In Australia, it is said that the average floor size of homes is 186.3 square metres (2005.3 square feet). Statistics also mentioned that Victoria is the state with the biggest houses in the country with an average floor size of 244.8 square metres (2635 square feet). Western Australia is among the top three whose homes have an average floor size of 235.3 square metres (2532.74 square feet).
Across all states and territories, Tasmania holds the record of the smallest homes, particularly the new ones. ACT may have followed Victoria when it comes to the biggest floor sizes in the country, but this federal territory only has about 21% of freestanding houses. In contrast, Western Australia has about 75% freestanding properties out of the total number.
Compared to the rest of the world, Australian homes are among the most expansive, particularly when it comes to freestanding properties. Although such is the case, the houses in the country have been shrinking in size for some time now.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average size mentioned above is 1.6% lower in 2018 than in 2017. It is also the smallest for the past 22 years.
Why Australians Now Choose to Live in a Smaller Home?
In 1911, homes used to have four to five dwellers on average. As time passed, this number continued to decline. In the last survey, there would often be fewer than three people in each home by 2006 until the current time.
More houses are now built all over the country. The growing number is one of the reasons why the number of dwellers decreased. Other factors also come into play, including the average family size getting smaller. Many families in Australia choose to have fewer children, as well. Divorces increased while marriages decreased. All these elements influenced the number of people in a standard home.
It is also worth mentioning that the average cost to build a home is not getting any cheaper. According to a survey, one of the first things that Australians consider is the cost of land. Currently, the average cost in the country is $746 per square metre.
The cost of building a home is difficult to determine, though. Many factors can impact the final price. In June of 2018, however, the Australian Bureau of Statistics stated that the average cost of construction was $1270.80 per square metre. However, this price still does not include other expenses, including planning permits, unforeseen outlays, and overall design expenditures.
Building Plan and Design Strategy for Small-Size Homes
Time has proven that having a small house is not a burden. Such a choice offers a sense of freedom, especially for young couples, as well as older adults. Smaller spaces exist everywhere.
If you plan to build an efficient home, one of your top considerations is with the available space for you to work with. You may have petite-sized land, which means you have to make the most out of what you already have. Therefore, you need to come up with a good plan for construction to be successful.
Designing for small spaces is trickier than when you have to strategise for a bigger property. You have to fit in all housing elements, including bathroom, living room, and bedroom. You should also allocate enough space for the kitchen and perhaps even a garden.
The goal is to create a design that is less wasteful yet more cost-efficient. Small homes do not need a lot of heat and light. They are not as demanding when it comes to cleaning requirements as well. It may sound simple, but it is often difficult to achieve.
Two components of a practical small home are flexibility and versatility. Even though you are working in an undersized area, it does not mean you can lose control. You should aim to maximise the best that space can offer. The key lies in your ability to work and play in the tiny area effectively. When all rooms are usable, and each square metre works, the entire space will feel less small.
But how can you create a smart and efficient space? Here are some ideas:
1. Choose an Open Floor Plan
Even if you have a smaller home, it does not mean uncomfortable. With the right design, it can feel spacious. Open floor plans typically allow you to achieve such a goal. The trick is to open up the rooms to each other, creating the illusion that you only have one ample space.
An open floor layout also improves the flow between all the spaces of the house. Plus, it is also energy-efficient since you can enjoy borrowed lighting and a heating or cooling system from other rooms in the house.
For this design, you should consider getting rid of interior walls, including those that surround the dining room and kitchen. Even living spaces should not have these dividers. This way, you can create a more spacious feeling than it truly is. This plan also allows you to see views from other rooms and perhaps even outdoors. You may also want to try a double-height space or a mezzanine.
2. Create Multipurpose Areas
When you have a big or even a standard-sized home, you know where the kitchen and bedrooms are. They may not be labelled, but it is easy to tell each room apart. However, it is not the case when you have space limits. It becomes hard to tell when there are no boundaries, dividers, or walls if you go for open space flooring.
When you have a small area to work with, you need to embrace these restrictions. Start by constructing multipurpose spaces that contain versatile furniture and storage, among others.
With the interior walls are gone, you have a more fluid space, which encourages flexibility.
You can combine rooms and functions to come up with areas that serve different purposes. Similarly, you can install furniture pieces that can act as dividers. This design lets you have an efficient layout while avoiding wasted space.
