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Big house or Little house?

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#1 CallMeFeral

Posted 13 June 2019 - 10:12 AM

So we are looking at building a new house because we have outgrown this one (quite some years ago tbh).

But the closer I get to fixing on a floorplan the more fear I'm getting about losing our little house living. I don't know whether these fears are founded so I'm putting this out there in the hope that people can share their experiences of plusses and minuses of big/small spaces (especially as kids get into the teens).

There's a side of me that says we should build a house just a tiny bigger and with more storage than what we have, and that would be fine, and keep the family close together. But the other side of me says that it would be ridiculous to spend SOOOOO much building a new house and come out the other end going "ah that was stupid, we need more space". The majority of the cost is in building it all, it doesn't seem to vary materially on the size of the house. Our current house is asbestos, so we can't really renovate it, it's basically take it or leave it.

So the reasons this house is too small (2br and granny, family of 5)
- no storage - there is stuff hanging off walls and as much shelving as can be fit on every wall, but we are still tripping over stuff (and people) everywhere
- kids need their own room soon - DD is 10 and has already really been wanting one for a while, she struggles with the lack of her 'own' space
- entertaining - we don't invite people over (except under a week's notice so we have the weather report and can entertain in the garden - and rarely in winter) because the lounge and the kitchen are too small to have more than say 2 other people over

What we'd like in a new house
- granny flat in case oldies or family need to stay with us in future, or in case we need to downsize in future future, or in case we struggle with repayments on loan we could rent it out
- office in case I need to work from home in the future
- a bedroom for each child
- a big enough combined living/dining/kitchen area that we can invite people over
- a mud room for our extensive crap
- maybe a big room for DD to do dance, or later for a pool table or games type thing
To get these things (and still keep our garden which I love) we'd have to go two storey.

But what I'm worried about missing is that I love all of us being close together now. Two of my kids sleep in my bed, DD's room is opposite, the bathroom and kitchen and lounge are all in close proximity - if I get out of bed I can hear if small DD starts crying or complaining, if I'm in the shower I can hear if the kids are misbehaving in the kitchen, there is never really a time when any of us are more than 10m from each other. I feel like as the kids grow into teens they will want more space - but similarly I feel like if the house is too big they (DD particularly) might isolate herself and we might barely see her. We have friends who have built monster houses and they are like seeds rattling around in a giant pod. I want my family to be close by by default (but with the option for space if they need it). But the traditional setup of bedrooms upstairs and living areas down seems to mean that kids in their bedrooms are highly segregated from anybody in living areas.

But that said, I also want the kids to be able when they are teens to have friends over, to have spaces where they are comfortable bringing friends, to have a fun house that they want to spend time in as opposed to going out all the time.

I'm maybe not explaining my feelings well as they are pretty confused. I guess perhaps my question is - is there a danger to having too much space, and could it fragment/isolate the family more? Am I enabling more seclusion at a time when kids are already drawn to creating space from their parents? Or is extra space only ever going to be a plus once I have teenagers?

#2 Froggilicious

Posted 13 June 2019 - 10:29 AM

I think there is a middle ground. We are in s similar boat, except we have been looking to buy. So many house I’ve looked at all I can think is that I’d spend my life cleaning and never see my kids. I think the solution is design. I would be looking to build small but clever. How can you use space well rather than just adding more rooms.

#3 Let-it-go

Posted 13 June 2019 - 10:42 AM

Maybe it’s a personality thing.  I LOVE my ridiculously huge house and we are only a family of 4.  I love that I can have a nap on a Sat afternoon in total peace upstairs, I love that my kids are upstairs while I’m in the kitchen and I don’t even know they exist, I love that my husband is working in his office (he works from home) and the kids totally forget he’s there.  I love that i never have to watch crappy kids TV as they watch in the front room while I’m in the kitchen, main living area.  I love that not 1 toy exists in my main living area as the kids have a playroom.  I love having a spare room so my parents can stay whenever they want, I love that I can entertain at the drop of a hat.

But I am a space, quiet kind of person.  The chaos, noise and mess of small spaces is hard for me to cope with.  The cleaning thing is a myth, a big house isn’t harder to clean at all, there is only so much mess everyone makes and it’s spread so it never seems as messy as a small space.  Storage and space means everything has its home so it’s actually quite easier to tidy.  Yes, we have 3 showers but we don’t use 3 showers so I’m not going to clean 3 showers.  Likewise I don’t clean 2 baths or the spare room that no one uses.  No one eats upstairs so it doesn’t need vacuuming very often.  

We rent and I have no idea how I’ll cope when we finally move to a more ‘normal’ size house :laugh:.  We’ll kill each other!!!

#4 seayork2002

Posted 13 June 2019 - 10:47 AM

I am bone idle so the smaller the place the less housework and problems I have found (we have rented all sorts of places)

we are now in a 2 bed basic unit and I love all my extra free time!

