Room Height

Rooms with higher ceilings always seem lighter and more spacious.

They can feel cooler in summer as the heat rises above your head, not so good in winter though!

They are better for fitting ceiling fans, probably the cheapest form of mechanical cooling. (see this link:  Ceiling Fans)

There is more choice of light fittings for tall rooms.

Most builders will normally provide a 2.4m ceiling height as standard.  However there are a lot of people who are willing to pay extra for a 2.55m, 2.7m, or even 3m ceilings.

So what are the issues?

  • According to the Building Code of Australia (BCA) there are certain minimum height regulations.
  • For most Habitable Rooms (for definition see this link:  Habitable Room) – The minimum height is 2.4m
  • For the kitchen (which is also a habitable room) 2.1m is the minimum allowed. Considering how much time we spend in the kitchen I think it’s strange that this should be considered different to other habitable room.
  • For Non-Habitable Room – For example bathroom, laundry, hallway, garage, cellar, storeroom then the minimum height is 2.1m.
  • You do get some dispensation for attics where you are allowed to have a bedroom with a sloping roof as long as 2/3rds of the floor area has a ceiling height of 2.2m. However you are not allowed to include in any floor area calculation any area with a ceiling height of 1.5m.
  • It can add significantly to your budget when you are Choosing a House or going through the Selection / Pre-Start.  For every 300mm that you want to increase the ceiling height for a typical house you can expect to pay in the order of $8,000-$10,000 in 2020 prices. That covers the cost of extra courses of brickwork additional frame cost, and dry lining.
  • It can affect the Outside appearance of the house. (See this link: Outside Appearance for more information)
  • Although you can fit a ceiling fan in a room with a ceiling height of 2.4m the fan blades will then be at a height of 2.1m, so you will need to be careful about waving your arms in the air! See the following link for more information: Ceiling Fans

Some builders quote ceiling heights in brick courses so the post on Brick Dimensions explains how to compare brick courses with ceiling height


See Guide to Choosing a House . . . for help picking your new house.

Or the ‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’ for assistance with all the details


Ceiling Fans

If you have tall rooms a ceiling fan can make a real difference to your comfort without large bills.


While a ceiling fan does not lower the temperature it will make the room feel cooler by:

  • The breeze improving the ability of your body to lose heat by perspiration.
  • It mixes the cooler air near the floor with the warmer air near your face.

The combined effect is that you feel several degrees cooler.

So you may not have to run the air conditioning as much.

Most ceiling fans use less than 100 watts, which equates to less than 3 cent per hour to run.


Ceiling Fans can also help lower heating costs in winter.

You can run the ceiling fan in the reverse mode.

This stops hot air staying in the top of the room by pushing warm air up against the ceiling and then down the walls gently re-circulating warm air through the room.

Fan Selection

It’s important to consider the size of the room when selecting a ceiling fan.

The larger the room size the larger the blade diameter and the more powerful the fan motor will need to be to generate enough cooling breeze.

Also a small fan in a large room can make a space look unbalanced whereas a large fan can look overpowering in a small room.

Room Area

Fan Diameter

Up to 7m2

92cm (36inches)

7m2 – 13m2

92cm – 107cm(36 – 42inches)

13m2 – 20m2

122cm – 127cm(42 – 44 inches)

20m2 – 36m2

127cm – 132cm(44 – 46inches)


Any ceiling fan should be at least 2.1 metres from the floor to the blades of the fan and at least 300mm from the ceiling.

This is a minimum and if you have some basketballers, or ruckmen in the family it may need to be higher.

If you are planning on ceiling fans for a new house it is well worth making the rooms higher.

If you have got cathedral ceilings you can get a ball type fitting to allow them to be fixed to the sloping ceiling.

You can also get extension rods to lower the fan if they are too high to give an effective breeze.


For similar posts see Electrical


Voids Above Living Rooms

I recently read in the property pages of the Herald Sun that voids above living rooms are gaining popularity.

One quote was “They add to the sense of space and are an affordable architectural feature”.

For example this photo from Hooked on Houses

Of course this comment was from someone trying to sell a big new home design.


