Death of the ‘two-up two-down’: rate of building halves in 20 years

Joseph Daniels, CEO of Project Etopia

The ‘two-up, two-down’ is fast becoming an endangered species because the proportion of houses built with two bedrooms has halved since the turn of the century, research by modular homes developer, Project Etopia, shows.

According to Project Etopia, the drought is making it incredibly difficult for young families to get on, or move up, the property ladder in some areas.

Analysis of the latest official figures shows that 9% of all new private properties completed in 2017/18 were two-bedroom houses and this has collapsed from 17% two decades ago.

Since the data was first collected, two-bedroom houses peaked at 23% of all new-build homes in 1992/93 and 1993/94 and they have not risen above 10% since 2012/13.

Further analysis of new-build houses currently on the market with online portal, Zoopla, shows that two-bedroom houses make up as little as 2 to 3% of the houses on the market in some areas. In Durham, Cambridge, Stafford, Nottingham, Crawley and Birmingham, more than 97% of new-build houses for sale have three or more bedrooms.

Worse still, in Blackburn, Bolton, Darlington, Gateshead and Gosport, have no new-build two-bedroom houses for sale at all. Other places suffering the two-up, two-down drought with no new-build two-bedroom houses on the market are Hastings, Rochdale, Slough, Stevenage, Wigan and Worcester.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s completion data shows houses made up 80% of new-build properties in 2017/18, with flats making up the rest.

Joseph Daniels, CEO of Project Etopia, said: “The two-up, two-down was once thought of as the typical first house for aspiring home owners, giving people a step onto the ladder where they have space to start building a family.

“But couples are inevitably finding it increasingly difficult to buy smaller two-bedroom homes because developers have simply stopped building enough of them. 

“Decades of inadequate home building has already left hundreds of thousands of people unable to afford to buy a place of their own. Developers need to remember they’re building for people, not just profit.”