Big houses on small blocks

arescarti42 9 June 2010 25

One thing that always strikes me as strange when I’m driving through the new suburbs of Gungahlin is how the majority of the houses are single storied. My understanding is that most blocks being released up north are between 400-600 metres square (with some as small as 230 metres square).

If you build a large single storied home with a 320 square metre floor plan and garage on a block like that, you don’t end up with a whole lot of usable outdoor space, which I thought was the whole reason people wanted to live on a suburban block in the first place.

Why don’t people build two storied homes so they can have a few hundred square metres of backyard? (i suspect cost is probably the main factor here).

Another thing I find bizarre is that houses are built so far back from the street. Why have 30 metres between your house and the house across the road, but only 5 metres between your back door and the back door of the neighbour behind you?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to build the house say 5 metres closer to the road, given that people don’t generally seem to use their front yards as much as their back yards?

I’d be particularly interested to hear what people who live in Gungahlin have to say about the arrangement.


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arescarti42 arescarti42 11:43 am 10 Jun 10

Holden Caulfield said :

It’s the cost of the land, as much as anything, that is the real issue. Not just the block sizes.[/quote>

Well 8 Diane Barwick Street, Franklin is a vacant block of 903m^2 and is currently on the market for $465,000. Hardly a bargain, especially seeing as allhomes reports that the unimproved value of a 1000m^2 block of land in the inner north is closer to $350,000-$400,000. (admittedly there is probably a degree of difference between the allhomes unimproved value and actual market value though).

dtc dtc 11:36 am 10 Jun 10

I also wonder why people buy houses close to each other rather than townhouses etc. But I guess there is slightly more privacy – and more windows since you have 4 walls instead of 2.

thinking about my (puzzled) reaction to Gunghalin (representing the ‘new suburbs’), I wonder whether it is because that type of housing – close together, small blocks, density – is what I think of as ‘inner city housing’. No one wanders around Braddon and says ‘hey, why do people build so close together’, even though Braddon used to be large blocks with single housing – because that kind of housing is what you expect for the location. Indeed, you would “expect” that most of Reid, Anslie, Turner and O’Connor would have high density housing.

Whereas out in Gunghalin, you expect it to be the traditional ‘suburbs’ – larger blocks, vege gardens etc.

So Canberra has it back to front – big blocks in the inner city with detached housing, and small blocks further out. Its hard to get your mind around and just seems wrong.

Holden Caulfield Holden Caulfield 11:00 am 10 Jun 10

Well, you can’t buy a quarter acre block of there are none available to buy.

And the McMansion thing is not necessarily new. A drive through parts of McKellar (just one example) will tell you that. It’s just that back then you could buy land for stuff all compared to today’s prices.

If a 400m2 block is around $250-300K (or maybe more, been a while since I’ve looked) in outer suburbia then imagine how much a 1000m2+ plot would cost, if it were available.

It’s the cost of the land, as much as anything, that is the real issue. Not just the block sizes.

Grail Grail 9:59 am 10 Jun 10

Blathnat – the Gubmint is doing their level best to remove all the features that led to larger block sizes in the first place. We used to have 10m setbacks, quarter acre blocks, and back in the Good Old Days™ it was common practice to have some fruit trees, chooks, and a veggie patch in the back yard.

These days people are too busy working two jobs so they can afford a new luxury car every three years and buy every toy their screaming brats demand. Saying “no” used to be about discipline, these days it’s taken as a sign of being stingy.

On the other hand, higher density housing means that public transport becomes easier to provide and maintain.

As Chinese and other South-East Asian salaries rise in relation to Australian salaries, perhaps we’ll start realising that growing food at home is worth it for the cost, security and health issues. Then people will be looking at those quarter acre blocks again and wondering why they ever felt comfortable in a shoe box or McMansion.

Blathnat Blathnat 4:32 am 10 Jun 10

I grew up in a house with a large yard (the largest block of land on that street at about 1000sq) and was thankful for it. There was enough room for a pool, basketball ring, full length cricket pitch, bird cage, TREES, vege garden and plenty of room to run around with the dog. Recently I read somewhere that that area was viable for subdivision, and I couldn’t believe it. I have family who live in gungahlin, on a large block, who have built a massive house and left about 10% of the land as backyard. It all ties down into the new societal standards though. People want bigger houses to fit more stuff in them, they need all that room out the front for the multiple cars (then again, my old place could easily fit 4 without street parking). As for the backyards…To get such a large house is expensive (despite having 1 less bedroom than the old place, is valued at about $120,000 more), which means people are working more, meaning they have less time to look after a house. Don’t even get me started on how there is no neighbourhood socialising anymore (remember the days when there were a few kids on the street who you would spend your afternoons with?). I don’t mind the big houses, but not at the cost of outdoor space. Maybe something should be done to ensure new land becoming available has larger block sizes.

Postalgeek Postalgeek 10:28 pm 09 Jun 10

I can imagine that if (or when) there is a food shortage, those with small homes and sizeable backyards will be thankful they didn’t choose the macmansion option.

Special G Special G 8:34 pm 09 Jun 10

Bugger that – When buying my place one of the main criteria was a big backyard. We had an extension plan but have since decided that a bigger house just means more cleaning and what we have is plenty sufficient. We have about 45-50 square metres of vege gardens as well as fruit trees, playground and bike track for the little G’s and a grassed area. Our place is 930 m2 and you couldn’t pay me to live in anything smaller.

justin heywood justin heywood 7:23 pm 09 Jun 10

sepi said :

When I bought my house in Downer (580 metre block) it was described as ‘small block’. Now it would be called ‘huge family living’ or something…

No sepi, now they would say ‘subdivision potential’.

pajumist pajumist 6:03 pm 09 Jun 10

Hells_Bells74 said :

G1 – I agree, although sometimes I thought in Palmerston that some of the houses were stupidly close to the street as well, especially around roundabouts and corners. The way people drive, I dunno how they sleep sometimes. Dunlop springs to mind too.

I live near one of the major roundabouts on Kosciuszko ave in Palmerston and I’m waiting for the day some pecker loses it in the wet “because its fun to slide!” and ends up in my garage whether I want them there or not. Note to said peckers: Its a suburbe, not a race track, and its a roundabout, not a chicane!

arescarti42 arescarti42 5:59 pm 09 Jun 10

Clown Killer said :

400-600 square metres is the average block size. Bloody hell! I’m with Captain RAAF. I love every square centimetre of my 1360 square meter block.

I don’t actually base that on any hard evidence. My proof comes mostly from browsing allhomes and checking things out on Google Earth, which suggests to me that most of the new blocks in Gungahlin are in the 400-600m^2 range. Doubtless there are some smaller and some larger.

arescarti42 arescarti42 5:51 pm 09 Jun 10

It sounds like half the problem is just getting people realise they don’t have to accept off the plan homes.

The point squidofman raises is very interesting. Does anyone have any idea what the logic behind restricting 2 storied homes to certain block is? I just can’t see what possible benefit that could have.

-Captain RAAF – I guess for me, a normal suburban block is whatever you need to achieve the suburban lifestyle (BBQs, gardens, and kids playing on the lawn come to mind for me). Without a doubt the average has been dropping over time, but if you can achieve what you set out to on a 400m^2 block, then I don’t seen any problem with that.

What perplexes me is that if people don’t see any value in having a yard and don’t mind living on top of their neighbours, then why don’t they live in apartments or townhouses? It seems like you get all the inconveniences of suburban life with not many of the benefits.

sepi sepi 5:50 pm 09 Jun 10

If you get a landscaper to set up your garden, there will be almost no maintenance required. You can have paved paths and areas, a few trees, shrubs that need no maintenance, and it will look gorgeous. I would hate to live without a garden.

When I bought my house in Downer (580 metre block) it was described as ‘small block’. Now it would be called ‘huge family living’ or something…

Clown Killer Clown Killer 5:41 pm 09 Jun 10

400-600 square metres is the average block size. Bloody hell! I’m with Captain RAAF. I love every square centimetre of my 1360 square meter block.

Pork Hunt Pork Hunt 5:06 pm 09 Jun 10

Captain RAAF said :

I’d be interested to hear what Arsecat42…

I’ll pay that. Lol

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 4:21 pm 09 Jun 10

ConanOfCooma said :

Upstairs?

Good GOD people! What is wrong with going DOWN?

We need more subterranean housing.

I like it! And should think more about it.

In thinking about “the next house” I’ve been mulling over a lot about making maybe half of the roof flat and using it as garden and private open space. The off-set though is much less area for catching rainwater for the tank. But then, another “next time” thing will be even bigger tank buried under the garage or driveway so when it does rain nothing is lost to overflow.

Hosinator Hosinator 3:49 pm 09 Jun 10

People just don’t want to maintain gardens anymore, everyone claims to have no time at all.
God forbid we get off our ass’s for 2 hours out of 48 to do a little bit of maintenance.

And before you say that gardening takes the whole weekend, well it doesn’t. Plan exactly what you have to do and stick to the time and focus on your to do list.
It’s like washing dishes after every meal or washing dishes at the end of the week, if you don’t maintain your garden for months on end, then yes it will take a whole weekend to do anything.

ConanOfCooma ConanOfCooma 3:44 pm 09 Jun 10

Upstairs?

Good GOD people! What is wrong with going DOWN?

We need more subterranean housing.

Captain RAAF Captain RAAF 2:41 pm 09 Jun 10

I’d be interested to hear what Arsecat42 and others think is a ‘normal suburban’ block?

If it’s 400-600 Squares then people really have begun the crawl towards oblivion and slum life. The size of the blocks around Gunghalin are the reason why I bought elsewhere and now have 950+ squares and to be honest, I would’nt have an inch less.

Privacy is dead and you can blame government and developers for it by squeezing as many people as they can into as tight a spot as they can.

Hells_Bells74 Hells_Bells74 2:29 pm 09 Jun 10

G1? or GA rather.. sorry kept thinking your name here was Gungahlin1 for some strange reason.

Hells_Bells74 Hells_Bells74 2:24 pm 09 Jun 10

G1 – I agree, although sometimes I thought in Palmerston that some of the houses were stupidly close to the street as well, especially around roundabouts and corners. The way people drive, I dunno how they sleep sometimes. Dunlop springs to mind too.

Sitting on someone’s fence mustn’t be fun either, so many of those ‘almost touching bar a fence’ homes in Gungahlin.

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