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Homeowners survey

A Dream Home: An Exploration of Aspirations

Published: 2018

Read our survey report, based on data from 2,000 homeowners and tenants about what is important to them and to find out what designers and housebuilders should be doing to satisfy occupants.


"A Dream Home: An Exploration of Aspirations" summarises important research, conducted to understand the views of homeowners and tenants. The survey reveals that many of the things that people want most from their home rely on heavyweight construction - even if they don’t know it. 

The survey of 2,000 home owners and renters aimed to find out what designers and housebuilders should be doing to satisfy their customers. One of the most surprising findings from the survey was that three-quarters of all owners (76%) have never asked what a building is made of when buying it as their home: 23% don’t know what type of walls their house has, and 20% don’t know what their floors are made from. There is, however, an acknowledgement that it matters. The overwhelming majority – 90.1% – thought that people should be told what building materials have been used before buying or renting a property.

While they may not consciously choose a home based on its fabric, the attributes people deem most important are directly affected by the choice of construction materials. It is therefore the responsibility of the designer – and the whole project team – to ensure the build quality delivers what people value most. The highest rated of 14 factors when choosing a new home was fire safety – with 61% viewing it as  'very important'.

This was closely followed by durability over a 60-year-plus lifetime (59%), robust construction (58%) and energy efficiency (56%). More people deemed efficient central heating ‘very important’ (56%) than having a garden (54%). Alongside the tangible impact of reducing bills, well-heated spaces also add to the less measurable quality of cosiness – cited by a considerable number of respondents as the thing they love most about their home. Material choice also plays a part in the crucial quality of sound insulation. When it comes to what people dislike most, the answer was clear: bad neighbours. This was the negative impact that had affected most respondents (33%). It is hardly surprising that quiet was considered a very or somewhat important factor by 91% of people. 

The good news for housebuilders is that new-builds are popular, with 60% of respondents content to move to a newly completed home. Despite our TV habits, only 6% describe their dream home as ‘a contemporary Grand Design’ and another 6% a ’period home’. There seems to be a general perception that new buildings perform better, in particular on energy efficiency, with the highest proportion of respondents (50%) voting it one of the main influences behind the design of houses and the materials used.

But to maintain, and increase, the trust of the public, designers and the supply chain need to stay focused on the challenges ahead. It will be their responsibility to prevent minor concerns from becoming bigger problems. It is noticeable that people principally worry about things that they’ve experienced in the past. But the impact of climate change, and the increase in extreme weather events, will mean unfamiliar perils such as flooding and overheating could soon become far more common.

Overheating is a concern for only a small proportion (6%) at present, but there is awareness that it could worsen: 82% said that building construction that could reduce summer overheating was very or somewhat important in their choice of home, though only 6% thought that this was a key consideration in current housing design. Ditto flood resilience: a very or somewhat important factor in the choice of a new home for 87% of people, though only 17% felt it was currently a top priority for designers. Evidently, the housebuilding industry cannot afford to ignore the impact of the future climate on today’s new homes.