Sussex when I was shopping around back in 2009. The cheapest "family house" was teeny tiny and cost half a mil. It just didn't feel like a proper house, no hall way, no landing, all the rooms on top of each other. Even the 2 big show piece detached houses on the estate were the same, they just had a couple of extra rooms squeezed in for almost a £1m.

We ended up spending much less on a Victorian property in the London / Surrey 'burbs. We got large rooms with high ceilings, front door opens into a hallway with corridors leading to other rooms, landing on the next floor and the huge loft had been converted by the previous owners. Fortunately they had updated all the other key things too. Also nearer the station, shorter commute and situated in a popular family area.

I can see how people are suckered in though, when you get shown round these places look very swish with their gleaming bathrooms and kitchens. Fortunately I learnt the lesson of looking for space already thanks to renting a new build flat. We were well chuffed when we got in, but quickly realised the high finish didn't make up for the lack of space. We couldn't even open the beautifully fitted cupboard doors fully in the master bedroom once the bed was actually in there!! You couldn't make it up.

We got fed up and rented a 3 bed house for the same price as that "luxury" flat. Crazy, you could genuinely buy a 3 bed Victorian house for less than a new flat in that part of town. Each to their own, old properties aren't for everyone.

the norm in North America costs over £200k to build here.

This is something Iv'e tried to point out before. I bought my place in 2009 and the cost to rebuild,as determined by the surveyor, wasn't a million miles from the cost of the house. When you allow a nominal amount for a 'decent' London / Surrey suburban plot suddenly prices seem more understandable.

I guess prices can fall lower than the cost price to build, but I don't understand the consequences of that, or whether it's particularly likely. At that point house building will clearly grind to a halt as no profit can be made, yet demand is said to be increasing.

Edited by kazap

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The problem isn't the density per se, its housebuilders' inability to produce decent design. This was the inspiration for hte density reuqirement - to try to recreate garden cities or victorian suburbs (the ones that most people seem to love)....

"To build below 30 dwellings per ha you have to plan pretty inefficiently. The garden cities comfortably achieve densities of 30-40dph; Victorian terraces between 60-80dph; and the Abercrombie Plan around 62dph. Importantly, they all accommodate generous family housing."

"

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Interesting but why are they so obsessed with eliminating cars. The example of detached houses at 35 dph had one off street car parking space per house. As far as I'm concerned, a detached house which doesn't have a driveway you can park at least 2 cars on is a joke.

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Another point to think about when buying on a new development:

We bought our house when it was about five years old, on a development that had been in place for about a year longer than that.

Because the original developer had gone bust the roads had not been finished off, although the first hard surface had been laid (don't know the technical name for it). We checked to be sure that the roads would be finished off, and in due course they were.

What we hadn't bargained for was the fact that, once the roads were complete, the council installed a vast array of unwanted speed humps, bollards, chicanes, and the like, all of which severely restricted parking space. We were recently visited by our PCSO and warned that anyone parking next to a piece of pavement with dimples on it would be prosecuted, as the dimpled pavement was a designated crossing place ( The only person I've seen making a deliberate detour to cross the road at the dimples is of course our PCSO)

Not a big deal really, but just another irritating example of our public servants doing what they think is good for us (or good for them, at any rate )

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Another point to think about when buying on a new development:

We bought our house when it was about five years old, on a development that had been in place for about a year longer than that.

Because the original developer had gone bust the roads had not been finished off, although the first hard surface had been laid (don't know the technical name for it). We checked to be sure that the roads would be finished off, and in due course they were.

What we hadn't bargained for was the fact that, once the roads were complete, the council installed a vast array of unwanted speed humps, bollards, chicanes, and the like, all of which severely restricted parking space. We were recently visited by our PCSO and warned that anyone parking next to a piece of pavement with dimples on it would be prosecuted, as the dimpled pavement was a designated crossing place ( The only person I've seen making a deliberate detour to cross the road at the dimples is of course our PCSO)

Not a big deal really, but just another irritating example of our public servants doing what they think is good for us (or good for them, at any rate )

think yourself lucky that the council and services have adopted the estate

take the development at rhoose point for example

http://saverhoose.mf...oint/4542729643

Well where do we start??? Originally billed as a 240 acre development providing 500 new homes, Land for retail use, a nature reserve and a golf course.Billed as the biggest public-private funded project in Wales.

