- A 370 square foot flat in Harrow is a prototype for a new home design by Barrata
- The small size means they can sell it for less than half the average London price
- It includes a living area, bedroom, bathroom, terrace and small ‘office niche’
- If it takes off, more pint-sized properties could be built across the country
Making homes affordable for first time buyers is a problem that does not have an easy solution.
Home prices have risen sharply since the start of the pandemic, with many finding themselves expensive – especially in inner cities.
But leading housebuilder Bairat Homes feels it has found a way for the youth to climb the housing ladder without breaking the bank.
The living area in Barrett’s ‘SMRT’ home. The apartment is just 37 square meters. comes in
In its Eastman Village development in Harrow, north London, it has created a tiny house measuring just 37 square meters, or 400 square feet.
It may have the smallest floor plan that can be built under the government’s minimum space standards, but Barrett describes the flat as ‘a forward-thinking luxury product that is perfectly proportioned’.
Although the apartments can be described as ‘cozy’, the price is right, with homes starting at £290,000. It is £40,000 cheaper than the standard Barrett house in London.
It says tiny homes are designed to help ease the squeeze experienced by ‘London’s “Generation Renters”, who face ever-increasing property prices and rental costs.
According to the latest Halifax House Price Index, the average home price in London currently is £508,000; A figure that has risen by around £25,000 since the start of the pandemic.
Barratt is calling the new design a ‘SMRT’ home, and began off-plan sales at the development in Harrow over the weekend.
If it succeeds, it could roll out pocket-sized apartments across the country – and prices outside London are likely to drop even further.
The This Is Money Show went on a tour of the apartment, and spoke to Joseph Antoniazzi, Barrett’s senior sales manager, to see if it’s really what first-time buyers want.
The flats have been designed by Barrett’s in-house design team, BD Living and Block Interiors.
They aimed to make the most of the little space available, for example by adding a built-in storage unit with shelves and cupboards around the bed, and a kitchen storage cupboard that houses a washer/dryer but also for other bulky items. There is space like a Hoover or an ironing board.
According to Barrett, little is beautiful. Its marketing material for the apartment says:
‘While the square footage may be small on paper, the illusion of space created by wide balconies, floor-to-ceiling windows and clever interior layouts means apartments feel open, customized and modern.
‘Storage in every nook and cranny means there’s no need for unsightly furniture like wardrobes, sideboards and drawers.’
SMRT home bedroom has built-in clothing storage
Kitchen cupboards have pull-out shelves to store canned food and condiments, and worktops are thinner than average to maximize floor space as a dishwasher.
‘We’ve maximized every inch and made sure the space is really functional,’ Antoniazzi said.
Between the kitchen area and the living room there is space for a small dining table. Antoniazzi says he initially installed a table that folded against the wall, but potential buyers didn’t respond well to it, so it was replaced.
For those working from home, there is the option of having an ‘office niche’ that houses the television as well as a desk and storage in the living room.
The ‘office niche’ in the living area provides a small work-from-home space
While this may work for one person, it can present a challenge for a couple who were both working at home.
There is also the option of having a small dressing table in the bedroom, although this would require sitting behind the door.
In the bathroom, there’s a well-sized shower cubicle, which Antoniazzi said buyers liked to shower.
The outdoor terrace is small, with room for two chairs and a small table, but it folds back into a large shared garden that gives the illusion of space.
The apartment has a small terrace that juts back to a large shared garden
For flats on the upper floors, there will be a balcony instead.
Antoniazzi said the homes were designed for first-time buyers, key workers and students, and acknowledged that they would not be suitable for a family.
‘It’s driven by first-time buyers,’ he said, adding that lifestyle changes during the pandemic had caused families to move from places like Harrow to the countryside, and were replaced by renters in central London – across the spectrum. As people sought to move up a level in terms of space.
“After the lockdown, we noticed a change in the type of buyer coming to visit our apartment in Harrow.
‘While earlier it was couples and young families, we saw a change in profile towards people who had previously been renting in central London and no longer wanted to waste money on rent.’
Storage cupboards in the kitchen provide some space for household essentials
He said the idea for micro-apartments came from the fact that many of these potential buyers had saved up during the pandemic and were willing to move up the housing ladder, but needed something more affordable than the market average.
Antoniazzi also said that tiny houses could become a more popular way to climb the housing ladder once the government’s plan to buy help ends in 2023.
Bairat has said that, if buyers respond well to these micro-apartments, they can build more in cities across the country.