A recent report by the Nationwide, using latest published UK Communities & Local Government statistical reports covering the 15 year period 1996/2011, tells us that the total owner occupied housing stock has increased from 16.6 million to 17.7 million. There has been relatively little change in the composition of the stock categorised as flats, terraced, semi-detached and detached houses. 8.2% of owner occupied properties in England are flats, a similar level to back in 1996. There has been a slight increase in the proportion of detached houses, from 21.5% to 23.8%, offset by a slight reduction in the proportion of bungalows in the housing stock - from 11.4% in 1996 to 9.7%.
Over the 15 year period, properties have generally been getting larger. Since 2001, the mean floor area has increased from 86.9m2 to 91.6m2. The largest increase has been in the size of detached houses, where the average floor area is 7% higher than in 2001. Terraced and semi-detached houses also evidence increasing floor area, however the size of flats, by contrast has slightly decreased.
Larger new build houses may have helped boost average floor areas, however extensions and loft conversions are also likely to have contributed significantly. 26% of properties have been extended since their construction, whilst 5% have had a loft conversion. 16% of properties have benefited from additional space through having a conservatory. Flats generally do not offer much scope for extensions or conversions that increase floor area.
Energy efficiency within the housing stock has improved over the last 15 years. With fuel costs continuing to rise and an increased emphasis on environmental sustainability, Nationwide expects households to be increasingly conscious about their energy use.
85% of owner-occupied properties in England now have at least one spare bedroom. Remarkably, 49% are classified as being 'under-occupied', that is to say they have two or more spare bedrooms. However, in the private rental sector, only 16% of properties are 'under-occupied'. Furthermore, nearly half of all private homes now have a second loo, up from 39% in 2001 and 26% have a second bathroom.
It is interesting to speculate how much the changes, perceived as 'improvements' to private properties across the 15 year period, have been driven by a concern to increase the asset value of those properties, for sale or rental purposes, rather than to improve existing home-owner living conditions.