Homebase sees property boom in des res playhouses for three-year-olds
A nationwide property boom is occurring - in the world of children's playhouses, new figures have revealed.
Sales are soaring, with parents paying record prices for the most desirable bijou versions, says retailer Homebase.
Instead of simple structures made from cheap materials, super sophisticated double storey cottages and up market log cabins costing over £500 are now commonplace.
Homebase buyer Helen Portess said: "Britain's continual fascination with houses and property now begins when children are just three-years old.
"Owning an elegant, well-appointed playhouse is now regarded as just as important as owning the real thing. They've become status symbols for parents as well as toys for children".
At one time, most children's playhouses were made from cheap scrap wood, cardboard – or even a bed sheet draped over a line between two poles.
However, the average amount of money spent on a playhouse today is £194.99 – with some customers spending four times that amount.
The number of playhouses in the UK has boomed. The Homebase Home and Garden Report 2014, in association with Nectar, which studied the shopping habits of over 60,000 people across the UK, shows that over 13 per cent of all homes with children now have playhouses. Applied to ONS figures, that means almost 700,000 play houses.
"Today's parents come from a generation when buying a trophy home was seen as an undeniable sign of being 'upwardly mobile'", added Helen Portess.
"So ingrained is this approach to property that it seem to be influencing their choice of playhouses too. As a result, children's playhouses have become statements of aspiration.
"We also believe that a desire to maintain social status may also be driving sales at the top end of the market. Few parents are prepared to invite other children around to play in a simple home made version knowing that these friends have a state of the art des res playhouse at home. It's a traditional, British Hyacinth Bucket approach to home ownership - but played out in miniature.
"However, all of this is lost on the children themselves. Even the cheapest playhouses we sell costing under £20 will be immediately transformed into a luxury palace - thanks to every child’s wonderful imagination".
Many upmarket playhouses now have two storeys, balconies, split doors, window boxes for imitation flowers, and even windows glazed with plastic. Others have a clock, an electronic doorbell, a pretend oven, and a convertible range which flips to become a pretend barbeque grill.
Among Homebase's top sellers are:
The Double Storey Cottage (£449.99)
A property of grace and distinction, situated in the rolling countryside of the back garden, yet conveniently close to the local facilities, it measures a colossal seven feet square, with easy-to-maintain, glass free windows and has its own picket fence.