Victorians are building the biggest houses in Australia, ahead of the Australian Capital Territory, Western Australia and Queensland, CommSec reports.

New data analysis by CommSec shows the average home size has fallen to the smallest in 22 years.

The average home today is 186.3 square metres, down 1.6% over the past year and the smallest since 1996, reflecting the increased building of apartments. Today, around half of all new building is apartments.

Australians are also still building big free-standing houses, although the average size fell in 2017/18, the report said. The average new house built in 2017/18 was 230.8 square metres, down 0.9% on the year.

But the average house is 8% bigger than 20 years ago = in fact, the average house built today is almost 30% bigger than 30 years ago (the 1987/88 financial year).

On the global scale

Australians are still building some of the biggest houses in the world, but, on average, US houses are still bigger by around 6%. Not only that, US homes (houses and apartments) are 8% bigger.

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Home size by the states and territories

  • Victorians are building the biggest houses in Australia. In 2017/18 the average floor area of a house built in Victoria was 244.8m², ahead of the ACT (242.3 m²), Western Australia (235.3m²), and Queensland (230.8m²).
  • The smallest new houses built were in the Northern Territory (181.8m²) and Tasmania (186.8m²).
  • By contrast, in 2017/18 the biggest apartments could be found in the Northern Territory (136.5m²) from Tasmania (134.5m²).
  • Of the bigger states and territories, South Australia and Western Australia built the biggest apartments in 2017/18 with the average floor area for both states at 133.8m², ahead of Queensland (133.5m²).
  • Of all homes built in 2017/18, the average floor area was biggest in Western Australia (211.5m²), then Victoria (201.8m²). In Western Australia over 75 per cent of homes built were free-standing houses, and in Victoria, houses were 56 per cent of the total. By comparison, only around 43 per cent of homes built in NSW were free-standing
    or detached houses.

What does it all mean?

Craig James, Chief Economist and Ryan Felsman, Senior Economist for Commsec said: “Aussies are still building some of the biggest detached (free-standing) houses in the world. But the size of the average new house has stabilised over the past five years after peaking in size around six years ago (the 2011/12 financial year). There are still McMansions being built, but there are fewer of them.

“Houses built over the past year are still far bigger than those built in the 1980s and 1990s. In fact houses are around 8 per cent bigger than 20 years ago and almost 30 per cent bigger than 30 years ago.

“And that is important when doing comparisons of house prices over time. Not only are houses far bigger than those built in the 1980s and before, but the standard of fit-out today is far superior with higher quality kitchens, bathrooms, floor coverings and inclusions like air-conditioners.

“In recent years, a key trend in Australia has been the increasing number of apartments being built. Eight years ago, 27% of all homes built were apartments. Today, apartments account for 46% of all homes built.

“Through the 2004-10 period, the average apartment was around 140m2. Today it’s closer to 125m2. The shift to smaller apartments may mean that more of them need to be built to house the growing population compared with free-standing houses. And this point emphasises that when considering issues like under-supply and over-supply, a range of issues need to be considered.

“Now household size is falling again, and at the same time that the average house size is also falling. If current trends continue, more homes can be built without resulting in over-supply conditions. In short, supply would merely be responding to stronger demand. The key point being that it’s not just population, but demographics and choice of accommodation driving demand.”

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