McMansions 'wasting water'
By Mary Bolling
May 17, 2007 12:00am
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VICTORIA'S Planning Minister has said McMansion-style homes are water wasters suffering from "housing obesity".
Justin Madden, an architect who lives in a two-storey heritage-protected home, has said he wants more small homes on new housing estates.
He has said big houses found in suburbs such as Caroline Springs and Tarneit often suffer from "housing obesity".
"Melbourne's household growth – and by that I mean dwellings – is twice the population growth," Mr Madden has said.
"Our increasing affluence has led to bigger houses, and I'm sure you're familiar with the description McMansions, and one of my favourites, 'housing obesity'."
But residents in Caroline Springs, Mr Madden's electorate, have said he is attacking their Australian dreams.
Peter Attard, who lives in the suburb with his wife and three children, has said the chance to have a big home is "what makes Australia the best country in the world".
While the state Government delays ordering stage 4 water restrictions, Mr Madden has branded bigger houses water wasters.
"When we need to minimise our consumption of things like energy and water, many of us are living in houses that consume more water and more energy than we need," he has said.
But Mr Attard has said home-owners take environmental responsibilities seriously.
"I've got a whole grey water system hooked up through my house. It was designed with energy-saving measures," he has said.
"The size of our house is none of the minister's business – we've worked hard, we can afford a big place, and we've got a family that fills it!"
Speaking at a planning summit yesterday, Mr Madden has flagged a competition to design smaller, more energy efficient new housing.
He has said large designs and extravagant lifestyles were undermining Victoria's environmental requirements for new homes.
"We've put in place five-star energy rating into new housing and that's making housing more efficient," Mr Madden said.
"(But) to counter that, what people are doing is building bigger housing . . . four bedrooms, a study, the entertainment room, and as well as that they're filling it with electronic equipment."
But Caroline Springs residents Mick and Jasmina Fazlic have said Mr Madden has got it wrong.
With daughter Melissa, 12, the couple say all the space in the house is used, and Mr Fazlic runs his business from home.
"If you work hard, you make money. You want to enjoy that," he said.
Neville Rodger, a six-year Caroline Springs resident, has agreed size does not govern the efficiency of the house.
"We've got 5000-litre water tanks that take in all the water off the roof," Mr Rodger has said. "We're not wasting water at all."
Mr Madden has since softened his stance, assuring residents the state did not dictate house size.
"We do not want to tell Victorians how big their houses should be. That is up to them," he has said.
Mr Madden, who recently applied to Heritage Victoria to add a family room and two bedrooms to the back of his own home, has said housing obesity is defined by the size of the household relative to the house size.
"We want to ensure these houses are built as sustainably as possible, both to limit their impact on the environment, and to keep down the costs of running a household."
The size of an average new detached home in Victoria has risen by 50 per cent in the two decades to 2005, reaching 255 square metres.