Primary building elements and detail Print

Design Outcome

The detailed parts of the house contribute positively to the overall design

​​​​​​​It is important to design the building and all façades as a whole, remembering the details. The detail can let the building down if it is not well considered in relation to context and principal design themes for the house. The scale and proportion of the doors and windows are extremely important in defining the overall appearance of the house​​.

Better Design Practice

Porches and entries

Porches and entries are a visual accent at the front of the house and should be designed as an integral part of the house.
Relate them to other common forms and features in the design.
Ensure the entry is clear and visible, directly addresses the street or accessway and provides shelter for people entering the house.
Make front porches deep enough to accommodate a person with shopping or a pram, and to make them a suitably generous space for meeting and greeting.


Use eaves to provide weather protection, shade and a clearly defined edge to the roof.

Doors and windows

Design and align doors and windows on the facades of the house to develop a coherent pattern and rhythm, and to contribute to the style of the house.
For coherence, these should be considered as a ‘suite’ of related shapes and sizes that are used around​ the house. 

Relate the size, location and number of windows to the overall scale and proportions of the house.
Provide daylight and control solar access to internal rooms. 

Locate windows to minimise overlooking of adjacent properties and especially neighbouring windows.
Windows should be offset from, obscured or screened from existing neighbours’ windows.


Consider how materials selection and use of colour can reinforce and tie together the primary building elements of the house. 

Consider all of the following when selecting materials, to ensure buildings maintain their appearance and integrity over time: 
  • Durability 
  • Ease and cost of maintenance 
  • Whole of life costs 
  • Local character and context 
  • Climate 
  • Seismic resilience 
  • Buildability 
  • Proven reliability.

Rules of Thumb

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