If the average family size is 2.4 , why are we building 3 bed semi-ds?

Discussion in 'Housing and mortgage arrears - policy issues' started by Brendan Burgess, Sep 14, 2017.

  1. Brendan Burgess

    Brendan Burgess Founder

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    I was speaking to an architect involved in building housing yesterday.

    He said that the country probably has enough 3 bed semis already and we don't need to build any more.

    The average family size is now 2.4 individuals and so the big demand should be for 1 bed and 2 bed apartments.

    90% of older people living on their own say that they don't want to move out of their home, even if it's way too big for them. But on closer questioning, it turns out that they don't want to move out of their community. They would be happy to move to a smaller property if it were available.

    But it's very difficult to build apartments.
    • The regulations push up the costs dramatically
    • They can't be built in phases like houses, so the developer has to get funding for the whole block.
    So how about discouraging the building of new semi-ds and encouraging the building of high density apartments?

    • Scrap Part V for apartments. In other words, the developer would not have to allocate 10% of the block to social housing.
    • Scrap VAT on apartments under [1,000 sq ft] or selling for under [€300,000]
    • Zone land for apartments only - do not allow semi-detached housing to be built
    • Allow different standards within a block - for example 50% could be smaller, cheaper starter, apartments.
    • The government could provide some of the equity required for the developer.
    Brendan
     
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  2. Brendan Burgess

    Brendan Burgess Founder

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    Ronan Lyons has a good article on family size here

    How many homes are needed to address our housing crisis?

    Since the 1960s, household size has been falling rapidly in Ireland. In 1971, there were 4.1 people in the average Irish household. By 2002, it was just 3 and in 2011 there were 2.73 people in the typical household.

    ...Even with the same population, if the demographics change so households are on average two people, not four, the country needs twice as many dwellings! Thus, a huge source of Ireland's housing need over the past half-century has been the decline in household size. But an odd thing happened between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses: Ireland's household size actually rose, although only slightly.
     
  3. odyssey06

    odyssey06 Frequent Poster

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    First off, what's wrong with terraced houses though??? There are lots of lovely areas in Dublin consisting of terraced houses and lots of people happy to buy same.

    The problem with most of the current stock of apartments in Ireland is that they are not suitable for families... if we had 2 and 3 bedroom apartments, built around a common green space, with proper sound proofing and properly enforced 'house' rules it would be a different matter. Irish people's reactions to apartments are a rational response to the current stock and the rules governing them.

    In the US they have the 'condo' concept where apartments can be built and the complex is for owner occupiers only. They cannot be rented out. We need the concept here as a condition of the tenancy. I think such complexes would do a lot to make apartments more popular for people looking to buy.

    The problem in Ireland is that if someone in an apartment complex is causing issues, there are no efficient or cost effective ways of resolving it. Anything that involves going to court is prohibitively expensive.
    With a semi-D you have 1 main neighbour to worry about; in a terrace you have 2 main neighbours to worry about; in an apartment complex you have dozens.
     
  4. jpd

    jpd Frequent Poster

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    Nimbyism - we had a go at this 10 years ago but all we got was Shock! Horror! Not here!

    So this may be a case of saying what the pollster wants to hear
     
  5. Early Riser

    Early Riser Frequent Poster

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    I think there is a potential to free up larger houses currently owned by older people if appealing alternatives could be provided. I don't know what that model might be. But I don't think it is apartment blocks, as currently constituted in Ireland, for the reasons outlined by odyssey66.

    I understand the point of this but I think there is no way that the vast majority of older people (interested in moving) would consider moving to a block with this configuration. Transient lettings, noise, enforcement of rules, etc. would be a big turn-off.
     
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  6. Protocol

    Protocol Frequent Poster

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    Yes, we need more apts, but they are too small.

    60-70 sqm for 2-bed apts is too small.

    Every apt should have:
    • a utility room
    • a separate kitchen and living room
    • storage space for bike, etc. [this could be at ground level]
    • dual aspect

    I suggest 80 sqm min for 2-bed and 100 sqm for 3 -bed.

