Small flats still on the agenda for new builds but concerns remain

July 10, 2021 - 13:28
The Ministry of Construction will continue to limit the floor-area of new apartments to no less than 25sq.m, according to a new circular on technical regulations for apartment buildings.

HÀ NỘI — The Ministry of Construction will continue to limit the floor-area of new apartments to no less than 25sq.m, according to a new circular on technical regulations for apartment buildings.

The regulations are a part of the ministry's Circular No 03/2021/TT-BXD on national technical regulations on apartment buildings (QCVN 04:2021/BXD) that took effect from July 5, 2021 and replaced the Circular No 21/2019/TT-BXD.

In both the new and old circulars, the ministry has stipulated that the minimum usable area of ​​an apartment in housing projects is not less than 25sq.m.

In addition, for commercial housing projects, the proportion of apartments with an area of ​​less than 45sq.m should not exceed 25 per cent of the total number of apartments in the project.

Lê Hoàng Châu, chairman of the HCM City Real Estate Association (HoREA), said that small-scale apartments in any high-end, mid-end or affordable housing project have the lowest total cost compared to other apartment sizes.

The price of a high-end housing project is about VNĐ45 million per sq.m, so the price of a small apartment with an area of ​​​​about 30sq.m in this project is only VNĐ1.35 billion. Young people just starting work can afford these, Châu said.

Meanwhile, affordable apartments with a price of VNĐ25 million per sq.m have a value of VNĐ750 million. That is a very affordable price, meeting the needs of many people, he said.

Đoàn Chí Thanh, general director of Hoàng Anh Saigon Company, says this is good news for business. 

In a housing project, small apartments are often purchased due to their lower purchase price compared to large-area apartments. 

However, there is not a big enough supply of small apartments to meet demand due to the limited number of small apartments in new development projects. 

This pushes up the per square meter price of this market segment roughly 5-10 per cent more than of large-area apartments. Many projects, as a result, have small-area apartments with a price of VNĐ40-50 million per sq.m. 

Many experts believe that a 25-sq.m apartment is not the answer to the problem of a lack of housing for low-income people in urban areas. 

The price for this kind of apartment is still far beyond the reach of many people.  

Architect Ngô Viết Nam Sơn said many countries have regulations on small apartments with the minimum  being a 21sq.m flat in China, 24sq.m flat in the Philippines, and 27sq.m flat in the UK.

Small apartments have a bedroom, living room, kitchen and one toilet. These apartments are built for just one person.

That said, these countries also have very specific regulations for this type of apartment, including the criterion that only one person can live there, Sơn said.

Meanwhile, Việt Nam has regulations that allow the construction of a 25-sq.m apartment, but does not yet have specific regulations on limiting the number of people living in that apartment. 

Small apartments can accommodate one or two person(s) and even a family of three. This puts pressure on social infrastructure and transport, he said.

Đỗ Thu Hằng, director of Research, at Savills Vietnam said depending on the scale of the project, small apartments will create pressure in terms of overall operation. This includes demand for electricity, water, waste treatment, fire prevention or the need to use common utilities.

The 25-sq.m "micro" apartment also poses a challenge in terms of managing the number of people living in the apartments, with security and public safety.

The planning approval by the competent state agency must also have important criteria, Châu said. Including land use, construction density, the number of floors and especially the population of the project.

Châu also notes that the management and operation of the apartment management board also plays a direct role, contributing to limiting negative impacts on infrastructure. VNS