Bigger Is Not Always Better

By Dion Seminara, Dion Seminara Architecture

Recently I was at a party where a friend of a friend was talking to me about the new home they were building. She explained to me that she would have loved to use my services, but that she couldn't because her house was only small; not the size of home that an architect would design.

This got me thinking, that perhaps there are many people out there with the same misconception. So I thought I should set the record straight.

Yes architects work on very large projects, from large family homes to commercial developments, but that's not to say that an average sized family home, or even a smaller home, can't benefit from the services of an architect.

Are Little Boxes Really Best?

Many people assume that if they are only building a small home that they simply don't have the available space to take advantage of architectural design. They believe that given the smaller dimensions of their homes they are pretty much stuck with having a basic design that consists of a lot of little boxes (rooms) attached together, and that precious floor space cannot be devoted to any interesting architectural angles.

But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, they would find that they would have MORE living space if they used an architect to design their homes for them.

Good architectural design can maximise useable living areas, so they would actually find a small home would feel infinitely more spacious.

Lifestyle Design

It's all about understanding people's lifestyles and designing to suit their unique needs. Consider this:

A basic off-the-shelf small home design is typically a series of small boxes connected together. No thought has been put into how each person who uses that design lives their lives. What then happens is the occupants of the house change their lifestyles to fit in with their environment, rather than having an environment that has been changed to suit their lifestyles.

Furthermore, the off-the-shelf plans do not specifically cater for your particular furniture and/or storage needs. Instead you are left trying to make things fit, which often results in a loss of that vital floor space that you have been trying to maximise.

However, a home that has been designed specifically for you, regardless of how small it is, would be designed around your lifestyle. It would also take into consideration your furniture as well as your unique storage requirements. By making a wall slightly longer, or building in storage solutions, good design can create a home for you that actually gave you more space within the same sized home.

Best of all the entire design would allow connection between the living areas, and exclusion from those areas that are best to be removed from the main activities of the home.

Room to Grow

Sometimes people build small homes because they only have small blocks. But more commonly people build small homes because of their current financial situation. They would love to be able to build a bigger home, but simply can't afford to do so at this point in time.

But what happens further down the track as their circumstance change? What do they do when they are in a position to expand?

Well if you've gone with an off-the-shelf little box' design, then chances are you are left with only two alternatives. Firstly, you could tack-on' an extension, which will almost always look tacked-on when added to an off the shelf design. Or failing that, you can sell and buy another home, or build again. But if you're looking at that option, then ask yourself this question: What's my house of little boxes really worth?'

Now obviously it will be worth something, and it will most likely have grown in value, but it will not have grown in value to the same extent that an architecturally designed home would have.

Getting back to my original question about the options small home owners have when their financial situation changes, their options are certainly greater if they have had their home designed.

Understanding that what people can afford right now and what they can afford in the future are two different things a good design will be created with future expansion in mind; up, down and/or out.

Sure you may still want to sell your smaller home when you have the money to do so, but the advantage you will have is that your home will now be worth considerably more given that it's been designed with expansion in mind.

So if you are looking at building a small home, don't think that your home would not benefit from the input of an architect. A small home specially designed for you will often save you money and will definitely give you more useable space inside. Best of all, it will add tremendous value to the value of the property in years to come.

For more information on architectural services, contact Dion Seminara on0402 842 096or at