The late, lamented Douglas Adams wrote mockingly about the seemingly needless profession of telephone-hygienist. There are other jobs that make me wonder if the world would spin without them: colour consultants (FYI – I am a ‘Spring’) and obviously - letting agents. But here’s a new one: value consultants.
Value consultants are employed by developers to assess the spec of newbuild homes, shaving off any ‘extras,’ the theory being that previously, architects and builders decked buy-to-let flats with platinum flooring, marble walls (or crazier: long lasting carpets, bathrooms that saved energy and water, kitchen cabinets and appliances that didn’t break, etc etc, oh I promised I’d be good but I am compelled to mention this again.)
I still debate how dovecots came to be so horrible, since nobody in their right mind would scan a list of things you really in a home and with a sharp red pencil cross off ‘cupboards’ and ‘that surplus five feet of lounge which uses up all those costly bricks you know.’ This isn’t about minimising waste. This is about mean-spirited and cruel downward trends in size, space, and fittings, which have eroded quality of life in new developments until life is becoming unbearable. Blame the value consultants. It’s all their fault.
I thought standards had been shaved to bone, but what’s next? All walls – even the bathroom wall? In some new flats, they even miss out doors. Then there are the flats supposedly one bedroom with a separate kitchen and open plan lounge-diner, where there is no corridor. I’m just waiting to hear of newbuild with the toilet in the middle of the kitchen (crapper/diner?)
And many balconies are actually caged windows. I’ve mentioned previously the developers who omit double-glazing, as the fine is cheaper than the thicker windows. People will do anything to slice a pound from the cost, as they don’t own the building – they just design and finance it. Somebody else builds it, another firm manages it, another lets it. This unwieldy, fractured chain ends with the tenant at the bottom, victim to vicious cost-cutting, with no input and no voice.
Another dovecot, slightly further along the way (grey fittings, no extras) exemplifies these mean-spirited ‘economies.’ The balconies (a decent size) stand on a metal frame, stuck on the outside like meccano, with floors made of thick mesh, which drains easily during a downpour. On the top of this bolted on extra, someone had the presence of mind to put on a roof. When I first saw it, I thought it might be solar panels, or protection from the deluges that frequently descend upon this city. But no. They erected the frame, but left out the glass, and so anyone standing on the balcony will be subject to some horribly inclement weather. How spiteful is that?
Inhabitants of Douglas Adam’s planet that had exiled all the useless telephone hygienists, died of an illness spread by germ-raddled phones. However, if we were to storm the value consultants brandishing torches and pitchforks and run them out of town, life for tenants (and let’s not forget – property investors) would improve. To the value consultants then! And after that - onwards – to the letting agents!