The next big thing in the Australian housing market is likely to be small. Small homes, that is. Small homes have been built internationally, throughout Japan and Scandinavia in particular, for over two decades. It’s not uncommon there to find 20 and 30 sq meter dwellings, and tiny 15 sq meter apartments.
Not so in Australia. In fact, house sizes in this country have been on the increase for the past 30 years, only just flattening out recently. It’s as if we’ve all taken to heart the mantra that bigger is better, and the belief that home buyers want more bedrooms, more bathrooms, more everything . . .
However, in Australia’s urban renewal areas, we are seeing small houses and, in particular, small town houses, coming in to favour. It may seem strange but there’s not so many small apartments, at least in Sydney, and this is because Sydney actually has minimum size constraints on units. In Melbourne, there are no size limits, only amenity controls that regulate for such things as width of rooms and natural lighting.
So, because of this policy framework, we are seeing a number of town house developments in both cities where the total size of each dwelling is a mere 60 sq meters - equivalent to the size of an average one bedroom apartment. But the difference between the town house and the unit is that you have your own front door. That sense of privacy can be an important part of housing choice. Added to this, most town houses have no common walls, and they have their own separate electrical connections. You can enjoy your former lifestyle but on a miniaturised basis.
And there’s no strata payments. This means that the banks look very favourably on lending for small town house purchases. There is security of land and none of the problems associated with the complexities of strata living, such as major levies when lifts or other equipment needs renewing.
The biggest thing holding back the small home revolution is council regulations about the size of dwellings and the restrictions on building multiple dwellings on a single block of land.
Looking at figures which show that 30-40% of dwellings are occupied by a single person, and many are forced to buy something of a size which is bigger than they need or want. If I’m happy to live in a smaller house and it meets all of the amenity guidelines, why shouldn’t I be able to?
The small houses are a popular choice for retirees, downsizers, students - or the parents of students who want to purchase a place for them - and essential service workers who would like to live close to where they are employed. The small houses whether single or double storey require town planning permit.
We believe that you should be able to build as many single-storey dwellings on your block of land as you want without requiring any planning approval because there can be no amenity impacts. If we could bring that into play, it would have the biggest benefit on housing affordability as the value of land in middle ring suburbs would be unlocked.
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For more information or to discuss your property research requirements, please contact Amy Williams, National Marketing Manager on 02 9221 5211 or email@example.com.