The apartments will have no partition walls, no flooring and wall finishes, only basic plumbing and absolutely no decoration. The only recognisable part of the kitchen will be a sink.
The good thing with this spartan approach is a low price of between £150,000 and £340,000, in reach for buyers on average incomes in a urban city where the average home now costs £580,000.
The no-frills concept will be be tested starting with 22 apartments on three sites in Enfield, north London, where the council will allow builders to take over derelict council estate garages and car parks.
Sadiq Khan has awarded a £500,000 grant to what he says will be the largest custom-build development in London. If successful, a further seven sites will be built.
“The idea is to strip out all of the stuff that people don’t want in the first place,” said Simon Chouffot, one of the founders of the not-for-profit developer, Naked House. “People want to do some of the custom building. We can make it affordable by people doing some of the work themselves.”
“We are all from generation rent and we have been growing up with this housing crisis,” said Chouffot, 37. “I put down roots in north-east London but it was impossible to buy there. My response has been to live on a boat on the Regent’s canal. The average income in our area is about £40,000 but the average income you need to buy a property is £170,000, so there is a huge affordability gap.”
He said the Enfield homes would be about 15% cheaper to build than standard new homes because of their basic design.
“They will have a functioning sink and bathroom, but what they won’t have is every interior wall or things like fitted coffee machines [which housebuilders often include],” he said.
Costs will be further cut because buyers will not pay for the land in the purchase price. The freehold will be retained by the council and owners will pay annual ground rent.
Ahmet Oykener, councillor in charge of housing in Enfield, defended the approach, saying: “Owners can fully customise their home both in terms of fixtures and fittings and layout and the format of the home can evolve to meet a family’s changing needs.”
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