What did we end up with?? 600 homes no retail, no nature reserve centre and no golf club.

Problem after problem!!!

Unfortunate residents who bought a number of propertys soon found their gardens and homes being flooded from the farmers field north of the railway line.... This was after investigation found to be due to draingae problems for the new development ...,,,, This led to the council and Welsh water refusing to adopt the Housing estate.

Concerned residents were further let down when Cofton the developers went into administration in 2009, So far, Welsh Water has refused to formally adopt the drainage system because it does not meet the company's standards.

The administrators will now have to decide if there is scope to carry out the necessary work to bring the drainage system up to standard.

If they decide they are not responsible, residents could be faced with having to foot the bill for any repair work to the system.

Bear in mind this is several years the residents have battled for the Vale of Glamorgan to take the matter in hand!!!

Couple this with now plans put in for a further 350 homes on Rhoose Point and you'd almost laugh that the council would even allow such a development when the original schmee remains unfinished and nowhere near the original planning application.

Rhoose as far as facilities and infrastructure go cannot cope with these additional numbers put on it by the proposed housing.

A housing estate built in a quarry just above sea level , with pumps designed for a smaller estate to pump out the sewage ...

rhoose-sewage-605320793.jpg

Residents in half a million pound houses sometimes wake up to the smell of raw sewage ....it also gets into the the quarry pit pond (sorry nature reserve)

Ive heard locals call it lego land

reminds me of one of those spanish developments ......The houses themselves are quite nice , but they are jammed in ...

Edited by Tankus

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Interesting but why are they so obsessed with eliminating cars. The example of detached houses at 35 dph had one off street car parking space per house. As far as I'm concerned, a detached house which doesn't have a driveway you can park at least 2 cars on is a joke.

Well I don't like cars very much, partiuclarly as the father of two girls I see them as the greatest single risk to them... by far... but I take your point in that even if you design them out people still bring them with them. Mind you, I don't drive and have always lived near good public transport connections so perhaps I am an out of touch urbanite. On the other hand:

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think yourself lucky that the council and services have adopted the estate

take the development at rhoose point for example

http://saverhoose.mf...oint/4542729643

A housing estate built in a quarry just above sea level , with pumps designed for a smaller estate to pump out the sewage ...

rhoose-sewage-605320793.jpg

Residents in half a million pound houses sometimes wake up to the smell of raw sewage ....it also gets into the the quarry pit pond (sorry nature reserve)

Ive heard locals call it lego land

reminds me of one of those spanish developments ......The houses themselves are quite nice , but they are jammed in ...

I bet they Rhoo the day they moved in and feel a bit of a (Llan)twit.

They have my sympathies though, that sort of Bover(ton) could Athan to anyone.

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Interesting but why are they so obsessed with eliminating cars. The example of detached houses at 35 dph had one off street car parking space per house. As far as I'm concerned, a detached house which doesn't have a driveway you can park at least 2 cars on is a joke.

I saw an interesting garden suburb a while back, big Victorian terraced houses, 3 bed I suppose, with good sized front gardens facing out onto a pedestrianised paved street. Big back gardens, with garages at the bottoms onto little service roads behind the garages. Very nice walkable area but also with lots of cars parked up but out of the way of the children playing in the street. Amazing to walk along this street and see people in their front gardens chatting with neighbours across the way etc.

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Weren't regulations on minimum size, relaxed in the 80's, to encourage the building of tiny cardboard flats? :unsure:

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Any examples/names please? (Genuine question)

In my area of the southeast I would say house builders fall into three categories and only one of them truley delivers a good quality home that I would want to live in.

The three categories I would say exist are: (1. really good low volume, 2. Upper end of the mainstream 3. mainstream volume rubbish)

1. Small local builders that build a handfull of houses between them each year, i.e. using proper materials, wooden windows, hand made roof tiles, good qaulity brick work or reclaimed bricks, or perhaps oakframed houses. There are about 5 or 6 local to me that I can think of, probably a few more kicking about. One of which we bought a house from and it was of very good quality.

