Housing Styles - Home Loans

By Alex Henderson, Prosper Group

This month, we explore the most common housing styles that you will find in the suburbs of Sydney and Brisbane.

Californian Bungalow

The Californian bungalow was popular from approximately 1915 to the 1940s. This period coincided with the rise of the Hollywood film industry, which popularised American clothes, furniture, cars and houses.

The Californian bungalow is usually single storey although first floor additions have been carried out over the years. In Sydney the Californian bungalow is constructed out of brick, usually dark in colour whereas in Brisbane, the bungalow was often constructed out of timber.

The bungalow was so popular in Australia that very few houses were built in any other style during the 1920s. Today the Californian bungalow remain popular with couples and families.


The Colonial house style in Australia dates from the early 1800s. The main characteristics of this type of house are a symmetrical design with windows on either side of the front door which is positioned right in the middle of the house. The typical Colonial house has very few decorative features on the exterior.

Often single storey, the inside of a Colonial style home consists of large bedrooms, a central hall with separate living and dining areas. There are very few original Colonial properties that remain standing today and the majority of these are located in the inner suburbs of Sydney and Brisbane. However, the design style was reproduced heavily in the 1930s and 1940s and witnessed another revival in the 1990s.


Federation housing was prevalent from around 1890 to 1920 and the name of this architectural style refers to the Federation of Australia on 1 January 1901.

Federation houses have front verandas and are usually constructed of deep red or brown brick and sometimes a combination of different brick colours will be used. The main bedroom is at the front of the house with the lounge room at the end of the hallway and kitchen at the back of the house.

The bathroom and laundry were traditionally outside the main house but many federation properties have since been renovated bringing the toilet and bathroom inside the main structure of the property. The federation house has many decorative features such as leadlight windows and high ceilings.

The housing style is more common in Sydney than in Brisbane and the suburb of Haberfield in Sydney’s Inner West is even known as the “Federation Suburb”.


In consideration of the warmer Queensland climate, this style of property is constructed from timber with a timber stud frame and is raised on stumps above the ground. The space under the house is used to cool the building through ventilation and also for protection of the main structure from termite attack and other pests.

The Queenslander was commonly built in the 1920s and 1930s although Queenslanders are still constructed today using modern styles and building materials.

Almost exclusive to Queensland, some Queenslanders are found in the northern parts of New South Wales but you are unlikely to find any properties built in this style across Sydney.

Semi- Detached

This type of housing can be considered as a half-way state between terraced housing (see below) and detached homes.

A semi-detached house sits on a single property, owned in its entirety by the owner of the semi-detached house. Semi-detached houses come only in pairs sharing a common wall with the adjoining property.

In Sydney, semi-detached houses, referred to as ‘semis’ were briefly popular at the beginning of the 20th century and many examples may be found in inner suburbs within 5kms 15kms of the CBD. However, this style quickly gave way to the modern style of detached housing which allowed better motor vehicle access amongst other benefits. Semis are less common in Brisbane but can be found in the inner ring.

Victorian Terrace

Victorian terraces were built around the 1900s in both inner city Sydney and Brisbane. At the time, this type of housing was popular with the working class, while wealthier families lived in detached houses.

A Victorian terrace is narrow (commonly between 3.5m 6m) and has two levels. The ground floor usually has two separate living and dining areas, each with a fireplace. The kitchen, bathroom and laundry are positioned towards the back of the house. Originally the bathroom was outside although in most cases, the bathroom has since been brought inside.

The bedrooms are to be found upstairs and there is often a small balcony off the front bedroom. Terraces in Sydney’s Paddington often exchange hands for well over a million dollars whilst they are also popular in suburbs in Sydney’s inner west such as Erskineville, Newtown, Balmain, Glebe and Annandale. In Brisbane, terraces are less common but can be found in the inner city.