How small is too small? 80sqm housing blocks to go on sale in Perth

by Emma Wynne

A house on a quarter-acre block, with enough space to play cricket in the backyard and host a Hills Hoist, was once the Australian norm.

But soon blocks as small as 80 square metres — the size of a modest two-bedroom apartment — will go on sale in Perth.

The Urban Development Institute of Australia defines a micro-block as a lot that is less than 200 square metres.

Six months ago they were almost non-existent in Western Australia, the institute's chief executive Allison Hailes told ABC Radio Perth.

"We know that at the moment 4.3 per cent of lots that are expected to be released into the market in the next six months are micro-lots," she said.

"There are a number of areas where micro-lots are being planned as part of developments — Cockburn, Kwinana, Wanneroo, Canning and Subiaco."

While a block of land as small as 80 to 120 square metres may seem extremely small, Ms Hailes said it could work if a multi-storey or terrace house design was used.

"The houses that are being developed for these micro-lots are using very clever design.

"The house floor space might be 200 square metres.

"So we are seeing two-bedroom or even three-bedroom houses being built on micro-lots.

"Other designs that I think will emerge more in the Perth market are where you have a home office on the ground floor and then living space and a bedroom on the first floor."

The micro-block concept could be a boon for people who want to downsize but dislike the idea of apartment living and shared spaces.

"Some people don't want to move into an apartment or a unit development with strata fees and common or shared spaces," Ms Hailes said.

Researcher Shohreh Nematollahi surveyed residents in Perth's southern suburbs and found they wanted to keep to themselves and had an aversion to the prospect of unexpectedly running into neighbours in the corridor, garden or other common areas.

"They were prepared to have very narrow houses, perhaps with just three or four metres frontage, as long as they are not sharing with other people," she said.

"That's a big concept for an architect, to make high-density housing without any shared space."

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to News portal.