The experience of residents at Britain’s first large-scale shipping container homes project

Residents of Richardson’s Yard, Britain’s first large-scale shipping container homes project, have given a thumbs up to the quality of their homes and their experience of living there.

They also identified some issues which we at BHT are working on to resolve.

The findings are a result of a satisfaction survey undertaken by Juliet Amoruso, a social geographer at the University of Sussex.  Her key findings include:

  • Residents most like having their own kitchen (87%), front door (81%) and shower/toilet (81%), the location (56%), and being a tenant of BHT (56%);
  •  4% of residents said the accommodation was better or much better than where they lived before.
  • Residents least like the cost of the heating (56%), the rent levels (50%), and the high media attention that Richardson’s Yard has attracted (44%).
  • 75% of residents said that rubbish and litter was a problem, caused mainly by unreliable collections by City Clean.
  • 38% said the WiFi provided by BHT had been a problem, but the replacement of faulty equipment appears to have resolved this issue.

Juliet has made eight recommendations for further action, all of which we have accepted. Further satisfaction reviews will be undertaken in the autumn and again in 2015.

In the introduction to her report, Juliet has said: “The results from this survey demonstrate that BHT has in a number of areas achieved reasonable levels of satisfaction from its tenants. There are some positive and encouraging comments coming from the residents, particularly the aspects of their homes they liked best, including having the security of having their own front door.

“The residents are excited about the green aspects of their home and hope to create more community bonds through gardening and other activities at Richardson’s Yard. They are impressed by the shipping containers and apart from minor maintenance worries, overall they seem satisfied with their homes.

“However, part of the brief for this research is to identify what lessons can be learned and what BHT might do differently in the future. The effectiveness of the heating and electricity costs has not achieved expectations and issues with maintenance and insulation have had a negative impact on residents.

“Some interesting suggestions were given by tenants, such as creating a guide on how things work to help new residents when they move in. These ideas will be taken on board by BHT.”

The findings of this review echo what we have heard ourselves from residents. It is good to have them independently confirmed.

Overall we knew that residents like their homes. Before we embarked on this initiative, clients told us that the shipping container homes sounded better than where they were at that time. Six months on 94% of residents have confirmed that they feel their living conditions this.

Residents have also said that they like having their own front door, their own kitchen, and their own bathroom.

But we also knew that the heating has been the single biggest problem. As a result we made alternative means of heating available to residents, but this has added to the cost of electricity. In response to this we provided some free electricity during the coldest period of the winter, and we have reduced by one sixth the tariff charged to tenants.

Rubbish and litter have been a problem, usually coinciding with a missed collection. This has frustrated me as much as it has residents.

Residents have commented about the rent levels. This is a reflection that Brighton is a very high rental area. Our rents are within the cheapest 30% of rents for a one bed flat in the city and within the maximum range for housing benefit payments.

I was surprised that a third of residents had been critical of the WiFi we provide until we discovered that the equipment installed was problematic. Hopefully we have now resolved this as an issue.

I am pleased with the findings of the review and grateful to Juliet Amoruso for doing such a thorough job. From this report and our own observations we know what we have to do to sort out the teething problems we have had. Overall, I am delighted with how it has gone.

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