Australians have been building larger apartments in the past year, as a result of the pandemic-driven shift in preferences for larger living spaces.
CommSec’s 2020/2021 annual house size report showed that the average size of completed apartments in the past year reached an 11-year high of 138.3 sqm, an increase of 0.4% per year.
In contrast, the size of a detached house averaged 229.3 m², which is a decrease of 2.9% from the highest point in seven years.
Overall, the size of houses built in the past year, including houses and apartments, averaged 195.8 m², which is below the highest level in six years in 2019.
Where are the biggest houses
ACT had the largest houses last year, with an average surface area of 259.3 m².
Meanwhile, Victoria built the largest apartments, which average 156.8 m².
However, Western Australia had the highest combined average size for both houses at 214.8 sqm.
Historical data shows that Australians built the largest houses in 2009/2010, when the average house size peaked at 218.6 m².
Around the same time, homes in the United States also peaked in size.
“After a decline from 2010 to 2012, housing size in both the US and Australia has broadly turned sideways over the past eight years,” the report said.
“While homes haven’t gotten much bigger in recent years, they’re still significantly larger than those of previous generations.”
In fact, detached houses in Australia are 24% larger than the house built 30 years ago, while new houses, including apartments, are 14% larger.
Factors driving house size changes
Still, the report said several factors are driving the declining size of detached homes in both the US and Australia.
“Various reasons include a greater focus on sustainability, the desire for low-maintenance homes, smaller lots, fewer people per home, affordability, the desire to be close to inner cities and energy costs,” the report said.
The report noted that while the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the size of homes recently, it is relatively early to say whether it has had a lasting impact.
“The experience with Covid-19 has certainly led more families to look for larger homes and has led others to add extra rooms to existing homes,” it said.
“More Aussies want to achieve a situation where family members can live, work and relax at home. Builders and architects have undoubtedly responded quickly to the new demands of families.”
Before the pandemic, many Australian households prefer to live in apartments.
The size of apartments reached their lowest point in 2017/2018.
“The conclusion that many Aussies seem to have reached is that apartments became too small to be truly comfortable and practical,” the report said.
In the current setting, the trends of building butler’s pantries, storage areas for boots, coats and wet clothes, and home theaters provide more families with a justification for building larger homes.
“The big question is whether Aussies will continue to embrace working from home and choose to move away from apartments in or near the CBD, rather than a larger home in a regional or suburban ‘lifestyle’ area,” the report said.
“Or it could just be that bigger apartments are being sought – either near capital cities or in the suburbs.”
Photo by Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash.