Living in a small home

Project summary:

The UK has some of the smallest homes in Western Europe measured by floor area, with average sizes of newly-built dwellings considerably smaller than homes built 50 years ago. This study will consider why homes are so small in the UK and explore experiences of living in small homes, at a time when associated issues have been brought into sharp relief by the COVID-19 lockdown.

The project has three main aims. First, to provide a historically informed understanding of why the UK has some of the smallest homes in Europe, drawing on frameworks of regulation and enforcement and exploring why home sizes are decreasing when they are increasing in many other nations. Second, to explore the housing choices and trade-offs of residents living in smaller homes and how these relate to their housing aspirations. Third, to understand the lived experience of residing in a small home, comparing ‘normal’ times with a period of enforced lockdown and social distancing.

The research is comparative over time and across geographies, including assessments of home before current lockdown restrictions, and during the unfolding pandemic, and comparisons between England and Scotland, and London / Northern England. Data collection will focus on in-depth interviews with people living in small homes including: Homes in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in the private rented sector; micro homes / apartments for ownership or rent; standard new-build housing for ownership or rent; and traditional older terraces / tenements for ownership or rent.

Timeline: June 2020 – March 2021

Team: Professor John Flint (Co-Investigator), Professor David Robinson (Co-Investigator), Dr Kim McKee (Co-investigator), Dr Jenny Preece (Research Associate), Dr Gareth Young (Knowledge Exchange Associate)

Theme: Choice