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All you need to know about building on small sites
Display homes are traditionally large, spacious and open plan. After all, that is the appeal of walking into a new home in a builder’s display village. While the larger homes obviously still play a part in streetscapes across Sydney, builders have answered the call for more affordable housing with narrow designs, some of which are only 8m wide, designed to fit on a 250sq m site. Despite their small frame, they are not just aimed at couples. In fact, they are designed to accommodate a growing family, often featuring four bedrooms, two bathrooms and open-plan kitchen and living/dining areas. And all this with a backyard. “The market is answering the need for affordable options,” says Phil Haigh, McDonald Jones Homes’ sales director.
But buyers still need to be wary, especially when deciding on their block of land, because sometimes the cheapest site can end up costing you more in the long run.
“Small, narrow blocks should be dead-level sites to make them work as a building site,” says Phil. “Otherwise you will inevitably be looking at additional costs.”
Tight, narrow blocks sloping to the rear might be tricky because they can increase costs associated with stormwater and sewerage.
Phil says that if you’re buying a block from a developer in a masterplanned community, make sure those services are placed by the developer before you sign up, so you don’t end up with another bill to pay.
“On the flip side, blocks falling to the rear can be great because you can get high ceilings at the back of the house — often where the living areas are — which improves livability and adds value to the house,” he says.
McDonald Jones Homes considers anything smaller than 12.5m wide as narrow, with 9m being its smallest option. Anything from 10m to 12.5m can accommodate a two-storey design and double garage. Anything smaller than 10m would be designed with a single garage.
“We now regularly build on narrow blocks and there are a lot of great designs on offer, but five years ago if you asked me if you could build a new house on a 10m-wide block, I would have laughed,” Phil says.
The Tulloch 31 by McDonald Jones Homes might be less than 9m wide but there’s still plenty of living space for everyone.