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Dean Brunton, Designer at apg Homes, tells us how to get the best results from building on small, narrow blocks.

Building on a small site shouldn't hold you back. Here are some tips to help you make the most of the space.

If you're building a home in Perth, one of the primary factors that will determine the type of house you can go for is the size and shape of your block. Land is at a premium, which means smaller lot sizes are increasingly the norm, especially in new greenfield estates.

The challenge when building on a smaller block then becomes "How do I maximise the functional space and privacy in my home?".

Well, there are many considerations that go into effectively designing a home for a small or narrow lot.

BUILD UP FOR MORE FLOOR SPACE

Creating living spaces that feel spacious is definitely achievable on a small or narrow site. We have designs that can fit on a block as small as 7.5m wide, and they still have plenty of floor space and an open feel.

So how does a home designer make it work' The first way to expand your usable land area is to build a double-storey home. This is also great for giving your property that extra presence or street appeal. No one wants to come home to a house that seems poky before you even step through the front door.

OPEN UP YOUR LIVING AREAS

Designs that allow for ample airflow, draw in natural light and facilitate family interaction are winners. This means having open-plan zones, as few passages as possible and high ceilings in the main living areas.

We also wrap our designs around an alfresco area to extend living spaces into the outdoors. Most modern homes should have a layout like this - it reflects the Aussie lifestyle.

GO LARGE OUTSIDE

There are lots of pockets of space around a home that can be used more effectively. For example, rather than having a few patches of grass or concrete dotted around your site, it's much more efficient to have one larger outdoor area to entertain in and enjoy. This also makes it possible to have those nice extras, such as a pool or pergola, even on a smaller site.

PAY ATTENTION TO THE SMALL SPACES

When designing for smaller sites, we pay specific attention to storage and wet areas. We like to reduce the amount of space plumbing takes up by having wet areas adjacent to each other and vertically aligned between floors. This also reduces cost to the customer.

Storage is also an incredibly important factor in a modern home. Let's face it; we all have a lot of stuff. Even the largest home can feel cramped if you have to fill it with extra cupboards or if you just have things lying around.

In this regard, it's imperative that you use every scrap of space for storage. Empty space, such as a small hallway between the laundry and garage can easily be made to incorporate a walk-in or walk-through linen cupboard. Under the stairs is always a great place to create additional storage space.

START WITH THE END IN MIND

At the end of the day, there isn't a magical formula for creating a house that works well. It comes down to carefully considering a lot of factors that come together to make a great home.

When we sit down to design a house, we think about what kind of people are going to live there, where they would prefer to entertain and where they want privacy. We take flow into account, as well as the practical use of each area.

Remember, a narrow or small parcel of land shouldn't hinder your build. Considering the block's shape, size and access is simply the first step towards designing your dream home.

Check out the special narrow-lot-living feature in HOME next week.