    If that pushes costs up, then the following costs need to be cut:
    • land costs
    • financing costs [up to 15% at the moment, vs 0% ECB]
     
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  7. losttheplot

    losttheplot Frequent Poster

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  8. qwerty5

    qwerty5 Frequent Poster

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    Absolutely. I lived in Australia for years. The apartments we rented out had the same space as a small house. It felt like living in a house rather than a pokey small place to live for a couple of years before being able to afford somewhere good. Two apartments I stayed in had swimming pools as part of the complex and they both had car spaces and they didn't charge the earth as there was plenty of competition.

    Coming back to Ireland, I got an apartment that cost the earth and was basically just an expensive roof over my head where we were crammed on top of each other.

    Maybe having the option of renting out unfurnished would catch on too. I liked having my own furniture and it was easier to return the apartment to the landlord exactly as they gave it to us which suited us both.
     
  9. CPM_81

    CPM_81 New Member

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    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017
    From my experience of apartment living in Ireland, I would not live in one again unless it had:

    • At least 80 sqm of space (for a 2 bed)
    • Adequate sound insulation
    • 2 assigned parking spaces
    • Shared laundry facilities outside the apartment (the issue of drying clothes inside an apartment is one that is rarely thought of in Ireland, a washer/dryer is not the solution!)
    • Private outdoor space, either 1-2 balconies in the apartment or a shared roof garden that is very well maintained
    These are all deal breakers for me. Don't even get me started on the Management Company/Agent side of things. Many Irish people don't seem to get the concept and aren't willing to pay towards the upkeep of an entire development. It's a huge problem.

    Management Company/Agent issues is the main reason I sold up my 2 bed apartment and bought a 3 bed semi-d. It's just two of us with no intentions of children. We prefer to have autonomy over where we live and don't depend on others being fair and contibuting to access the services we need.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017
  10. PMU

    PMU Frequent Poster

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    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017
    An architect is an expert in the design and planning of buildings, but is not an expert in housing. Market economies are better in deciding resource allocation than 'experts'. Top down planning has never ever given a better solution than that provided by the market. If his basis for saying the “ the country probably has enough 3 bed semis already and we don't need to build any more” is smaller family size I suggest his analysis is faulty. Housing policy is complex and demand is a function of various factors, e.g. demographics, household formation rates, credit availability, etc. It's not just one thing (e.g. family size).

    As long as there is a market for 3 bed semis you build them and sell them. Even if family sizes are smaller it doesn't follow that living accommodation necessarily will be smaller. People just like and want decent size houses with off street parking, a garden and some degree of privacy. If you discourage semi new builds, all you are doing is frustrating the will of families and indeed singles who want to live in 3 bed semis.

    What's this “too big for them”? These are peoples' private property and it's for the owner to decide what is the utility value of their property. Simply put, if people won't move out of a 'too big' house it's because the price being offered is insufficient to compensate for suitable alternatives. Everything has a price and the price the 'older person' is being offered just isn't enough to make them want to sell. And who is to say the property is 'way too big for them'? This is for the owner to decide; it is nobody else's concern. Also what's this 'closer questioning'? In a free society you don't have to justify asset ownership and spending patterns to anybody (provided you are not buying illegal things like drugs). As for the 'smaller property' bit, all you are doing is creating artificial competition between 'older people' and singles, young couples etc. for smaller properties. It's just market churning. If there is a demand for 'homes that are 'too big' for older persons', just build them.

    [As an aside, as I have posted previously, the real way an 'older person' can contribute to social welfare is to hold on to their properties, that should increase in value with time and pass this wealth on to their heirs as a bequest, i.e. an intergenerational transfer of wealth within the family.]

    Other posters have commented on how apartments in Ireland compare poorly with those abroad. I echo those sentiments. I would also suggest that anybody who buys an apartment of the type available in Ireland is just flushing their money down the drain. Based on what I have lived in abroad, they are appalling bad value, badly designed, small, low ceilings, small windows, lack of storage, lack of dedicated parking etc. Compared to equivalent properties abroad they are just poor and bad value. We should not be encouraging apartment building until it is brought up to international standards.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017
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  11. Nordkapp

    Nordkapp Frequent Poster

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    Employers making people work from home necessitate making the 3rd bedroom an office.

    Also covers the just in case scenario of the gentleman's family, boy and a girl, each needs their own space.
     
