Can Smaller be Better?

Did you know that the average new house in New Zealand is around 45% larger than those built in the 1970s and 1980s? Bucking the trend and choosing to build a smaller home can make sense for many reasons. Read on to discover how you could benefit from going small.

Is building small for you?

  • Because budgets are often very tight when building a first home, designing a compact home can help make your project achievable. With careful planning your home can be built to allow for future expansion as your requirements change.
  • If your children have left home you may find you have much more space than you now need. Downsizing can allow you to create a high quality modern home that feels a better fit for your current lifestyle.
  • Holiday homes present an opportunity to come up with creative solutions that may not be appropriate for your permanent home. Ideas such as bunk bedrooms, dining tables used as kitchen islands and outdoor living rooms can allow you to build an extremely compact bach-style home, which is a great way to combat the higher cost of building in a remote location.

Aside from meeting the requirements of your lifestyle, smaller homes offer numerous compelling benefits and advantages.

Sounds good, but where do I begin?

It’s a simple truth that the easiest way to reduce the cost of a new home is to cut back the floor area. Think carefully about how you will live in your home, and which spaces are essential to you and your family.

  • A smaller floor area can allow you to make significant savings in the costs of both materials and labour, meaning you could pay off your mortgage years earlier.
  • Can you combine infrequently used spaces, e.g. a study that doubles as a guest room?
  • Look for creative solutions to meet your requirements – perhaps a covered outdoor area will remove the need for a second living room, or you could build a carport instead of a garage.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of building a home with a future purchaser in mind and paying for space and features you won’t use.


Building On Slopes

Why choose quality over quantity?

Another advantage of building a smaller home is that your budget won’t be spread as thinly, meaning you can consider upgrading to features that may be unaffordable in a larger home. Imagine how much more you will enjoy your home if it includes some of the following features.

  • Central heating systems such as ducted heat pumps, in-slab heating or radiators.
  • High-performance window joinery with a good R-value to keep heat in and eliminate condensation
  • Luxurious bathrooms with tiled showers
  • Beautiful natural materials inside and outside.


Are smaller homes more sustainable and cheaper to run?

A compact home offer some great benefits to the environment while it is under construction, and also once you’ve moved in.

  • By building a smaller home you can reduce the embodied energy in your home – that is the energy that is used to extract, manufacture and transport the materials that go into your building. Extra points if you can cut back on materials such as steel and aluminium that use a lot of energy to produce.
  • Smaller homes can be much cheaper to run, as you’re not paying to heat up spaces you don’t use. If you’ve been able to upgrade to higher levels of insulation and high performance windows then you’ll notice even more difference in your power bills each month.
  • Building small can help you to afford sustainable features such as solar water heating, energy and water-efficient appliances and fittings, and thicker walls to maximise insulation. While all of these features can benefit you hugely by paying for themselves in the long run, they are sadly often the first things to be trimmed from houses when short-term savings need to be made.


And what about the site and landscaping?

  • The footprint of smaller home takes up less of your property. You’ll have more space for outdoor living, and also more flexibility about where you choose to position the house in the site.
  • Another way of looking at it is that you won’t need such a large section to fit your house on, so you may be able to save money by buying a compact section that simply wouldn’t have space for a larger house.
  • By reducing the size and construction cost of your home you’ll be able to ensure that there’s some money left in the budget for landscaping, so you’re not looking over a bare site for the first few years.


Can house size affect maintenance and other ongoing costs?

Aside from reducing energy use, there are several ways that a smaller home can help save you time and money.

  • Smaller houses can be much cheaper to maintain – there’s simply less work involved in painting and maintaining compact building, and more of the work may be able to be undertaken without scaffolding.
  • By reducing the area of cladding that is required you’ll be better able to afford high quality and low maintenance claddings, possibly eliminating many of the ongoing costs that can be associated with maintaining cheaper cladding products.
  • A smaller home could result in lower rates charges, making you savings year after year.

Deciding to build a smaller home is often the smartest decision you can make, allowing you to get much higher levels of enjoyment and comfort for your budget. It’s a conscious decision to choose quality over quantity – and we all know that nobody ever regretted buying quality.

It does require skilled design to ensure that a compact home still feels comfortable and spacious. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation to discuss your new home with us, and to find out exactly how a well-designed small home could benefit you.