Even though Australian household sizes keep decreasing over the years, the average floor area of new detached housing rose by almost 50% from 1985 to 2013, the current average size of our homes being 241.1 square metres, according to ABS figures. Despite the fact that we now have fewer people living in each house, the average number of bedrooms per dwelling in Australia increased from 2.8 in 1976 to 3.1 in 2010. In fact, quick calculations demonstrate that in 2010, Australia had at least 25.6 million bedrooms even though we only had 22 million people.
There’s debate on the subject, as, indeed, families are getting smaller and each year Australia is building larger houses on smaller blocks.
Problems that arise from the large house/small land trend include increased local traffic, increased need for community leisure areas such as parks and playgrounds, and children spending more alone time playing indoors instead of getting physical exercise and sunlight exposure.
Travis Moore, a research fellow at RMIT, says “people that are starting new families either have to have a three, four or five bedroom house or there is not going to be anything else for them other than a tiny kind of apartment. We need to try to provide a range of options for different families’ requirements and needs.”
While a large part of the push toward larger houses is surely being driven by developers, Moore says consumers also need to think about what they really need from their homes. While they demonstrate a need or want for a spare bedroom or second living area, developers will keep building them.