Building bigger homes

Andrew Lawson is the president of the Marlborough Registered Master Builders Association.
Andrew Lawson is the president of the Marlborough Registered Master Builders Association.

Houses built in Marlborough have increased in size in line with a decades-long nationwide trend, although the financial downturn has seen it partly reverse.

Marlborough District Council building control group leader Bill East said homes built in Marlborough in the early 2000s tended to be about 130 square metres but this increased to more than 200sqm following the 2004 building boom.

The recession brought that expansion to a halt with the average house now covering 180sqm, he said. However, in the past couple of months, this number had been tracking upwards again, although it was too early to say whether this was part of a wider trend.

"[If it is a trend] then it is a positive thing for Marlborough. We have been in the doldrums too long."

Blenheim builder Andrew Lawson said he had noticed houses being built in the region had been progressively larger over his 20-year career, with people wanting a fourth bedroom, an ensuite for the master bedroom, and in some cases, a third bathroom.

If people could afford it, they would get add-ons such as outdoor barbecue areas, but as the recession hit, these kinds of nice-to-haves became less common, he said.

"It has a lot to do with the state of the economy. When the economy is better, people build bigger, but since the recession hit, they [houses] have been getting smaller."

Harcourts Marlborough owner Mark Davis said people wanted bigger homes, and during the housing boom, more people were willing to have one built if they could not find one they liked on the market.

As New Zealand came out of the recession, people were more comfortable taking a mone tary risk and were prepared to build their own homes again, he said.

Although Marlborough had an aging population, there was still a trend toward four-bedroom houses, but without the dramatic increase in floor size, he said.

"You will find that new houses are being built with a fourth bedroom that can be used as an office. People also want that extra room for people visiting or family, that kind of thing.

"People are building smarter and maximising living space," he said.

Peter Ray Homes director Rowan Lee said the average floor area of houses they built in 2010 was 230sqm. The average was now 200sqm and they had downsized their showroom to reflect this. "We are finding that people are looking more into insulation and heating as well as making sure they have a little bit of luxury in their bathrooms and kitchens.

"It is, in my opinion, economics. People are trying to get their costs down."

The Marlborough Express