Buying a house is something many, perhaps most, Australians hope to do some time in their lives. It is becoming less and less a practicality. In order to buy a house a person, or a couple, will usually go deeply into debt. In 2007, and again in 2008, it was announced that housing affordability in Australia was at a record low level. In early 2010 it was announced that the affordability of housing in Australia was the lowest in the world. (By 2022 the situation had only got worse.) Need it be so?four shipping containers could be built for about $40k.
In most council districts in Australia, I suspect, there would be laws against people living permanently in a shack/cottage/home such as those mentioned above. There would be concerns about any area where buildings like that were allowed becoming slums, and many people would not like to have homes like that built in their street; they would believe (probably rightly) that it would lower the resale value of their own houses.
Perhaps we, as a society, need to reconsider our priorities; is it better to live in a street of big and pretty houses and for both parents to have to work to keep up big mortgage payments, or would it be better to lower our housing standards a bit and live a more relaxed and family oriented lifestyle where one parent would be able to stay at home and look after the kids? If the latter, then perhaps we should get our local governments to set aside some areas where more basic housing is allowed.
It appears that this rural home started as a shed and is gradually being converted into a house. The veranda would have been added after the shed itself was built, and now it looks like another room is being added at the back.
This seems to me to be eminently sensible; start simple and improve as you can afford to.
Obtaining building permission to do this in an urban area in Australia would probably be impossible.
While the average house is bigger than it was fifty years ago, it is on a block of land that is much smaller. It is not unusual now for a house to occupy by far the greatest part of the land on which it is situated. Fifty years ago it was common for the block of land held by a typical home owner to be around 1000 square metres, now 300 to 400 square metres are usual for new homes. This, of course, means that the space available for a garden is greatly reduced, with a consequent great reduction in the potential for self-sufficiency.
Why should land in the suburbs cost 500 times as much, per hectare, as rural land? I can only suppose that there are two reasons: first is the cost of the necessary infrastructure in the suburbs, the closely spaced streets, the sewerage, the electrical supply, the water supply, the park lands, etc. The second, and major, reason would be that this is the price because this is what the sellers can get and this is what the buyers are willing to (or have to) pay.
Why then do people not buy a tenth of a hectare in some rural area for $1000 and build a house there? Because rural land-owners are not allowed to sell 0.1ha blocks without providing the above infrastructure.
Is this reasonable? It is at least partly reasonable. In some places it might be possible to develop your own water supply (a well or rainwater) and hygienically dispose of your sewage on a 0.1ha block, but in many areas there would not be suitable groundwater available or there would be problems in disposal of sewage on small blocks of land. The cost of getting mains electricity onto such a block would probably be at least $10 000 (although if a number of blocks were developed at one time this cost would be less for each). Disposal of sewage on one 0.1ha block would not be a problem if it was surrounded with farm land, but if it was surrounded with other 0.1ha blocks each with its own house there might well be a problem.
And then a 0.1ha block of land is of very little use if you cannot access it, a road to it must be built.
By the time all the infrastructure that people expect is supplied, the price of a 0.1ha block of land goes up to $30 000. This is still only a third of the price of land in the city, but one does not have access to such a great choice of employment in a rural area as in a city.
If the interest rate on a home loan is 7% then on a $300 000
house weekly repayments must be over $400, just to cover
the interest; it follows that weekly repayments on a $40 000
loan need only be about $54.
$400 per week is a huge bite out of a modest wage.
If we are not to see the development of slums in first-world nations perhaps we should consider a limited and controlled system of much simpler, more modest, homes than those we have become accustomed to?
One objection to this would be that it would lead to the perception of
areas occupied by second class citizens; but aren't homeless people
already second class citizens?
Obviously, and all other factors being equal, the larger the house the greater the cost of heating it. Not only will the financial cost be greater, but, again, all other factors being equal, the cost in greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere will be greater for a big house than for a small house.
There are ways of limiting the costs of heating a large house. You can heat only the rooms that you are in at any particular time. You might choose to not heat your bedrooms at all in a climate like that of Australia, but most people who live in a climate with cold winters will probably want to heat all of their house to some extent.
have their central heating systems, and I suspect, have little
control over which parts of their houses are heated.