Residential Heritage

About heritage homes 

Find out about the six main styles of heritage homes in Cockburn that span from the late 1800s to the early 1980s. Each style has unique features and maintenance requirements. Property owners should consider the heritage value of their homes before starting any major renovations or works.

The City’s rich history has led to the development of key residential heritage styles which are found throughout Cockburn. The most common architectural styles include:

  • Federation Bungalow (1890-1915)
  • Inter-War Mediterranean (1915-1940)
  • Inter-War California Bungalow (1915-1940)
  • Post-War Minimal Traditional (1925-1955)
  • Ranch (1945-1980)
  • Weatherboard dwellings.

Federation Bungalow (1850-1915)

This architectural style catered for the relatively laid back lifestyle of the new century, following Federation in 1901. The Federation Bungalow style is a transition between the Federation Queen Anne and the Inter-War California Bungalow styles. This style varies within Cockburn, but is united by its simplicity and robustness.

Key features include:

  • Ground hugging
  • Single storey
  • Commodious verandas
  • Use of ‘natural’ materials
  • Simple massing
  • Traditional brick or stud-framed baring wall
  • Timber roof construction and detailing
  • Detailed high quality finishes within front rooms ceiling mouldings
  • Moulded architraves
  • Stucco detailing
  • Multi-paned and coloured casement or sliding sash windows
  • Gable ends ornamented with roughcast and battens painted in dark colours
  • Roofs covered with terracotta tiles
  • Turned timber or cast iron columns and balustrades
  • Roughcast walling
  • Masonry veranda piers.

Inter-War Mediterranean (1915-1940)

Introduced in 1918, the Inter-War Mediterranean architectural style is a regionalisation of Georgian Domestic Architecture. Leslie Wilkinson a Professor of Architecture at the University of Sydney is partly responsible for the introduction of this style to Australia. After extensive travel in Spain and Italy, Leslie recognised similarities between the Australian and Mediterranean coastal environments which hinted to this style’s application to Australia. A resemblance can be drawn between the Inter-War Mediterranean style and the Spanish Mission architectural style which was popular in the United States. The Inter War Mediterranean style persists to this day, relatively unaffected by fluctuations in architectural fashion.

Key features include:

  • Accents of classical detailed treatment
  • Brick walls are either lightly bagged or cement rendered smooth and then lime- washed in light tones and colours
  • Round arches are often used for openings and loggias (a roofed open arcade on the side of a building)
  • Details are in a generally correct but simplified Renaissance mode
  • Textured walls
  • Medium-pitch hipped or gabled tiled roofs
  • Vertically proportioned double-hung/sliding sash windows
  • Louvered timber shutters
  • Formal entrance treatment
  • Often include pergolas, terraces and balconies. 

Inter-War California Bungalow (1915-1940)

The California Bungalow originally derived from the English arts and crafts movement. It was one of the earliest and most popular forms of bungalows in the early 20th century. American publicity, together with similarities between the Californian and Australian environments, led to the popularity of the style in Australia from World War One to the Great Depression. The California Bungalow was both affordable and ideally suited for a dry warm Australian climate. It expressed the outdoor orientated, relaxed lifestyle that Australians aspired to. The Australian version of the California bungalow was usually constructed from brick rather than timber, featuring chunky carpentry details.

Key features include:
  • Free standing single-storey houses not in excess of 1.5 storeys high
  • Low pitch gabled or hipped roof with wide overhanging eaves and barges
  • Large front porches beneath extension of main roof
  • Veranda roofs supported on substantial veranda posts, sometimes with squat colonnettes, or grouped timber posts
  • Decorative brackets beneath eaves
  • Square veranda posts tapering upwards from a large base
  • Exposed rafters
  • Decorative brackets under eaves
  • Rendered walls in light tones and colours (e.g. white, beige or cream)
  • Double hung /casement windows
  • Patterned stain glass window panes in small rectangles and diamonds
  • Side garages making driveways a prominent feature of the front garden
  • Mixed materials used (e.g. river stones and timber weatherboards)
  • Painted timber joinery
  • Roof coverings - Marseilles tiles, corrugated iron, bituminous felt and asbestos-cement shingles.

Post-war minimal traditional (1925-1955)

These small homes replaced the craftsman-style bungalows of the previous decade. The minimal traditional style expresses a modern tradition of minimal decoration and interior finishes. Some consider the evolution of this style a direct result of the Great Depression and its associated lack of investable income. However, many homebuyers at the time possessed traditional tastes often distrusting modern design as being faddish. Their small size made them attractive and affordable to smaller families on a modest budget.

Key features include:
  • Small with minimal decorations 
  • Small, covered front porch
  • Low-to medium-pitched hipped or gabled roof
  • Minimal eaves and roof overhang
  • One storey, with an attic storey
  • Shutters
  • Small fireplace and chimney
  • Simple, built-in cabinetry
  • Asbestos shingle is not uncommon
  • Brick veneer and stone are seen
  • Garages were usually separate, but occasionally were integrated or attached by a breezeway to the house, not dominant usually set back
  • Windows may be single- or double-hung, casement or sliding sash, often with two-over-two horizontal panes. Windows may wrap corners
  • Doors were often flat panels with small glass windows.

