Super smart choices for building on a small lot

With the growing trend in small land sizes for new builds, it’s a great time to consider the lifestyle advantages of a more compact home.

Building on a small or narrow lot of land doesn’t have to mean going without a backyard. Multi-storey dwellings are becoming more popular and affordable, but take time to think about what you really need for your family and lifestyle when deciding what kind of home to build.


Less land, more floor space

Building on a typical quarter acre block has long been the traditional Aussie dream. Giving each household around 1000m2 of land to play with, families would have no trouble finding space for a single storey home, plus a lawn and BBQ area for family playtime.

With urban populations around all major Australian cities becoming increasingly crowded, land releases for new builds are getting smaller: 600m2, 450m2 and 300m2 blocks are common – and popular – choices. But shrinking land sizes haven’t stopped Australians from building bigger homes. In fact, we have the largest houses in the world: according to 2013 information from CommSec, RBA, the UN and the US Census, the average new Australian house is 214m2, compared to 201 m2 in the US, 109 m2 in Germany, 76m2 in the UK, 57m2 in Russia and just 45m2 in Hong Kong.


What you need from a new home

So it seems home owners are determined to keep building big in spite of the squeeze on land sizes. But before you start planning your mansion, it’s worth thinking about how to use your budget for a home that suits the way you live.

The number of people in your family is a good starting point. If you have children, they may not all need their own room in the early years. But if you’re expecting your kids to stick around well into their twenties you’re going to need plenty of bedrooms plus extra living areas and bathrooms too. And if you work from home, you’ll need to allocate an extra room or nook for an office.


Going up?

Once you’ve got requirements for your floor plan locked in, budget may be the main factor when choosing between double and single storey home designs. Going up boosts the overall cost per m2 but can give you the floor space you’re after without sacrificing the beloved Aussie backyard. 

Before you commit to the extra spend, think about how much you really need that pool or lawn area and whether you’re ready to spend weekends mowing and gardening. If there are parks and green spaces nearby, your kids may be just as happy to play there and spend more time with their friends.

And that’s the rub. The time and money you save on home and garden maintenance can free you up to enjoy more of the things in life you really enjoy, like travel or time with family and friends – which sounds like a very good trade-off, and a very smart design decision, indeed.