Making It real
My story in attempting to bring a new housing type that improves affordability, livability & community resilience
(Please note that this article is one in a series and it may make references to previous articles)
It’s common to receive a surprising response when I mention to people that there are significant restrictions in building multigenerational homes within the suburbs of Australian cities. That is not to say multigenerational households don’t exist, as an internet search will prove. What is challenging to extract from this search and to explain to people are the five prominent key characteristics that exist in most of the examples that one can find. Unbeknown to many, these characteristics are typically a consequence of the planning and building rules and do not necessarily present the best outcome that would otherwise be possible. Even though the existing examples demonstrate multigenerational homes are achievable, its more the exception than the rule. Hopefully, by outlining the key characteristics, as listed below, it will start to highlight why a multigenerational home with two kitchens over two floors is not possible.
Examples of multiGen homes
The 5 Key characteristics often found in Multigenerational homes:
Image below- The loss of private useable backyard space in subdivided lots
Consider how much the shared driveway wastes private space. The green shaded areas represent valuable private open space for each dwelling. Which would be more useful to a growing family?
It’s the last point (the kitchen) that raises the biggest challenge for authorities. Even though some homes have a second kitchen for religious reasons, these are only accepted because they are typically adjoining the central kitchen. It’s when kitchens are located within the same home that allows different groups to prepare meals in isolation from one another that creates anxiety for Planning and Building authorises. As absurd as this sounds, but this is the key sticking point in allowing a modest-sized multigenerational home existing within a typical suburban setting. In otherworld’s, a 2-story home with a kitchen on either floor is discouraged by the existing rules.
It is not as though Planners or Building Surveyors are not wanting to promote this home type; it’s more a consequence of the rules set by Planning and building Authorities who are either unwilling or are simply out of touch with the changing household demographic profiles of modern Australian families. The whole purpose of all these blogs is to raise awareness that the authorities, intentionally or not, are themselves the problem and from the communications, I have had with them; this will not change anytime soon. Of these two authorities, the Australian Building Code Board (ABCB) is the most restrictive and perhaps the more complex. In the next article, I will outline the basic principles of the building code that is specific to residential living and how they apply to the urban context we have within Australians cities. I will then highlight two of the three rulings that nonsensically restrict an increase in the supply of multigenerational homes within most of our metropolitan landscape.
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A property expert with over 25 years experience working across both private and public sectors, predominately within the housing space.