A Nation Detached?

Modern Masonry launches research into UK homemakers’ aspirations

  • Over 80% of respondents place performance-related issues at the top of the agenda when looking to buy a property
  • One in three people aspire to live in a detached house and two-thirds in a suburban setting
  • Less than 10% live in a house a decade old and only a fifth live in a house under 20 years old
  • More than half of us want to move within the next five years, but only a third will be in a position to do so
  • A quarter of people think they’ll never be able to buy their own home
  • Over a quarter feel that the current government housing policy does not meet their needs and half feel they do not know enough about it to comment

Today, Modern Masonry, the representative body for the UK masonry industry, launches a specially commissioned report, ‘A Dream Home: An Exploration of Aspirations’.

This important research was conducted in response to a perceived disconnect between the construction industry and consumers, particularly within the housebuilding sector. Do developers truly understand what makes the nation tick?

In an industry where the public’s voice is not often heard, a national sample of 2,000 adults was surveyed to address this concern head on. The results give a clear insight into what UK buyers and renters think.

With home-ownership at a 30-year low[1], aspirations unsurprisingly follow suit. A lack of new builds, high property prices, crippling stamp duty and years of government inaction have all had an impact on the nation’s residential prospects.

When asked to describe the most important attributes that make up the basis of the ideal home, movers and homemakers were surprisingly realistic. Aesthetic qualities were of the least importance while performance issues such as energy efficiency and sound insulation scored well above 80% across the board.

The majority of people polled merely aspire to live in a detached house (33%) in suburbia (64%), as opposed to one of the ambitious Grand Designs or fashionable ‘tiny houses’, which flood the media. As the report reveals, modest aspirations also correlate with low expectations of home ownership.

Respondents were vocal about the negative occurrences that scared them the most. In particular, highly emotive human factors such as burglaries, break-ins and bad neighbours scored high (66%) on the list of potential worries. For renters, damp caused major distress with nearly half of those polled (44%) highlighting this as a concern.

The research also found a nation facing housebuilding stagnation. Three-quarters of those polled live in houses with two-thirds of these classifying themselves as homeowners. Nearly half of these live in a home over 40 years old. Worryingly, less than 10% live in a house a decade old, and only a fifth live in a house under 20 years old. This speaks volumes about levels of new build construction over the last 30 years.

In this static landscape, there also exists a sizeable minority of renters with little or no prospect of getting a foot on the property ladder. Affordability is a key issue here, but there is also concern that the government is not doing enough to help first time buyers.

Commenting on the findings, Andrew Minson, director of Modern Masonry says: “These findings show a distinct lack of awareness about how government policy is going to increase stock and simultaneously offer quality, value-for-money houses. People, understandably, want to live in a robust, quiet home that’s cheap to run, providing sanctuary and a place to raise their family. It is striking that in a media-saturated world of Grand Designs, people still aspire to a modest house. Expectations may not be high, but are they even achievable?”

Is this a country trapped by pessimistic perceptions of the housing market, or are current aspirations the most realistic expectation from a nation of pragmatists? Modern Masonry’s report seeks to get to the heart of this issue.

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