2. The likes of Bewley and Berkley (sorry spelling) who are a little better than the mainstream builders and provide a better product, but at a price. I have seen quite a lot of their houses round here sell at quite a discount when the first owner sells up. i.e they were paying a premium for the quality.

3. The big household names. We looked at a house recently by one of the big names, and although the birck work etc look ok the windows appeared to be the cheapest plastic going and the internal fittings such as doors were the most rubbish carboard type things you have seen and for a mere 700k bargin!

So there are nice good quaity new homes, but they are few and far between, and if you want a big plot there is going to be a serious premium to pay. Finding your own plot is one way to go, but not one we have managed yet, and we have tried very hard to find something decent/affordable...

So in answer to the question search for local builders on the web....

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Average floor area of new homes built 2003-6 in m2

The illustration says it all really.

The Cabe survey questioned residents of homes built between 2003 and 2006, in London or within an hour's travel time of the capital.

_46216562_houses_466_4.gif

Link

However, the average household size in some of these nations is slightly higher- perhaps they can afford to have more kids with bigger, cheaper housing.

They probably have fathers too. That seems a rarity in 21st century's britain 'family' homes.

Edited by Executive Sadman

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(snip)

What we hadn't bargained for was the fact that, once the roads were complete, the council installed a vast array of unwanted speed humps, bollards, chicanes, and the like, all of which severely restricted parking space. We were recently visited by our PCSO and warned that anyone parking next to a piece of pavement with dimples on it would be prosecuted, as the dimpled pavement was a designated crossing place ( The only person I've seen making a deliberate detour to cross the road at the dimples is of course our PCSO)

Not a big deal really, but just another irritating example of our public servants doing what they think is good for us (or good for them, at any rate )

I am with the PCSO on this, those lowered dimpled crossing were introduced to make it easier for people in wheelchairs to cross the road. I'm sure people with prams/pushchairs find them handy too.

While I take your point about lack of parking spaces, there is a lot of inconsiderate parking about which causes pedestrians and cyclists no end of irritation in particular parking half on the pavement.

Edited by funinhounslow

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Great thread. The standard of new builds is scandalous. The space issue is one thing, but that doesn't explain the piss poor quality. I don't really have anything to add except my own experiences. Have lived in three privately rented new builds, all in Manchester, all of which were fairly nice. We're not talking punch-through walls, raw sewage etc. But in terms of building quality, not one of them has got close to the standard of my mum and dad's 1950s council house.

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particular parking half on the pavement.

It doesn't do car tyres any favours either. Having lent my car out to other family for it to be parked up on the kerb for hours on end, I blame for inner wall tyre bulge for 2 Goodyear Eagles on the parked up side that had loads of tread left, causing failure at MOT a couple of years ago and requiring replacing. Probably contributing to the advisories for play in ball joints and pins and bushes too.

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article-2137741-0F7A252500000578-550_472x310.jpg

Photo from the Daily Mail today. It looks like a perfect example of what is wrong with the few new build estates that were built under the previous planning rules.

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article-2137741-0F7A252500000578-550_472x310.jpg

Photo from the Daily Mail today. It looks like a perfect example of what is wrong with the few new build estates that were built under the previous planning rules.

Usury units for the slave box society.

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The full misery of those who have bought shoddy new-builds as developers 'cut corners to hit targets'

Almost 16,000 families a year are having to move into new-build homes that have not been finished. There have been too many reports of new homes that are quite simply uninhabitable. The industry is tilted too far in favour of developers, and the complaints system is too confusing. A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment found more than nine in ten buyers report problems to their builder. Now MPs are privately lobbying the Government to intervene, fearing that standards are falling as builders rake in huge profits. Britain's biggest house builders nearly all reported soaring profits last month.

Thousands of victims of poor workmanship have formed groups on social media websites such as Facebook, including Taylor Wimpey Unhappy Customers, Avoid Persimmon Homes and Bovis Homes Victims GroupDaily Mail

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