What Are Window Infills

What Are Window Infills?

Well these painted panels above the top of the window in this photo are an example.

This example is not very attractive in my opinion

Finishing up with painted infills like this is often a consequence of not having eaves and/or increasing ceiling height without considering window size (an easy thing to miss if you are building for the first time)

if you don’t like them make sure you check the builders elevation drawings carefully.

Why are they used?

Basically these are much cheaper for the builder than a brick infill as they save both the cost of a lintel and the brickwork.

They also make the construction of the required brick articulation joints for the builder simpler (see Brick Articulation Joints )


  1. They can look better if you make them a feature. I once designed a house with painted infills at each gable end of the house. My solution was to use overlapping planks (painted cement sheets) rather than a single panel, and was quite pleased with the look.This  approach could be used if you only realises you have infills late in the building process as you could nail them directly over the existing board.
  2. Another approach particularly for North facing windows is have a small pergola set under the gutter this provides shade and makes the infill less obvious. (see Shading for dimensions of a pergola)



What’s On The Roof?


This covers zincalume, galvanised steel and colorbond. Following are a few thoughts:

  • In general a metal roof is noisier as you can hear the rain (which I like)
  • They are fairly light so they don’t put as much load on the structure.
  • With modern screw fittings they can be extremely resistant to very high winds and hail.
  • Might get dented but will still be weatherproof in extreme hailstorms.
  • Less likely to leak.
  • Can be laid at lower pitch Which means the roof isn’t as high.
  • They are capable of lasting over a 100 years with minimal rusting.
  • Available in zinc finish or a wide range of colorbond colours. Zinc finish will be best for reflecting heat, followed by lighter colorbond colours.
  • Can be more expensive than tiles.
  • Fitting solar panels will be cheaper and easier on a steel roof.

One drawback is that you will need an external TV aerial and mobile phone coverage may be worse than under a tiled roof.


Can be clay, terracotta or concrete. Their characteristics are:

  • Concrete has lower initial cost although some clay tiles and terracotta tiles can be very expensive.
  • Provide better insulation both heat and noise.
  • Heavier.
  • Brittle.
  • Need to be individually screwed down in high wind areas.
  • Wide range of colours.
  • Can add character especially as they age.

I have previously had a steel roof but now have tiles.

If building again I would probably go for metal.

Do you like the sound of rain on the roof?

For Similar posts look in the Design Category

Why I don’t like a Flat Roof!



House Style or Fashion Victim

Appearance is very much a matter of taste with different people liking different styles, there no right solution.

If I put up a picture of something as the way to go than more people would think I was wrong, than would think I was right.

But here are a couple  of thoughts:

  • Avoid being a fashion victim, by going for the latest builders style, which was designed with the aim of grabbing your attention…………… The ‘WOW’ factor……………. In a year or two the ‘WOW’ gimmick and fashion will have moved on. For example about 30 years ago in Australia there was a trend for white bricks, which looks really dated now.
  • Going for the Victorian look, which seems popular, but can be risky. . . One mistake I have seen is this big two storey Victorian mansion on a small block surrounded by single story modern houses. It looks more like a pub than a home.

I try and go for what you could call a timeless appearance but what’s that look like?

The best suggestion I can make is to walk round an estate near where you live that is around 20-30 years old.

Some of the houses you see will look very dated.

Other will look as though they could have been built a couple of years ago.

They won’t all look the same……………….. just timeless.

Take some photos of the ones you like to help you compare with other designs you come across.

Here are some things you should consider avoiding:

      • Too many different materials. Brick, render, stone, painted wood, stained wood, all on the same façade can look very messy.
      • Different sized windows. The human brain likes to see order and a range of different window heights and widths on the same wall looks confusing.
      • Too many decorative elements.
      • Garage dominating the house.
      • Anything with a structural appearance that looks obviously stuck on.
      • Roof out of proportion with house. Could be either too large or too small.
      • A front façade that doesn’t link in with rest of the house. Some really look as though they have been stuck on the front face, particularly when they stop at the corner rather that continuing to a natural break point.

 What trend do you think will mark a house as a Fashion Victim?

Rendered Foam Walls

This addendum was added to an original Post from 2014 as there has been a lot of publicity recently (late February 2019) about foam panels and certification has been removed from certain types of panels.

A particular issue for apartment blocks has been related to high speed spread across the surface of the panels to other flats.

On a standard house the render should protect the insulation from external flames. (If flames penetrate the plasterboard, from the inside, it is likely that the occupants will either have already evacuated, or be dead before the insulation ignites) n

Nevertheless you should review whether the potential risks from foam panels are acceptable to you.

