Happy Homes: making your home feel 'secure'

Heather

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Heather

Last updated Thursday 16th January 2020

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As part of our Happy Homes Survey, we’re taking the results our pioneering research uncovered and showing you how to apply it to your own household.

Through our study, we have identified six key qualities to focus on if we want to create happy homes. These are…

  • Secure - providing shelter, safety and stability
  • Nourishing - provides healthy conditions
  • Adaptable - can meet changing needs
  • Relaxed - makes us feel at home
  • Connected - provides spaces to interact
  • Mirrors - reflecting who you are

In this article, we’ll be diving into the ‘secure’ quality of our homes. What exactly does this mean and what can you do to achieve it?

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A safe and stable environment

On a basic level, homes should provide shelter, safety and stability.

Sadly, even now this isn’t always the case in the UK. Too many people are at the mercy of temporary accommodation, including 126,000 children. Alongside this, millions of Britons live in ‘hidden households’ which they lack the means to escape, such as house shares, living with an ex-partner, or being stuck at home with parents.

It’s our belief that more needs to be done on a government level to make sure everyone in the UK has access to basic safe and stable shelter - one that puts their health first.

Creating a safe and stable environment…

  • Protect your deposit. When moving into private rental accommodation, ensure your deposit sits in an independent protection scheme. Again this should help you from potentially lacking the funds to escape an unsafe/stable household. There are also now options where your deposit can automatically move with you, meaning no awkward period where you’re covering the new deposit as you wait for the old one to be released.

  • Where possible, create an emergency savings fund. This could help in the future, should a relationship break down or you need to escape a bad house share.

  • Campaign in your local area for more social housing and join the fight to get the government to build more homes. More social housing should remove the need for temporary housing being a long-term settlement. Learn more about Resi’s fight to get better social housing.

Homeownership

Of all the demographic variables we considered (including age, income and relationship status) homeownership was one of the most significant predictors of home satisfaction.

This could be part of the ingrained British attitudes we have towards homes. As a nation, we place owning your home as one of life’s major aspirations, a trend that started in the 1950s, gathered pace in the 80s and hasn’t lost momentum since. This was confirmed in our Happy Home’s research.

However, there’s more at play than just social aspirations. By owning your own home, you have that much more control over its look and feel. You also remove a lot of the insecurities associated with renting, such as surprise inspections and sudden evictions.

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Getting on the housing ladder...

  • Use the right savings account. Lifetime ISAs provide a 25% bonus month on month for anything you might save. They can also be used for investing, so if you don’t plan on buying a house for another 8+ years, you could get even more rewards with some cautious stocks and shares accounts - though remember, with investment, your capital is always at risk. You’ll also need to bear in mind that once your money is in the account, taking it out for anything other than a home or in retirement will not only lose your bonus but incur a withdrawal charge too.

  • Help to buy schemes are also an option but exercise caution when considering the homes on offer. This government loan is interest-free for the first five years but after this point, you will need to cover a 1.75% interest charge - potentially making your repayments unaffordable.

  • For more information on what schemes are available to you to help get a foot on the property ladder, check out this helpful guide from MoneySavingExpert.

Emotional security at home

Even homeowners aren’t completely secure in their home. Our research has found that 48% of us say there is always something to worry about in terms of looking after our homes. In groups were home satisfaction is at its lowest, this jumps to 75%.

These concerns could be anything from broken appliances, a dodgy boiler, or a leaking roof. As many know, problems such as these can be costly to fix and not everyone can resolve such issues when they come up. Even if the worst hasn’t happened, just knowing something is on the way out can create anxiety. How much longer will that fridge last? Can your roof tiles survive another windy day? Such nagging concerns can easily turn your home from haven to headache.

For renters, these problems often feel out of their control. It’s not good enough that the only requirement that have landlords to renters is that the boiler must be tested each year and the electricity tested every three years. We need a stronger set of standards that ensure our basic needs are met and the home environment is healthy. The public agrees. 91% of the public support government action to make it illegal for landlords to rent a home that is unfit for human habitation.

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Minimising your concerns…

  • Before moving in, ask the seller or your landlord for a copy of the building control certificate. These certificates mean a qualified professional has ensured your home is structurally stable. They cover the basics - fire safety, efficient cold / hot water supplies, a functioning boiler, stairs with enough headroom and safe handrail, safe and working electrical fittings, plus secure windows and doors.

  • Getting the right home insurance is one small way you can elevate your home concerns. Remember: take your time picking your policy. Compare what’s on the market and don’t cut corners. It’s also worth noting that if your home is worth over £1 million, is listed, has a thatched roof, or a flat one, you will need specialist insurance. And don’t forget to include some add-ons, such as home emergency cover.

  • When buying a new property, make sure you get a surveyor in before any money exchanges hands. They’ll be able to spot those hidden defects that will likely lead to anxiety in the future, such as bad pipes and a faulty roof. If such things are present, you can use this as a way to negotiate down the price and factor in these repairs early on.

Summary

Out of all the Happy Home qualities we identified in our research, ‘secure’ is often the one that’s most out of our hands. No one wants to find themselves living in temporary accommodation or feeling snowed under by mounting home repairs. While some of these things might be avoided through careful saving / planning, should the worst happen, what we all really need is decent housing policies.

This is why we created the Resi Foundation. We know that having a secure home is the basis of home happiness, making quality social housing vital. The Resi Foundation aims to provide free architectural services to any local authority or housing association looking to build. Giving them the expertise they need to get the most from their budget and to do more than create four walls with a roof - to help them create real homes with wellbeing at the forefront.

Learn more about the Resi Foundation here.

If you want to learn how you can improve the happiness of your home, speak to our team. We provide free consultations so you can get expert advice on how to turn your survey results into real changes for your home. Book yours here.

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