Common modifications

Many 1940s-60s houses have retained their appearance, but modifications are fairly common and may be extensive.

Common modifications range from major renovations to increase living space to addition of decks and French or sliding doors to increase indoor/outdoor flow to smaller changes such as replacement of appliances and electrical fittings.

Architecturally-designed houses are likely to have had fewer modifications for two reasons:

  • owners purchase these houses for their style and are therefore unlikely to make alterations
  • many of the modifications made to modernise other homes, such as creating open plan spaces and achieving good interior solar gain, were part of the original design.


Enlarging to meet current needs

By today’s standards, houses built during the 1940s and 1950s were smaller, typically with a single living room and three bedrooms.

Modifications that may have been carried out are likely to include a family room, additional bedroom(s), a study and a second bathroom or ensuite. Subfloor spaces may have been developed to provide additional living space.

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Open plan

The internal arrangement of rooms of housing built during the 1940s and 1950s typically consisted of separate, generally fairly small, rooms designed for specific use such as living room, dining room and kitchen. With the trend towards open planning, houses may have had interior walls removed to enlarge spaces and create open plan layouts of the kitchen, dining and living rooms.

As the kitchen and dining area were generally combined, it is likely that houses have also been extended to provide more space. Where walls have been removed, it will be necessary to check that the loadbearing walls have been adequately supported.

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The spaces in private homes may have been reorganised to improve solar gain. (State houses, on the other hand, were oriented for solar gain.)

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Indoor/outdoor flow

Indoor/outdoor flow is likely to have been incorporated into 1940s and 1950s houses that are privately owned by the installation of more or bigger doors, and the construction of decks or terraced areas.

Depending on when modifications were carried out, doors will be timber frame, glazed French doors, aluminium ‘ranch slider’ types doors, or aluminium hinged and/or bifolding doors.

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In some houses, existing timber windows may have been replaced with aluminium glazing. Where original windows remain some maintenance work such as replacement of hinges and stays may have been carried out. See windows for more detail.

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Kitchens, bathrooms and laundries

These rooms in 1940s–1960s houses are likely to have seen a number of changes over the years. 

Common modifications include combining kitchen and dining areas, and replacing appliances and fixtures.  See kitchens, bathrooms and laundries for more detail.

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Garages and carports

Garages were generally not part of the 1940s and 1950s housing. The size of most sections allowed sufficient space for the addition of a garage or carport at the front, side or rear of the section.

During the 1960s the incorporation of a garage became more common. A number of infill developments within cities saw the garage being used to provide separation between dwelling units.

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Insulation was not originally installed in houses built during the 1940s and 1950s but may have been retrofitted in ceilings and subfloor spaces. See insulation for more detail.