My ideal place would have a separate lounge and a open plan kitchen 'family' room though - for when the rug rat turns into a teenager though

Personally I could live in happily in a caravan

#5 Cimbom

Posted 13 June 2019 - 11:02 AM

Small for me. Big houses take longer to clean, are harder and more expensive to heat and cool and a lot of the extra space just doesn’t get used that often anyway.

#6 Caribou

Posted 13 June 2019 - 11:10 AM

We have a 3bd home 1 living space home. 2 kids. We are in process of ‘absorbing’ the studio and basically adding a living room between the house and studio. This gives us a l shaped 8m by 11m living room with the studio at the end of the L. 3 by 4m. The studio is the library ‘quiet’ zone and the living room is the main area we expect everyone to hang out in.

There’s no extra bedrooms with exception of a study as both DH and I work from home, it will be smaller than a bedorom but enough for us to study in peace. We don’t want a big house either.

I’ve flipped and flopped over this. If we build this we severely reduce holidays. If we don’t build we do regular away trips which makes coming home feel like the house is even bigger than we remembered.

I also think, well we want to stay in this house even after kids have moved out. I don’t want to oversize the home just for 2 people in the end. And we don’t really want to move. We have established some very deep connections with the community. I know a lot changes over the years but even then, long term I like to account for it.

Would you consider a serious clean out? How much stuff is needed/used in the place? I have a general rule is no keeping kids school stuff. It’s photographed and thrown out.

#7 No Drama Please

Posted 13 June 2019 - 11:11 AM

I could have written everything you said :heart: we are in a 2 bedroom no space apartment but I also love having us all tucked up together. We all share everything and half the time I wake up with a kid in my bed or I’m sleeping in theirs because everyone is in ours.

Saying that, my DD is also 10 and hankering for her own space. She is just not into sharing anymore and as they are getting older I can see a time it will go from being cute and cosy to screaming and annoying lol.

If it was an option to build I would definitely say bigger is better. I’ve noticed kids stay home for longer as it’s expensive to move out so as they turn from teens to adults I think you will really appreciate having the options that space can bring,

#8 Caribou

Posted 13 June 2019 - 11:15 AM

In response to no drama please, DH and I were discussing kids staying home longer and we realised we want to actively encourage the kids to move out and experience Independence and discovering themselves. We don’t feel they will really get this staying at home. In staying that if one or both of them needed a roof over their heads of Course we’d take them back, but ulitmately we don’t want them to be too comfortable living home with their parents as adults. DH and I didn’t really ‘grow up’ until we moved out of home. For us it was the best thing we could have done as an new adult  

I get that’s not everyone and we are biased on our experience. :)

Edited by Caribou, 13 June 2019 - 11:15 AM.

#9 Sugarplum Poobah

Posted 13 June 2019 - 11:20 AM

What I would do is go and look at display homes, not just floor plans. It's a lot easier to imagine yourself in a 3D space.

Two things to remember:

1. The display house office will be in what's normally the garage so have a think about the interface and how that sits with the house as a whole.

2. Ask about the price of the house as it's displayed because it's been optioned out to the hilt and this will give you an idea of what you get at different price points visually.

I don't have kids, but obviously I do spend time in houses with kids fairly frequently so these observations come from this experience.

I'd go for two living areas where you can close one off so kid/teenage noise doesn't necessarily impinge on adult social stuff. But this is pretty classic in most newbuilds unless your constructing on a teeny block.

A 4 bed 2 bath has much better resale potential. And this would give you the space you need. You may be able to make it a 4 bed 3 bath with 2 ensuites allowing for a guest suite.

Are you planning on a KDRB or a new block? Because a new block might give you more single story options which can feel a whole lot less isolating than a two story house. I'd also suggest that if you do go for two stories then I'd put the master suite on the ground floor (even if you use one of the upstairs bedrooms at this stage) as this gives your home a lot of longevity as you get older and it's just you and your husband and you don't necessarily want to go upstairs all the time. It can help create the illusion that the ground floor is a small house rather than part of a big one.

#10 **Xena**

Posted 13 June 2019 - 11:29 AM

I have a small house of 87m2. 2.5 bedroom, 1 bathroom and 1 living room for a family of 7 (2 adults and a 15, 13, 11, 4 and 2yo) plus 2 dogs and a cat. I love it. We cull regularly, have added storage and renovated ourselves (50s home so we had no storage except about 7 tiny kitchen cabinets) are very close and we have a small mortgage. I personally find not having so much 'stuff' and 'things' very freeing and it's easy to clean. The only thing I'd change (and we plan to) is two toilets!