Original Article

Rendered Foam walls are becoming much more common, particularly in the upper floor of 2 storey homes. They offer a real advantage in situations where it would be difficult to provide adequate suppport for a heavy brick wall (For example when the upper floor needs to be set back from the ground floor)

If you are worried about strength you need to be aware that the real strength of the house is in the frame. (see: House Construction – The Frame)


  • The Foam boards, which are manufactured with an external mesh face, are fixed to the frame with special galvanised screws that incorporate spreader washers.
  • Joints are sealed with a polyurethane foam and have mesh jointing tape.
  • External corners are reinforced with metal strips.
  • A minimum of 5mm of  acrylic render  is applied, normally in a three layer system.

Polystyrene Foam

There are 2 different types of foam used in this construction method:

  • Expanded polystyrene( EPS) – Good thermal performance but limited impact resistance/structural strength.
  • Extruded polystyrene (XPS) – Similar thermal performance and looks similar  but the production method is different which results in increased impact resistance and structural strength. Higher cost

Insulation values for the various board thicknesses are:

  • 50mm    – R 1.2
  • 75mm    – R 1.8
  • 100mm – R 2.4

Final Thoughts

Although there are some advantages in this system it does require careful detailing and construction otherwise leakage can occur damaging your house.

The advantage of masonry on the lower part of the house is that it is less likely to be damaged by the bumps and bangs of daily life. Once the wall is above head height damage becomes less of an issue and the rendered foam board should be fine.

I’d prefer XPS to EPS.

Although the insulation values are good the builder will most likely want to save the cost of the insulation batts in the frame. If you ask for the wall to include insulation batts you will have an exceptionally well insulated wall at very little extra cost.


For similar posts see Insulation

For more about house design see Choosing a House . . . A new E-book for only $4 to help plan your new house


Different Roof Drainage

Most of us are used to the traditional Australian roof drainage connecting to down pipes . . . . but this isn’t how everyone sees it.

The Hawaii Solution

Travelling around Hawaii I was quite surprised to see how many houses completely dispensed with any form of roof drainage like this photo.

No Gutters and no downpipes.

OK as long as you aren’t building on Reactive Clay

Not a problem in Hawaii where it is mainly volcanic sands or rock.

The Frank LLoyd Wright Solution

I recently talked about visiting some Frank Lloyd Wright ‘Prairie Houses’ in America.

With the ‘Prairie House; style there was an emphasis on horizontal lines.

To avoid the strong vertical lines of the downpipes Frank just got rid of them.

To collect the rain below each discharge point he positioned a pit like this one.

The only problem is that in the slightest breeze there is going to be a lot of spray.

The Japanese Solution

This system of a chain of cups is a fairly common Japanese alternative to a down pipe.

For small flows the water drains through each cup to the one below it.

With heavier rain the flow runs on the outside of the cups where it is held to the cup by surface tension.

If you can’t get hold of the Japanese cups a simple chain can work just as well.

Why is this an iconic San Fransisco photo?

I am sure you have seen many different photographs of these houses if you have seen any publicity about San Francisco.

They are known as the Painted Ladies. . . but why are they always photographed?

I think the houses in the next block in the same street are more interesting.

Well the reason relates to the way our brain reacts to what it sees.

Experts say that the brain likes to see patterns so we find the repeated pattern of the Painted Ladies pleasing.

The more interesting different houses along the street are a bit more jarring.

So what does this mean for your new house?

Well I am not suggesting that you build an identical house to next door, . .  but you could think about making sure your house does have some recurring pattern.

For example:

  • Aim to have the windows the same size and shape rather than a mix of sizes and shapes.
  • Use a similar colour and style for the house and garage doors.
  • Avoid too many different materials across the front facade.

Timeless Design 2

I am spending some of my time, while I am travelling in the USA, looking at Architecture.One of my favourite architects is Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW) and this is me in front of the Martin House in Buffalo.

I often talk about timeless design rather than following the latest fashion and this house is a great example.

It looks as though it could have been built last year although it is over 100 years old!


This is the Robie House in Chicago, which FLW considered the best example of his ‘Praire House’ style.


Below is just one of many FLW houses in Oak Park a Chicago suburb where Frank Lloyd Wright also lived.

A Secure, and Welcoming Front Door

Your entrance should provide a welcome to your guests, not look like a fortress!

Consider this as an opportunity to sweep guests off their feet.

For many, the house entrance and the front door can also be a conversation starter. Hence, you’ll want to make this impression a good one.

More than just the design aspect, don’t forget its functionality, too.

It should still tell potential thieves that your home would be a harder target than the average house. . . Sounds contradictory?

Well, here are front door and home entrance ideas that give you both the balance of functionality, security, and aesthetics.

Attractive but Solid Door

Even though this carved door is very attractive it can still be seen to be a very solid door, without looking like a fortress

Although you may not want to spend as much money on a carved door, you will still many good looking doors with a solid appearance.

The key here is in making your front door look thick, hard, and difficult to get through.

Plus, solid doors are also a classic.

They may be costly, but they’re going to last you through years, both to its lifespan and its design.

Plus, solid doors also go with just about whatever home designs you’d like to copy.

