Tuesday, 1 October 2013

But What Shall We Build?

Build! Let's all build! Hooray! Let's build 200,000...buildings, yeah. Buildings. The more the better. Lot's of lovely, lovely buildings. Yay buildings! Well, that's the Labour attitude to lack of supply in London - it's not a problem in most places. (The Lib Dem attitude seems to be: '...erm, ask us one on sport, please.’ Just as it is with all things.)

Except... what kind of buildings shall we build? Big ones? Small ones? Homes to live, or investment piggy-banks, for accursed short-term tenants to sit in, quaking with anxiety and waiting to be given notice. We have endured decades of teeny, flimsy, punitive homes, which punish us for renting as opposed to buying. Even people who buy newbuilds to live in must be furious, when given the keys to their compacted, hard-won hutch.

Well, first of we need proper one and two bedroom flats – not ‘Dovecots,’ for the poor people rattling around in mansions paid for by the state *sarcasm klaxon* evicted because of the landlord profit subsidy known as the bedroom taxed housing benefit. They must be genuinely affordable, by actual resident earth human people, not billionaires. We also need proper family homes.

And in these buildings, the ones we will build (hooray!) can we also please have:
1 Gardens (or access to a garden.)
2 Storage, and plenty of it.
3 Enough space in bedrooms to place and then walk around a king-size bed, next to which there will be a wardrobe, chest of drawers, chairs, and room for all of this to actually open.
4 Storage
5 A utility room/utility cupboard for mops, hoovers, washer/driers, clothes racks, etc.
6 Somewhere to dry laundry - inside and out. That means no silly rules which prohibit drying on balconies.
7 Proper kitchens, with room enough for several (oh god, she's going to say cupboards again, isn't she...?) cupboards and cabinets for saucepans, crockery etc, as used by humans to cook.
8 A lounge with enough space for overnight guests to spread a double inflatable mattress.
9 A bathroom with shower over bath, dry enough and ventilated so that towels dry rather than fester in the squelching bloom of mould, which must not, for privacy and dignity's sake, open up on to the lounge.
10 Sound proofing, so we can't hear neighbour's lurrrve-action, or worse, pissing in the bathroom, their music or voices - not raised, just chatting.
11 A corridor. So that we can have privacy, and bathroom doors which open onto corridors, not lounges. Somewhere for damp coats to dry.
12 Proper space standards – not flats designed to suit what was built in the past. We need enough room to spread out, entertain visitors, assemble flat pack furniture, and work at desks while someone else is watching telly. Room for book shelves, ornaments etc.
13 Bike lock-ups.
14 Spare rooms. These will not be taxed, and will be used to store medical appliances, visiting children and other guests.

That's all,
Yours Sincerely Rentergirl.
PS - we'd also like to be able to stay in these buildings for a long time. Maybe even decades.



Anonymous said...

You and all these politicians use the word we rather too much.
Penny ,let me know your address or PO box and I will send you a trowel to get you started!

RenterGirl said...

Not entirely sure what your point - as ever.

Dazzla said...

I see, anonymous: building new houses is just about putting bricks on top of other bricks. If it's that simple, why isn't everyone doing it?

Matt said...

I'd like to see some real numbers put on this, say for a 2 bed flat and a 4 bed house.

Room size. Garden size. How it fits in with the Prezza "thou shalt build 30-40 houses per hectare" diktat (now made a little more flexible by someone who knows that the real world does not fit any yardstick exactly). And so on.

And how the extras will be paid for, bearing in mind that eveloper profits are capped at a notional value for many projects by "viability" requirements, combined with "affordable" requirements of up to around 50% in many places, which have to be given away at cost.

Gold plating and affordability don't balance well when there are billions of stealth taxes involved too (peak in 2007 with about £5bn raised).

And there's the small matter of the "floor area tax" which is rolling in at figures of eg Islington £300 per sqm, plus £40 per sqm for Boris; Oxford £100 per sqm.

That's not going to lead to large floor areas.

Waiting ...

Penny Anderson said...

So the essentials I outline are 'extras,' you say, Matt.

Anonymous said...

The Japanese model of tiny and extremely functional and well set out apartments is what we need – storage (tons) balconies for drying and small corridors – and as in most civilised and sensible countries (i.e., not the UK) floors space laid noted in sqm rather than notional ‘rooms’…will it happen er - no

MattW said...

Great list, Rentergirl!

For those of us that own 'horseless carriages' we also need parking spaces too. And please make them wide enough so we can open doors without banging them onto the neighbouring parked vehicle.

Re: flats - rather than big blocks, why not make them maisonettes with their own front doors at ground level? Does away with communal spaces that can easily become neglected.

RenterGirl said...

Thanks Matt - excellent call on the car space, but in cities, we should be working towards no-cars. I don't have a car - hence this omission...

Anonymous said...

Flats are a curse, we should only build houses with gardens and drives,

It's a myth that there isn't enough land, only a tiny percentage of the land is built on, build them with grass roofs if you really need to, while your at it put in deep ground heat bore holes and have free hot water heating,

The problem isn't building, it's getting hold of the land, less than five percent of our population own it all, and it's been that way since the Norman invasion.

Until the government starts giving out cheap building plots to self builders it won't change