We are in the midst of a housing crisis. Homes are too expensive, poorly designed, the smallest in Europe, with little community space to foster neighbourliness. In short, the current model of how we build homes is broken.
We're a group of young Londoners, who like many others are living with the effects of this crisis. However, we’ve had enough, and have come up with a creative solution to our own affordable housing needs. It started as an idea born out of desperation, but is fast becoming a reality.
The average cost of a home in London is now £458,000 (and rising) - that's out of most people’s reach. Shared ownership is often the only option for our generation – but it is in short supply and is often unaffordable. You pay a premium for finishes and fittings that you don’t necessarily want or need. We are being let down by the big house builders and are being priced out of the capital.
Our solution is to go back to basics - saving build costs by creating a neighbourhood of 'naked' houses. The Naked House unit will be a well designed shell with high environmental performance. It will provide a base layer that can be built on, improved, adapted and extended over time by the occupant. It will be down to the people who live in the Naked Houses to create the homes they want.
We think this will make cheaper homes that are better suited to people's needs. And we hope the process itself will build a real sense of community.
Naked Houses will be genuinely affordable for people on modest incomes. We are managing this by stripping out developer profit, non-essential finishes and fittings, marketing/sales costs and enabling people to do things themselves. These homes will be affordable now and in the future, by using resale mechanisms to ensure affordability in perpetuity.
We are part of and combine two growing housing movements, ‘collective custom build’ which allows households to procure and design their own home and ‘community land trusts’ where local communities take ownership of affordable homes in perpetuity. Custom build housing makes up a significant portion of new homes across the continent; in Austria it’s 80%, Italy 65% and France 60% - in the UK it’s around 8%. Nick Boles MP believes it has the potential to become a mainstream housing model and has set an ambitious target of 25%. Community land trusts are a growing movement in the UK, with over 150 in England and Wales at present. They are not for-profit organisations that build and manage affordable homes and have the power to build a real and long lasting sense of community for new housing developments. (see Collective Custom Build and Community Land Trusts for more information).
We are working hard to find a plot of land in London for the first Naked House development. We are bidding on a very promising site in East London. If we are successful, we will be able to build over 30 genuinely affordable Naked Houses. Over 90 London households have joined the project since it started a year ago and this is just through word of mouth. Our ambition is to help as many people create their own affordable homes as we can.
Find us at Naked House