How many times have you heard “it’s a bit small, isn’t it?” during an open for inspection? But our view of small in Australia is completely different to some places in the UK right now with developers taking advantage of the government’s relaxation of planning regulations, the tiny house trend, and ability to converting commercial office space into small apartments.
The Guardian UK reports that hundreds of tiny studio flats, many smaller than a budget hotel room, are to be squeezed into an eleven-storey block in north London. The apartments, used by the London Borough of Barnet’s housing department, will be smaller than the UK minimum space standards of 37sq metres for one person. The tiniest of these will be 16sq metres – 40% smaller than a small hotel room. They are legal due to government deregulation designed to promote the conversion of underused office space to help meet housing targets. House prices in Barnet have increased on average 10 percent over the last 12 months and the Daily Mail reports that it is the 7th least affordable suburb in London.
Local residents have labelled the Barnet scheme “ridiculous” and “immoral”, comparing the planned homes to dog kennels. Once kitted out with basic furniture, such as a small kitchenette, bed and wardrobe, the smallest flats will have very little room to move around. There appears to be little space, for example, for a sofa or a washing machine. The building also lacks facilities like a shared laundry room or bike facilities. The trend of micro-housing – apartments smaller than 28 square metres – is growing in popular cities crammed for space. Hong Kong, Japan and much of Europe has been practising this for years. On the complete another end of the spectrum, Australia ranks first in the world for largest sized houses and second in the world after the US for apartment size.
In Sydney, a studio apartment must be at least 35sq m and one bedroom apartments must have a minimum internal area of 50sq m – compared to London’s 37sq m regulation. Two-bedroom apartments need to have a minimum area of 70 sq m and for each bathroom added in any apartment, 5sq m needs to be added to the minimum. In Melbourne, the minimum size of studio apartments in 37 square metres.
Despite its reputation for “bigger is better’ and love for McMansions, America is actually second to Australia in average house size, according to the BBC. The average floor space of newly built homes in America far out do any country with the exception of Australia, clocking in at about three times the square footage of places built in Britain.