Designing modern Australian homes poses some novel challenges, to say the very least. Our unique Australian climate, landscape, and other environmental and geographical factors must be considered in order to ensure modern homes stay comfortable, both year-round as well as over the decades to come. Sustainable living trends also continue to shape our approach to home design in Australia, as does the expansion of the country’s city centres and increasing population density.

We’ll be taking a closer look at all these factors that influence the design and build of modern Australian homes, allowing newer generations of homeowners, architects, and construction professionals to gain a better understanding of what they can expect from the Australian property market over these next few crucial years of developments.

Accounting for changing climate conditions

With the last few summers in Australia bringing about bushfires, flooding, excessive rainfall and other adverse weather conditions and natural disasters, many homeowners have been prompted to revisit the design of their homes. There have also been prompts for homeowners to compare home insurance policies, just to ensure that they’re covered against these climatic events, as the likelihood of them occurring increases in the face of the global climate crisis.

It’s imperative to take the increasing risk of bushfires, flooding, and other potentially damaging natural events into account when planning new home builds. This is precisely why many modern Aussie home builders are now working with architects to design homes that are built to withstand these climatic concerns. Nowadays, it’s becoming increasingly common to see modern home builds that boast fire-resistant cladding, properties that are designed with natural flood walls or flood levees, and even homes that are fitted with various kinds of floor, wall, and ceiling insulation to ensure that future generations won’t have to rely on electric or gas heating and cooling solutions to stay comfortable from season to season.

Designing sustainable, future-oriented homes

On the topic of utilising floor insulation and cladding, a growing number of Australian home builders are also investing in improving the sustainability of their modern development projects. This isn’t just due to increasing consumer demands for sustainable Australian homes either. Although there are undeniable ecological (and economic) benefits to building greener homes for Australian residents, the building agencies that oversee these builds are also benefiting themselves, as they can reduce their company’s own carbon footprint, alongside appealing to a consumer group that has come to represent the majority of prospective homeowners across the country.

Modern home builders can design and construct sustainable homes using a number of different methods. For example, using only locally sourced build materials can help drastically reduce the carbon footprint of your home build project, as imported materials come at the expense of transportation emissions. Sustainable Australian homes can also use native plants and shrubbery in their garden spaces, opting for drought-tolerant landscaping elements over maintaining a water-hungry lawn.

There’s also much to be said about designing modern homes that are equipped to utilise the full power of passive heating and cooling. Using thermal mass or insulation to trap warm air indoors is in itself a form of passive heating. Passive cooling, however, can require some more intuitive design thinking. For instance, many modern home designers are considering the power of solar orientation in both natural light availability as well as passive heating and cooling.

Due to the northerly position of the sun in southern hemisphere skies, interior spaces with north-facing windows are positioned to receive more sunlight exposure daily than south-facing rooms. Sustainable home builders take this factor into consideration, to ensure that all of their modern Australian homes provide cool and comfortable bedroom spaces, and that all interiors with north-facing windows are spaces that will absolutely be able to make full use of all the natural heat and daylight made available through its windows.

Construction materials and labour shortages

Although more locally sourced build materials are being utilised in the construction of Australian homes, it must also be noted that we’re still currently in the throes of a materials shortage. Due to the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on global trade, the process of importing construction materials continues to yield complications. As a result, many home builders are forced to wait months for the imported timber that they use to build free-standing homes.

And is using Australian harvested timber an option? Sadly, no. Due to the Morrison government’s introduction of the Homebuilder Scheme in 2020, the demand for the construction of new homes greatly outstrips the supply of locally sourced timber and other construction materials. As a result, the Australian construction industry has become wholly reliant on imported materials, which are trickling in at a snail’s pace.

Alongside this, the construction industry is also contending with an ongoing skills and labour shortage, with developments being completed behind schedule across the country. Any looking to build their own home are advised to seek regular updates from their contractor regarding their project timeline.

Redefining Australian living for a growing population

Australia’s city centres are growing at a monumental pace, with both Melbourne and Sydney slated to evolve into megacities over the next few decades, these being cities with a population of over 10 million. With increasing population density in Australia’s capital cities, Aussie home builders have the unique challenge and opportunity to redefine how Australians live.

Aussie living has always been characterised by an abundance of space. Our island continent has always accommodated families who are after large backyards, expansive living spaces, and wide, open roads that ask to be explored. And whilst this idyllic imagery may still exist in growth suburbs across the outskirts of Australia’s largest cities, the same cannot be said for inner city areas. For inner city residents, large free-standing homes with backyards have been transformed into compact, multi-residential developments like apartments and townhouses. With this transformation, comes a call to redefine what it means to be living the ‘Australian Dream’.

Truth be told, this final challenge isn’t just isolated to the property market alone. It’s a concern shared by many, including civil engineers and town planners, as well as ecologists and urban horticulturalists. Identifying how to ensure that inner city residents maintain access to green spaces in rapidly developing cities will likely continue to be a challenge we tackle over the foreseeable future.

Australia’s evolving residential developments are in truth, a reflection of our own changing mentalities and priorities. Embracing conscious consumption and other sustainable consumer habits has played a major role in the evolution of the ‘Australian home’ as we know it, and it’s likely that as we find more ways to ensure our self-reliance as a nation, the construct of the perfect Aussie property will continue to change. And home builders, architects, landscapers, and designers will all continue to step up to the plate and make their own meaningful contributions along the way.


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