Could converting smaller apartments solve the Czech housing crisis?

More rooms in a smaller area would make some flats more attractive, but the law only allows this to be done in older buildings. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 13.06.2023 13:28:00 (updated on 13.06.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

Apartments with a smaller area but more rooms could be an ideal solution for many people. Smaller apartment sizes could help make housing more accessible. Not only would people save on buying or renting, but heating and energy costs would be less. But due to the current law, apartments with these layouts can only be created in older buildings.

Real estate experts at a recent discussion on the future of rental housing in Czechia agreed that smaller layouts would help with the housing crisis, but that they can only be created during renovations.

Adam Greguš, an analyst at the developer JRD Real Estate, said Czechs want apartments with more rooms for various reasons. But these are more expensive and less accessible. According to experts, the ideal solution would be the construction of apartments with a configuration of 3+KK (three rooms and a kitchenette) and more, but with a smaller area for each room.

"According to my estimates, the Prague housing stock consists of 60 to 70 percent of apartments available with 3+KK and more. In the last five to 10 years, developers have mainly built 1+KK and 2+KK layouts. We are looking to ensure that the projects we want to provide for rent can be easily transformed by architects and that the housing stock is efficient and useful at the same time," Greguš said at last week's discussion.

Erika Bohatá, an architect from the company Capexus, which designs the interiors of buildings, said the main idea was to create smart interior solutions. "You can design a lot of hidden storage spaces. A 50 square meter apartment can be 3+KK at the same time," Bohatá said.

Martin Němek, architect and co-founder of the ADNS architekti studio, told news agency ČTK it is possible to convert smaller apartments into units with an added number of living rooms, but only in older houses. It would also have to be, for example, corner apartments, which have two or three facades facing several directions.

Němek said a colleague recently converted an apartment from a 2+1 (two rooms and a kitchen) into a 3+KK in the end position of an old panelák house. The apartment size is only 56 square meters, he added.

He pointed out that the new construction of smaller apartments with several rooms is not entirely realistic due to the demands of developers and the conditions set out in the Building Act.

"For a 3+KK apartment, the living room must have a minimum area of 16 square meters, the bedroom for two people 12 square meters, and the room for one person eight square meters. The minimum width of the room must be 3.30 meters. At the same time, the requirement must be met for daylight in each room, which defines whether a room can be considered residential,” Němek said.

He added that in the above example, the living room is only 15 square meters, which would be against the law for the construction of a new apartment Němek said.

According to the latest data from the analytical company Deloitte, the average price of an apartment in the Czech Republic was CZK 93,300 per square meter and the rent was CZK 272 per square meter. The most expensive apartments are in Prague, where sellers demand an average of CZK 156,000 per square meter and CZK 373 for the rent per square meter. On the other hand, it is cheapest to live in the Ústí nad Labem region.

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