Are micro homes the magic solution for affordable housing?

Have you heard of a ‘micro home’ or ”tiny home’ yet?  There has been a small (excuse the pun!) undercurrent of interest surrounding micro homes recently. This is currently gathering pace.

Suggestions are that micro homes can offer a solution to ease the current UK housing crisis.  We thought it would be helpful to explore this option.

So, what is a micro home?  

Put simply, a micro home is a small property.  In terms of size, the overall area may be less than 200 square foot. These small homes come in various forms.  One innovative design is the renovation of a shipping container into a small house.  Generally, the most common type of micro home is a small cabin like unit.  These are typically constructed out of wood and glass.

The idea of micro homes is not a new notion.  After losing so many homes in the Second World War, prefabricated homes were erected as a temporary housing solution.  However, they were so successful that many families ended up living in the accommodation long term.

Can micro homes resolve the housing crisis?

A micro home only requires a small plot of land and is relatively cheap to build.  Particularly in comparison to a normal sized property.  The homes can be built away from site and then lifted into their plot by crane.  Furthermore, homes can often be ‘off grid’ meaning that utilities are cheaper.

In this respect, micro homes are a successful way of developing cheap housing quickly.  They are also affordable enough to help people onto the property ladder.

In October 2017 a homeless charity launched its first micro home.  The Homeless Foundation offered the home as a solution for a young homeless person in Worcester.  If this trial is successful, more may follow.

So far, the homes sound great don’t they?  But, like everything there are  concerns that need to be addressed.  The impact of living in a small space on a person’s mental health is a major factor. In an article by The Express published on 22nd August 2017, Martin Townsend of housing research charity BRE quoted: “There’s evidence that living in very tight spaces can have a psychological impact if the quality is not good or there’s insufficient natural light and fresh air.”

Where to put micro homes in social housing?

Micro homes are certainly a positive option to help mitigate the UK housing crisis. But can these properties really provide the ‘miracle’ solution that officials are hoping for?

Offering micro homes to help combat homelessness is a promising initiative. However, more research must be done to explore the long term consequences of living in a small space.

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