Is combined home and office the future of housing?

DID you know that Australia is ranked as being one of the world’s worst countries for commuters? A survey of the commute times for 110 countries found Australians will drive an average of 420,695km, or the equivalent of more than 10 times around the globe, to and from work in their lifetime.

This is because rising house prices across many of Australia’s capital cities are increasingly pushing people to the fringe, but jobs and infrastructure are remaining in the city.

Thankfully, better technology is allowing us to work remotely, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealing that almost one in three Australian workers now regularly works from home.

But for many small business owners, sole traders and entrepreneurs across the country, working out of their lounge room out in the suburbs can stifle growth.

A new development project being constructed in the Melbourne fringe suburb of Cranbourne, about 40km south east of the CBD, is trying to tackle this and transform the way we live and work.

Combining a residential and business address in one, the Duo development claims it is an affordable housing solution for small businesses, who can save cash by not needing both a mortgage and business lease, while also giving them the flexibility to grow.

 Is combined home and office the future of housing?

One of the display Duo live-work homes, featuring an office on top of the garage and a two-storey home attached. Picture: AVID Property Group

In stage one of its release this month, AVID Property Group, the construction company behind Duo, sold 95 per cent of the 43 available house and land packages to buyers off-the-plan.

Peter Evans, a semi-retired builder was one of those buyers. Finding it difficult to run his business comfortably from the family home but unable to lease a business premise, he said this was “ideal” and “made for his type of person”.

“I was previously running my business from home but it was quite difficult. It was just a computer in a bedroom, so it was very tight for space,” he told

“You actually a private area and if you bring clients in, they can come to your private office rather than having then sit in your lounge room. It is going to make it a lot more comfortable and professional.”

 Is combined home and office the future of housing?

Inside the office of one of the Duo display homes. Picture: AVID Property Group

AVID’s Victorian General Manager, Paul O’Brien, said combined living and working developments in the fringe will also ease congestion and create more jobs and infrastructure outside of our cities.

According to O’Brien 30 per cent of residents in Cranbourne’s local government area, the City of Casey, have small businesses but 70 per cent of residents have to work outside of the region.

“The travel times and congestion is worse out there in the suburbs [than in the CBD] because they are all trying to get to Dandenong or to the city,” Mr O’Brien told

“We don’t realise that there are satellite cities out there with traffic trying to get across roadways to activity centres. What we are trying to do is maintain people living and working at home or in their own precinct, and they haven’t had the accommodation before.

“Melbourne’s inner suburbs have this ‘shop-top’ living but out in the suburbs it is not done particularly well.”

 Is combined home and office the future of housing?

Duo is trying to bring ‘shop top’ living to the suburbs. Picture: AVID Property Group

AVID confirmed it had plans to approach other local council areas and activity centres when Cranbourne’s Duo development is complete, due to its success with the City of Casey and its local residents.

“Councils are reluctant to give up their allocated job land, so when you zone land they are very scared it will be lost completely to residential and not provide jobs for those areas.

“But what we’ve done in the City of Casey is pushed for a mixed-use zoning and given local councils the comfort that our product is genuinely for business.”

Story by: Julia Corderoy