Now days the average Australian house is 231 m2. What can you build into that size I hear you ask and well you might.
At nearly 25 squares of the old size, based on 10 ft x 10 ft = one square, this is a generous space. Usually this is the measure of the internal area of the house, not counting a double garage (add 40 m2) Nor verandahs or alfresco which might be any size you like but usually around a generous 40 m2 again.
Into 25 squares can fit good sized rooms: living, family, meals, kitchen, laundry, three bedrooms or fourth/study and two bathrooms. This might sound normal until you hear that we have doubled that size since 1960's.
How often does one hear the cry of “Seven grew up in a two bedroom house with my bedroom the built in veranda. And we only had one bathroom!" We do not want to go back to that. Nor do we want to have a small footprint of house with numerous pokey rooms. I remember the toilet off the laundry one end of the house and bathroom (shower over the bath) the other. Even as a child I was aware of this inconvenience. Long after the very sad time of loosing our beloved cat, I could not enter the laundry without slowly opening the door a tiny crack for fear of puss leaping out and getting nicely lost in the house in a much more comfortable sleeping place! And the laundry “design” was foolish too!
Now: this 25 sq. house they say costs average $2,300 per year to run: heat, cool, water, power gas etc. Passive solar design can put a dint in that firstly by choosing the correct site. Secondly by thoughtful placement of rooms, doors and windows, length of eaves, materials, colours and garden planting. This should all be meticulously planned before turning soil.
Placing the living rooms on a long north facing side of a site with larger windows, having long eaves to protect the windows from summer sun, creates a great start on home comfort and lowering of running costs. Larger multi-purpose rooms that can be closed to adjoining areas are very effective in keeping the size of home down while still allowing space for every activity. For instance: having a combined kitchen, dining and family area with a desk for home management, school work, hobbies etc ensures the children can be supervised on computers and homework, all phones might charge and be used in this area not in secret in a study.
Careful thinking through a house plan can reduce the need for and cost of additional space. For a new build, of course this is easier but looking at an existing home, room uses can be changed, windows added &or the garden arranged to assist the homes comfort. More of this another time.
If your house is not as comfortable as you would like or your running costs are high, we can assist by suggesting changes that do not equate to full renovation.
Margot Kirke is a qualified architectural drafts person with a passion for practical living, making the best use of space and use of natural light and warmth.