200 square metres it is...

Like our waist-lines it appears we have an ever-expanding appetite for bigger and better. The NZ Herald reports the average size of a newly built home in New Zealand now exceeds 200sqm. We are only beaten at this game by the Aussies where the average new home is 215sqm. Interestingly, in the USA, home of the McMansion, average size has decreased to 202sqm - unlike their waist-lines!

Like all statistics it's not that simple, Stuff reports that according to NZ Department of Statistics the size of the average new home in NZ declined to 196sqm.

Obviously the answer is - 200square....., of course.

Another survey from nationmaster.com has New Zealand second only to Canada in house size based on 74% of our homes being 5+ rooms.

All showing the same thing. New Zealanders build big houses and have done so for a long time. Why?

Our geography - we have a small population with a comparatively large land area - land has been cheap in NZ and we have in-expensive access to raw materials, that is wood. More recently driving increased size is:

  • changes in lifestyle - todays lifestyle is much more indoors orientated than 30 years ago
  • the wealth effect - the more wealthy we feel the larger the house we want to build

Constraining size-creep is the cost of:

  • land (which is forcing down section sizes)
  • building/construction - materials and regulation

The challenge for new home builders is balancing that. People want larger homes but are, today, more price sensitive. In most areas around New Zealand today you cannot build a new home for the price an existing one sells for - but the new home 'premium' is not inelastic.

Given our geography New Zealand homes are likely to remain large by world standards, but the trend to a smaller size is probably with us for while, especially given ongoing urban population growth, raw materials cost increases, more regulation around building, and the old adage - "they aren't making any more land". The counter balancing factor is the wealth effect - all we need to do there is figure out some way for our population to feel wealthly from assets other than the family home.

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