Too many bedrooms?

johnboy 24 October 2012 53

big house

Urban Times has a piece on Canberra’s urban design and the ever expanding houses on ever shrinking blocks of land:

This leaves the home building companies two options – to design smaller homes or extra bedrooms- and the latter has prevailed. Over the last twenty years the average floor area of new houses in Australia has increased by 30% and the corresponding reduction in block size is about the same. This has created a very different urban form to the sprawling suburban layout created in the post war period and derided so compellingly by Jane Jacobs in the 1960s.

The difference is that, in the post war version of the suburb, there was at least some semblance of a useable landscape space in the back yard. Today that has gone – replaced by bedrooms and too many of them. But how do we know that there are too many bedrooms and what is wrong with a few extra spaces for the in-laws when they visit for the summer holiday season? From a sustainable city perspective there are two problems that come to mind. The first is that these empty bedrooms sit on top of landscape spaces that could be better used as gardens, lawns, play areas or a chook run, or just left alone, for shrubs, bugs and grubs to multiply. The second is that since the bubble burst in the real estate market, people are buying houses with fewer bedrooms in an effort to reduce their exposure to risk, so houses and units with too many bedrooms aren’t selling.

Your thoughts dear reader?


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Doc Dogg Doc Dogg 4:32 pm 29 Oct 12

I think the use of the word McMansion is a bit of a stretch for what is being built in Canberra. McMansions (in new estates) are typically enormous 2 storey houses with inappropriate stylistic features like Georgian columns, large hallways with chandeliers or tiny little bay windows or balconies on the second storey. They are typically surrounded by other such houses with equally inappropriate stylistic changes to differentiate them from all the other cookie cutter mansions.

All I see in Canberra is houses designed for larger blocks stuck on small blocks, making them appear larger than they truly are. Same with what passes as a “penthouse apartment” in these new blocks. All they are is a regular 3 bedroom apartment on an upper floor. A true penthouse is a luxury top floor apartment in which no expense has been spared. In earlier times they were often a separate smaller house that was built on top of the apartment complex.

Labeling the garbage that is being built in Canberra as anything other than a budget box is misleading I reckon 🙂

GardeningGirl GardeningGirl 2:02 pm 29 Oct 12

bugmenot said :

Deref said :

Because of the way their suburbs have been developed few, if any of them, are solar-aligned, let alone solar passive design; there’s no room for deciduous trees for shading/lighting and they’re totally reliant on constant heating and cooling.

Constant cooling rings a bell. Ruiz constructions built this thing in Forde: http://goo.gl/maps/v28sx and had it open to the public. When quizzed about summer sun on all the black walls and roof, the sales guy cheerfully commented the A/C could keep up with it. I *almost* facepalmed in front of him.

ACTPLA’s solar passive design requirements for new/higher density suburbs are pretty weak. You’re supposed to have a minimum of 3 hours sunlight into a living area. Obviously, neighbour proximity or a honking great 2 storey McMansion next door may affect that. Pity the newer suburbs aren’t designed better.

I remember that house, step backwards in the en suite and fall in the sunken spa bath. I think they put in a pool fence later which just made the en suite look cluttered and ridiculous. But it was very luxurious so I suppose that’s the main thing.

I remember a solar passive display home in the oldest part of Bruce, how old would that be, early 80’s?

I remember when we were looking for our block some housing estates weren’t required to meet the minimum energy ratings and the explanation was supposedly because they were developed prior and the design didn’t take into account orientation requirements, ie not fair to try to make people build a north facing house on a block with the longest dimension facing southeast or something. Looking at new estates I still don’t see an emphasis on good orientation, what blocks face the right way seem accidental, if you build enough streets a few of the blocks will end up that way anyway. I suppose if all you’re aiming for is 3 hours of sunlight it doesn’t really matter . . .

EvanJames EvanJames 12:03 pm 29 Oct 12

bugmenot said :

Ruiz constructions built this thing in Forde: http://goo.gl/maps/v28sx and had it open to the public. When quizzed about summer sun on all the black walls and roof, the sales guy cheerfully commented the A/C could keep up with it.

If being totally reliant on air con is the only problem they’re left with, they’re doing well.

bugmenot bugmenot 11:42 am 29 Oct 12

Deref said :

Because of the way their suburbs have been developed few, if any of them, are solar-aligned, let alone solar passive design; there’s no room for deciduous trees for shading/lighting and they’re totally reliant on constant heating and cooling.

