Outdoor Rooms – what are they

Outdoor Rooms – What are they?

One of the great things about designing is in the watching and witnessing the changing of peoples needs, trends and visions of whats good or otherwise. Being part of this is invigorating in that watching and learning provides constant ideas and inspiration. Its why we do it. Certainly it’s not about the permit process which need I say more. All this brings me to my thought of the month about Outdoor Rooms – what are they?

In the over 20 years of our direct involvement in backyard developments the Outdoor Room has also undergone a birth and then a continual evolution.

Years -1960’s to mid – late 1990’sMelbourne house before2000

This period saw the minimal change from very simple lean to verandahs to side and rear of dwellings often only 3 or 4 meters long and only 2 or 3 meters wide. Generally just flat roofs and mainly built without plans or permits (or even the thought of one) with simple needs and outcomes. Sometimes these may have be partially enclosed with a cement sheet wall possibly a fixed window but with emphasis on simple and practical. This might loosely therefore be called the outdoor room.

Years !995 to 2010gable verandah timber

In the mid 1990’s we started to see growth and change to what people expected from their outdoor area. TV was starting to feature programs about “doing up your backyard” like Bert’s Backyard plus a range of other like programs. The advent of Bunnings and the active home renovator saw the backyard pergola (although really a Verandah or Patio) becoming a major investment. The new norm now became Gable structures, sunrooms and the development of a range of building product specifically directed to outdoor areas. Improved timber products and colorbond product now had the outdoor backyard in their sight’s. The outdoor room was still not really an item. The big Verandah’s were making their mark but most structures were open and minimal furniture and cooking only the basic BBQ affair.

2010 till nowLouver Projects P1

Now we find the advent of real outdoor living and with that more requirements from what is now being termed The Outdoor Room. What is it?

Well it’s no longer the pretend room that a sunroom 1990’s style was. It really is an outdoor area specifically designed to lounge, dine, cook and play within. The out door kitchen has arrived, smart lighting, heating, sound and TV entertainment, expansive deck’s, feature walls and blinds plus affordable insulated, louver or fixed roofing all providing extended living options for a faction of the cost of extending the existing dwelling or moving home.

Insulated Verandah - brightonWith these changes plans and permits now are a must. Why – not only to ensure your project is legal but also to ensure it works. The budget has moved up but so has the requirements.

These extensive living areas do require the proper consideration to ensure they blend with existing, take account of proposed usage plus add to your total property investment. They require respect and experience to ensure you get the best out of the design.

Outdoor Rooms – What are they?Solarspan Outdoor-room-p2

Well they are still taking shape and the juries out on saying there is any one fixed outcome. This is because they should be what add’s to the dwelling and surrounds plus be a reflection of the owners and their needs and interests.

Your Outdoor Room design should be a reflection of those components and more. There what is it….. well it’s about you and your lifestyle, your needs, your interests

At the Project Centre we can provide you the experience and insight needed to deliver on your outdoor room. Contact us to discuss your needs.

Telephone: +61397966899

Email sales@projectcentre.com.au

Web: www.projectcentre.com.au

Louver Opening Closing Roofs

Louver Opening and Closing Roofs.

Recently we have been designing a range of projects featuring Louver Opening Closing Roofs. Not always are we required to nominate a final manufacture we have reviewed a number of manufacturers within Melbourne Metro area. Our review included types of  Louver blades  available, benefits and design styles and limitations both related to louver and their related systems that we could recognise to advise our clients their possible design options. There are certainly some variation between suppliers that are worth considering beyond the general final cost of the project. In other words their not all the same.

Key issues seem to be

Material types of Blades – Colorbond or Aluminum appear to be the two selections available. We have been asked about clear (see through) but I have not seen an option to date.

Spans – Maximum Spans range from approx 3.6 meters to maximum 3.9 +/-. suppliers dependant Bottom line – wider blades seem to provide longer spans. Longer spans seem to encourage more blade defection (sagging). This factor to be considered in blade performance. We have found the need for extreme spans can be overcome with good design. Our preference is to ensure spans are within blades capacity.

