02 Nov 2022

In the North of Ireland, 15 years ago, people were rushing to build elaborate, five or six-bedroom houses in the country, fueled in part by the easy credit and the desire for country living. Many poured thousands into these spacious homes, planning to live out their golden years in designer properties with all the bells and whistles.

Now, many people are discovering that these large, high-maintenance houses no longer fit their needs as they grow older, but younger people aren’t buying them.

Tastes—and access to credit—inflation, cost of living shock with Ukraine war and energy price rises, has shifted attitudes dramatically since the early 2000s. These days, buyers of all ages eschew the large, ornate houses, in favor of smaller, more-modern looking alternatives, and prefer walkable areas to living miles from retail etc, and thus save on fuel costs.

This creates problems for the rural farming community, who where hoping to sell off building sites, a valuable source of income, which supplemented their dwindling farm incomes, especially post Brexit.

Between buying a site and paying to build a relatively modest dwelling, say, 1,200ft2, the economics are not stacking up for most, where relying on cheap borrowing, which has all but disappeared for the foreseeable future.

Where not aiming to move home, the trend is towards simple extensions or roofspace conversions where sufficient equity exists, and the need to build anything is justified.

In the era of tax rises, rising inflation, sluggish growth (stagflation) Small is Big !