Changing Your Home – How Nearly 9 Million Bedrooms Have Been Lost in the UK

According to research conducted by Zoopla, more than four in ten British homeowners have converted their spare bedrooms into offices, gyms, and even cinemas throughout the pandemic!

Here are the key takeaways:

  • During the pandemic, 41% of British homeowners have adapted their properties to suit their changing needs, with around 8.8 million bedrooms being sacrificed in the process.
  • In their place, almost five million of these included home offices, alongside over one million being turned into home gyms.
  • According to research, the average household spent £3,714 to adapt their home during the pandemic – that is a national total of around £36.5 billion!
  • Nearly 7 in 10 people think that employers should contribute to the cost of home offices, but only 30% have.

Nearly 9 million bedrooms were lost to at-home offices, gyms, cinemas and even bars during the pandemic, as the UK has adapted to the new normal.

How has UK home changed?

Zoopla conducted research on homeowners across the UK to understand how the nation’s room requirements have changed – and how homes have changed as a result.

Among the respondents that did change their home, more than half (53%) said that they completely repurposed one bedroom. On the other hand, one in five households (22%) said that they changed multiple bedrooms.

Nationally, this adds up to a whopping 8,856,000 bedrooms that have been ‘lost’ amongst the UK’s 24 million privately owned properties during the pandemic.

As remote and hybrid working has become a staple choice for many, almost half (46%) of those who responded has made their spare room a home office.

This means that more than 4.5 million new home offices have emerged up and down the UK. In addition, over half of homeowners (58%) say that they plan to keep it permanently.

Alongside home offices, there are plenty of other methods the UK has used to reincarnate their spare rooms since March 2022. According to Zoopla’s statistics, across the UK:

  • 1.3 million home gyms have been created.
  • 984,000 home bars have been created.
  • 900,000 home cinemas or music rooms have been created.
  • 688,800 dedicated classrooms have been created.

The cost of reincarnation

Repurposing entire rooms does not come cheap.

According to Zoopla, research has identified that UK homeowners who have adapted their properties have spent an average of £3,714, with homes offices costing roughly £1,735, gyms £1,568 and cinemas £3,841.

Nationally, that equates to a total of £36.5 billion.

At-home offices: Who should pay for them?

Home offices has certainly been one of the more contentious room changes, with many people being forced to give up their living space to simply carry out their jobs.

In fact, Zoopla’s research identified that 16% of homeowners who created a home office, say that they resent giving up the space in their home for the benefit of their employer.

Nearly seven in ten (67%) of people believe that employers should pay all or some of the cost of setting up a home office, with 12% of respondents thinking that they should even offer compensation for the space lost.

However, the reality is that just 2% of those who set up home offices say that their employer had offered compensation, and only 30% say they made any contributions towards the costs at all.

Just 10% covered all the costs.

An unhappy compromise?

For those who responded that they had repurposed their rooms, more than half (55%) said they have had to compromise the space of their home, leaving many homeowners less happy with the space they have.

Among those respondents, 28% say that they now have less space for guests to stay and 21% say they have less or no privacy. 11% say that their children now must share a bedroom.

However, this figure rises significantly among younger homeowners, who are likely to have smaller properties.

More than eight in ten (83%) homeowners under the age of 25 have said that they are currently having to compromise their living spaces for office space.

For many people, changing their home setup during the pandemic meant that they needed to find somewhere new and better suited to their changing needs.

Of homeowners who have made changes, nearly a third (32%) say that this has made them consider moving properties.

Although many believe that employers should contribute to the cost of setting up a home office, it is important to consider the factors that come with the job, there is reduced commuter costs and the ability to use the time spent commuting on personal endeavors, such as benefitting from a converted gym.

The rise in open plan living has also meant that it can be tricky to find space to set up a home office however, it does present a more flexible property for buyers to consider purchasing if you decide to sell in the future.

It is also worth considering a garden office, whether that is a glorified shed to a purpose-built luxury cabin. Not only does this enable a better work life balance and space to work outside of your home, but it will also add value to the property and not take it away, which could be the case if you convert a bedroom.

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