Good Lighting

That doesn’t mean  those movement activated integrated floodlights with a harsh glare.

This entrance demonstrates a soft but effective illumination of anyone at the door.

It provides a strong signal to any criminal that there is a high risk they will be seen if they are trying to break into your home.

Frame It With Plants

The plant and garden craze may seem like a new one, but there’s absolutely no reason for you not to join in the bandwagon.

If there’s any place in your home to add some green plants, it’s the front door; frame up your front door with plants.

This will instantly make your home feel more relaxing and inviting.

Can Be Seen From Street

The front door should be obvious to visitors as they approach your house, you don’t want them wondering where it is.

Similarly to lighting, criminals don’t want to be visible to a casual passer by.

Double Locks

Two locks are at least 300mm apart means two separate point of attack to get through the door.

I prefer a good quality handle with integrated lock around 1.20m from the ground with a matching deadlock at a height of around 1.50m.

Avoid Glass Panels

Even if you’re up for an airy or modern house design, you might want to skip glass panels on the front area of your home.

Glass panels in the door, or even alongside the door are an area of weakness.

Rather than inviting guests over, it invites thieves.

Glass panels in the door, or even alongside the  door are an area of weakness.

It’s quite easy for a criminal to break a small pane of glass to get get his hand to the back of the door to let themselves in.

A criminal may also be able to see into your house and check out the situation without appearing suspicious.

Go For A Bold Color

If you could paint your door another color, choose a bold one.

This doesn’t necessarily mean a screaming orange or pink (unless it’s what you want).

By bold, this means creating a stark contrast from the door to the wall that it’s set on so your front door stands out.

For instance, your house has walls in white or gray.

If you’re adventurous enough, you can go for a dark blue door.

If you’re up for something more classic, dark brown or black will do as well.


Of all the parts in your house, it pays to give special attention to your entryway.

After all, this is the very first part that your guests are going to notice.

For others who may never get inside your house, your front door is also the only glimpse that they may have, regarding the overall style of your home. 

At the very least, you’ll want your front door and the entire front entrance to feel homey and welcoming.

If your door could speak, it should be saying “Welcome, and come in.”



Why Adding a Patio to your New Home is the Right Choice

Guest post by Bryan Alexander

If you happen to live in Western Australia, you get to experience more sunshine hours than almost anywhere in the world,

With the outdoor lifestyle firmly embedded into the culture, you really should spend some time thinking about your outside area.

With a little creativity and a suitable budget, you could transform the most important area of the home, and make it a special area for you, your family, and your friends to enjoy.

A Comprehensive Solution

There are online companies that are dedicated to transforming outdoor areas, and for those who live in Western Australia, Perth Better Homes provide patios in Perth, and their in-house design team will help you to explore the possibilities, and whatever the outcome, they have the resources and the know how to make it happen.

They are experts at designing and creating unique outdoor areas that blend in perfectly with the home, and they can work to the client’s budget, which is ideal. 

This type of company would be able to arrange landscaping, awnings, lighting and garden furniture, and if you wanted to start from scratch, they would have the resources to complete the project.

Maximise your Summer Enjoyment

Having a nice terraced area with adequate shading and nice furniture is by far the best way to experience the long summer days and evenings, and with an outdoor kitchen, the patio is complete.

Entertaining will take on a whole new dimension, and your party dates will soon be etched on everyone’s calendar, and with some professional help at the design stage, you really can’t go wrong.

Add Living Space

If you have a very comfortable terraced area, you have effectively increased your living space, and with the right screening, the area can be turned into a room and can be used all year round.

If the patio is adjoined to the rear or the side of the property, you can install some sliding or bi-folding aluminium doors, which gives you easy access to the outdoor area.

Al Fresco Dining

There is definitely something special about enjoying a nice meal in a quiet, shaded area of the garden, and if al fresco is up your street, the perfect ambience can be achieved with the right awning and some suitable garden furniture.

This Mediterranean style is very popular in Australia, as the climate is ideal, and with the right lighting, the evenings will give you and your family a warm, inviting glow.

Complement the Property

You probably have your home just as you want it, but imagine what you could do if you added a stylish patio?

It would certainly add value to the property and with the right design,and would  complement the residence, and you and your family will always have a special reason for looking forward to the arrival of summer.

With the right help, there is no limit to what you can achieve in the garden, and the unlimited design options means your garden will have a truly unique look that will be the envy of all.

Patterned Brickwork

What do you think of patterned brickwork?

I think it can look well if its used with restraint and understanding.

Unfortunately I don’t think this example that I recently saw qualifies.

Those triple block features at the window are supposed to represent Quoins (stone blocks to reinforce corners) . . . .that and the over complex single pattern on the building corners are the opposite of what you would see on a genuine old patterned brick house.

A much better option would be to have the ‘Quoins’ on the corners and a plain brick window edge.

Do you agree? . . or do you think I’m just being picky?