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King of the castle: Adelaide house blocks nation's biggest


Adelaide is home to the biggest house blocks of any Australian capital and is the only urban centre where yard space is bigger than the house.

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According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data released yesterday, Australians are building houses on smaller blocks with the average site area of new house approvals decreasing considerably over the past 10 years.

Urban infill and more compact greenfield sites have led to a 64sq m, or 13 per cent, reduction in average block sizes nationally from 496 square metres in 2012 to 432 square metres in 2021.

While block sizes have steadily decreased in all five major mainland capitals, Adelaide’s have shrunk the least, losing 30sq m (6 per cent) in the past decade.

In fact, new house blocks in Adelaide actually grew three per cent in 2021 from 453sq m to 468 sq m, overtaking Brisbane for Australia’s biggest suburban blocks in the process.

The floor area of new houses across Australia has fallen slightly over the past decade from 245sq m to 242sq m.

New homes in Adelaide have also bucked this trend, increasing in size from 209sq m in 2012 to 220sq m in 2021. This ranked Adelaide fourth in house footprint size ahead of Perth but behind Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

Table courtesy ABS.

However, Adelaide is now the only city where the house footprint accounts for less than half of the total block size.

“The combined trends of smaller site areas and largely unchanged floor areas of house approvals over time shows that Australians are building similar-sized houses with smaller yards,” the ABS said.

“The ratio of floor-to-site area increased between 2012 to 2021, from 0.49 to 0.56, driven by greater densification.

“This reflects a combination of factors, including increases in land cost, a greater proportion of new houses being constructed in urban infill locations, and more two-storey houses that maximise living space on smaller lots.”

The latest building approval figures, also released yesterday, show that in April South Australia had 795 new homes approved for construction, up 7.7 per cent on March in seasonally adjusted terms.

While the number of new homes approved for construction is well down on the HomeBuilder-fuelled April 2021 figure of 1085, it is still tracking slightly above pre-COVID levels. The number of new homes approved in April 2019 was 665.

Graph courtesy aBS.In the first 10 months of the 2021-22 financial year, there have been 8354 new homes approved in SA with 6496 of those in Greater Adelaide.

Building hotspots include Mount Barker (410), Two Wells (434) and Munno Para West/ Angle Vale (535).

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