The standard three-bedroom, one-bathroom home is getting rarer as Kiwis look to build bigger, more comfortable houses.
Builders are opting for four-bedroom homes with multiple bathrooms and features such as walk-in showers and outdoor entertainment areas, but there are warnings the move to larger houses is "grossly excessive" and poses an environmental risk.
Three-bedroom houses have long been Kiwis' preference.
In 2006, 46.3 per cent of houses had three bedrooms, 21.8 per cent had four bedrooms and 19.8 per cent two bedrooms, according to the census that year.
But preferences are changing. A four-bedroom house with two bathrooms and two living areas, larger than 200 square metres, was No 1 on the "wish list" of those building a home in 2012, says building company Generation Homes, which operates nationally.
Chief executive Kevin Atkinson said 48 per cent of customers built four-bedroom homes last year, while 49 per cent opted for three bedrooms and 3 per cent built five-bedroom houses.
"It appears gone are the days when people wanted a standard three-bedroom, one-bathroom home."
People were willing to sacrifice the latest hi-tech products or expensive finishes to get more bedrooms and bathrooms, and help with home rental and resale, he said.
Other trends in 2012 included walk-in tiled showers, three-car garages and a focus on outdoor entertainment areas.
House sizes were growing to fit everything in.
The national average for a new-house footprint grew from 107 square metres in 1975 to 151sqm in 1992 and 200sqm in 2010 before pulling back slightly to 192sqm in 2011.
Christchurch architect Roger Buck said generally when people could afford it, they went for "size" in a property, but this was not always a good thing.
"Since the day of the perfectly adequate three-bedroom state rental house at 105sqm . . . the average has probably doubled."
Sometimes the extra size was extravagant, Buck said.
"I think it's grossly excessive to be frank, our housing costs are astronomic on a global comparison."
Lincoln University professor of nature conservation Ian Spellerberg said new housing subdivisions should include environmentally friendly solutions to water and energy needs.
Many of the developments with a very large house taking up most of the section were not sustainable, he said, and did not have green-living features such as a vegetable garden and composting. Builders should add water tanks, showers with a cut-off point, double glazing and solar heating for efficiency, he said.
Jennian Homes Canterbury general manager Rob Sloan said there was a trend to group a house's services into one outside area, including an insulated hot-water cylinder, which saved 2sqm of inside space.
Stonewood Homes managing director Brent Mettrick said that over the past 10 years the average house size had grown, but now there was a focus on affordability.
"There's a larger number of smaller homes as people focus on affordability a little more," he said.
However, sculleries or walk-in pantries were "pretty standard now".
How big is your house? Is bigger always better?
- © Fairfax NZ News
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