Don’t Over Develop

I’ve heard people say that they have got the best house on the street……………………..but when you see it, its got the smallest garden, or sometimes no garden at all.

If that is the case they have probably overdeveloped and spent money they will never get back.

This above photo shows one example.

The house must be around 800-1,000sqm (say 100 squares).

It would be twice the size of any of its neighbours.

Most people looking for a house expect a reasonable amount of garden for their children to run around in, and room to have barbies in summer.

Others might want to grow veggies.

I certainly wouldn’t want to see a fence right in front of every downstairs window.

Remember at some stage every house is going to be sold.

If you overdevelop your block you are aren’t going to get as much interest in your home, and less likely to get what you expect from the sale.

Signs of Over Development

Here are a few signs:

  • Building a huge double storey house when all the surrounding houses are small singe storey.
  • The house is no more than 1 m from the side boundaries and no more than 2m from the back boundary.
  • A swimming pool fills the whole backyard.

Want to build a big house – make sure that you buy a big enough block to avoid falling into the over development trap.

Don’t be like the owner of this house on the left that I saw for sale for at least 6 months.


Have you ever been put off a house due to over development?


See Size for more posts on how much house you need.


Large or Small

While new houses are getting bigger apartments are getting smaller . . . so how much room to we really need?

Reasons We Need Less Space

  • Flat screen televisions can now be mounted flat on the wall.
  • Saving your music on a smart phones mean your music collection now fits in your pocket.
  • With a Kindle, or other E-book reader, a thousand books can be reduced to the size of one.
  • The new standard for computers is the laptop or tablet computer 20% or the size of the old tower and monitor computer of 10 years ago. You might also save on having a desk..
  • With computer storage being so cheap you might not need filing cabinets, or even a home office.
  • When I was small I had boxes and boxes of toys but now its all about the games console.

Reasons Why We Need More Space

  • Home theatres, when you already have a large TVs!
  • Butlers Pantries.
  • Kitchens with 2 dishwashers and Multiple Ovens. (I blame ‘The Block’)
  • Because the screen size is so big you need to sit further away.
  • Reclining chairs take up more floor space than ordinary chairs.
  • Kitchen Cupboards for all those kitchen gadgets you never use.
  • The treadmill you never use but bought instead of taking a walk outside.


Do you need more space, or have you got too much room?


For more posts about planning how to build a new house see Design


The Entertainer

“Just the thing for Entertainment” or something similar is a common theme in house builder’s brochures and estate agent descriptions.

It’s really a way of trying to upsize you into a bigger (more expensive) house.

Before you get sucked in with these statements for your new house here are a few questions you need to ask yourself:

  • How often do you actually “Entertain”?
    • Every week?
    • Once a month?
    •  Or hardly ever?
  • Will you be trying to impress. . . . or just aiming to have a good time?
  • How many is it really going to be?
    • Is it going to be one or two couples around for brunch or dinner or;
    • A party for 30 or 40 people?
  • Is a barby your normal way of entertaining? It is for most Australians. . . . .In that case you are more likely to need plenty of outdoor areas, which probably include plenty of space for children to run around. . . . .Not easy if you have filled your block up with a house that has big rooms for “Entertainers”.
  • For family occasions most people won’t mind if the garage is pressed into service for a meal if it is presentable. If it isn’t perhaps you can just cover the front of the shelves with some fabric.
  • Think back to the parties you went to that you really enjoyed. Some of the better ones that I went to were in small houses and flats. . .  you would normally find me, along with half of the other people there, packed into a tiny kitchen.

Alternatives for Entertaining

When our children were young we used to live in small houses so when it came to birthday parties we used to hire a village, or community hall.

You can normally hire a big room including a kitchen for half a day at very reasonable rates.

That meant lots of room for kids to run around and play games.

You don’t need good weather.

Just put paper tablecloths on the provided trestle tables, afterwards roll it up with the paper plates and plastic cutlery and in the bin.

No worry about damaging your carpet, just brush the floor and mop any spills and go home.


What are some of the parties you have enjoyed and what was the place were you held them?


Budget has more posts about finding a house the right size for you


How Big or Small Does a Home Need To Be?

First House

Our first house was around 6 squares (approx 56m2).

Two rooms downstairs and two rooms with a bathroom upstairs, and a single garage in the back garden.

We lived happily in the house for 6 years including after my daughter was born.

After that we went up in size as our family grew to two children plus two dogs.

It peaked at 22 square.(approx 186m2) plus a double garage.

Now we are back to the two of us and a retirement unit at 100m2.

