Irish "new builds", smaller but more rooms than Euro average

The UK government has initiated a consultation paper on housing standards, particularly on the size of dwellings. … nsultation

Turns out, our near neighbours suffer from their newly built residential units being the smallest in Europe, but have about the average number of rooms per dwelling, resulting in a smaller than average room size.

Some of research this is based on was published in 2005 “Unaffordable Housing: Fables and Myths”, which reviewed residential units across a number of countries. A relevant extract is available from the “Swing a Cat” website, (

The entry for Ireland is interesting; new builds in the country up to 2005 were well in the lower half of the size table when compared to what was on offer to our European cousins (no real surprise there), but units here had the second highest “average number of rooms” per dwelling. Perhaps everyone else favoured the open plan living layout. But even with the widely held view of a glut of one and two bedroom apartments during the bubble years, the average number of rooms for Irish new builds appears to have remained persistently high, even if the rooms were small and built to a questionable standard.

Blue Horseshoe

I think open plan only works in Ireland in a well insulated house, I’ve been in any number of houses built in the 60s & 70s where there was an open plan layout & it was baltic during the winter. With smaller rooms, they’re easier to heat & keep warm. With the Part L? regulations that came into effect this year, hopefully we’ll finally have some parity with where Scandinavia was 40 years ago :unamused:

Simple things like insulated porches and external doors that open into sheltered areas make a huge difference. Lots of partitions in a house are a real waste of space but open plan living needs discipline to keep things in their place otherwise it could always look cluttered.

Celtic Tiger obsession with bathrooms matching/outnumbering bedrooms?

The impracticality and poor quality of multi-unit developments thrown up in the last few years still leaves me incredulous. I’m convinced many '00s apartment blocks, in particular, will be demolished in my life time as unfit for purpose, a la the inner city tenements and the Ballymun towers before them.

One of my pet hates. It’s linked of course to the “suits professionals sharing” culture where what should IMO be family homes are let out to single strangers sharing a 3 bed in a family estate. Houses in the CT were built to maximise the amount of single-person salaries you could target rather than being designed for family living, hence a bathroom for every bedroom but insufficient living space

Having said that, at 5.2 rooms average, is this included en-suites as separate rooms?

Doubt it.
Mind you, the en-suite was popular enough for the Master Bed - but I do not think many ‘ordinary’ houses had one per bedroom even in CT times.
Always thought of them as smelly space wasters meself - done up two ‘fixer-uppers’ in my day and got fed up of the "did you not put in an en-suite? "question from incredulous family and friends - seems to have been a token of classy renovation I had inexplicably neglected!
Fella I know had to get a shorter bed ( lucky himself and wife are both 5’ 6"ish) to gain a bit of space after skelping out their bedroom to install a cramped and windowless onboard kazee.

Never understood the fixation of hearing your partner taking a dump while your lying in bed.

one of the reasons I moved out of the ‘greater dublin’ region was the ability to actually have spacious living.

I still hear constant conversations of friends and family talking about needing storage and creating space out of nothing, having to panel out the attic to store shoe boxes. People getting overly excited at the sight of IKEA boxes and shelving!

i’ve panelled out my attic for one reason and that is to have the mega scaletrix track that i’ve always wanted …

On at the moment, searching for all properties in Dublin with a minimum 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, there are 488 properties available! Lots and lots of extra ensuites were built in the CT, and IMO this was very much to facilitate shared occupation

An ensuite is nice for the master bedroom if you have kids using the family bathroom.

Its a pity we copied / continued the small house fashion of the Brits or built McMansion in the boom. One day we will hit upon the goldilocks zone if only by accident.

We used to have the"Grant sized" houses, they were pretty much in the goldilocks zone.

Is it not just that Irish people struggle with fractions/decimals and concept of surface-area? However, the wonderful education system has at least equipped people with the ability to count up to 5 (ordinary level maths: right hand only used) or 10 (higher level maths, fingers of both hands used) so people can ably compare numbers of rooms.

Would be interested to know how area is defined. Given that for a fixed surface area footprint, every additional “room” reduces the livable surface area due to the addition of dividing walls, it could be that we end up with less area than it seems (or maybe that is accounted for). Another thing I saw spoiling some units here was the addition of stairs when not needed: apartment development where every apartment was split level (giving a sort of interlocked/tesselated configuration). This meant that for the volume of the apartment-building, there were far more stairs (useless space) installed than required (communal stairs and then private stairs in every apartment). I figured it was to make the apartment seem more like a little house when you were inside, sort of removes some of the benefits of an apartment and made moving furniture around a pain in the ass.

A comparison of average house sizes across a number of countries.

Blue Horseshoe

Yes, but only after a couple of years when garage door was replaced with a wall/window and the part of the ground floor that had been designated as garage space to fall outside the grant restrictions had been converted to living space. :wink:

It’s also a relatively cheap addition, making the house/apartment seem more upmarket and/or better value.

I would say, for those of you familiar with said houses, the houses of Rathfarnham and Templeogue built from the late 50s-mid 70s were pretty much Goldilocks zone. There are plenty other examples of the same type of houses around the city, parts of Raheny, Stillorgan etc. These were good sized family houses with decent gardens 50ft long or longer and a good sized Garage…invariably converted. The homes has nice regular shaped rooms and gardens larger than the standard 11m that seemed to start appearing with the eg. Sorohan houses of the late 70s-early 80s. Later 80s and early 90s saw the arrival of en-suites as standard on the Master bedroom, garages were a luxury and I guess the FTB grant resulted in a heap of 3 beds that are OK but not huge. I was involved in housing estate planning in the mid 90s, it was a job, but I did not enjoy shoehorning houses and went on to better things as quick as I could.

This era of family Semi-D (or wartime to late 50s if I’m lucky) is top of my list, anything beyond mid 70s is disappointing.

+1 Homemaker:
The 40s to 70s houses seemed to have both sufficient space and adaptability to provide a good family home.
Mind you, most originally housed families of greater size than is usual today and typically would have had Ma and Da’s (+ baby) room, the ‘boy’s room’ and the ‘girl’s room’ - so depending on gender composition there might be four or five siblings packed into one! Probably handy in winter as insulation was not invented until the 80s really - ironic that being when the big squeeze begun on arera so things got snugger all around I suppose!
A friend of mine grew up in a family of eight - 3 boys and 5 girls - in the 60s and has some great tales of the sardine conditions at bedtime and meals in shifts.
The boys had the box room with a single bed plus a bunk (although a 50s box room, probably as big as a current second double) girls had the ‘big’ room with two double beds - where did all the clothes, school stuff, shoes and toys go?
The ‘good’ front room downstairs was hardly used at all of course, being more or less a child-free zone - my mate often wonders at this curious lifestyle quirk of the time as the house was bursting at the seams with kids. My own childhood farmhouse was much the same in having a practically unused ‘parlour’ room out of bounds to us as children.
My mate maintains that overcrowding was what prompted his generation to flee the nest as quick as they could; much more so than the fact that drinking and sexual antics were utterly forbidden in the homes of teenagers at the time. Even without parental disapproval it would have been a bit hard to get some privacy for a bit o’ nookey in the house of a big family alright!
Compare and contrast with today when own rooms are expected by even small kids and temporary bedmates of teenagers can appear at the breakfast table - then expect a lift home!
No wonder there are so many ‘kidults’ failing to launch - why should they bother!
But then, we wonder, how could they afford it anyway!