Just like Australians*, our houses are also getting bigger. Despite the average household size getting smaller over the last 25 years, the average new Australian home is over 40 per cent bigger than it was over the same period.
According to Jim a spatial analyst with Melbourne-based demography and housing company .id (informed decisions) said the chart below shows the growth of not only houses, but other dwellings such as flats, units, semi-detached houses and townhouses have also been super-sized over the last quarter century.
|AVERAGE FLOOR AREA OF NEW RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS
|New other residential buildings||99.2||115.9||134.0||35.2||15.6|
|All new residential buildings||149.7||171.1||205.7||37.4||20.2|
|Source: ABS data available on request, Building Activity Survey.|
“Ensuites, extra bedrooms for occasional guests, rumpus rooms, home cinemas and walk-in wardrobes all add cost, and also have an environmental impact as they not only require extra materials to build, they also require ongoing heating and cooling,” he writes in his blog.
And it’s not just Australia with the same “growth” problems, with a UK University building a fully liveable house which takes up just nine square metres of space.
The Cube Project is an initiative of Dr Mike Page at the University of Hertfordshire who set out to build a compact home, no bigger than 3x3x3 metres on the inside, in which one person could live a comfortable, modern existence with a minimum impact on the environment.
Constructed from a variety of sustainable materials, the Cube provides everything that a single person (or two friendly people) might need. Within its 27 cubic metres it includes a lounge, with a table and two custom-made chairs, a small double bed (120cm wide), a full-size shower, a kitchen (with energy-efficient fridge, induction hob, re-circulating cooker, hood, sink/drainer, combination microwave oven and storage cupboards), a washing machine, and a composting toilet. Lighting is achieved by ultra-efficient LED lights, and the Cube is heated using an Ecodan air-source heat pump, with heat being recovered from extracted air. It has cork flooring and there is two-metre head height throughout.
“It was an important design criterion that none of the techniques or technologies used in the Cube would be solely applicable to small buildings. When scaled up appropriately, everything we used could equally well be applied in homes and businesses of all shapes and sizes. The Cube illustrates what we believe to be the best of low-carbon living,” according to The Cube Project’s website.
The Cube is designed to generate at least as much energy as it uses, averaged over the year. It does this by using solar photovoltaic panels that are integral to the building itself.”
But what are we doing about it in Australia? There is a project called the Reincarnated McMansion, where a new proposal to try and minimise the environmental impact, by re-using the materials in the original home to build the new ones….
“It’s a project to demonstrate how to take an existing massive home and not just knock it down, but dismantle it and re-use the materials to make two new, zero emission homes.”
The Sydney-based project owners are looking for McMansion owners who wish to volunteer their home for “reincarnation.”
* Results from the National Health Survey (NHS) run by the Australian Bureau of Statistics were released in 2009 showed 61% of Australian adults were overweight or obese, up from 56% in 1995.