In 2022, post covid pandemic, Australia hit peak building activity, with thousands of new homes under construction. However, experts have raised concerns they are already out of date, with new homes lacking features that future-proof them from pandemics, climate change and remote working or to simply increase their value down the track.
Australians have long viewed their property purchases ad vehicles for wealth creation rather than to create good quality shelter. Items such as double glazing, which are standard in other countries are still expensive and not considered an option for first home buyers of for home’s built for the rental market.
“The land value and the overall value is so inflated that people are not so interested in the interior and actual benefit they receive from the structure itself as to secure the number, the numeric value, and so that changes the nature of the housing market towards wealth building, or just avoidance of renting,”– Professor Alan March, from the University of Melbourne’s school of design planning
Because we have this attitude towards home building, we now have structures that are not built to last long periods of time, even though we live in them for a long period of time. Thus multiple renovations and maintenance tasks are required which is neither energy efficient or financially sound.
While Australian building codes are slowly being modified and updated to build homes that are more amenable to different climates, the building and construction industry are conservative and will remain so. A future-proofed home will meet the needs of the homeowners while also addressing the pressing modern-day reality of an aggravated climate crisis. So how do we as home buyers of new builds and existing homes do our bit to ensure the future proofing of the homes we create and live in?
- For a new build, the orientation of the home design should be the first consideration, ensuring you are capitalising on the available natural light and airflow and minimising the reliance on artificial temperature control.
- Investing in good windows with well-insulated frames and better glass will have flow-on impacts, like saving you on your energy bill for heating and cooling
- Create a “master plan” which encompasses potential updates, renovations and modifications that may occur in stages over a matter of years, incorporating space provisions for ageing and mobility-impaired householders down the track
- When it comes to the number of rooms in a home, many Australians think the more the merrier. But it’s not necessarily the case. The key is to shape the available spaces for comfort and purpose. Investing in built-in joinery can expand the functionality of a room and give you extra storage capacity and instead add flexibility to the bedrooms that aren’t occupied full-time.
- Over the years, the cost of replacing inferior items adds up, so it pays to follow the popular adage: buy once, buy well. There are many great mid-range products that may only be marginally more expensive than the cheapest, but they will save you in the long run.