We are currently converting our 6x9 shed into a 3 bed granny flat for our 3 eldest. That way they can live with us until later if need be but have separation. It also means our main house will never be too big for just the pair of us :)

Edited by **Xena**, 13 June 2019 - 11:42 AM.

#11 Hands Up

Posted 13 June 2019 - 11:39 AM

We are downsizing from a 4 bed, 2 bath, 2 lounge 180 sqm house to a 3 bed, 2 bath, 1 lounge house of 136 sqm. So not a huge downsize but more reflective of the space we use. The non negotiable for me was keeping two bathrooms, and the lounge/dining being big enough that we are not on top of each other. It also has a full attic so loads of storage but we live pretty minimalist as well. This is for two adults, two kids.
We are currently tossing up whether the kids should share and we make the third bedroom a playroom but what I’ve seen is the kids just play near us and then as they get bigger they’ll love their own rooms.

#12 Romeo Void

Posted 13 June 2019 - 11:45 AM

We're in a large 4 bedroom 2 bathroom house and we don't find we're too 'apart'.  I think being all on one level helps, plus we have a 'no technology in the bedrooms' rule so everyone tends to hang out in communal areas.  I like having a big house as we often have people come to stay or hang out (or move in for years and years!).  I think it depends on your lifestyle to be honest.

#13 Sentient Puddle

Posted 13 June 2019 - 11:51 AM

We have a small 1950s weatherboard that we have renovated the hell out of in the last few years.  It is still a 3 bedroom and 1.5 bathroom house but it does have a large granny flat.  The granny flat comes into its own when we have guests or when DS has friends over.  I also use it as my office in the in between.  For 2 kids and multiple animals this is almost perfect for us.  We don't have an enormous area to entertain inside - but realistically we have had a party for more than 8 people only 4 times in 15 years in this house and we had a BBQ outside.  A few Xmasses ago we had a sit down dinner for 10 on a hot Summers day so we moved some furniture in the lounge to cater.

We are not big entertainers - so we don't need a big entertaining area.  We have a second living area that doubles as a study and music/reading area if someone is watching something in the lounge or we have guests and kids.  Most TV/device watching seems to happen in bedrooms anyway. I look at large McMansions and I see more to clean and more to heat and cool.  I do wish I had more built in storage in the house and if/when we renovate the last remaining half bath/laundry I hope to put in more storage.

Is there an option to just add a bit more to your current house with an extra couple of rooms?  I know with what we have spent on our house we could have had a cheapie project home built - but we would have had to move out in the meantime as well as redo the garden and possibly lose some established trees.  Good luck with your renos

#14 Bugster

Posted 13 June 2019 - 11:56 AM

I think it depends on how functional the house is, my two favourite houses I have lived in so far were a small 3 bedroom townhouse with awesome storage & layout (had 3 kids under 5) and a large 4 bedroom + office 2 storey house again with awesome layout & storage (has 4 kids in this house)

They layouts worked well for how our family lives, both had bigger then average bedrooms and the landury off the garage so wet/muddy/dirty kids could clean up there before heading into the house.

I hate my current house, it’s big but lots of wasted space,  of enough storage and the layout drives me crazy it’s very impractical.

#15 magnolia74

Posted 13 June 2019 - 11:56 AM

It is possible to have a the rooms you want without having a huge house. We have 4 bed, 2 1/2 bath, kitchen, dining, music room, small playroom and a large lounge (7m x 5m), but our house is only 9 metres from front to back including our back deck.. I love gardening and didn't want to give up any of our garden when we extended, so we went up. I think a lot of the newer build have a lot of wasted space, huge hallways and entrances etc.

#16 qak

Posted 13 June 2019 - 11:58 AM

Can you use the granny flat as the entertaining area, the extra  living area, and the space for dancing?

#17 annodam

Posted 13 June 2019 - 12:08 PM

 Cimbom, on 13 June 2019 - 11:02 AM, said:

Small for me. Big houses take longer to clean, are harder and more expensive to heat and cool and a lot of the extra space just doesn’t get used that often anyway.

100% this.
Our place is just right for a family of 4, every room gets used.
3br + a study which DH uses as a Gymnasium.
We don't have a Play room or a Cinema room or an extra room for whatever, just a combined open plan Kitchen/Lounge/Dining area in which we congregate - perfect!
I would never again buy a place to live in with 2 bathrooms though.
Toilets yes, but 1 bathroom is enough, fk cleaning that crap!
Anyway, I can see ourselves downsizing, we will move to a warmer climate in old age & 1 of the kids can have this place.

ETA:  Any place must have a double garage!

Edited by annodam, 13 June 2019 - 12:10 PM.

