My essay entitled ‘Empowering potential home owners: The UK should have a “small housing” presumption’ has just been published in ‘Economic Affairs’ (journal issued by Wiley on behalf of the Institute of Economic Affairs and The University of Buckingham). The essay was originally submitted to an IEA competition (2018). It presents Small Houses (SH) as a potential solution to the British housing crisis.
At first, small housing may seem to be only a provocative solution. Yet, it is not odd at all. Commentators from economic think tanks have recently considered SH as a plausible and desirable option, not to mention that SH have been used in many places around the world, with affordability and quality as major aims.
The opportunities are unlimited: there is a wide diversity of SH, and many possibilities are to be invented. Kichanova, who wrote ‘Size doesn’t matter: Giving a green light to micro-homes’ for the Adam Smith Institute, gives prestige to SH and mentions examples of SH that are part of a block of flats. In my essay, I address SH as individual homes (meaning that the individual is in control of the construction of the home, and the home is not part of a large construction plan)and flexible homes that can be built at a great number of locations, including rooftops.
SH are not primarily defined by their size, but by the fact that with them individuals can more easily allocate resources at hand to fulfil their housing need, a most important one.
Individual need and individual strategy are crucial.
Without letting individuals express and prioritise their needs, SH are only suboptimal solutions, especially if they are offered by the state without a genuine need prioritisation performed by the individual. The difference between two SH can be ‘empowerment’.
With a more permissive regulatory framework, people can find solutions in their reach to cope with the housing crisis. On that account, SH need a minimally favourable regulatory environment.
With the empowerment SH constitute, significant results could be achieved even though they may be difficult to imagine ex ante.
This type of solution may for many people be hard to envisage, especially if individuals are satisfied with their housing conditions. Plus, the solution is not a traditional one.
Still, SH are crucial for people who cannot afford a house otherwise due to insufficient revenue. Besides, SH are instrumental in removing the impact of rogue landlords.
Not only are SH appealing to low incomes but also to higher incomes due to the difficulty to build in city centres.
The key idea is:
Empowerment is a tremendous underestimated solution. An economically appropriate empowerment policy is granting a presumption in favour of SH.
The same post on Medium includes various examples of SH: