This is a house concept based on one I actually purchased the rights to use and build, so I won’t show the original, but I’ve made adjustments to it to provide more space (our furniture literally wouldn’t have fit in the original). The circulation space required to move around in a wheelchair also means that some things just have to get bigger.
I’m trying to actually get this house built, although it’s really hard.
There is just simply not enough room in most newbuild houses being built. I understand that narrow houses benefit the most people; developers, builders, and housing associations can all get a greater return on their investment by putting more houses on the land, if each house is smaller. I really do understand that. But there is no room for someone like me to live in those houses.
We are renting a 4-bedroom, 3-storey house now. Sounds massive right? Nope. Genuinely the majority of our belongings are in storage because they do not fit. Our Christmas presents are still in a bag on our bedroom floor, not because we don’t love them but because there is nowhere to put them in this house! We can’t get to our own dressers and wardrobe without playing tetris because there is not enough wall space in this house for everything to be up against a wall instead of taking up the middle of rooms. It is genuinely so frustrating that it was legal to build a house this narrow.
Even if you can find a house to buy that is 3-bedrooms in 2 storeys instead of 3, that still presents problems for people like us. As I’ve said before, stairlifts cost tens of thousands of pounds. We’d need to use one bedroom as an office, and the proportions of the rooms usually don’t even allow our desks to fit. I cannot tell you how many thousands of houses and floorplans I have looked at in the last 10 years, and things are only getting smaller but more expensive.
The HOLD-scheme exists for disabled people, although it doesn’t really seem to exist much at all in Hampshire. I have seen the plans of some HOLD-scheme bungalows from other parts of the country, and Jesus, they are pokey. Even if there were some in Hampshire, I don’t think we could fit in those either. I think it’s clearly a case of able-bodied people trying to imagine what is good for disabled people.
They design a smaller living space than a 2-storey house gets, put in 2 small bedrooms, 1 toilet, and say to themselves, “Behold, housing problems for disabled people are over because this has no stairs.”
It’s not just about the stairs, guys. It’s about circulation space. It’s about having furniture and possessions the same way able-bodied people can, and not crashing into them in our chairs all the time. It’s about being able to live normal family lives the way able-bodied people do. There seems to be this assumption that if someone wants a bungalow, they are over 50 or elderly, have already had children and even giving them a 2nd bedroom or bathroom is just the height of luxury.
Sorry, but Will and I are 30, we are still on the beginning side of our lives, we want to have children, we need bedrooms and bathrooms and BREATHING SPACE.
We cannot buy an existing house with breathing space. The more I look at houses the more I come to this realisation.
Here is an example of a bungalow offered by a major housebuilder. They don’t seem to incorporate bungalows into their developments around here but even if they did, we wouldn’t fit in it. This is tiny. Where is our office going? Where is our baby going? Where is our dining table going? Where is everyone peeing when I’m on the toilet with a migraine for 4 hours? I don’t even think our dresser would fit in that bedroom.
We are absolutely screwed by the current state of housing.
So I’ve been talking to local housing associations (namely Vivid) about the possibility of a self-build Shared Ownership house. We’d present the concept, they’d make it buildable, quote us on a deposit, then we’d get a mortgage for a share of the house, they’d own the rest, we’d pay rent on the rest, until we could staircase. It’s the same as a normal Shared Ownership house except we’d have some say on the design so we could actually live in it.
I spoke to NaCSBA and they told me that housing associations are already meant to offer this. People don’t want to deal with it though. I either get ignored or I get a response like “Can we help you with anything?” Uh yes how about the content of the email I just sent?
It’s a real pain in the ass trying to get people who are meant to want to get people like us on the housing ladder, to actually care about this situation. I would still be getting a mortgage and paying a buttload of money, it’s not like I’m asking for a free house.