Search press releases

Advanced search options

What makes a home? Family comes first

  • British Gas has partnered with Shelter to look at what “home” means to people today
  • A three-bedroom, modern family home is the nation’s favourite
  • Twice as many people want off-road parking than want a balcony or terrace 


Forget mansions and stately homes - a modern, three-bedroom family house is the nation’s preferred home, according to research released today. 

The survey by British Gas revealed that most people would choose a three-bedroom, detached home with a garden over a larger, more lavish property as their ideal home. Only a quarter of residents (26 per cent) want a swimming pool, while 62 per cent said off-street parking was what mattered most. More than three quarters of people (79 per cent) said they would choose a house with a garden. 

Households would choose a games room over a granny flat, with a quarter (24 per cent) of people wanting somewhere to play games compared to only seven per cent who said they would rather have a separate flat.  A home office was also a popular choice, with more than 40 per cent saying they would choose to have one in their ideal home, while almost 60 per cent would like a utility room. 

When asked what word they think of first when describing their home, one in eight said ‘family’. The other most popular answers were ‘safe’, ‘secure’, ‘comfort’ and ‘comfy’.

The research was carried out as part of the Great Home Debate. As part of a national conversation about home, Shelter and British Gas have joined forces to shape new standards for homes in the 21st Century. 

Bryan Halliday, Head of Corporate Citizenship at British Gas, said: “Working with Shelter, the Great Home Debate will enable us to understand how we can help more people across the country to have a safe, warm and comfortable place to call home, and will help to shape the housing standards of the future.”

The survey asked at what moment a house becomes a home; a quarter (23 per cent) of respondents said it was when they got the keys, while 16 per cent said it took a little longer, only feeling at home once all the boxes were unpacked.  

On average, people in Britain have lived in their current home for more than 12 years and two months, and more than one in five (21 per cent) has lived in their current home for more than 20 years. About a quarter (23 per cent) of those surveyed hoped never to move from their current property; only one person in eight (12 per cent) claimed to love moving home. 

Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “Everyone deserves the chance to have a place to call home, where they can build a life for themselves and their families. But our ever-growing housing crisis means more and more people are seeing this simple dream spiral out of reach.

“Shelter has been the champion for homes for 50 years and together with the public, we want to create change for future generations. So take part in the Great Home Debate and tell us what home really means to you, and we will fight to make this the reality for every home in Britain.”

Anyone can join the Great Home Debate by visiting and sharing their thoughts on the meaning of “home” in Britain today.


Notes to editors

  • British Gas surveyed more than 4,000 people across the UK in June 2016. 
  • British Gas is Britain’s leading energy and home services provider, serving around 11 million homes as well as providing energy to around half a million British businesses. British Gas provides value for money, dedicated customer service, innovative energy solutions and the highest quality home services expertise in the country.
  • British Gas and Shelter joined forces in 2012 in a five year partnership to help tackle the problem of poor quality private rented homes in Britain. The partnership will tackle five key areas: safety, warmth, landlord advice, renter advice and standards. Now in its 50th year, Shelter, in partnership with British Gas, has launched the Great Home Debate – to have the biggest ever conversation about the meaning of home, and to help shape new housing standards for the 21st Century.

For more information contact:

Leigh Franks

British Gas is Britain’s leading energy supplier, and serves around 11 million homes in Britain – nearly half the country’s homes – as well as providing energy to around half a million British businesses. British Gas provides value for money, dedicated customer service, innovative energy solutions and the highest quality Homes Services expertise in the country. Find out more at

Share release