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How Our Architects Design For Small Lots

New Homes, Renovations, Tips and Advice

Small lots have become increasingly prevalent over the past few years, for several reasons. Increasing land prices and subdivisions are the first, and most obvious, but they’re just the start. First home buyers, single and couple households, empty nesters and the desire for a low maintenance home are other reasons why small block house designs have increased in popularity.

Small lots bring their own unique set of requirements and challenges. As experts in small block house designs, we meet these challenges to design a beautiful, innovative home that meets your needs and is uniquely you.

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What is a small lot

The definition of a small lot will vary between local council areas, so be sure to check the local council rules in your area. In Brisbane, Brisbane City Council’s City Plan allows for a variety of smaller housing options for building on small lots. In the City Plan a small lot is either:

  • A lot with an area less than 450 square metres.
  • A rear lot with an area of less than 600 square metres, excluding the access way.

The benefits of hiring an architect for small lots and small block homes

We’ve talked before about getting what you pay for when it comes to home design. This is particularly the case with small block homes on small lots, which call on all the skills of an experienced architect. Many building companies have pre-designed homes, ready to be erected on small residential blocks. This is far from ideal, as every block and every person have their own set of unique needs.

To achieve the outcome that best suits you and your small lot, engaging a skilled architect who is experienced in small block house design is the only way to go.

Brisbane Renovation Design Red Hill: Our clients realised their home in Red Hill needed to be open and modernised to meet the new lifestyle requirements of their growing family. The site was narrow, therefore we recognised the need for privacy, and maximising the homes space.

Light, height and space

Utilising a design approach for a small block house design will ensure you are taking every advantage of the available space inside the home. Small lots call for clever design to maximise internal living and storage space and ensure there is great accessibility and connectivity between indoor and outdoor spaces. Particular considerations are:

  • Natural light is your small home friend, and a clever architect will design to bring as much natural light into your home as possible. This can be achieved through the skilful placement of windows, skylights and glass doors, to create a sense of openness.
  • This is key for small block house designs, as it can make up for what may be lacking in width. Architects will design to maximise available vertical space with high ceilings and possibly consider designing vertical storage solutions too.
  • Creating a sense of space in a small home is key. Whether this is achieved through open plan living spaces, unifying kitchen, living and dining or sliding doors to optimise access to outside areas, will depend on the particular requirements of your block and your own lifestyle needs.

Auchenflower Workers Cottage Renovation: The design for this Auchenflower Workers Cottage renovation revolved around a contemporary extension that enhanced the traditional character of the original home.

Why choose a small lot

You may choose a small lot or it may choose you! There are many advantages to a small lot, the major one being price followed by the freedom and flexibility to choose a block of land in your desired neighbourhood.

In saving money on your land purchase, you give yourself increased flexibility for design choices, home features and lifestyle.

The benefits and limitations of a small lot

Small lot homes can bring you many lifestyle benefits. An experienced architect can elements of small block house design to maximise this lifestyle potential while accommodating any limitations posed by the physical size constraints of the block. A working knowledge of the town planning codes and requirements is essential, as these may also impact your design.

Small block house designs require clever solutions to accommodate any small lot challenges, while also meeting your unique lifestyle requirements. Adequate privacy, natural lighting, good air flow and connectivity throughout the home must all be considered.

Corinda Home Modifications & Alterations: This project located in Corinda aimed at modifying the original homes design for more suitable living. The design modifications focus on wheelchair accessibility across all spaces of the home.

Rules and regulations

This is another area where the hidden value of architects come to the fore. Architecture is an art and a science that combines beauty, functionality and technology.

Architects understand council and legal regulations and relevant planning permissions. Building on a small lot can bring specific regulations into play, particularly in major cities such as Brisbane. This is because councils understandably want to protect natural sunlight, privacy and the general amenity of the lot and its neighbourhood.

When designing a small house for a small lot, architects need to consider:

  • The parcel of land you can build on, or the maximum footprint of the home.
  • Boundary setbacks, which can impact the footprint of your home design.
  • Building height and number of stories allowed.
  • Neighbour impact, such as privacy, light, amenity, and views.
  • Practical considerations such as lot access and parking.

Peace of mind

An architecturally designed small lot house can bring you the best of both worlds – a beautiful, bespoke home, which also considers all site features and the surrounding landscape. In addition to its design and functionality, an architecturally designed home will enhance your lifestyle for years to come.

Get in touch today to talk through your small block house design. Our expertise in architectural design will enable you to create the happiest home for you.
Dion Seminara Architect


We are experts at home design, renovations and new homes and ensure good value for money outcomes.

Hi, I am Dion Seminara, practicing architect and licensed general builder for 30 years as well as an environmental sustainable design (ESD) expert. I graduated from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) with honours, QLD in 1989. Registered as an architect in 1991 and registered as a builder in 1992, I am also a fellow member of the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA). Having received 12 ArCHdes Residential Architecture Awards, LJ Hooker Flood Free Home Design Award and the 2016 AIA Regional Commendation for Public Architecture, my expertise with both residential renovation (to all types of houses, especially Queenslanders, 50s/60s/80s), new contemporary homes and luxury residences has earned me a reputation as one of Brisbane's architectural specialists in lifestyle design architecture, interior design and landscape design.