Article 5

‘Why do architect designed houses cost so much?'
Article # 5 - Façade and Window CostsFaçade and Window Costs (in a series of 9)


The additional façade and window costs in our typical sample architect designed house are shown in the chart below.

We have reviewed these costs in combination as to some extent they can be interdependent upon each other. Some architect designed houses, for example, have a significant amount of windows which can decrease the external wall area and costs.

Façade and Window Area

The total façade and window area is a combination of the length of external perimeter of the building and the height of the façade.

Typically, architect designed houses have a greater external wall perimeter to gain the most benefits from natural light and views. Also, they often have higher floor to ceiling heights and sometimes parapet walls, both of which increase the external façade area.

The combination of greater perimeter and higher wall heights results in a higher total facade/window area than most volume builder's houses.

Façade Materials

Most volume builder's houses use a combination of face brick and lightweight render external wall construction. In some cases small areas of stone tiling or weatherboards are used as features. These finishes respond to the general market expectations and also are from the lower cost range of the options available.

These finishes are also used extensively in architect designed houses, however in some instances higher cost finishes such as timber cladding, stone, Corten steel and other panel products are also used, and these are more expensive that brickwork and render.

The one exception to this is Colorbond steel products such as CustomOrb and Panelrib. These products are less expensive than brickwork or render, and are used on some architect designed houses. Paradoxically, even though they are at a lower cost, they are rarely used on volume builder's houses.


The size and extent of windows in volume builder's houses is often kept closer to the minimum required to meet building regulations. This helps keep costs down as the smaller windows are less expensive than larger ones, and also it helps achieve the 6 Star compulsory energy rating without the need for high performance windows and glass.

In architect designed houses, the extent of windows is usually higher to maximise natural light and views. These larger windows are more expensive than smaller ones, and may require double glazing and/or performance glass to achieve the required energy ratings.

Also, the quality of the window frames in architect designed houses is usually higher than for volume builder's houses.

Optimising the value for money in façade and window costs requires a careful balance of building perimeter, height, cladding materials, window size, glazing and window frame selection. These must all be carefully considered against the client's expectations and budget as this component of an architect designed house can be one of the most cost significant.

In Article # 6 we will discuss the differences in roof costs between volume builder's houses and architect designed houses.