Durability – Steel base (with Colorbond or coloured finish against Aluminium (raw or powder coated). Certainly Aluminium blades seem to be popularly favoured. Vergola, Straco for example and a range of other manufacturers still maintain Colorbond blades. The durability is not known but can only assume if installed per manufactures requirements then warranty indications will be achieved. Aluminium seems not to have rust and defection issues that colorbond web conversations suggests. Certainly not the only issue under review but certainly if your near the sea or if warranty of product limited this might be a factor to be considered.

Shape of Blade – shape of blades certainly can vary between manufacturer’s. This seems to a large degree a personal choice issue, although some of the wider blades clearly relate for span issues. No blade I reviewed was what I would call horrible. Frankly, if blade considered can tick off all the building issues then its down to which one appeals and cost.

Colour of Blades – Colorbond blades do seem to have a narrow range of colours available. This can vary between manufacturers – check what your manufacturer can offer as certainly it is generally restricted. Aluminium blades have not colour restrictions as they seem to be powder coated to order. This can help is matching a colour on existing building such as door or window colour. Having raised this issue, I personally favour lighter blade colours due to benefits of light bounce provided by lighter colours. Dark colours tend to close down the feel of the area.

Mechanism of Opening and Closing – the motors, sensors, connections (blades to turning components) are certainly a factor to be considered. The warranty’s all seem to be minimal so the cost to replace a motor in 5 years for example should be considered. Currently, we have only heard of minimal issues related to this factor with no manufacturer being a standout “good or bad” to our knowledge. My own feeling is if the system simple and easily maintained, then less possibilities for things to go wrong or to be costly to repair. Check the opening capacity of blades up to 90 , 120 or 180 degree. Some blades can open a full 180 degree and this I consider a benefit to controlling light.

Warranty – Certainly there does seem to be some variation between manufacturers with the best warranty I have reviewed for blades and pins being Totally Outdoors supplying Eclipse Opening and Closing Louver Blades.

Frames – Our main position on fames essentially comes down to visual outcome. Personally if considering the most expensive roof option (which louvers seem to be if fixed glass not considered) then to “knock up a cheap timber frame” may not offer the best outcome. The general options seem to be Colorbond and Aluminium in the sleek modern feel (I have viewed some some bulkheads in merbau – see top picture), bulkheads using conventional blue board rendered (adjacent picture) or some new hardboard options painted. No right or wrong on what selection you decide on except ensure it blends and adds to the visual outcome of the area you have envisaged. We have designed a range of all of the above.  Note: Note all suppliers offer a full range of frame options.

How can we assist – The Project Centre can provide drafting related to any manufacturer you may chose. There will be manufacturers engineering and specifications be required to ensure design / product requirements are in sync. Contact us to discuss your project.

Links of Interest for Louver Opening Closing Roofs are provided below to assist your review of options, warranties and styles.

Totally Outdoors Pty Ltd – Melbourne Metro & surrounding areas builder using aluminium blades plus a wide rang of frame options. Display Centre available  – click

LouverTek – Melbourne Builder using aluminium blades – click

Stratco – Supplier providing only clorbond blades and frames – click

Vergola International – Supplier using colorbond blades – click


The Louver Opening Closing Roof is an exceptional roof option if your outdoor area would benefit with the option of controlling the amount of light / shade / heat to both the outdoor area and possibly to the actual dwelling (i.e.: internal room) or public area (restaurant -internal section).

We hope we have provided a reasonable overview of main and important issues you might consider beyond just the final price of your project. Final cost does relate, as we know, very much to performance, durability and usability of the project. We would have loved to provide a tick off comparison but as products specifications and site situation vary it makes it somewhat difficult to review in that format.

We suggest review of web sites and general web forums may also assist you with choosing the right blade and builder for your project or why not contact us to design and provide advice to consider.

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