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  12. mathepac

    mathepac Frequent Poster

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    What size home does this architect occupy, how many kids in the family and what gives him the right to decide the specifications of properties for others?

    As above, gender-mix has to be a consideration as kids grow. What about Granny who might need to house grandkids while Mammy & Daddy go to a wedding or host a dinner-party with overstayers? What about visitors for holidays or a bank-holiday week-end? There are rumours that people even visit Cork, God help us, for jazz festivals and the like.

    In my view the ideal family home is a 3 or 4 bed detached house with a double garage or garage/shed combination, 2 actual bathrooms and a decent sized garden for the youngsters to kick ball in or have a BBQ. I live in a semi-d classified by an EA as 3-bed/3-bath home. I pointed out it was 2 bedrooms and a box room, had a downstairs jacks which was not a bathroom and the that the master en-suite was not a bathroom either as it only contained a shower, wash-hand basin & toilet. The main bathroom was a bathroom as it has a bath plus the stuff in the en-suite. There's just me and my enormous dog here plus family from time to time, including two grandkids. Maybe your architect friend thinks I should shoot the dog.
     
  13. Prosper

    Prosper Frequent Poster

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    When my parents got into their 80's it would have been better to have moved from their 4 bed 1960's home to a smaller, better insulated, modern, single story, two or three bed house. But my mother loved her old garden that she had tended for 50 years and anyway, by the time I brought up the subject with them she had started to suffer from dementia and a change to the very familiar would have been upsetting in the extreme. However, if older empty nester couples were encouraged to move into developments where the houses would be more suitable to old age and the problems that come with old age, then I think that would be a good thing.
     
  14. Leper

    Leper Frequent Poster

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    The only reason we're building houses with more bedrooms than we need is:- Greed. (. . . and most of it our greed for our kids).

    We see our houses as our biggest investment and no matter what enjoy seeing it increase in value.
     
  15. odyssey06

    odyssey06 Frequent Poster

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    Last edited: Sep 15, 2017
    Its not the main reason.
    Its not any reason.
    It's not even one of the variables in the equation.

    Did you even read the earlier posts in the thread? Please highlight for me where you observed greed... or what motive you discern that you think you can attribute to greed?

    There is nothing wrong with wanting to own the home you live in. To have the autonomy to use it for your purposes. To improve it and pass on an inheritance to loved ones.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2017
  16. Leper

    Leper Frequent Poster

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    "There is nothing wrong with wanting to own the home you live in." - I never said there was anything wrong with wanting to own your own home.

    We own a 6 bedroom house. There are only two of us and ageing at that. Why did we build a house with six bedrooms? To buy something of value that will increase in value - Sound Investment/No Brainer - Greed. We never needed a six bedroom house.

    Newsflash! - Look around. We're not the only Greedy Gits looking for elastic profit. OH! and apologies for being Greedy.
     
  17. Gordon Gekko

    Gordon Gekko Frequent Poster

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    I don't think it's anything to do with greed. We wanted each of the kids to have their own bedroom, we wanted a decent size spare room for guests, and I wanted a decent size room to use as a study/office.
     
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  18. odyssey06

    odyssey06 Frequent Poster

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    Last edited: Sep 16, 2017
    Thats not greed though. You built it. You will only make a profit if someone wants this thing you created after you... it is enlightened self interest.
    You may have given yourself a rather large slice of the cake, but you made the cake bigger to do so. I'm not sure if it is the wisest use of resources - but that is totally different to saying it is down to greed.

    Its not like your 6 bedrooms means next door only has 1.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2017
  19. Gordon Gekko

    Gordon Gekko Frequent Poster

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    What's abundantly clear is that we need to build "up" and build apartments that are compatible with modern family life.

    Soundproofed, well insulated, loads of storage, common green area, no condensation issues. I've stayed in lovely places in Paris for example. Bad example, but the type of property the girls are snatched from in "Taken"!
     
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  20. mathepac

    mathepac Frequent Poster

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    I don't agree. We need to put the already built / half-built / abandoned but unoccupied housing stock to work. We've already established there are more empty houses than there are people who need housing. There is on real "housing crisis", mere a manufactured and PR-fuelled one.