Many Australians on retirement join the legions of grey nomads on the trip round Australia and live for months or even years in caravans or motor homes that would range from less than 1 square (say around 9.3m2) to the very largest which might be 2.5 square (say around 23m2)

If you want to see how small some people are prepared to go why not look at the TinyHouseBlog ?

For the rest of us here are some thoughts when considering the size of the house.

  • Do you need a breakfast table area and a dining room when you probably eat most of your meals at the breakfast counter or on your knee in front of the TV?
  • Now almost everybody has laptops do you need a study or home office?
  • 12 sqm makes a very reasonable sized master bedroom.
  • Do you really need a ‘parent retreat’.
  • 10 sqm is a reasonable size for other bedrooms. You will get two singles or a double for a guest bedroom. (If you are going to use it as a child bedroom it should fit a bed and a desk with room to spare for other furniture)
  • Do you need all three of; family room, living room and lifestyle room? (As well as the cost of building these rooms you have got the cost of buying the furniture to fill them)

How big does your home need to be?

For Similar Posts look at Design


Comparing House Sizes

Since 1988 SI, or metric units, have been the sole legal units of measurement in Australia.

However many builders and real estate agents still quote property in squares, which is an Imperial measurement.

Are they trying to confuse you or just slow to change?

Squares to Square Metres Conversion

Basically one square is 100 square feet, for example; a square with sides of 10 feet in length.

In metric that is 9.3 square metres so make sure that you don’t confuse a square with 10 square metres.

One square metre is usually written as 1m2 and is equivalent to 10.75 square feet or 0.1075 of a square.

Points to Remember

You also need to bear in mind is what is included in the dimensions quoted for example:

  • Some people will quote the overall plan area which means that it includes the volume of the external walls which are typically 0.25m thick. That can mean a figure between 10 and 20m2 (that’s up to 2 squares) is external walls which is unusable space.
  • Some will quote the area under the roof which if you have full eaves can amount to another 20 to 40m2
  • If you are looking at a 2 storey house fhe documents will probably be based on doubling the ground floor area even though the stairs and stair void lose livable floor area.
  • Some include the garage and others don’t.

I have also heard of qualifications in sale offer documents saying variations in dimensions of up to 10% are acceptable.

How often do you think that you would get a bigger house?

The best advice I can give if you are comparing plans from new home builders Sydney is to measure the plans yourself rather than relying on quoted documents.

When it gets down to signing a contract check that the dimensions on the contract document match your original understanding.


Have you had any problems with comparing sizes?


For Similar Posts look at Design


How Much Garage Do You Need

The trend these days seems to be for double garages……… but how many of them have two cars in them. . . . My guess would be about 10% and quite a few never have a car in them at all.

Some are just a home for junk that really should go to the tip.

Some are a workshop with bench, fixed power tools and shelves of tools.

I have seen a few ‘Man Caves’ with pool table and a bar.

Others are a storage place for bikes and barbies.

My double garage can still get one car in but the remainder is a combination of most of the above.

With narrower blocks a problem can be the garage dominates the rest of the house.

When you come to sell not many will want a house that looks more like an industrial lock up storage than a home, like This House.


Typical internal garage dimensions are:

  • Single garages – 3.5 metres (wide) by 6 metres (long) with a door around 2.5m wide.
  • Double garages – 6 metres (wide) by 6 metres (long) with a door around 5m wide.

These garages should fit anything up to a large 4WD, which are around 5.5m long by 1.9m wide.even with a bull bar on the front and tow bar behind.

Alternative Layouts

In the past I have had a single carport for parking the car with a separate garage/workshop at the back as my shed, which seemed to work well.

Another option may be to have a garage and a half!  This could be either:

  • 9 m long by 3.5 m wide with the back half being the store room/shed.


  • 6m long by 5m wide with shelves and/or a workbench along one or both side walls. This would work better if you wanted a large door through to the back garden.

Not enough room? . . . perhaps an underground/basement garage is the way to go. (see this link to find out more: Underground Garage)

Other Considerations

Once you have chosen the size here are some links to other aspects of garage planning:

Choosing a House? . . . An  E-book is available for only $4 to help plan your new house


How Much House?

Do you know that in spite of the standard block getting smaller over the past 20 years the actual size of the houses has been getting bigger. The builders are doing a good job of selling us on the idea of more space.

