The recent policy decision by Australian Governments to have more houses built on ‘compact’ blocks only highlights a trend which has been continuing in Australia for several years.
In Canberra it is being used as a weapon against falling affordability. Smaller blocks should mean lower land prices and a cheaper final cost to the consumer. Elsewhere it is seen as a response to consumer demand as people have less time and energy to tend large gardens.
South-east Queensland and Adelaide developers have already taken the initiative, with parcels of land as small as 180 square metres being offered at the Springfield Lakes Estate at Ipswich and Lights view in Adelaide.
In the distant past most migrants came to Australia to escape the unhealthy, overcrowded cities of Victorian Britain. As a reaction they spread out on quarter-acre blocks and wide streets.
Those days are long gone and increasing numbers of people are discovering the advantages of well-planned intimate living. Real estate agents are reporting a greater sense of community in these housing clusters. “You get to know your neighbours and if there is less open space, there’s less room for unwelcome strangers to lurk,” she said.
Architects and home designers are adjusting to the trend. In the past smaller houses and flats conjured up images of boxy rooms thrown together for people who could afford no better, but as one designer says “a small budget does not mean that you have to have small ideas”.
Her plan is to emphasise the scaling down – “anything else looks like an apology” – with dark colours producing a warm, intimate effect. A smaller house means less furniture so what you do buy can be of a better quality.
Research show that smaller or “boutique” blocks as real estate agents prefer to call them, are attracting a high proportion of owner occupiers as opposed to investors, with the result that the home and surrounds are likely to be better cared for and will hold value over time.
People interested in homes on smaller blocks should consult an HIA builder or home designer. For more information on smaller homes and design generally log on to homesite.com.au Australia’s premier home and garden website.
Further information: Call 89956300
HIA Executive Director
Housing Industry Association