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Downsizing? 5 must-have home features for a low maintenance lifestyle

By George Hadgelias

Regular maintenance jobs take up precious time. If you want to cut down on your household chores, these home features could be for you.

Keeping a home in top-notch condition takes regular cleaning, repairing, painting, sealing, lawn-mowing, tree-trimming, gutter clearing, and much more. These tasks can be hard work, time consuming and, if you get professional help, costly.

If you’re semi-retired or retired, you can no doubt think of more relaxing activities to do and better things to spend your money on.

The key to low-maintenance living is to find a home that’s carefully designed to be fuss-free, both indoors and out, says Riccardo Rizzalli, director of architectural firm DC8 Studio.

“It’s a phase of life where you want to work less and enjoy more,” says Riccardo.

To help get to a low-maintenance lifestyle, here are five must-have features in a new home.

1. Smart use of space

Downsizing from a big family home is a sure-fire way to cut down maintenance. In fact, Stockland’s 2020 Property survey found this is an increasing trend among buyers.

However, downsizing doesn’t mean sacrificing on space. A well designed home will feel spacious, homely and liveable if the key elements are done in a smart way, explains Riccardo.

“You should still have a kitchen that you are proud of and where you’re able to entertain family and friends,” he says. “It still has to feel generous and comfortable.”

Riccardo says that smart designs make the most of all available space, while paying attention to view lines, the connections between living spaces and smart storage options.

“The key to the smart use of space for new homes is making sure the spaces are well connected with respect to the privacy and amenity of the residents and their guests,” he says. “Especially in Queensland, where connection to the outdoors is important.”

2. Easy to maintain garden

Gardening can be a joy. But the reality is with large front and backyards the fun can be outweighed by maintenance.

“Rather than just having lots and lots of space, you can have smaller garden spaces that are well designed and well-integrated into the house,” Riccardo says.

He says front yards have become the new ‘social spot’ of homes, as well as the place to show off your green thumb.

“We see all sorts of different flowers, plants and landscape designs happening in our front yard spaces,” he says.

Meanwhile, easy-to-upkeep patio backyards can offer privacy for rest and relaxation.

3. Durable materials and quality build

Many maintenance jobs around the house are simply the result of a house ageing. If you’re living in a house with a bit of history behind it, it’s likely that at some point you’ll encounter some issues with the wiring, the plumbing or something completely unexpected that is the result of general wear and tear. survey found that the number one reason people buy a new home is confidence in build quality, less likelihood of major repairs and better quality features for their budget.

Kingsley Andrew, general manager of residential developer Stockland’s new Thrive Lifestyle communities, says picking a home built with high quality construction methods and durable materials, such as steel frames to lower your risk of termite damage, are essential to the home’s long-term maintenance needs.

4. Design for different ages

Your home will require a variety of different maintenance jobs over time. But picking a low maintenance home also involves making sure the home is fit for your needs at different stages of life.

You don’t want to move into a new place only to find out shortly after it will no longer be suitable.

Kingsley says that there are some helpful building standards buyers can look for to help them pick a place that will suit them going forward.

“Look for designs that are either a Gold or Silver Level (in the Livable Housing Guidelines), which generally have bigger bathrooms, wider hallways, fewer or no steps and are generally more liveable and spacious,” he says.

“Gold and Silver homes also have the added benefit that they are suitable for people that ultimately may need support down the track.”

5. Shared facilities for entertaining

Celebrations with friends and family get-togethers can take a bit of preparation, effort and … well, maintenance! But just because you’re thinking of living the low maintenance lifestyle, it doesn’t mean you have can’t still enjoy hosting an event.

A winning way to keep life maintenance-free is to embrace the shared facilities offered in a gated communities – which are all cared for by the on-site property manager.

Having access to commercial-sized kitchen facilities, social meetings places and spaces, bar, dining rooms, lounge, fire pits, outdoor BBQs, pizza ovens, and even a cosy cinema, can make entertaining a breeze.

Kingsley says lifestyle communities offer more facilities than the family home — with zero maintenance.

“It’s downsizing the maintenance, downsizing the yard, but upgrading your lifestyle,” he says.

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