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IN THE PRESS: The rise of the downsize

Downsizing is beyond simply building a smaller dwelling, according to Brian Burke Homes Managing Director Michael Burke.

When you get to a certain age, a large house with high upkeep and multiple storeys tends to be surplus to your needs. However, homeowners seeking something more manageable often struggle to find suitable existing options.

For Brian Burke Homes Managing Director Michael Burke, the increasing popularity of downsizing is a knock-on effect from older Australians realising the only way to get what they want is to build it.

He said it went beyond simply building a smaller dwelling.

“People in their 60s and 70s and into their 80s and 90s often want to stay in their homes,” Mr Burke said.

“To allow that, the home needs to be well thought out and well designed. It’s wider door frames, it’s no steps at all – not even inside to outside. It’s thinking about large shower recesses and wheelchair access into wet areas, toilets and showers.”

Mr Burke said many homes needed to also accommodate live-in care.

“A room in the house might be designed with a carer in mind,” he said. “It should be set out so occupants don’t get in each other’s way, and could also function as a guest room or as a place for the grandkids.”

A recent client of Brian Burke Homes spoke to New Homes about her experience downsizing.

“It was important for us to live in the same area that we had lived for the last 45 years,” the homeowner said. “We are surrounded by friends, family, familiar shops and sporting and meeting groups.

“Our brief was for a single-level home with no steps, water features, swimming pool, formal dining or formal lounge.”

While the new house has a smaller floor plan, the downsizer advised against falling into the trap of building small rooms.

“You need to be able to organise a place for the many treasures you have collected as a couple,” she said. “Make certain walls are big enough to accommodate your special piece of furniture, a group of paintings or family photos.”

That said, the homeowner strongly recommended undertaking a proper cleanout of your belongings and to be honest with yourself about what you used.

“I am happy to report l have not filled all of the cupboards,” she said.

Describing her downsizing as a wonderful building experience, the homeowner recommended those in a similar situation keep it simple with an uncomplicated structure and a low-maintenance garden, as well as easy-to-reach windows and storage.

Mr Burke agreed, and suggested planning for five, 10, 15 and up to 20 years from now, thinking of the kind of lifestyle you would like to have in the future.

“If you plan it correctly and thoughtfully, you won’t need to shift again,” he said. “And you don’t want to shift again.”