Clever home designs address land supply issues
With available land for new homes scarce across New Zealand and average block sizes getting smaller, architects are getting creative with new home designs, scrapping traditional design features to maximise useable space within homes.
Architect Peter Mannion has just created a new range of house designs for Stonewood Homes and says the single biggest factor he considered when designing the homes was the major issue of a land supply shortage and shrinking block sizes.
“The availability of land is a major issue and house block sizes will just continue to get smaller,” Mr Mannion said. “We are basing our designs on that premise and designing homes for smaller sites.”
Mr Mannion said in addition to block sizes getting smaller, building regulations meant that only 35% of the block could be built on and architects were having to get creative with new home designs.
“For Stonewood Homes’ new Evoke range of house designs, we’ve halved the hallway space and used it to create bigger living areas,” he said. “There are minimal nooks and crannies and a better flow between rooms.”
Mr Mannion said in the past, builders had over-designed homes, but new home buyers were now looking for simple architecture with clean, symmetrical lines and were favouring traditional materials such as timber and stone.
“The New Zealand new home buyer market is very discerning, more so than in Australia or the US and they appreciate good design,” he said. “There is definitely a trend to incorporate more natural finishes in homes, with weatherboard facades and sensible use of natural stone so that it is not overpowering,” he said.”
Mr Mannion said COVID had also influenced home design and new home buyer behaviour.
“We’re finding that people now have a lot more time to get involved in the design of their new home and are wanting a more functional space to live in,” he said. “The major design change that has arisen from COVID is the addition of dedicated offices or study rooms and we’re often locating these near the front door so that people who work from home can have colleagues visit without having them wander through the whole home.”
Mr Mannion said a key factor in modern home design was creating homes to fit the local landscape and topography.
“Within the Evoke range there are a variety of house designs to maximise the solar gain of a particular land site,” he said. “In the past people would simply lock up their homes in winter to stay warm but if you design a house to catch as much of the winter sun as possible, while protecting the home from the summer sun, you can actually open the house up in all seasons and have a comfortable indoor/outdoor flow. We’re also incorporating outdoor spaces like private courtyards that protect against weather extremes such as harsh wind.”
Mr Mannion said a lot of design time went into making high use areas such as kitchens as functional as possible.
“We’ve definitely moved away from the traditional U-shaped kitchen and we’re now designing kitchens to be as ergonomically functional as possible, with open spaces, islands and butlers’ pantries, which provide additional storage and cleaning space options for homeowners,” he said. “With bathrooms, we’re actually making them slightly bigger as that’s what new home buyers want.”
With interior design, Mr Mannion said new home buyers are also favouring simple décor that can be easily changed throughout the years.
“People are opting to not have a strong colour statement inside their homes,” he said. “Muted tones are the trend – a soft palette that can be changed through the addition of paintings and furniture.”
The Evoke Range is exclusive to Stonewood Homes https://stonewood.co.nz/evoke-series/