The most common house design a century ago, villas are popular renovation subjects today.

Villa Image Gallery


Villas were the most popular new home design in New Zealand from the 1880s through to World War 1.

Siting, layout and form

Most villas have a central corridor with rooms to each side.

Common problems and remedies

A wide range of problems and issues – affecting design and structure – will need to be considered as part of any villa renovation.

Common modifications

Some villas retain their original character while others have been altered extensively.


Villas were typically constructed without insulation. Even with modifications, most villas fall below current insulation standards.

Foundations and subfloors

Many villas have uneven floors and need repiling or other remedial action.


Wooden villa floors often lack insulation, and some boards will be affected by borer, splitting or other damage.

Walls and cladding

Villas used timber framing and wall cladding.

Interior features and finishes

Villas were typically finished with timber lining or wallpaper, and a range of machined timber mouldings.

Windows, doors, other joinery and hardware

Villas had double-hung sash windows and panelled timber doors.


Villas typically had a corrugated iron hip roof, with gables over bay windows.

Verandas and porches

Verandas were typically open to the front with a decking of 1” (25 mm) T&G timber laid to a fall to the outside.


The earliest villas had no electricity. Instead, candles, paraffin lamps and gas were used for lighting, open fires for heating, and coal ranges for cooking. Electricity became available early in the 20th century.

Kitchens and bathrooms

Kitchens and bathrooms in villas are likely to have undergone several previous renovations, beginning with the introduction of piped water.

Fireplaces and chimneys

Fireplaces were the only means of heating in early villas. Many have now been replaced. Old fireplaces can contribute to unevenness in the floor, and can become dangerous if the mortar fails.