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


World’s Biggest Houses

New Australian homes are now the worlds biggest.

Here is a diagrammatic representation of the size compared with three other countries.

and here are the average home sizes  in square metres:















China (Urban Only)


Hong Kong



In the last 25 years while the size has increased by 10% while the average number of people per household has dropped from 2.7 to 2.6.

Instead of complaining about ‘Housing Affordability’ why aren’t we just building smaller houses?


See this post to see the size you need: How Much House?