Daily Archives: August 29, 2007

“Shared Ownership” housing

The folks who contacted me a couple of weeks ago about shared ownership houses had an open day today. A small apartment block (six flats), and several separate houses. All on one of the two huge new estates being built in Tavistock.

From the details, the most interesting-looking options were two 2-bed houses, at a respectable-looking 76 square metres plus garage (for the bikes, of course) and postage-stamp garden. But the houses themselves were disappointing: they’d wasted much of that space, leaving horribly cramped kitchen-diners, slightly pokey lounges, and barely adequate bedrooms. Plus the general flimsiness of new houses, and a lot of rather uninspired fittings. Bah.

On the end was a slightly different house. The total area of 81 sq m is only fractionally more, but what a difference! The lounge felt much more comfortable, the kitchen-diner was hugely better (apart from the horrible fitted oven, which was the same as in all the houses). The staircase was efficiently placed off the lounge, so the effective difference was well above the nominal 5 sq m. But upstairs, they’d spoilt it by splitting the space into three small rather than two decent bedrooms. Bah.

On the end, what they call a “coach house”: a one-storey house above a block of garages. At 54 sq m it’s small, but there’s the garage for storage. Nice lounge-diner with kitchenette off: better than the 2-bed places. And one decent bedroom. But the other bed was more a cupboard, without even a real window (a high skylight let in little light, and would tend to let in more rain than air if opened). Bah.

The flats were a non-starter. Of course they all had parking spaces, but for bikes, they’d just provided a row of wheelbenders under a bus shelter. Nothing secure, nor any possibility of indoor space. So that’ll be another case of “look, we provided bike facilities, but noone uses them”. Bah.

The lady in charge confirmed the general terms: no surprises there. What you gain: half the value at 2.7%, and the opportunity to buy out more. What you lose: you accept their valuation (potentially more than once – if you buy out), and you have to ask their permission to make changes (the example I asked about was “if I want to install a solar panel”). She also confirmed the taxpayer funding that gets poured into such schemes, driving up the general prices of housing.

Conclusion: as expected, it’s financially somewhat attractive, but the houses are horrible. And the taxpayer money going into this helps inflate the price of anything nice, by lifting the market in general.