#18 LittleMissPink

Posted 13 June 2019 - 12:21 PM


What we'd like in a new house
- granny flat in case oldies or family need to stay with us in future, or in case we need to downsize in future future, or in case we struggle with repayments on loan we could rent it out
- office in case I need to work from home in the future
- a bedroom for each child
- a big enough combined living/dining/kitchen area that we can invite people over
- a mud room for our extensive crap
- maybe a big room for DD to do dance, or later for a pool table or games type thing
To get these things (and still keep our garden which I love) we'd have to go two storey.

I do a 4 bed house- you, kids each and a spare
3 bath- ensuite, main and ensuite to 4th bedroom.

The 4th bed and ensuite can be  the "granny flat" and can also be used as an office in the meantime.

Large "great room"- kitchen, lounge, dining in one big area that opens to the yard.

2nd loungeroom for tv watching or DD dancing or as a games room.


Posted 13 June 2019 - 12:28 PM

Im in the small house boat.

We came from a big house to a smaller (much) one.

Only 4 of us here now. IT's a 4/1.

So kids have a room each, plus we have a spare. Our bathroom is huge. Separate toilet off the laundry.

Large double garage.

Large lounge area (only one living space) which means the teens come out and chat to us or to watch tv. We only have one tv too. We have enough storage, anymore and it would just harbor unnecessary junk.

Less is more.

Plus I am a clean freak, so less rooms to clean, the better.

#20 Bigbaubles

Posted 13 June 2019 - 12:28 PM

We have a huge house. Much bigger than we would ever need, but I love it. Yes I hate the cleaning, but I really love that everyone has their own space and we have dedicated spaces (play room, music room, study etc.) The kids will never have to share a bedroom.

I had a similar large house as a kid and we also lived in a smaller house as a kid. The larger house actually didn't mean that we spent less time together at all. The larger house gave everyone a bit of space when we needed it, but we spent all our time together. The smaller house seemed to make my brother and I fight more! I think it comes more down to what type of family you are and how you spend your time.

My family ate breakfast and dinner together every day and watched tv or played board games or listened to music together. We didn't spend a huge amount of time separately. My best friend lived in a two bedroom place iwth his mum and brother and as soon as they all got home they made dinner separately and then went to different areas of the house.


Posted 13 June 2019 - 12:30 PM

Oh and definitely never want an ensuite! Horrible things.

#22 kimasa

Posted 13 June 2019 - 12:56 PM

In this thread I've learned that my definition of a big house is other's definition of a small house.

I was going to say I live in a big house, 3 bedrooms, open plan kitchen/living/dining, a study nook, two small bathrooms and a laundry. Really awesome storage space not designed for tall people only. I find that in a lot of newer compact homes the storage is for tall people, the unit we previously lived in had a chair permanently in the kitchen so I could reach the food in the pantry. But by EB standards my house is average to small I guess.

#23 molinero

Posted 13 June 2019 - 12:57 PM

Get as many rooms as you think you will need, but as you're probably aware, most styles of home will come in different floor plan sizes. We are building 4 bed atm, and just went with the 'smallest' version of the house design that we liked.

You don't notice the small reduction in floorspace throughout each of the rooms, but it will add up to a lot in reduced heating and general electricity costs.

We currently live in a 2bed townhouse and yes the benefits with babies and very young children can be great. You don't need a baby monitor, everything is in close reach. Yes, cleaning takes less time, but the house gets messy and dirty so much quicker than a big house does. We have quickly outgrown this house and have a lot of at-home needs, like two adults working from home, hobbies like woodwork and at-home gym equipment.

FWIW my mum's house is small and poorly laid out. Since moving out as a student I have not spent a single night there and would rather spend my last cent on a hostel room before I ever went back there, even out of desperation. No privacy, everyone on top of each other. My stepbrother used to 'live' in the loungeroom. No thanks. I don't want my kids to feel unwelcome like that when they grow up and move away.

#24 Let-it-go

Posted 13 June 2019 - 12:59 PM

 ~THE~MAGICIAN~, on 13 June 2019 - 12:30 PM, said:

Oh and definitely never want an ensuite! Horrible things.

I am baffled by the love of en-suites too.  Problem is that they’re expected so you need to build one for resale.  I’d build with a walk through wardrobe leading into the en-suite maybe.

I want a bathroom seperate from the kids but I’m just not sure a toilet a few metres from my pillow is where I want it!!  In our big house, the en-suite is probably the biggest bone of contention between DH & I.  Waking each other up when 1 has to get up early, gets home late etc etc.  Doesn’t help that the bathroom design means the light switch is in the bedroom :doh:.  Definitely question your bathroom designer on that point!  It’s actually quite common.

#25 seayork2002

Posted 13 June 2019 - 01:01 PM

I hate en suites and cleaning more than one bathroom - I do want a second toilet but happy for that to be part of the laundry/downstairs (if I had a terrace) but not 2 full bathrooms.

And none of us has baths any more so I am sick of cleaning one of them but I can't imagine a house without though

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