British architects say British homes are too small

While new American homes have gotten slightly smaller in the last few years and a number of commentators see this as a good thing, the Royal Institute of British Architects says British homes are too small:

The RIBA, which looked at 3,418 three-bedroom homes across 71 sites in England, said the squeeze is depriving thousands of families of space needed for children to do homework, for adults to relax and for guests to stay.

The findings were based on building regulations introduced in London in July which set the minimum space benchmark of 96 sq metres (1,033 sq ft) for an average three-bed home…

But research found the average floor area of new homes is 88 sq metres (947 sq ft). And the most common size is 74 sq metres (797 sq ft)…

In 2009, a report by the Government’s former design watchdog, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, found new homes in Britain were the smallest in Europe.

It revealed homes in Greece and Denmark had almost twice the floor space of UK homes.

The argument here is that these “cramped houses” are “depriving households of the space they need to live comfortably and cohesively.” This is an interesting argument: the smaller house is harming residents, affecting their comfort (physical) and cohesion (social). Can there really be a case made that these homes are causing long-term harm to residents and families? If so, it is the homes themselves causing the trouble or the expectations about how much space the family should have and for whatever reason, can’t have?

Could there be some financial self-interest here on the part of these architects? Does the small average size of British homes necessarily mean that citizens openly desire bigger homes and are not getting their wish?

Are these smaller homes part of a larger effort to reduce the effects of suburbs and sprawl?

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