Lack of storage space in new British homes

Lack of storage space in ‘new affordable’ British homes is proving to be a problem for homeowners says a recent survey for the Institute of British Architects. 

In the ‘Way We Live Now’ report (for the independent Future Homes Commission’s investigation into how the UK can build enough of the right kind of homes for modern British households) homeowners described all types of comical home storage situations caused by a lack of general household storage space including:

  • A vacuum cleaner being kept at a parent’s house – which was a twenty minute drive away, because of an absence of general equipment storage space.
  • ‘Buy one – get one free’ supermarket goods being kept in the boot of a car, because of a lack of kitchen storage space.

The most common complaint was not the lack of long term storage space for seasonal items like the Christmas Tree and nostalgic belongings like old photograph albums, but the shear lack of space available for storing ‘day to day’ equipment, like the ironing board, clean linen and clothes, the kitchen bin and even in some cases: food.

The RIBA / Iposos MORI report revealed the eight key features that people want, and need from their modern homes, of which two are based simply on the need for more storage space.  In fact; all eight of the features either involved: ‘lack of storage space’ in the home in general, or just the feeling that simply more space is needed for people and families to live in. Privacy of storage space was also an important consideration: many participants felt that they had things they wanted to store yet access regularly, but which they wanted to keep private from visitors, such as clothing, bed linen and food.  Homeowners felt that new-build house or flats would not offer them enough storage space for their clothes, food and other everyday items and also for longer-term storage.

It appears from the survey that the two requirements homeowners want from their homes in regards of ‘space’ are:

  • Long-term and short-term storage for functional items, and for personal possessions people have chosen to keep during their lives.
  • Dedicated space for domestic utility tasks, such as, washing, drying and ironing clothes, as well as for storing vacuum cleaners, rubbish bins and recycling – everyday storage.

The report (conducted with members of the general public who were all looking to buy an affordable new home in the next 12 months) also highlighted the lack of knowledge among first time buyers as to the amount of storage space they will need in a new home.  Although it’s not unusual, or even new for people to buy property with their hearts rather than their heads –opting for a home that ‘feels right’ – it seems that first time buyers struggle to estimate just how much basic space they will need for ‘daily activities, storage and utility requirements,’ which sometimes lead to problems when choosing a home.  Harry Rich, RIBA Chief Executive said: ‘It has been over half a century since a government-tasked committee researched how households live, yet the size and designs of homes being built now are still defined by that great but out-of-date report – from a time when we had sewing boxes in our living rooms and indoor toilets needed regulating. Until today there has been no evidence base that sets out how we are living now and what we want from our homes. This new research provides important evidence on which we can base some changes to the way our homes are designed, delivered, marketed and sold to us.’ Chief Executive of Ipsos MORI, Ben Page said: ‘The research graphically shows just how cramped and poorly planned much of our housing is today, and the extraordinary lengths people go to cope with it.  RIBA is absolutely right to draw attention to it.’

The ‘Way We Live Now’ report makes for interesting reading, but you can hardly be amazed or surprised at its findings.  Did modern architects and housing planners not realise that people like to have light airy rooms with big windows?  And space outside for children to play in safely, or for adults to relax in (hardly ‘new news’)?  And yes, of course householders want to have the ability to store their personal belongings actually under the roof of the home they live in; not down the road at their mum’s house!  The most telling thing in the report maybe the desire and preference for new homes to have ‘period features’ – like high ceilings; large windows, and just that simple feeling of a little bit more space around you – rather than the rabbit hutch sized homes that have become the norm for the ‘new affordable housing’ sector in the UK.  Have the UKs planners, architects and builders, become so totally detached and removed from the storage and living space needs of the average nuclear family living in new build housing?

If you do have a problem with lack of storage space in your home, and are wondering about your options; please give Lok’nStore a call for free friendly advice from the industry experts.  Storage at one of Lok’nStore’s 22 facilities isn’t expensive – you can rent a small storage unit from just a few pounds per week – enabling you to create a little space in your home, no matter what its size.  Please visit our website at where you will find the location of your friendly local storage centre.

By Kevin Carter


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