Deciding the colour of the tiles on the bathroom walls used to be the biggest choice a homebuyer had to make. Now housebuilders are producing optional extras catalogues, offering everything anyone could want. In the USA buyers spend about 10% of a new home’s sales price on extras, and although most UK buyers don’t dip that deeply into their pockets yet, the housebuilders responding to Homes’ survey of top-selling optional extras in this issue, clearly recognise the potential.

  But for elderly people choosing optional extras isn’t a problem: they simply don’t have new homes to buy. Of the 500,000 sheltered housing units in the UK, only 10% are private homes. Bungalows have been virtually outlawed by PPG3, and local authorities are focusing most of their attention on keyworker housing, creating a tough environment for private retirement housebuilders. With almost 11 million pensioners in the country we should be providing a lot more than 2500 new retirement homes a year.