- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 15 May 2018
Improving a buildings appearance
The exterior finish of a building is an important feature. For many clients, beauty is only skin deep, and they will judge whether their builder has done a good job based on the finish. A building’s exterior also has to be finished properly to comply with the building regulations as poor workmanship could lead to a reduction in energy efficiency and water ingress.
Here are five tips on how to achieve the best results.
This is imperative as, while many small cosmetic changes will fall under permitted development, in some areas, planning laws will mean the exterior of a building will have to match other buildings around it. Whatever the outcome, advising and consulting with your client and the local authority is important. Offer advice on products and features that will add value, increase comfort and look great. This could include replacing concrete tiles with slate tiles, upgrading windows or adding Velux-style loft windows.
 Tip 3: Choose your roof tiles, bricks or cladding carefully
Roof tiling can make a vast difference to the look of a property. Concrete tiles have a clean and smooth finish and can be the choice for some buildings, but clay tiles, for instance, can enhance a property with their different hues and colour variations. In conservation areas you can expect to see clay tiles specified. Either way, if you’re replacing tiles, neither concrete nor clay tiles will truly match the ones lost from an old original roof. If a client won’t stretch to all-new tiles, then removing any moss or lichen can transform the overall look of the property.
For those homes with mismatched bricks or dated cladding (like stone cladding), the surface can be renovated in a variety of ways. Updating the colour of a brick can work wonders for kerb appeal and bricks can be either painted or stained. The main difference is that painting requires maintenance while a stain is completely absorbed by a brick and is a permanent solution (care must be taken not to reduce the air-permeability of the brick).
If the condition of the bricks is too rundown, render or cladding can improve the appearance. uPVC or laminate cladding is easy to maintain and clean, stone tiles are lightweight and can offer a traditional look while brick slips look like solid brick but are tiles made from clay to create a brick effect. If the overall look of the building is being changed, planning consent may be required.
Windows are crucial to the appearance of a property, both in terms of size and aesthetics. Check planning rules and look at the type of brick before specifying the colour of the windows. They definitely don’t have to be the traditional white these days. They can look fantastic in a wide range of colours from dark green to grey or even black. Does your client want a specific window to be a key feature, e.g. a porthole style which illuminates an upper extension gallery, or bi-folds which open onto a garden? The options are numerous but important. Extension lantern rooflight windows have seen a huge rise in popularity and look great too.
Lighting the exterior of a building, and the garden, used to be the domain of large, expensive houses, but that’s not the case any more. Exterior lighting can add security and enhance the look of a building quite cost effectively. Lighting placed either side of the front door gives a great feeling of symmetry. If the house has a front garden, subtle lighting hidden in undergrowth can look fantastic. Up/down lighting has been a recent trend and motion sensors can be utilised around the property to help the owner on dark nights, while still augmenting the overall image of a building.
Featured articles and news
Opening up the space below the former Floral Hall.
Why was the Fountaine Hospital Almshouse built in such a sophisticated style?
How do we measure air tightness in buildings?
The Housing Infrastructure Fund
Encouraging access to local amenities and sustainable transport.
Publish your thought leadership articles on Designing Buildings Wiki – for free.
Competence Steering Group publishes interim proposals to deliver safer buildings.
Indoor environments should provide a multi-sensory experience.
We have a great range of introductory articles written by ECA.
7 of the most common myths, busted.