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HOW LAYOUTS AFFECT USE

Most houses have a variation on one of the following basic three plans

Linear – principal rooms lead one into the other like links in a chain and there are no shortcuts from one end of the chain back to the other
Looped – where the key rooms of dining, living and kitchen are connected both to the hallway and to each other
Branched – where key rooms are connected to the hallway but not to each other and the hallway is used as a buffer between rooms

 

Illustration of Plan types

Plan Types

Between 2002 and 2004 Lindsay Asquith undertook research at Oxford Brookes into how these homes suited different family types. She researched 200 families in Wantage, Oxfordshire and then followed 12 families with young children closely to record room use. After a year of research during which time families, including the children, kept daily logs of what they were doing in which room, she discovered that some house plans brought rooms into use, while others made them redundant. Her startling conclusion was key rooms such as the dining room in a branched plan would be used for less than 1% of the time while in a looped plan house of the same size it would be used for about 21% of the time.

In other words an average 3-bed house with 6 habitable rooms in Wantage costs £233,200 or just under £39,000 for each habitable room. If one of those is used less than 4 days a year, presumably for key festivities, it might make more sense financially to eat out at the best restaurant in the area for those few meals! So think carefully about whether you want to spend your money on fewer larger rooms or more smaller rooms.

 
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