Industry insights | 27 February 2024

Victoria’s housing revolution: affordability, accessibility, and sustainability in 2024

Victoria is facing a multifaceted challenge, with housing affordability, supply, accessibility and sustainability a difficult balancing act to perfect. As it’s estimated that half of the homes that exist in 2050 will have been built from 2019 onwards, houses must be built for all stages of life.  

We are going to see some changes in 2024 which are innovative measures, attempting to solve these wicked problems.  

Addressing Affordability and Supply 

Housing affordability and supply in Victoria is a pressing concern. The state government’s ‘Victoria’s Housing Statement’ tackles this head-on with a multi-pronged approach. This includes streamlining approvals, boosting supply through new initiatives, and encouraging densification of our metropolitan regions.  

Measures such as “deemed-to-comply” provisions for multi-dwelling housing and simplified processes for smaller dwellings aim to expedite development and reduce red tape. These measures aim to streamline the approval process and expedite development, ultimately increasing the rate of new housing construction. 

To boost supply, initiatives such as Future Homes and Small Second Dwellings provisions are being introduced. The Future Homes initiative looks to promote the construction of well-designed, higher-density housing options in strategic locations such as those near transport and commercial hubs. The Small Second Dwellings initiative has been seen in New South Wales, and helps to boost supply on existing land, without requiring redevelopment while avoiding long processes to obtain permits.  

This Statement also focuses on encouraging densification in existing suburbs. While this is potentially contentious, it is seen as a crucial step towards meeting housing targets. 

For more details about these changes under Victoria’s Housing Statement, read our article outlining the changes and statements of the Statement 

Embracing Innovation through SSD 

As part of the Statement, permits are no longer required in some circumstances for Small Second Dwellings (SSD), often known as ‘granny flats’ colloquially.  

This opens doors for homeowners to create additional living space, generate rental income, or cater to multi-generational living arrangements.  

This initiative, along with the potential exploration of alternative building methods such as manufactured housing, paves the way for more flexible and adaptable housing solutions. 

To find out more about how these small second homes may help to increase housing supply, read our article outlining their practicality. 

Building for our future 

The National Construction Code (NCC) 2022 calls for a few changes. After some delays to their implementation, they are being enforced from May 2024.  

Two of the largest changes relate to increased energy rating standards for homes which balance efficiency and sustainability, and to increased livability standards.  

These changes not only benefit the people living in the homes, but provide a benefit for the buyers when they are selling their homes in the future. These changes help to widen your potential buying audience, by creating more comfortable and accessible spaces.   

Efficiency changes 

The newly mandated minimum 7-star NatHERS energy rating for new homes works to promote energy efficiency and reduce long-term running costs for homeowners.  

While this may increase the initial costs of building a home, there are undeniably long-term savings and environmental benefits that this will bring. Even so – the initial changes to achieve the increased 7-star standard can largely be achieved through innovative design choices.  

With the transitional arrangements coming into place soon, it’s time to understand what these changes will bring to the land development industry and sustainable housing.  

To find out more about the energy efficiency changes and NatHERS, visit our article discussing the changes and their effects, both long and short term.  

Enhancing Accessibility  

The other major change that the NCC requires is for new homes to have increased livability standards. All new homes must comply with silver-level Livable Housing Design Guidelines.  

These changes ensure better accessibility features are incorporated into new dwellings, catering to all potential residents that the home may house.  

In practice, this means reducing steps where possible, creating more spacious bathrooms, having wider doorways, and ensuring structural support for future adaptations that ageing or less abled people may require such as grabrails.  

These changes aren’t just for the benefit of these populations, though – but for the average person. As Liam Barnett, Manager | Building Design at Millar Merrigan put it –  

If something were to happen, and you needed a wheelchair for 6 months, would you be able to get into your home with ease, let alone get around it? We never know what’s going to happen to our health, but it would be reassuring knowing our homes are ready. 

To find out more about the livability standard changes, read our article outlining the changes and their benefits 

Embracing Change and Opportunity 

At Millar Merrigan, we are committed to staying at the forefront of the industry, and helping our clients navigate the evolving landscape of land development.  

With extensive experience and expertise, we can guide you through these changes, from better understanding and grasping the new regulations, to exploring the development opportunities that these changes may bring you.  

Get in contact with our team today to discuss how we can support you in achieving your land development goals.   

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