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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.

http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,21746430-2,00.html
 

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Insane Gunzel
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If I was being forced to move to a new house in the outer suburbs, I'd rather have a smaller house on a smaller lot in say Cairnlea than a huge house on a huge lot in Berwick or Tarneit. It's cheaper to build, and cheaper to maintain.
 

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Caroline Springs will probably become the Doncaster/Rowville of the future in terms of car reliance.

What do they think an acceptable limit for sprawl is - all the way to the Brisbane Ranges?

Of course, they would be the first to complain about the loss of open space - selfishness propogates.
 

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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".
America is a much better country that Australia if you judge a country by how big their houses are.

"I've got a whole grey water system hooked up through my house. It was designed with energy-saving measures," he has said.
"Yeah. We even replaced our incandescent light bulbs. We're like, soooo environmental."

"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!"
Where we live, how we live, is non of the minister's business. It's their responsibility to build a freeway to my front gate, new schools and hospitals in the new community, and we'll complain as much as we like when water supplies are low.

"If you work hard, you make money. You want to enjoy that," he said.
"I have money so it's okay for me to be an environmental terrorist. I want to eat baby Pandas. I've worked hard so I want my baby Pandas."

Mr Madden has since softened his stance, assuring residents the state did not dictate house size.
Mr Madden said that his government "just didn't have the balls to do anything radical".
 

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What a joke. They need to have a minimum size that land can be sub-divided into. Say a 550 sqm minimum.
 

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Oh ok I just read on, Caroline Springs is in his electorate, fair enough.

http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,21743706-661,00.html

His comments seem pretty reasonably and measured, and the aspos from CSprings seem to be reacting awfully defensively, but surely he must realize that it sounds pretty silly when you consider this:

Today, on 3AW Mr Madden reluctantly admitted he and his family lived in a spacious home.

“It’s got plenty of bedrooms but we’ve got six people living in the house... It's fairly sizeable,” he said.

“We are renovating. We’re putting some bedrooms on and rearranging. By the time we finish we’ll have enough (bedrooms) for everyone in the house. I think there’s about five.”



I'm not a huge fan of the McMansion look and styling, but I don't see why people get so horrendously offended by them more than any other suburbia that's gone up in the past 30 years. Here in Sydney at least, the new housing estates are generally denser than the middle-ring suburbs closer in to the city.
 

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That is true in Sydney where new housing estates are generally much desner than the states that were built between the 50's and the 80's however this is not the case in Melbourne.

New housing estates have actually been getting less dense over the past 7 years after getting a bit denser during the 90's.

That is because the Kennett government got rid of the maximum average lot size controls introduced by the previous labor government and the current government has not had the balls to reinstate them despite smaller lot sizes being one of the main aims of Melbourne 2030.
 

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^^ ^^ ^^ ^^

Hmmm good point. I looked at a few outer suburbs of Melboune on Google Earth and you can really see that it's the places in the vein of Narre Warren South/Berwick etc with pretty damn large lots that are the main contributors to sprawl.
 

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I don't know exactly where the term "McMansion" actually came from, however I think there is a difference between a big house and a McMansion. To me a McMansion is a house that is big but doesn't make much use of its space. It's the kind of house that that still only has a few bedrooms, two bathrooms, one kitchen, etc, but is also filled with useless stuff like a "Foyer" or a "Retreat" or multiple living rooms or multiple dining rooms or inhome theatres. IMO many houses featuring so called "open plan living" leave vast amounts of carpet where the only real furniture you can put there is either a clock or a table with a lamp on it. Since it's open plan there are few interior doors, so if you run the heating (or cooling), you either heat the entire house, or none of it at all, regardless of what rooms your family is actually occupying.

I would like to ask some of these McMansion residents just how many of the rooms in their house actually get used to their full extent. Unless they regularly host formal dinners instead of eating in front of the telly, do they really need to have a Formal Dining Room? Do they really need a three car garage?
 

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^^^^^^^^^

Maybe in 30 years when the trees have grown it will hide the horror.

Even better in 30 years, sea levels will rise above these suburbs.
 

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^ you don't find too many large trees in mcmansionville. there's not enough room, it's mainly shrubs. not sure about other cities but one good thing about sydney was (until mcmansionville) that you could stand at a lookout in the blue mountains and see a sea of trees alll the way into the city even though it was suburbia. mcmansions compacted together are changing this.
 

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I wouldn't have thought the size of your house would determine how much water you used. Everyone in the house is still giong to have a shower, do the dishes and laundry no matter how big or small the house is.

I would say that they might even use less water as the house is bigger and therefore there is less space for a garden. Thereby using less water outside the house.

Obviously the heating/cooling is going to be greater.
 

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It's a shame that they haven't left some more room in the new estates to plant trees. Cherrybrook was derided as a barren plain when it was developed but it's looking pretty leafy these days.
 

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I wouldn't have thought the size of your house would determine how much water you used. Everyone in the house is still giong to have a shower, do the dishes and laundry no matter how big or small the house is.

I would say that they might even use less water as the house is bigger and therefore there is less space for a garden. Thereby using less water outside the house.

Obviously the heating/cooling is going to be greater.
Electricity consumption maybe?? With the amount of Mcmasions around the extra water required for the electricty consumption could be significant.
 
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