I can’t deny they are a ‘WOW’ feature but before you get seduced by the Display Home here are some things to think about:

  • With all that glass it’s probably going to overheat in the summer and lose loads of heat in the winter.
  • As heat rises it’s going to be much cooler at floor level than up near the ceiling, even with the fan running.
  • How are you going to clean the inside of the windows 5m above the floor or remove spiders webs from the cornices.
  • Changing light bulbs is going to be a challenge.
  • It will allow noise to rise up the stairs making it harder to get children to sleep
  • What about all that blank wall above eye level?
  • It might be ‘affordable’ but it is still expensive per square m compared with other rooms in the house.


It always pays to think about how you would use the house, rather than get too distracted by the appearance.

Habitable Rooms

What is a Habitable Room?

You see the phase in several planning and building documents with regard to things like Ceiling Height (see Room Height) and  Overlooking.

Well according to the Building Code of Australia (BCA)

A Habitable Room is ” A room used for normal domestic activities”

Habitable Rooms Include: 

  • Living / Lounge / Family rooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Television Room/Home Theater
  • Kitchen
  • Dining Room
  • Sewing Room/Study
  • Music Room
  • Playroom/Family Room
  • Sunroom

Habitable Room Normally Excludes:

  • Bathrooms / Ensuites / Toilets
  • Laundry/Clothes Drying Room
  • Pantry
  • Walk-in Wardrobe
  • Corridor/Hallway/Lobby
  • and “Other spaces of a specialised nature occupied neither frequently nor for extended periods.”


Also see  Overlooking

High Ceilings – Unexpected Effects

Quite a lot of people go for  Higher Rooms because it does give a more impressive interior effect.

Something to bear in mind is that it can effect the external appearance of the house by making the windows look small.

This photo of a house under construction  illustrates this. The additional courses of brickwork between the head of the window and the fascia board looks a bit incongruous.

The alternatives to deal with this for this single storey house are:

  • Make the windows taller.
  • Have Overhanging Eaves which brings the fascia lower.

With 2 storey houses the effects of the higher ceiling can be even more pronounced.

If you think you may go for higher ceilings it’s worth thinking about how the house will look from the outside.  If the display house you saw has high ceilings its easy to check, otherwise you may need to see a drawing before you make a final decision.

The Design Section has more posts on planning your new house.

Or see the ‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’


Wall Dimensions Standard Bricks

When you are deciding about building dimensions its better to take into account the dimensions of the bricks.

Making sure that all lengths, are based on either all complete bricks, or complete bricks with one half brick.

Similarly all heights should be based on complete bricks. Doing this has the following advantages:

  • Less wastage of bricks
  • Savings on labour due to less cutting of bricks
  • Stronger walls due to more regular bonding

The Work (design) Size of a standard brick is: 76 mm high x 230 mm long x 110 mm wide. These seem unusual dimensions but they are based on the old imperial dimensions of 3 inches by 9 inches by 4 inches.

When calculating overall wall dimensions it is normal to allow for 10mm vertical and horizontal mortar joint between bricks.

I have included  ‘Tables of Dimensions for Brickwork’ at the following two links:

Checking Bricks Meet Specification

Clay brick sizes may vary after they are fired but size variation between bricks averages out when blended properly during laying by a good bricklayer.

There are three dimensional quality levels for bricks DW1, DW2 and DW0

If you want to check the quality of the bricks the normal method of measuring is to measure 20 bricks dry stacked together against the work size of 20 Bricks.

  • Dimensional Category DW1 means the height and width will differ by less than plus or minus 50 mm from 20 times the work size, and the length will differ less than plus or minus 90 mm.
  • Dimensional Category DW2 means the height and width will differ by less than plus or minus 40 mm from 20 times the work size, and the length will differ less than plus or minus 60 mm.
  • Dimensional Category, DW0 means there are no requirements. This is usually reserved for non-standard shaped bricks and bricks that have been rumbled or otherwise distorted during the manufacturing process for aesthetic reasons.

Planning some building work in the garden? see Brick Fences