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how big should a home be



There are points in the journey of getting a new home built where you ask yourself some interesting questions, and this is one of them – how big should a home be?

And it’s a question that’s not easily answered because it varies depending on so many factors – including opinions!


But having said that it’s not easily answered, there are some basic principles that apply which will be a big help. The 3 key principles are usage (how the home is used), cost (cost to build is mainly what this is about), and maintenance (includes time, money and effort).


Let’s squirrel down into each of these.


The most important principle underlying how big a home should be is how the home will be used. This involves sitting down and really thinking through things. Make a list to these sort of questions –
1. How many people will be living in the home?
2. How much space will the furniture take up?
3. How often will we have friends and family around?
4. What spaces will be used the most (IE, study, living, kitchen)?
5. Are you an indoors or outdoors person? Ie, will you spend more time indoors or outdoors?
6. Do you have a lot of things you’ve collected over the years that will need storing or displaying?
7. Do you like wide open spaces, or do you prefer the snug cosy room?


There are obviously a thousand different questions, but these should start the juices flowing. What you want to do is really picture yourself living in the home. And compare it with what you’re currently living in – is it too small? Or perhaps too big? Or maybe it’s poorly designed and there’s lots of wasted space?


Big is not better. The right size is better.


One thing we want to point out from our observation over the years is that size can be deceptive and often confusing. We’ve got another blog on this, but we’ve seen people say that their current 3m X 3m bedroom is too small so they want to go for a 5m X 5m, and then when they see this they say it’s way too big! It’s good to approach the size of your home surgically – think through what you need, and then work to that. Big is not better. The right size is better.


So another way of approaching the bedroom scenario could be that you work out who’s going to be sleeping in there, and what furniture they’re going to have, and what space they need, and then carefully sketch it out, and lo and behold, it’s telling you that the bedroom should be 3.75m X 3.9m, not 5m X 5m! This is smart design. Rather than just plucking some figure out of the air and padding it out just to be on the safe side, you work out what you need and want, and run with that.


It’s been interesting over the years to hear people say they want a 40 square home, and then they come through our 22 square display home and say that it’s plenty big enough. So here’s a word of caution – do your homework on what size really is, don’t just run with hearsay. Sloppy design is big. Smart design is correct.


Sloppy design is big. Smart design is correct.


And a side issue with the size of the home is the format. Another way of looking at this is the relationship between rooms and spaces. And whether or not the rooms are very compartmentalized or free flowing. In the homes of 2 centuries ago, even the kitchen was a room of its own with a door which was accessed off a central passage – very pigeon-holed and a terribly inefficient use of space.


So onto the 2nd principle – cost to build. It’s pretty obvious that a bigger home is going to cost more, but there’s a bit more to it than that. Making a bedroom or lounge area bigger isn’t going to cost much more, but making kitchens and bathrooms bigger can really blow the budget, and things like these are called core costs and that’s what you need to watch.


How big do you really need a bathroom? Making it bigger than you really need it just for the sake of it can push the build price right up – all those extra tiles, waterproofing, etc add up. And this comes back to the usage principle – thinking things through and working out what you need.


Ultimately cost is what it is once you’ve worked out what you want for the usage of the home. But if you find you need to start trimming the cost, the areas to look at first are the utility areas – laundry, WC, etc. You’ll gain more bang for your buck in these areas than the other areas.


Last but not least is the maintenance or sustainability of the home. This point is nearly as important as the usage question, and it’s something that’s generally overlooked during the design stage.


Put the thinking cap on and fast forward a few years. How much area do you want to be vacuuming? Do you want to be heating and cooling those extra rooms? How many windows do you want to be washing? Will you wish there wasn’t so much gutter to clean out?


Don’t get us wrong – we don’t advocate going small, far from it. But we don’t advocate going big just for the sake of having lots of space either. It comes down to the earlier comment – good design is neither undersize or oversize. Building a home that is ‘right’ for you and how you’ll use it will also result in a home that’s sustainable in the long-run.


Of course, it doesn’t mean custom designing a home down to the last millimetre; there are pre-designed homes available on the market that have been professionally designed to accommodate a wide range of uses. And you’ll generally find that these designs can be tweaked to suit any nuances of your particular lifestyle.


To finish off, there’s an old adage that says form follows function, and it’s amazing how we continue to see this hold true time after time: sort out the practicality side of things and – would you believe it – it looks great as well!

Keen to find out more?

Reach out to us. We’re here to help.

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