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Home loans made clear

Big houses on small blocks

By 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.

What’s Your opinion?


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Big houses on small blocks
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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 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 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 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 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.

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