Constant cooling rings a bell. Ruiz constructions built this thing in Forde: http://goo.gl/maps/v28sx and had it open to the public. When quizzed about summer sun on all the black walls and roof, the sales guy cheerfully commented the A/C could keep up with it. I *almost* facepalmed in front of him.

ACTPLA’s solar passive design requirements for new/higher density suburbs are pretty weak. You’re supposed to have a minimum of 3 hours sunlight into a living area. Obviously, neighbour proximity or a honking great 2 storey McMansion next door may affect that. Pity the newer suburbs aren’t designed better.

switch switch 9:09 am 28 Oct 12

Why do you think it needed six wheels?

poetix poetix 8:57 am 28 Oct 12

LSWCHP said :

poetix said :

schmeah said :

Another Thunder-Bird Mansion in the middle of suburban Canberra.

Some people have too much money and no fn taste …

Oh come on, Lady Penelope would sack Parker if he ever took her to a house like that. (Although some of us worked out quite early that Parker’s job as chauffeur was just a convenient cover for other functions.) Thunderbirds are cool!

(I hope there are no other Thunderbirds. If there are, please ignore the above.)

Surely you’re not suggesting that Parker was satisfying Lady Penelope in ways other than simply driving her around in that magnificent 6 wheeled Roller?

She calls him FAB4.

LSWCHP LSWCHP 10:38 pm 27 Oct 12

poetix said :

schmeah said :

Another Thunder-Bird Mansion in the middle of suburban Canberra.

Some people have too much money and no fn taste …

Oh come on, Lady Penelope would sack Parker if he ever took her to a house like that. (Although some of us worked out quite early that Parker’s job as chauffeur was just a convenient cover for other functions.) Thunderbirds are cool!

(I hope there are no other Thunderbirds. If there are, please ignore the above.)

Surely you’re not suggesting that Parker was satisfying Lady Penelope in ways other than simply driving her around in that magnificent 6 wheeled Roller?

LSWCHP LSWCHP 10:35 pm 27 Oct 12

Ryoma said :

3) I think part of the problem lies in the overall lack of financial intelligence. I’d suggest many of the larger houses are being build either in expectation of being able to be sold on in future (to who, I ask, if family sizes are shrinking?) in the hope of capital gains, or to rent it out as share housing. The trouble with a whole generation of people trying to fund retirement in this way is that it resembles a game of musical chairs.)

Everything you say is correct, but particularly this. The housing system is a Ponzi scheme that is currently going down the gurgler.

I really don’t give a Rattenbury’s arse though, because I paid off my mortgage last week, so I’m finally free of debt after nearly 30 years of handing money over to the vampire squids in the banks.

GardeningGirl GardeningGirl 10:25 pm 27 Oct 12

breda said :

If the ACT government is serious about increasing living densities, they need to do something about their crap building standards.

+ a million

breda breda 9:43 pm 27 Oct 12

I live in a small detached house with a decent sized garden because I want some privacy and noise insulation. I’ve lived in high quality flats and townhouses (in Sydney) and would be happy to do so again. But, having tried these in Canberra, they are so badly built that my little, old shack is preferable.

The last place I lived in (a townhouse in the inner South) might as well have been built of cardboard. I could hear the neighbours peeing in the toilet, and every detail of their sex lives. Last time I looked they were selling for more than $320K for a two bedroom, one bathroom unit. In contrast, the units and townhouses I lived in in Sydney (built in the 1930s-1950s) were as quiet as my house is now.

If the ACT government is serious about increasing living densities, they need to do something about their crap building standards.

Innovation Innovation 12:00 pm 27 Oct 12

Jethro said :

Innovation said :

kris said :

Stamp duty plus makes moving house very expensive so it makes sense to always buy a house with a bit more room than you think you’ll need because the cost of getting it wrong is very high. It will be interesting to see if the removal of stamp duty results in people building and buying houses that are appropriate for their requirements now rather than trying to predict future needs.

+1 Plus if people more readily move as their circumstances change, there might be less need for the larger garage or carports for what has become the traditional two car families.

But won’t this make our rates triple?

