According to ABS figures, the average size of new homes built in Australia in 2018/19 was 228.8 m². By world standards, this is high. While exact numbers are hard to come by and vary by source, it puts us at the top of global home sizes. We usually come in at number one or number two behind the United States
In comparison, in New Zealand the average size of new homes for the same period was only 164.4 m², the UK average was 1590 m² and in Spain it was 1314 m².
Although high, the Australian figure of 222.8 m² is down from previous years. There are now more small homes for sale in this country and the average size of new homes under construction is dropping. It’s too early to tell, but it suggests that we are moving away from the McMansion phenomenon and following the global trend towards tiny houses.
Small house design
What exactly does the term “small house design” mean? Although there is no exact definition, these are generally small houses with an area of around 80 m² to 200 m². This area includes the garage but does not include verandas, terraces, yards, etc. In other words, “small house design” refers to houses that are considerably smaller than the average size.
The advantages of designing a small house
- Durability: because they are smaller than average in size, small homes require less building material and therefore carry less incorporated carbon. They also require less lighting and less energy to heat and cool.
- Reduced cleaning and maintenance: less space also means less vacuuming and mopping; fewer bathrooms means fewer showers, sinks and toilets to clean; and fewer devices equals lower maintenance costs.
- Lifestyle Benefits: Those who choose to live in a smaller house also reap the benefits of a less crowded life. They are more likely to have only what they need and are less likely to become trapped in consumerism.
How much do small houses cost to build?
The other advantage is the cost. As intuition suggests, smaller homes cost less. How much less?
While exact estimates are difficult to make, according to the ABS, the average cost of building a house in Australia in 2019 was $ 313,800. Dividing this figure by the average size (222.8 m²) gives us a figure of $ 1,408 per m². Therefore, a small house, measuring say 150 square meters, would cost around $ 211,265.
While there are, of course, other costs involved like stamp duty and other fees, the final value is significantly lower than average. The homeowner can take advantage of the lower cost benefits or, alternatively, use these savings to spend more on the house itself. He / she can use the savings on higher quality fittings, beautiful details, etc.
What is the difference between a small house and a small house?
The architecture of small houses is often confused with the movement of small houses. As the name suggests, the latter implies very small dwellings. Although, again, exact definitions are difficult, a small house is a house with a floor plan of approximately 25 square meters or less.
The Tiny House movement focuses more on things like cost savings and sustainability than on design. Although it has practical implications in areas such as emergency housing, small modular houses, social housing, student housing, etc., it is less viable for the general population.
In contrast, the design of tiny homes certainly has broad implications for the design and construction industries and can, perhaps, steer us away from the McMansion trend. Unlike the small house concept, the small house trend has implications for 3 bedroom house plans and 4 bedroom house plans. In fact, it has implications for the entire industry.
Cottage Designs Australia – Six of the Best Cottage Floor Plans
1) Fitzroy North House 02 by Rob Kennon Architects
With a floor plan of 197m², this two story family home in Fitzroy North, Melbourne sits on a quiet side street with several old terraced houses. Indeed, even though it is a new house, at first glance it seems to be one of those heritage terraces, such is its sympathetic use of the local vernacular.
Built on a typically narrow block in the city center, this beautiful house makes the best use of the available space. Its small footprint allows it to accommodate both a front yard and a rear living space.
2) Sawmill house by Archier
Favoring the use of re-used materials and integrating, for example, 270 recycled blocks acquired locally to form the perimeter walls, this 100 m² house is located on the site of a former sawmill.
Home to a young family of three, it includes several notable features, such as a 14-meter sunroof section on the terrace for passive heating during the colder months and a sunroof for cross ventilation during the summer.
3) Little house in the Samford valley
Located just 13 miles from Brisbane in the Samford Valley and with a floor plan of just 80m², this “granny flat” is a subtropical home away from home for an elderly couple.
Its large terraces belies its compact size and makes the most of the location’s warm climate. In fact, decks become additional living space for most of the year. A two bedroom house, it is based on a design by Baahouse + Baastudio called Lincoln 2B.
4) Parkdale 179 by GJ Gardner Homes
Designed for very compact and infill sites, the Parkdale by small home builders, GJ Gardner Homes, features an open-plan living space with a well-connected kitchen, family, and dining area for entertaining.
An office and a powder room complete the ground floor while on the upper floor, four bedrooms including a master suite with bathroom and walk-in closet as well as a family bathroom complete the House. With a floor plan of 179 m², the house is suitable for narrow plot widths of at least 10m.
5) Prospect House by Breathe Architecture
Set behind a hill in an otherwise exposed and windy site, this 97m² house made of galvanized steel and crude bark cladding refers to the miners’ houses and farm sheds nearby. Built with sustainability in mind, it has a large rainwater tank and a worm waste treatment system that ensures that no sewage has to leave the site.
Its rich interior features cowhide upholstery, pastel green tile accents, mild steel detailing, and whitewashed plywood joinery.