Ranch (1945-1980)

The ranch style home was an architectural style marketed to returning soldiers from World War Two. In Australia, this style originated in Adelaide and then became popular in Western Australia, particularly in regional and coastal areas. 

Ranch houses were usually built quickly and according to a set formula. The Ranch house attempted to bring the outdoors inside by having large picture windows and sliding glass doors. Rooms were arranged in a linear fashion, elevations were asymmetrical and low wings emanated from the rectangular centre of the plan. This floor plan and architectural tradition allowed for an easily adaptable home.
Renovation and additions were easily achieved to increase the size of the home. The three basic concepts associated with these homes were an unpretentious character, livability and flexibility.

Key features include:
  • Single storey
  • Horizontal extended layout
  • Simple rectangular, L-shaped, or U-shaped floor plan
  • Large windows: double hung, sliding sash, and picture
  • Colonial style floor-to-ceiling windows
  • Brick or brick and timber walls
  • Large sliding glass doors parallel to patio
  • Tiled roofs with extended eaves
  • Garage integrated into the house
  • Verandas the width of the house
  • Lack of decorative detailing.

Weatherboard dwellings

In the 19th and early 20th centuries weatherboard houses were a common housing choice. The use of timber instead of brick allowed many workers to not only afford, but to build their own home. The construction of weatherboard dwellings fuelled the timber industry, providing a source of employment for many. At the time brick was nearly twice the price of timber however, timber was considered a safety hazard due to fire risk.

Key features include:
  • Modest structures and simple design with no ornamentation
  • Ceiling mouldings within main bedrooms and living areas
  • Moulded skirtings and architraves (moulding bridging the gap between the door frame and the wall or between a window frame and the wall)
  • One or two rooms across the front, with one room often projecting forward
  • Corrugated iron hipped roofs (a type of roof where all sides are sloped)
  • Full width veranda or no veranda
  • Timber sash windows placed in the middle of each room often flanking a central doorway
  • Shiplap a type of wooden board, was commonly used in the construction of the front walls
  • Timber feathered edge used to clad sides and rear of house
  • French glass doors.

Renovation advice

Before starting any physical works, please investigate your property’s past through old records, photographs, plans and elevations. Initial research will help an authentic restoration. 

When cleaning a historic building, try and use the most gentle means possible. Avoid sandblasting and water blasting, as these treatments can permanently and severely damage exterior surfaces. Clean surfaces using low pressure, non-abrasive and non-chemical means. Acrylic paint is preferable to oil paint, as acrylic paint allows organic materials such as timber to breathe.

Maintenance advice

All building materials deteriorate over time due to sunlight, rain and wind, and they require continued attention if a building’s condition is to be maintained. Modest spending on regular maintenance can reduce the need for costly repairs. Maintenance can be broken down into three categories, corrective, emergency and planned.  
Corrective Maintenance

Corrective maintenance is work necessary to bring a building to an acceptable level. Actions include:

  • Inspecting the building exterior for suspected water penetration, as exterior leaks eventually cause interior damage
  • Inspecting and exterminating termites and other wood-destroying insects. 
Emergency Maintenance

Emergency maintenance is work that must be done immediately for health, safety or security reasons or that may result in the rapid deterioration of the structure or fabric if not done. This can include securing loose building elements. Emergency maintenance is the result of:

  • Concrete degradation otherwise known as concrete cancer, is the corrosion of steel reinforcement in concrete, which cause it to expand
  • Steel expansion, creating stresses on the surrounding concrete causing it to crack, which in turn undermines the integrity of your building
  • Concrete cancer, which can be treated once it has been correctly diagnosed by a professional. Repairs usually involve the replacement, cleaning and treatment of any exposed steel. Concrete cancer is identifiable by flaking concrete or rust stains. 
Planned Maintenance

Planned maintenance includes work to prevent problems which can happen predictably within the life of a building. Actions include:

  • Removing mounds of soil and debris adjacent to walls and maintaining or replacing gutters and downpipes to keep stormwater away from building foundations
  • Monitoring tree roots, self-sown woody weed and climbing plants as they can cause damage to buildings, such as displacing fabric or removing paint
  • Repainting the exterior of the building using the same colour scheme regularly to preserve weatherboards and timberwork.



City of Cockburn
Whadjuk Boodja
9 Coleville Crescent,
Spearwood 6163

PO Box 1215, Bibra Lake DC,
Western Australia, 6965

Office opening hours:
8.30am to 4.30pm
Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays)

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Cockburn Nyungar moort Beeliar boodja-k kaadadjiny. Koora, yeyi, benang baalap nidja boodja-k kaaradjiny.
Ngalak kaditj boodjar kep wer kaadidjiny kalyakool yoodaniny, wer koora wer yeyi ngalak Birdiya koota-djinanginy.

City of Cockburn acknowledges the Nyungar people of Beeliar boodja. Long ago, now and in the future they care for Country.
We acknowledge a continuing connection to land, waters and culture and pay our respects to the Elders, past and present.