In 1971 the average house price was £5,362, by 2008 it had reached £227,765. As Shelter has shown, if the price of a supermarket chicken had inflated by the same amount, it would cost you £47.
The story's worse in London where the average house price is now £580,000.
This means there's a whole section of the population who live and work in central London, who have good jobs, are on modest wages, in their late 20s and 30s, who wish to have families and stay in London but cannot afford to buy a property that suits their needs. The housing market is failing these people.
The Government's 'help to buy' scheme initially appears attractive as it will increase people's ability to buy by reducing the size of a deposit needed. But again, it doesn't decrease the cost of a house. Some have argued that by increasing the supply of cheap mortgages it may have the opposite effect.
Shared-ownership schemes are one solution and they are good news for developers who can charge a premium for fully finished flats. But they offer little choice for the buyer, and don't make houses any cheaper, it's just the costs are shared with the Government.
People don’t just want to be provided for – what's needed is a new model for mid-market housing that taps into the young, creative, entrepreneurial energy and do-it-yourself culture and provides opportunities for people themselves to meet their housing needs.
Most of Britain's houses are mass-produced by a handful of developers who build houses not to create homes for people, but to make a profit.
The problem is summed up nicely in this document (http://issuu.com/alastairparvin/docs/2011_07_06_arighttobuild) which says there's an “inherent paradox in seeking all the things we'd associate with the good design of a house; 'affordability', 'community', 'sustainability', 'flexibility' and 'high quality' from a business model which actually see those things as costs” and so tries its hardest to minimise them.
People want to custom build but there are many barriers if starting from scratch. Naked House, in a small way, is trying to put that right. Not by prescribing the end product through expensive top down architects and developers, but by changing the process itself and making it easier for people to decide and build for themselves.
Designing out community
Buying a house or flat means your neighbour is simply the person who moved in next door. Developers build fences higher, design out natural interaction and rarely provide more than the minimum of communal space - it's a tough environment to create a sense of community.
So the benefits of communal life – mutual support, shared childcare, shared resources, sociable aspects - have often disappeared from new builds. Naked House will put a bit more of these good things back into affordable housing.