If this concept sounds a little vague, here are some examples of how you can create multipurpose rooms:
- Merge the laundry room and bathroom with the appliances hidden behind the door. This way, they are concealed from view as you save more space. Also, this strategy lowers the need for plumbing between certain appliances.
- You can turn your workspace or office into a guest bedroom. You can add a couch that works as a bed, too.
- Desk and tables can take a lot of space. Consider putting them together or simply using one piece of furniture that functions as both.
- Get rid of hallways, which you can achieve if you merge circulation with the other rooms in the house. Another option is to have a corridor that serves as a library with built-in shelves.
- Architectural features, including bookcases and stairs, make separating spaces more accessible and more convenient. They work better than full-height walls.
- Be mindful of ways to borrow spaces from different areas of the house. For instance, the extra room under the stairs can still be utilised as storage or shelving. Another example is an awkward nook in your living space, which you can turn into a place for an office desk.
- Consider vaulted or high ceilings, which create a welcoming lift to the small space you have. Shed roofs with clerestories will allow more light in while keeping your home ventilated.
As much as possible, you take all the available space and find out how you can turn them into usable ones.
3. Have an Outdoor Space
One way to create additional space is to extend the living area to the great outdoors. You can blur the disconnection between exterior and interior areas, which can make your home feel a lot bigger. An example is to have large patio doors. They will give you that effortless flow from the outside to the inside of the home or vice versa. You can then access the seating area or exterior deck, which dramatically expands the size of your home.
A smaller space does not always work for everyone. However, if it is only what you have, you should embrace reality and focus on the benefits of living in a tiny area. Rather than fight it, start finding ways on how you can maximise certain concepts that are favourable to your situation.
Some of these elements include cosiness, functionality, and security. The intimate charm of your small house may fit into your plan and the natural character of the place. Take advantage of extra space like a sloping ceiling whose space beneath can still be used.
Planning is always a part of the construction and interior design. However, it is more important than ever when you are working on undersized properties. Sit down and draw or even list down what you expect the home to be, along with the floor plan and room layouts.
Other things to think about are:
Avoid creating shadows, which cause the rooms to look even smaller than what they really are. Make sure all areas have proper lighting.
Clutter: Get rid of clutter, which can affect the size of the rooms, making them look space-restricted.
The hues you choose for your home can make or break how space is viewed. Focus on simplicity and go for visual unity when it comes to the décor. This way, the entire house will feel less cluttered and airy. You can mix bold colours with accent hues to create the illusion of more space.
You should also consider the structural elements of the house. Built-ins, for example, provide better utilisation of space. They are efficient fixtures that are attached or installed within another item, such as the walls or closet cabinets.
Doors are also crucial, and you have to decide whether or not you need to remove them. Without doors, light and airflow will be enhanced. You can also replace your old ones instead of completely getting rid of them. For example, you can reinstall or rehang a door to allow it to swing in a different direction.
Another method is to maximise the use of your closet space. While closets are designed to keep your clothes, it helps to use them for hiding unwanted clutter.
You may also want to have moveable or sliding walls, which let you create a functional and multipurpose room. For instance, you can have a guest room that you can close to lock people out. This strategy also works with home offices.
With all the mentioned techniques, you should not forget about the dome of the house. Ceilings are among the most underused parts of properties. Instead of leaving them empty, add artistic pieces and find ways to help de-clutter shelves and other items for storage.
Rules to Follow
Before you begin building a small house, some rules apply to it – not just with larger homes. The Building Code of Australia has all the technical provisions you may need to understand the rules of designing and constructing a house.
To avoid any problems, follow the rules below:
- Only deal with builders who are licensed and have worked on other projects in the past. Specific certifications may be required even though the home may not cost as much as a traditional house.
- Fences should not be higher than three metres. If the fence is constructed through masonry, it should not exceed 1.2 metres. It is also required that at least 75% of the fence is transparent, mainly if it is more than 1.8 metres high.
- Architects or builders should handle your house plans. There should already be a building certifier’s approval before proceeding with the construction task.
- In addition, you should also think about the Council Planning Schemes. This organisation regulates how you can use a specific property, including the building type that is accepted on a certain piece of land.
Final But Most Important Consideration
Small spaces are not the same as cramped and uncomfortable homes. You should always try to make the most out of the entire area – even if it is small. You should set your eyes on achieving comfort and relaxation while enjoying flow-through and functional configuration.