australian housing investment good design is better for more people
Good design is a better investment. Photography: Dion Robeson.
  • Savings from avoiding conventional requirements can be better invested into meeting actual needs and wants, and provide real value for the people living in the home.
  • Real value is not confined to typical metrics such as the number of bedrooms or bathrooms, but can include ceiling height, good ventilation, and trees.
  • While these design choices significantly improve quality of the living spaces, they bear little influence on borrowing capacity within the current system.

A series of affordable housing thoughts and ideas by Perth’s leading architects continues with this piece by Emily Van Eyk, with photography by Dion Robeson.

To the detriment of Australia’s housing market, we are overly fixated on value metrics of our homes dictated by financial institutions. This results in a collective waste of money, resources, and time.

Here is a house that doesn’t do that. Instead, the owner prioritises good design over the traditional emphasis on resale value.

How did good design buck the wasteful trend?

Dissatisfied with market-driven housing options, the owner opted for a site-specific design process that catered to her individual needs.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the outcome appeals to more people, not fewer, and suits a greater range of housing diversity and housing budgets. Budget saved from rejecting conventional requirements was invested in fulfilling the owner’s actual desires and tangible value for the people living in the home.

Real value is not confined to typical metrics such as the number of bedrooms or bathrooms. Instead, it considers factors like ceiling height, good ventilation, winter solar access and trees. We used materials that are low maintenance and used options other than glazing for better thermal performance, and a sense of atmosphere, such as polycarbonate cladding.

The house has two bedrooms, or more like two homes, one on top of the other – big sitting over small as it steps down the steep site.

North of the site is dominated by a monumental grey brick wall which we decided is an asset because it provides privacy, offers an urban quality and is a fantastic canvas to a long garden which is the hero of the site.

Does good design cost more than a normal home?

Despite ample evidence demonstrating that these design choices significantly improve quality of the living spaces, they bear little influence on borrowing capacity within the current system.

Unfortunately, the wholesale acceptance of unwelcome and unhelpful rules perpetuates a wasteful housing system with abundant redundancy. Stepping outside of this system necessitates financial courage from clients.

This house proves to be a wise investment. It is low maintenance, spacious, flexible, and thermally efficient. Additionally, it includes a separate self-contained space that generates income, for ongoing financial gain and to the wider economy through tourism by offering a short stay that contributes to, not detracts from, community and place.

The average Australian house has three or four bedrooms and sits on a 414m² block. New houses are 230m² with four bedrooms. Yet the average Australian family is only 2.59 persons.

This house has two bedrooms, 97m² on a 273m² block. Good design makes this possible without compromising on the enjoyment of the home. It serves as a testament to the potential for success when breaking away from the norm.

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Before making any financial decisions, please do your own independent research, taking into account your own situation. This article does not purport to provide financial or property buying advice. See our Terms of Use.



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