Five Min­utes With…

Virgin Australia Voyeur - - EXEC STYLE -

Ian Ugarte, founder of Small is the New Big, on how con­vert­ing bed­rooms to mi­croa­part­ments can help solve the hous­ing af­ford­abil­ity cri­sis.

Why do we have such a hous­ing af­ford­abil­ity cri­sis in Aus­tralia right now?

We don’t have enough di­ver­sity within hous­ing be­cause in the last 40 or 50 years we’ve pro­duced fourbed­room, two-bath­room houses all over the coun­try — that’s not what our pop­u­la­tion needs. We’ve got a grow­ing num­ber of sin­gles and cou­ples com­ing into the mar­ket­place that need smaller hous­ing.

How does it work? Es­sen­tially what we do is take larger hous­ing and cre­ate smaller mi­cro-apart­ments within the house. We give every­one a self-con­tained mi­cro-apart­ment with their own bath­room and kitch­enette. They then share a com­mu­nal space and a laun­dry. What we’re re­ally build­ing is stu­dio apart­ments within a dwelling — you can’t split them up and you can’t sell them in­di­vid­u­ally.

We have our own prop­erty de­vel­op­ment com­pany and we’ve also got an ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram that helps to teach peo­ple to do ex­actly the same thing that we do.

How does this plan help both the home-own­ers and res­i­dents?

The in­vestors pro­duce the hous­ing stock and get a re­ally great re­turn out of it; the res­i­dents who live in it save be­cause they don’t have to pay so much to­wards rent — usu­ally a sav­ing of one-third to one-half — which means even­tu­ally they can af­ford to buy their own house.

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