The shortage of housing available in the UK is one that affects old and young alike. While the older generation has recently been bemoaning the lack of bungalows that means they can’t vacate their family sized homes to free them up for the younger generation, reports suggest those aged 45 and under are missing out on major milestones because they feel unable to commit to the next stage of their lives without the prospect of a stable family home.
Marriage, career progression and kids are steps that many have felt the need to put on hold, unable to find affordable housing in some areas or unwilling to undertake the burden of overwhelmingly large mortgages. A number of schemes have been suggested to tackle the problems behind the housing shortage, including the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill, which will make it easier for councils to use compulsory purchase orders to seize land for house building. But is this approach really the best way forwards? Today we’re exploring some alternative types of properties and ways of living that don’t require quite so much land. Would you consider ditching any dreams you have of living in a traditional terraced, simple semi or deluxe detached home to live in one of these space savvy options instead?
A shipping container doesn’t sound like the comfiest or most stylish of spaces to inhabit but if you’re considering building your own home, using a shipping container can help you achieve your goal quickly and relatively easily. These simple little boxes can be renovated with appealing art deco styling to incorporate all of life’s necessities, albeit on a slightly smaller scale and the cost of such a project could start as a little as a few thousand pounds. Of course, as well as fixtures and fittings you’ll need to factor in the purchase of land as well as hooking up to a water supply and the electricity grid. Letting as much light into the building as possible should help you keep ongoing costs down, which is why many container inhabitants favour incorporating bi-fold doors along at least one wall. If you’re in the woods you might want to go for a more natural finish like these from Vufold. Check out this article for a little design inspiration.
The idea of living on a houseboat often has romantic appeal. After all, if you don’t like your neighbours or you fancy a holiday, you can simply up anchor and move on. However, while in general houseboats are cheaper to buy or rent than houses, there can be a lot of hidden costs associated with living in one. Firstly, you actually need to pay to moor (park) your boat and permanent mooring spots are quite difficult to come across in the UK. This may mean that you have to move between temporary mooring spots, which may not be very practical depending on your job and family set up. It’s easier to find more settled mooring in colder months but you’ll also need to be prepared to brave some chilly conditions. If you’d like to become the proud owner of a beautiful boat, you will also need to invest in a boat licence and learn some skills! You can find out more about becoming a houseboat dweller on the National Bargee Travellers Association website.
If you regularly resort to cursing when you can’t find a suitable space in the shopping centre car park or worse still, forget where you left your car when you parked, this alternative housing solution is perhaps not for you. Clocking on to the idea that space in and around car parks is apparently often underused, despite those too-tight-to-mention parking spaces, architects have now started designing compact flats built on or underneath car parks around the world. Space efficient pods complete with solar panels, in-built water recycling, electric car charging and parking point and even a mini porch for potted plants, may appear in the city of Oxford in the future, if one designer gets his way. These mini homes have the obvious benefit of not requiring any additional land to be built and could theoretically be set up and then moved to other areas as and when required. However, many people see them as a potentially undesirable addition to the cityscape.
Where do you stand? Would you happily take up a plot above a parking space or would you prefer to set up home in a houseboat or your own converted shipping container? Or are you simply resigned to saving hard until you can take your first steps onto the traditional property ladder?