Hee hee – not if you buy a block that is a third of the normal size…..

Jethro Jethro 10:16 am 27 Oct 12

Innovation said :

kris said :

Stamp duty plus makes moving house very expensive so it makes sense to always buy a house with a bit more room than you think you’ll need because the cost of getting it wrong is very high. It will be interesting to see if the removal of stamp duty results in people building and buying houses that are appropriate for their requirements now rather than trying to predict future needs.

+1 Plus if people more readily move as their circumstances change, there might be less need for the larger garage or carports for what has become the traditional two car families.

But won’t this make our rates triple?

Innovation Innovation 9:48 pm 26 Oct 12

kris said :

Stamp duty plus makes moving house very expensive so it makes sense to always buy a house with a bit more room than you think you’ll need because the cost of getting it wrong is very high. It will be interesting to see if the removal of stamp duty results in people building and buying houses that are appropriate for their requirements now rather than trying to predict future needs.

+1 Plus if people more readily move as their circumstances change, there might be less need for the larger garage or carports for what has become the traditional two car families.

kris kris 7:47 pm 26 Oct 12

Stamp duty plus makes moving house very expensive so it makes sense to always buy a house with a bit more room than you think you’ll need because the cost of getting it wrong is very high. It will be interesting to see if the removal of stamp duty results in people building and buying houses that are appropriate for their requirements now rather than trying to predict future needs.

Ryoma Ryoma 3:44 pm 25 Oct 12

devils_advocate said :

Ryoma said :

NoImRight said :

Bow down in awe and terror at the humungous size of my mighty residence! You know you want to be me.

Lol….yes, of course that *must* be true. I’d rather have enough to retire on, thank you very much

Do you think you’ll have enough to afford a prosthetic sarcasm detector?

Hmm, that sounds like it would be worth inventing, anyhow. I did say “Lol” above, but that’s OK…

*shivers at NolmRight’s mighty residence, with its impregnable front door, circling bats and howling poodles (oh, sorry, they’re wolves, are they? From the Isle of Man? You don’t say!)*

devils_advocate devils_advocate 2:44 pm 25 Oct 12

Ryoma said :

NoImRight said :

Bow down in awe and terror at the humungous size of my mighty residence! You know you want to be me.

Lol….yes, of course that *must* be true. I’d rather have enough to retire on, thank you very much

Do you think you’ll have enough to afford a prosthetic sarcasm detector?

Ryoma Ryoma 1:52 pm 25 Oct 12

NoImRight said :

Bow down in awe and terror at the humungous size of my mighty residence! You know you want to be me.

Lol….yes, of course that *must* be true. I’d rather have enough to retire on, thank you very much

EvanJames EvanJames 1:51 pm 25 Oct 12

What Ryoma said. Also, I think some of it is the developers who get the new land… they want to maximise their profit on that land, which means HOUSE. The only way to get a little house out of those guys is to get one of those ones on a pocket-hankerchief block.

There’s a few monster houses where I currently live, and it’s amusing to go on AllHomes for a stickybeak… massive rooms, with little collections of (usually shit-ugly) furniture clustered in bits of the barn-like rooms. Those people aren’t living in their houses, they’re occupying them.

Back in the early 60s, there was a bit of a northern-euro thing happening with some homes, which was about having people live in the communal living areas, with bedrooms just for sleeping. So the bedrooms were very small, and the living areas were larger. Ski lodges built in the 50s and 60s follow that model.

Now we have these “parents’ retreats”, god help us. In my day, the kids were banished outside and the “parents’ retreat” was the whole house. And media rooms. Uh huh. And every kid MUST have its own bedroom. Why? And if so, why does it have to house anything larger than a single bed?

Too many things are assumed as necessary…. wants have become needs.

Watson Watson 1:43 pm 25 Oct 12

People seem to assume that all the new houses they’re building in the new developments are massive, but I cannot find any proof of that. In fact, most of them are pretty small. 120-140m2 for a 3 beddie. Maybe they look big because they’re on small blocks…

Same goes for the new apartments in Gungahlin and North Belco. You’re lucky to get 70-80m2 of floor surface in a 3 bedroom apartment.

NoImRight NoImRight 12:37 pm 25 Oct 12

Bow down in awe and terror at the humungous size of my mighty residence! You know you want to be me.

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