How is new affordable housing measuring up?

December 15, 2016 / Isla MacFarlane
How is new affordable housing measuring up?

An overwhelming majority of housing association residents are still in love with their new homes, with 80% saying they were very satisfied or satisfied after three years of occupancy, new research has shown.

In a boost to the image of affordable housing, nearly two-thirds (64%) said their home was much better than their previous residence.

There was a high level of satisfaction with many key aspects of design, such as space, internal layout and security, and residents themselves identified a wide range of positive attributes of their new homes.

However, modern living was found to challenge some aspects of design, particularly the level of storage and parking provision, according to a survey commissioned by the NHBC Foundation and supported by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

Nearly 30% of residents surveyed, were dissatisfied with parking provision. A further 27% were dissatisfied with storage space, with some residents struggling to store basic household items such as vacuum cleaners, bedding and linen, toys, shoes and even clothes.

The adequacy of ventilation was also a concern, with 55% of those surveyed recognising one or more symptoms of poor ventilation: dampness and/or condensation (41%), mould (28%), or lingering cooking odours (10%).

In addition, some residents were dissatisfied with the winter temperatures in their homes and, significantly about 20% found their heating controls difficult to use.

There were a few areas where a sizeable minority (more than 15%) felt that their needs were not being met. These included storage, parking, noise from attached dwellings, balconies and back gardens. Each of these aspects merits careful consideration to see if there are any related implications for the design of homes and schemes, the NHBC said.

When invited to suggest what they would change about their individual homes, the most common responses related to layout, interior space, windows, gardens, storage and heating – although a good number (11%) would not change anything. When asked what they would change about their schemes as a whole, many (30%) would change nothing; however, 16% would change the parking arrangements.

Neil Smith, Head of Research & Innovation at NHBC said, “The standards of new affordable housing are such that most residents are still pleased even three or four years after moving in, long after the initial euphoria of having a new home has worn off.

“This is great news, but there is still room for improvement. Providing more help to residents on how to run their homes more effectively should be a priority for housing associations and developers. The research highlights increasing expectations for parking and the challenge this creates for the overall design of developments.

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