There are three sizes of house you could buy:

  1. The size you need . . .. SMALL
  2. The size that you would like. . . . BIG
  3. The size that the builder wants to sell you. . . .ENORMOUS

Get a bigger house and it could blow your Budget. To keep costs in check you need to do some preparation. Here are some suggestion:

  1. Avoid starting by visiting show houses.
  2. Go through your existing house throwing away all the junk you haven’t used in the last year or two. You could even raise some money and have a garage sale.
  3. Measure the internal size of each room in your house, in m2 and think about whether that room needs to be bigger, or could be smaller.
  4. Don’t forget to include the wardrobes, the pantry, and the garage.
  5. Don’t measure the hallways but allow 15-20m2 for hallways and passages.
  6. Allow around 15-20m2 for internal and external walls.
  7. Decide what additional rooms you need, for example an extra bedroom if you have another child on the way.
  8. Add all the areas to get the total area of the house.
  9. You could also convert the sizes to Squares for easy comparison when looking at adverts.
  10. Start looking on the builders web sites or adverts for houses plans that are close to this size.
  11. When you are looking at plans use the dimensions you originally took for each room to get a feel for the room sizes.
  12. Only go and look at houses that are within the dimension you calculated, plus say no more than 10%.

To help I have prepared a Google documents Checklist which can be accessed from the link or the Checklist tab at the top of the page.

How have you made sure you haven’t finished up with a house that’s too big?

For posts about Costs see Budget

For Posts about Design see Floor Plans


Builder’s Al Fresco? or Build After Handover?

These days I see a lot of Display Homes that feature a built in al-fresco area. . . . . It might seem a good idea when you are choosing a plan, but is it going to be the best solution?

How much are you really going to use it?

Should you commit to something before the build?

Here are some of the problems I see:

Poor Orientation

Have you thought about how it will feel to be out on the Al fresco.

Will it be too hot and have too much glare because its exposed to the afternoon and evening sun.

If it is on the North Side it might keep the warming winter sun away from warming the house

Will it be cold and damp because it faces south.

Will it have a view, or just a view of a fence?

Expensive construction

If you just want an outside covered area a built in alfresco is an expensive way of going about it.

Rather than a lightweight roof and relatively inexpensive paving, you are getting a full tiled roof and house foundation slab standard as a floor.

Fire and Smoke Issues

Because it is under the house roof smoke being trapped against the building can be an issue.

If the barby should catch fire then the problem just gets bigger.


The display house al fresco may look great . . . but if you look at the one above there are around $10,000 dollars of extras.

    • Down lights.
    • Laser cut steel screens.
    • Extra Roof.
    • Marble tiles.
    • Water feature.
    • Built in barby.
    • And then the furniture.

Don’t forget when you move in the alfresco is initially going to look more like this photo on the right.

With a big mortgage how long is it going to take you to afford to have to finish your al fresco like the display home?

Thinking About Bedroom Size

Guest Post by Cathy Reyes

One of the things that I notice  when looking at new display homes is the size of the bedrooms.

My first house had a master bedroom with a floor areas of approximately 15 square metres. . . . and we had room for a freestanding wardrobes and drawers.

Now 20 square metres plus a walk-in-wardrobe isn’t unusual.

So what are you going to do if you have all that space?

Well I would suggest go up a size for your bed.

For me one a big advantages of a king sized bed is if I am  restless then I am less likely to wake up my wife with my tossing and turning.

Why not try out check out some of the king mattress from Fantastic Furniture.

If you are like me you probably haven’t changed your mattress since you last moved house. . . so the existing one may be showing it’s years!

You spend a lot of your life in bed. . . . . . so getting some extra luxury for only a few hundred dollars more makes sense..

Forever House, or For Now House?

One of the phrases I frequently hear is this is our “Forever House”, but how realistic is this?

We have been married for 38 years. . . and the longest we have lived in any house is 10 years. (and I was working away from home for the last two years)

During the 1950’s and 60’s it was expected that once you started work you would probably work for the same company for all your working life, so there was no need to move.

In the 24 years that we have been in Australia I have had 9 jobs, with a change of job meaning some new work locations were over 150km from the previous job.

This means I firmly believe that its worth considering the “For Now House”:

Starting Off

Something small will help you get a start in property ownership.

When you are a couple, or even with toddlers, you don’t need lots of bedrooms and lounges, retreats etc.

It can be better to have a smaller mortgage and the smaller heating and cooling bills that a smaller house brings.

The lower financial burden means you will be able to spend more time with the pre-school children, rather than both working long hours.

The Middle Years

As children get older a larger house can have benefits with space to separate noisy areas from quiet areas.

It can be a mistake to go too big with the house though as you don’t want to be isolated from them.

I would be very careful about making the bedrooms too big as I would rather know what the children are doing, than have them shut away in their room.

Another issue with going to big is that the home becomes too comfortable for your grown up kids.

Empty Nesters

For 6 years we lived with just the dogs in a 200sq m home.

We were living in less than half the area and travelling for almost an hour to get to work!

Downsizing to a 80sq m place closer to work has been great for us. . . so we wouldn’t want to go back to a big house again.