How compact is compact? And how are we getting away with it?

I’ve posted a lot about the ‘passive’ part of our ‘Passive Not Massive’ moniker, now it’s time to talk about the ‘not massive’ part. 

Many of our visitors are surprised, that our house isn’t as small as they expected. In the beginning we joked about it being a tiny house, but then we switched to calling it a compact house. Before the house, when it was just a block of land, we called it ‘the postage stamp’. 

So how compact is compact?

We are talking 115sqm of internal floor space. 

According to a Domain article  from late 2020 the average house size of a new build in 2019-2020 was 235.8sqm. You could fit our house in there twice! That is bigger than our whole block of land. 

Then according to a Better Homes and Gardens article the average house size in Australia is at an all time low at 186.3 sqm. This might take into account older stock, whereas the 235.8sqm was referring to new builds. 

Another article devoted to tiny houses, explains a tiny house is 37sqm or less, and a small house is anything less than 90sqm. The living/dining area of our Passive Not Massive house is bigger than that. The article goes on to say that anything less than the average house size of 240sqm, will seem small.  So yes, our house is…compact. 

What have we got in our 115sqm? 

Downstairs we have two (small) bedrooms and a main bathroom (sadly, no bath), a linen cupboard and a small storage room which houses the HRV (and choc-a-bloc storage shelves). 

Upstairs we have a master bedroom and good sized ensuite, split level open plan kitchen, living/dining and a study nook. 

Outside we have a tiny laundry, yes it is outside, but is included in the 115sqm. 

I have plans for a deck off the ensuite with an outdoor bath. It’s a just a dream at the moment.

How are we getting away with it? 

Freakin’ clever design! Kudos to SDA for maximising the quirky shaped buildable space, and creating a lovely open plan area with high ceiling in the upstairs area. 

In addition to the design, we’ve made very considered choices about what comes into the house. It’s been a mix of a ‘less is more’ approach and ruthless decision making. I have been brutal about what is allowed in to the house and committed to not filling it up with stuff just because it was stuff we had. I’ve either given away, or sold loads of stuff online.

Biggest impact of compact 

  • One of the kids has a very small bedroom, that is kind of under the stairs. We call it the Harry Potter room. Unfortunately no built-in wardrobes in this room. We hope to get some very groovy custom made understair storage, we when can afford it.
  • No separate living area for teenagers. We are trying to use technology to help us all do our own thing in the one space. E. g. other people use headphones if someone is working at the study nook. 
  • No spare room for guests to stay.
  • Very limited storage space for our toys, i.e. tools, craft equipment, SUPs, bikes, camping gear, chain saws, gardening supplies etc.  This is possibly the biggest challenge.
  • Needing to be vigilant about stuff! All the time. Everything needs a home!

It’s a process

Getting used to living in a compact house is a process. A lot of work that goes into reducing stuff and choosing the right things to bring into the home. Especially when you are trying to dispose of old things ethically and make ethical choices for the new things (that is a whole other post yet to be written).

The clever design certainly helps with compact living. Mainly the fact that the upstairs space is lovely. We wouldn’t be able to enjoy it without a commitment to wanting to live in a compact home, taking a less is more approach, everything needing a home and patience. I’m still working on the last two!

I can’t end this post without a reminder that a compact house means less resources all round. Less building materials. Less furniture, interiors and stuff. Less space to heat and cool (not that we should have much requirement for that). And I can’t forget, less cleaning! Enough said.

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