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Smaller, Smarter, and Greener Dwellings for Australians

The trend for new houses and apartments in recent years has been toward buildling dwellings that are smaller, smarter, and greener. While a recent report by the Australian Property Institute found that green star commercial buildings deliver a 5 per cent premium in rent, the green trend is also catching in the residential market. Both first-time home buyers and investors seeking residential investment property are opting for compact living spaces. We examine what these smaller dwellings look like below.

1. Multi-Feature Rooms

It’s been estimated that removing household clutter can yield extra space equivalent to a bedroom or study, and incorporating clever design strategies can enhance space efficiency. Furthermore, well-designed homes can reduce construction costs by incorporating these multi-feature rooms.

Smarter design and planning allow spaces to be smoothly integrated without compromising on comfort. For example, living and study areas, playrooms and libraries, home offices and guestrooms, or kitchen and dining rooms can all be integrated to improve the use of space.

The trend towards smarter use of space is likely to continue with the number of single-person households set to soar in the coming decades.

2. Low-Maintenance Features

Developers are incorporating low-maintenance features into new houses. These include utilising paint-free and earthy materials that require minimal maintenance over the longer term, as well as smaller, landscaped gardens that make use of self-sufficient plants.

Low-maintenance courtyards and gardens use paving and rocks, and for the indoors, designers are opting for polished timber flooring. In light of higher water and energy expenses, using low-maintenance features is both smart and green.

3. Home Offices

With the availability of broadband and fibre-optic internet connections, more and more people are telecommuting, making home offices very popular in new homes and apartments. Home offices can add considerable value to a property, whether the dwelling is being purchased for owner occupancy or for property investment.

4. Indoor/Outdoor Spaces

Barriers between indoor and outdoor areas are changing, with new homes incorporating more alfresco and indoor/outdoor spaces, which can be opened up with sliding or glass doors. New smart homes are using natural sunlight, sound proofing, and double glazing to create peaceful, relaxing spaces.

5. Courtyards

Many of the new properties being built use internal or shared courtyards for green living, or viewing spaces that have multiple access points. For example, a central courtyard can be viewed from the kitchen and living spaces on the ground floor as well as the individual bedrooms upstairs.

The popularity of courtyards are a reflection of the new low-maintenance living style. New homes may have more than one courtyard rather than the traditional large gardens in the front and back. In addition to a central courtyard, homes may situate smaller courtyards outside bedrooms and other living areas to bring in more light and air.