The Squeeze: Building Homes on Narrow Blocks
It’s been called the squeeze. For a whole host of reasons, the width of new home blocks has been getting narrower. Whilst sixteen metre blocks and wider are still commonly available, they often command a price premium, and there are fewer of them. What has caused the change? In simple terms, a combination of economics and government intervention.
As land prices have soared, thanks to a scarcity of good quality land near major cities in all the states, so it has made perfect sense to reduce lot sizes to keep them affordable for first home buyers and others. But most significantly, Government at all levels needs developers to squeeze more homes onto their greenfield sites – to create “higher density” housing – both to make the layout of new suburbs more efficient, and to counteract “urban sprawl” that would take new suburbs too far away from city centres.
For new home buyers, this has created a problem. Whether single or double storey, most home designs have traditionally been broader. So does a narrower block mean you have to compromise on your new home?
Not any more. The designers in major builders have put their thinking caps on, and now there is a plethora of display homes for you to inspect on fourteen metre wide blocks, and even thinner. Yet when you go into these homes they seem just as spacious and light-filled as anyone could want? How has this apparent miracle been achieved?
In one sense, the answer is obvious. Narrower homes have become a little “longer”, so that home owners still get the space they need. This has inevitably produced a compromise. Rear garden sizes have become proportionately smaller to compensate, and homes are often now sited as close to the front of a block as developer guidelines and council laws allow. In simple terms, gardens have shrunk, and homes have grown.
One smart thing to do is to choose a design that suits you, scout out a typical lot, and ask the home builder to show you how that home would look on that very lot. They should have computer software that allows them to position the home on the block for you, and show it to you in 3D, and this service should be free – they want to sell you a home, after all.
Internally, walls get moved around to maximise both flow through the home and a sense of space, and cleverer storage systems to reduce the amount of space allocated to cupboards. Expect to see central kitchen benches with cupboards underneath them now, and even stool seating for informal dining, and in bedrooms, note how walk-in robes are increasingly positioned out of the way behind the bed.
Today’s homes are all about smart use of space. Narrow definitely does not need to mean cramped. Just visit some displays, and see for yourself.
Metricon is a leading Australian
with a range of
new homes in Adelaide
available in 2011.